I’ve talked with several of my mommy friends the past few months who are leaning towards a home birth, or at least considering using a midwife with their next or current pregnancies. I know that several of you read this blog pretty frequently, so I’m going to share a little about having a baby at home/using a midwife.
The following article was given to me by my midwife during a prenatal class; I am unsure who authored it, but it is being posted here with my midwife’s permission.
Many people ask us why we believe in out of hospital birth. This is not an easy question to answer, nor do we take this decision lightly. Out of hospital birth is not a step backward. It is a step away from hospital/doctor control of a normal body function. It is a step of growth in accepting the responsibility of giving birth and parenting. We do not expect the pain relief which is supposedly available when you are under the doctor’s control. We accept the work of labor and deal with it as mature women giving birth as we were designed to do.
A midwife is NOT a doctor. She does not want to control your body or “save” you from childbirth. She wants to offer support, knowledge that will assist you in making good decisions and giving birth effectively and beautifully, an experienced eye to pick up on anything out of the normal, a shoulder to lean on, and a friendly ear to listen as you share your feelings and wishes.
A midwife cannot handle all the problems of pregnancy, labor and birth. There will be times when she will suggest you see a doctor or seek hospital care. Between 5 and 10 women out of 100 will need some sort of service which she cannot supply. You must know and be comfortable with her limitations, listen carefully to her advice, and be willing to make responsible decisions regarding your care.
We feel that home birth can be safer, better- truly superior- for both mother and baby in most cases. Only you can decide if this is true for you and your baby.
We list some reasons a mature couple might decide AGAINST an out of hospital birth:
- There exists a potential medical danger to the mother or baby
- The mother realizes she would feel more secure in a hospital
- The couple questions safe alternatives to hospital births
- There is extreme family pressure and unhappiness at the idea of out of hospital birth
You should truly feel out of hospital birth is the superior choice for you. We list below some reasons which should NOT be a deciding factor in your decision:
- It’s cheaper
- All your friends have done it
- No one you know has done it, and you want to be different
- Your husband or other family member feels its a great idea but you don’t
Once a couple decides to proceed with midwife care they will probably run into friends, family members, and acquaintances who express concern. The three most common worries are discussed below:
A) Cord Around the Neck
Many people wrongly believe that it is a very serious complication leading to strangulation of the baby. It is a common occurrence in the normal birth- about 30%. Usually it is felt around the neck as soon as the head is delivered and may be slipped over the infant’s head at that time. If the cord is too tight to do this, the birth attendant will cut the cord between two clamps and promptly deliver the infant.
B) Getting the Baby to Breath
A normal, healthy baby will breathe without assistance. One of the major causes of respiratory distress in infants is the use of sedatives, anesthetics, and pitocin (induction drugs) during labor. At home, where there are no drugs or unnecessary interventions, measure other than simple suctioning are rarely needed. However, in a rare case where suctioning is insufficient, we are all trained in neonatal resuscitation and have oxygen readily at hand.
C) Hemorrhage After Delivery
In research conducted on death from hemorrhage the average interval between delivery and death of the mother was about 5 hours and 20 minutes. No woman died from postpartum hemorrhage within 1 hour and 30 minutes. This suggests that there is adequate time to get help for the mother. We are all trained in how to control a hemorrhage and carry herbs and medications to use if needed.
Note from Kristy: the intention of this article is not to underestimate the potential danger of the above mentioned complications, or to say that they never occur in a home birth. However, a well trained and experience midwife is capable of handling these types of situations without threat to the well being of mother or baby.