Ellen and Rachel are two old friends and “expert” mamas—one a pediatrician and one a family therapist—with fifty years of parenting experience between them.


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4 responses to “DAILY FIND: Should You Give Birth at Home?”

  1. Camille

    “In the Netherlands, moreover, midwives are fully integrated into the health care system and obstetrics practices, making transfers to hospitals routine. In the U.S., where 1 out of 200 women gives birth at home, midwives can be and have been arrested for bringing their patients to hospitals in states that do not license CPMs.”

    Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2011940-4,00.html#ixzz0zjtUnDFR

    The above statement is very important in the debate. I gave birth to my baby girl at our home in Scotland where my midwives were employed by the National Health Care and were also fully integrated into the system. I also gave birth to my son at home in the US and his midwife was amazing (delivered over 1000 babies) but before and after his birth I was very aware of how others disagreed with my decision (and in my state it was even legal). I didn’t feel that at all in the UK. My doctor was happy to recommend my home birth and my midwives worked with my doctor. It was a huge change from the way I was treated in the US.

    It remains a mystery that the approach to home birth is so different in the two countries and I was also struck by the safety factor in the quote above. A Midwife’s fear of taking a patient to the doctor is very sad and needs to be addressed.

    Thanks for sharing the article. I heard about your site from my friend Paige and I look forward to reading more.

  2. Hazel M. Wheeler

    I am really enjoying this site, and read this “Time” article. While there’s an obvious “homebirth is dangerous” slant, I’d like to share my experience, because there was no representation of making educated homebirth choices in the article.

    When I became pregnant with my son, I knew I wanted to use a midwifery practice for care and, if possible, to birth at home.I did my midwife research smartly: asked only reliable sources for referrals, looked up the suggested midwives online and examined their philosophical statements, their transfer rates and their reasons for exclusion or transfer. I also had the advantage of having heavily researched midwifery as a career a few years before and had some knowledge of what I was discussing during interviews. I looked at credentials and ultimately made the choice to go with a team of women that came highly recommended. The two midwives were both RNs, CNMs, LNPs and Naturopathic doctors, and I appreciated their integrative health approach. Both had good working relationships with OB/Gyns at several local hospitals and could stay on as doulas if a transfer was necessary. (These women, by the way, were not afraid to transfer–they were of the opinion that the Healthy birth for Mother and Child was more important than a romanticized homebirth experience.) This was important to me. I also happen to live right across the street from a hospital. Had I lived farther out, homebirth might not have been an option.

    My medical care was top-notch. Being insulin-resistent, I had gestational diabetes; the midwives were able to help me modify my diet, so my blood sugar levels stabilized without medication. When my pregnancy went beyond the due date, they made sure I came in for a non-stress test for the baby. My pregnancy was closely–yet reasonably–monitored, and I really enjoyed my time being pregnant. This was especially important for me, as I’d had a history of miscarriage. I had an acupuncture induction after 10 days past due, which worked. My son’s birth was medically uneventful, and I loved the comfort of being able to bring my son into the world in his own room, in our own time.

    I share all of this because it is a far cry from the tone of the article, which shines more of a scary spotlight on uneducated or illegal lay midwifery and infant mortality rates than it does to educate on the whole picture. There were no positives mentioned in regard to homebirth; just negatives. If you read only this article, it might lead you to believe that homebirth is the choice of the uninsured/poor mothers, the renegage VBAC moms or the flowy-white-nightgown self-absorbed hippie mamas who have no concern for their baby’s health. That’s not the reality of it at all.

    Because homebirth will always be a sought-out option, the medical community could be assertive in providing parents who are considering homebirth with some excellent information about How to Look for a Qualified Midwife; this would have a positive impact on everyone by providing parents with the education they need to make the best choices possible. When states permit licensing and require formal midwifery education, everyone benefits.

    Each birthing mother and child pair is different; with good education for parents and good education for midwives, we can optimize the chances for positive results.

  3. Rachel Zahn

    Thank you, Hazel. You’ve educated us and our readers, and I’m glad you had such a positive experience. You are absolutely right when you make the point that with better support, the home birth picture might look very different.

  4. Rachel

    Hello! I saw your comment on the NYT blog post about the increase in homebirths (http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/05/23/having-baby-at-home-share-your-story/). You said there: “3 of 4 of my deliveries would have ended in my death or the death of my baby had they happened at home; each for a different reason. The scariest was the last — my daughter who arrived after a short labor and way less pain than I’d had with the others. Wow! What a great birth … until minutes later when I began to hemorrhage uncontrollably. If I’d been at home my children would now be motherless.”

    This is a very common, but very inaccurate, sentiment. You do not in fact know that you or your babies would have died had you birthed at home. The circumstances are so different in a home environment that the outcomes are simply not interchangeable. I’d also like to note than midwives are equipped to handle hemorrhage (and many other emergencies) at home, and they also know when to transfer before emergencies happen. They generally carry pitocin, methergine or cytotec in the event of hemorrhage. I hemorrhaged after my first child was born at home, due to a partial separation of the placenta. My midwife handled it very quickly and efficiently, and obviously my children are not motherless.
    To read more on why you most likely would NOT have died at home, please check out this excellent blog post:
    http://erinmidwife.com/2011/03/31/if-i-were-at-home-i-would-have-died/

    You also said: “No matter how much we all want a peaceful, natural birth experience, don’t we have a responsibility to use caution and choose safely over selfishness?”

    I’m very tired of people disparagingly calling mothers “selfish” for wanting a positive birth experience. Birth is a hugely important and transformative time in a woman’s life. All women SHOULD be as “selfish” as they can be! Having a positive birth experience helps prevent postpartum depression and facilitates successful breastfeeding, two things that last much longer than the day of birth itself, and that affect the whole family as well as society.
    Also, homebirth often IS the cautious, safe, responsible choice. Women who have low risk pregnancies and birth at home with a trained attendant, with a hospital within reasonable proximity, are actually making a safer and healthier choice. In these births, infant mortality rates are comparable, and infant & maternal morbidity rates and cesarean rates are significantly lower. Homebirth is safe. It is a very good option for most women, and one that should be supported.

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