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Home Is Not A Four-Letter Word

As the six of you know, I occasionally get my royal feathers ruffled about some random article or headline I see during the course of my day. Harrumph.

Yesterday was no exception. Here’s the headline:

Alanis Morissette: Home birth was ‘beyond pain’

Alanis Snip(If you click on either the headline or the picture, it will take you to the actual article, and you can link to the video from the Today site.)

Here are my reasons for ruffled feathers and harrumphing all over the place:

1) The headline COMPLETELY misrepresents what she said after that sound bite, which was “It was a transcendental experience. I just went to this whole other world. I basically had to be the little soldier that I am and really focus on this new beautiful creature coming out of me.” Oh, so she WASN’T complaining, then? Sheesh.

2) They quote a study funded by doctors and hospitals: “A study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology in June would seem to back up Hoskins. The New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell study concluded that home births, as compared to hospital births, are “strongly associated with worse outcomes.”” However, at the end, the article states, “Bad outcomes, like the zero Apgar score, were extremely rare, no matter the setting or the birth attendant.”

3) Any midwife or caregiver who offers home births will screen, screen, and screen some more. If there’s any possibility of risk, they are not going to offer a home birth. Do things go pear-shaped with no warning? Of course they do. And they will in a hospital, too.

4) Yes, I know hospitals have all the equipment and personnel to cover those emergencies if they happen. Yes, I know they have better outcomes on paper. But they also have a very, very high rate of C-sections and interventions that aren’t medically necessary, but are done to better fit the labor into a schedule.

I don’t believe home births are for everyone, and I strongly believe in using every medical test available to pre-screen women who wish a home birth. But I also know that home births can and do work for the majority of people who opt for them. Here’s why I know:

Both-01(I’m making the picture tiny this time so you can’t see my hoo-haw.)  I delivered my second child at home. After a C-section. Because the free-standing birth center I had been receiving care at booted me out when I was seven months pregnant. The attending doctor decided I was ‘high risk’ because of the previous C-section, even though I’d had no issues at all, and had had multiple ultrasounds to show that my uterus was intact and the baby was thriving. I believed in my body. I didn’t want another surgery, and another baby with a depressed Apgar because of the anesthesia. My birth was intervention free, drug free, and the baby was fine (the carpet, not so much). I had three midwives in attendance, and had been pre-registered at the nearest hospital, just in case. (We timed it, and it was six minutes away.) Home birth can be a viable option, as long as people are educated, screened, and know their comfort level with any possible risks.

Sometimes, it’s worth it.


4 Responses

  1. Preach it sister! I, too, had a VBAC. I didn’t do it at home, but mainly because I was fortunate to find a practice in Vermont with nurse midwives who stayed with me throughout the labor and birth, and the hospital there supported that model. Shortly before my son was born, the hospital had an emergency delivery and got all nervous about letting us do a VBAC without IV, monitor, doctor (and was I sure I couldn’t just schedule another C-section?) but they went to bat for me. I ended up having to have the IV (just in case they had to suddenly sedate me), but when I pulled it out halfway through labor, they never put it back in. I ended up having a healthy boy with no C-section, no anesthesia, and no tearing or episiotomy, and boy was my recovery faster and easier than the first time. Go midwives!

    • Amen – go midwives!! I wanted to be one for a long time, but couldn’t commit to the hugs chunks of time while my boys were small. (And not many people know what a VBAC is – I had two.) Thanks, Trish!

  2. Nothing more irritating than words taken out of context. And I always love your stories, Julie!
    On the flip side, I had my first baby in a big hospital – with no IV, no meds, no anesthesia, and FAST – 3 hours from when I walked through the doors to holding my newborn (ok- I MAY have labored at home too long, but that’s another story). Being a hospital nurse, it was comforting for me (and especially for DH) to know the equipment and expertise was nearby if needed. So, yes, it’s all about level of comfort.

    • Melinda, I totally agree with you! Our third was supposed to be in a hospital birth center with our CNM, except we never got off the island. *shrug* Man plans, nature laughs. 🙂

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