Thursday, February 11, 2010

Reply turned post on "Why choose home birth?"

The Batsignal went up on Facebook, calling homebirthers (and others) in to this inquisitive post at Majikthise: What Is the Appeal of Home Birth?

She asks, in earnest and without rancor:

I've never understood why anyone would choose to give birth at home, rather than in a birthing center attached to a hospital. a) Why not go somewhere where you don't have to wash the sheets? b) If there's even a remote chance that you need emergency surgery, why not arrange to be seconds away from an operating room rather than minutes, or longer?

I know that childbirth isn't a disease. On the other hand, if I had a non-disease where there was a small chance that I'd need emergency surgery within the next 72 hours, I'd prefer to park myself as close to an OR as possible.

I understand that every woman has the absolute right to make her own decisions about where and how to give birth. I'm not trying to influence anyone else.

By the time I got over there, the topic had been well-covered, safety issues addressed, specifics taken care of. So I just added my $0.02. It occurred to me that although I posted some longwinded spiels, I hadn't ever posted a simple nutshell version on my own darn blog, so here you go.
Why, because Ricki Lake did it, of course!

BUT SERIOUSLY, folks. Everyone else's answers [check out the original post and comments] completely cover my own rationale: the safety of home birth versus fighting the cascade of interventions at the hospitals. The risks of the latter put me over the edge. I won't rehash what others have covered so eloquently. Essentially, for me as an individual:

1. While it is technically possible to battle your way through the hospital for a natural birth, refusing intervention after intervention, protocol after protocol, arguing policy, fending off negative attitudes by way of the crapshoot re: which L&D nurses you get (some are great, some are not, almost all are overworked), I decided that I would rather not spend my whole labor - the birth of my child - fighting with strangers.

Your mileage may vary, and not ALL hospitals are like this. But it's fair to say that in this current state of maternity care, the odds make me wary indeed, even if you choose the perfect open-minded, supportive care provider (who may not even be the one who ends up attending you, due to the nature of group practice).

2. By the time I got pregnant, I had both read and heard firsthand SO MANY crappy hospital experiences for a first birth followed by a wonderful, healing, life-affirming experience with their second birth at home, that I just decided, "Well . . . why don't I just skip the crappy hospital experience?"

And so I did.

Final note on the matter of cleanup - as others have said, it's really nothing. So you stain some secondhand sheets and toss them, and chux pads take care of the rest, if any. It's a cinch. OR - buy/rent a birth pool and have a waterbirth! Issue = moot.


  1. As far as cleanup goes, I think I could be persuaded to ruin some bedsheets for giving birth. Hell, the bed sheet is going to be the least of the expenses!

    Lovely nutshell!

  2. There are no birth centers where I live unless you want to drive 4 hours. That's the closest one to my house. Anyway, why would I want to interupt the flow of my labor if I don't have to? The clean up from my homebirth was no big deal. I had a waterbirth. We dumped the water and tossed the kiddie pool, and washed a few towels. Easy.

  3. The line "Because Ricki Lake did it, of course!" made me laugh out loud. In my case, it's kind of true...

    I've been interested in birth for a long time, but watching the Business of Being Born is what really prompted me to start educating myself about it more.

    I'm not a mom yet, but so glad I'm learning all this now, before I even get pregnant. I cannot wait for my future home birth!

    Great post, as always!

  4. Well, my midwife and doula did ALL the cleaning for me, so that's a non issue;-) And as Laura said, why disrupt the flow of my labor? I can not imagine having to ride in a car to a hospital when I could be focusing on relaxing all of my body so that my uterus can function more efficiently.

  5. Well, I did take a 45 minute ride to the hospital, with my labor progressing quickly. It was horrible. When I got there, my contractions were 2 minutes apart, and getting stronger, but I was "only" 2 centimeters dilated - probably because I was terrified of giving birth in the car! It turned out ok for me, but could have been disastrous for someone who was at a less-natural-friendly hospital or who understood less about dilation and how little it means at times. As for Business of Being Born, one of the silliest criticisms I've heard is someone who was appalled that Rikki Lake's assistant had to wash the sheets. I guess it's ok for the hospital's staff to have to wash sheets, but not ok for anyone else? Classist, much?

  6. I specifically bought a RED second-hand sheet! it washed out quite nicely... I think ;) Granted, most of my water went to the toilet, most of the bloody stuff went to the tub, and the rest landed on my wonderful RED sheet, atop shower curtain. (We did pitch the shower-curtain, as I never mustered the strength to wash it.)

    Personally I couldn't imagine being moved in labor again. It is so much more fluid and low-key to stay put. I was NOT in the mood to "go for a ride"!! That's what stalled my first labor. I was clenching my cervix (seriously I am pretty sure I made it close a few CM) all the way to the hospital, like other reply said. I was terrified of pushing a baby out at 70 MPH (hubby was on the interstate for half an hour). Something about the logistics of that?? nah. suck that baby back in. Ugh, discomfort.