Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Home Birth Decision

Whew the past couple weeks have been insane. I have had a hard time getting back to my blog. But here we go, finally.
Thanks to Oak and her hilarious comment a couple posts ago I am compelled to comment. But in reality I am surprised I haven't written about this sooner. In my head I already carefully outlined exactly what led me to the home birth decision, but sure as shit, turns out I haven't. Well other than saying I am a big hippie.
I am honestly hoping that no one takes offense to anything I may say in the following sentences. I highly doubt you will be offended, but whatevs, just covering my ass. Don't be offended by whatever I say mmkay? And let me preface this conversation with the following things you should know.
  •  I have no fear of hospitals, my parents are/were (never know how to conjugate that now) both nurses, so I grew up in the hospital. I am comfortable in that environment.
  • I don't dislike doctors
  • I don't fear needles or germs or anything else that would make me dislike hospitals.
  • I know if I did decide to have my baby in the hospital that I would be strong willed enough to stick to a natural birth plan. Obviously assuming that everything was progressing naturally and all that.
  • I am planning to transfer to a hospital if there are any indications that a home birth is unsafe for me and/or the baby. I don't have any issue with doing this because I know if it happens then it was necessary and the hospital is the best place for me at that point.
  • I know there are a ton of wonderful, beautiful, enchanting birthing centers around that I can go to and I considered it.
  • I can't think of anything else you might be thinking that I may be biased against or whatever, but if you have questions definitely ask me.
Okay all that being said, let's lay out how I came to my decision. Believe me when I first thought of becoming pregnant I didn't really think of alternative locations of having a child besides a hospital delivery room. Women go to the hospital and have babies. That was a fact in my mind. And doctors deliver those babies. Another fact. As I said, I had no fear of this and I was planning on getting pregnant, visiting the doctor and driving to the hospital when baby decided to show up. Obviously I knew midwives existed and I knew that you could have one at the hospital deliver your baby. When we started "trying", I started seriously thinking more about what I wanted to do. So I started thinking that a midwife at the hospital might be the way I would go. It seemed like overkill to have an OB/GYN deliver the baby if all is well and it could be handled by a midwife. Several friends of mine have had their babies this way. And an equal number of my friends told me they loved their doctors so they wanted them to deliver their babies. Cool. Maybe if I had a doctor that I loved and was super comfortable with, I would feel that way too. But basically I moved back to Colorado and never really pursued the task of finding the perfect doctor for me. When we first got back in fact, I drove up to my hometown (an hour each way) to see my family doctor for my first annual. It isn't like I wouldn't go see a new doctor. Obviously, because I have, but there was something nice about not having to fill out all that damn paperwork that asks about your family history, yada yada yada. This doc knew my mom, knew our family history of cancer, had ordered my baseline ultrasound of my breasts (another story for another day), basically she knew it all. So it just made it easier to be able to show up at her office, spread my legs, and not have to tell my WHOLE story to another person. Again obviously I did this when I went to the current Dr. last year.
Andy and I have always been documentary freaks. Like we will watch documentaries about everything: child prostitution in 3rd world countries, gay hasidic jews, genetically engineered food, obesity in the U.S., etc. If it is out there to be watched we will watch it. Somehow I heard about "The Business of Being Born" and I rented it from Netflix. One of the facts that stuck with me from that documentary, and that has been confirmed by books I have read and my midwife, was that there is a ridiculously low need for intervention in birth, despite how much intervention is seen at the hospital. The rise in use of pitocin, epidurals, cesareans, etc. in the United States is astounding. There are a handful of situations where being induced is necessary, but it is entirely over-used. Cesarean rates in the United States are around 35%. This is a ridiculously high rate compared to other developed countries that have lower infant and mother mortality rates. Anyway, I don't want to scare anyone, as I said, I am not afraid to give birth in a hospital. I know that I am strong willed enough that I wouldn't let them push unnecessary interventions. 
But the part of the documentary that was most poignant to me was when it talks about the propensity of the medical field to instill fear in women to convince them they don't know how to birth. 'You don't know what you're doing, therefore I am going to tell you how this is going to go'. We've lost confidence in our body's ability to have a baby without a doctor/ without drugs/ or whatever we believe. But we fear birth. This is something we were made to do. Or at least I definitely was with my big old birthing hips. The reason so many pregnant women say 'I am definitely getting an epidural' is because they have been taught that birth is too painful for them to handle. Now I don't sit here and think that I am going to push a giant baby out of my hoohaa and feel absolutely no pain. It is more that I know I can handle it (for those of you who are skeptics, refer to my friend Katie's hypnobirthing site. She will be training me in this technique, she has used it twice and she swears by it. If you haven't heard of it before definitely look into it for your own birth). Okay, but that is more of my decision to have a natural birth. Thousands of women want to have a natural birth. Obviously "The Business of Being Born" introduces the idea of home birth. At first I watched it alone. This was before we were pregnant and I figured Andy wouldn't be all that interested in it. When he got home that night I turned to him and said 'I have a documentary I want you to see. You don't have to watch it now, but it is making me consider a home birth'. He rolled his eyes and gave me the 'how much bigger of a hippie can you be? But then he surprised me, he watched it, right then and there. And what was more surprising, he was on board!  From there I started asking questions and I started reading. 
(As I said in the beginning, I don't want this post to alienate or upset anyone. I am not attacking anyone who was given a cesarean or had to be induced or whatever happened during your birth. Sometimes these things are absolutely necessary. I just think medical intervention during birth is much too liberally applied and it often escalates to a level that could have been avoided in some cases if the doctors and nurses would just let the baby come on its own.)
When I started talking to my friends about it I found out that Pickles' mom, sort of my adoptive mom, had both him and his brother at home. So I started picking her brain. As I mentioned once before, I think, Pickles' Mom had a home birth with a midwife back when it was illegal for anyone to assist in the birth of a child except a licensed OB. "The Business.." and several books talk about the smear campaign against midwives and how things were published to make women think that midwives were dangerous and unclean. But in all actuality, most countries in the world use midwives and doctors are reserved for those few cases that need intervention. Anyway, eventually midwife assisted births were made legal again (at least in Colorado, not certain about everywhere else). And now it is perfectly acceptable to use them, just maybe not as widespread.
Pickles mom still had several books from when she was pregnant. One was "Birth without Violence" and one was just titled "Birth". "Birth" was sort of a collection of stories from all sorts of different births. One that sticks out in my mind was a woman who went into her doctor the day before her due date and asked him to induce her (but she had to come back after her hair appointment to get started, I was loathing her right away). She was induced and then she requested to be "knocked out" completely. She wasn't conscious for any of it even though it was a vaginal birth. This story kind of shocked me. I get that some women have a very low pain threshold, but this is kind of part of the deal. You get pregnant, so that means eventually you have to get the baby out. Other stories were of home birth, natural hospital births, birthing center births, etc. This book really opened my eyes to the options and I started thinking more seriously about being at home. How wonderful it would be to birth in my own space. To be able to lay in my bed, or take a shower, or sit on my couch, to be able to walk about without being in a hospital gown dragging an IV along with me everywhere I go. This is our home, this is the place we made for our family, it just seemed so right to want to bring this baby into the world here.
By this time Andy and I were both in favor of a home birth. The only time I wavered on the decision was right after I got the positive home test. A bit of panic rushed over me when I realized the amount of unknowns. We didn't have a midwife yet. Would I be able to find one that we were comfortable with? Maybe I should just scrap this idea and stick with a hospital. But after a couple days I was back to my original decision and each day that goes by I feel more and more confident about it.
At first when people would ask something about my dr.'s visits or our plans. I would kind of skirt the issue and say something like 'well we are going with a midwife and we are thinking about doing a home birth'. But now my feisty side is out and I am so confident in my decision and in this person who will guide us that I just straight up tell people. 'We're having a home birth with a midwife'.
Josey brought up a good point in her comment about home birth. She said her husband isn't okay with the idea due to the fact that they are so far away from a hospital. First off, most transfers to a hospital/doctor happen before labor is even on the radar. Screening for home births is pretty stringent. If I develop any complications (breech, preeclampsia, incompetent cervix, whatever it is called when your placenta gets ahead of the baby, etc.) the midwife will transfer me to a doctor she works with. So I feel really confident that if I get the okay that all is healthy, there will be no issue of birthing at home. But there is that little worry in everyone's mind of what if there is an emergency? What if I don't stop bleeding? What if a shoulder gets stuck? (Read Ina May Gaskin's "Guide to Childbirth"!). The midwife is trained and able to respond to all these things, but something could happen where we need the hospital during labor. Perhaps one of the things that make me really comfortable with a home birth is that there is a hospital about two miles from our house. I could literally walk myself there if needed. That would look hilarious by the way. It isn't a hospital that I would choose to birth in if I wasn't doing  a home birth, but they have an emergency room and I know if it becomes an emergency it will take less than 5 minutes to get there.
I think we live in an absolutely amazing time. Just consider the amount of options we have when it comes to our lives and bodies. Everyone has to decide for themselves what they want from their birth and what they are comfortable with. But I hope this gives you an idea of how I came up with my decision and perhaps you can see why I am so gosh darn excited about it.

If you are interested in other fun resources check out the documentary "Orgasmic Birth". It introduces the idea that birth can sometimes be enjoyable. Gasp!


  1. Very interesting! To each his own, and I'm sure you've heard many stories. A friend of mine had an at home water birth and all my cousins were born at home. My brother and I were born in a hospital without the help of drugs. Me on the other hand, as much as I hate hospitals, am more afraid of something going wrong and not getting the help I need. But you brought up very good points and all you can do is what feels right to you. Lots of people give birth all over the world every day and do just fine with no medical attention. Can't wait to hear more about your journey!

  2. :) I figured these would be your reasons, and I'm working on my husband to think this way. We'll see. I bought that documentary (Your Best Birth) and read the book, but never watched the movie. Maybe I'll pop it in tonight and see if I can get Charlie to watch it with me. Doubtful, but worth a shot. :)

    We live about 30 miles from the nearest hospital, so that's definitely a little different. I did just find out that they just started a program at that hospital where you can do midwife assisted water births, so that might be our compromise. We'll see.

    Until this TTC journey started, I definitely always thought MD/hospital was the only way to go. Funny how things change...

    I'm sure your birth will go beautifully!!

  3. Bingo. I watched The Business a few weeks ago and it totally changed my entire mindset moving forward. I'm halfway through Ina May's book and I'mnwell set on a natural birth BUT I don't think I want to do it at home so I found a birthing center in town that I'm going to check out. Its so funny but our brains have been on parallel tracks, its good to know I'm not alone! :)