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In defense of home births

Written by: Christopher February 10 2012 We had a pretty crazy labor, and it allowed for an adventurous story to share in this column. I also can see how it might scare some people off from having a home birth. After all, we planned to have a home birth, and then found ourselves rushing off...

Written by: Christopher

We had a pretty crazy labor, and it allowed for an adventurous story to share in this column. I also can see how it might scare some people off from having a home birth. After all, we planned to have a home birth, and then found ourselves rushing off to the hospital. Some of you may use our story as proof that everyone should have their birth at the hospital. Now, if you feel you’re going to be more comfortable and secure having your birth at the hospital then I’m not here to dissuade you. We did end up having our son at the hospital and it went fine. I also think that a home birth, and especially having a midwife, can still be a marvelous experience.

I admit that a few years ago that I had a very uneducated view of midwives. I pictured them all being 75 year old women that came to your house via a horse and carriage, and they came equipped with nothing more than a bowl of water, a burning candle and prayers to the birthing gods. I felt that home birth was something better left to the characters from The Little House on the Prairie. This was also during a time that having a baby was the farthest thing from my mind, and so I had not bothered to educate myself about the whole delivery process.

A few of our friends ended up having midwives, and we heard absolute marvelous reviews about their skills and compassion. I started to learn that midwives weren’t senior citizens and that they do go to accredited schools to learn this profession. Midwives are trained in specifically doing routine deliveries, and they went through a stringent process that would make them experts in this field. Selecting a midwife started to make a lot of sense, since Emily was extremely healthy and we had no reason to believe there would be complications. Why wouldn’t we want to use someone who is specialized in deliveries and can give a specialized one-on-one care that obstetricians don’t have time for?

The home birth thing was something I was a little a more hesitant towards. Emily had done a lot of reading about it, and by the time we were ready to have a baby, she started to lean towards pursuing the home birth option. Part of the reason I was apprehensive was that we’re related to a few doctors in our family, and I had a good idea we would get some friction from them for going in this direction. On top of that, some of my family members have also had a history of complicated pregnancies, and so they wouldn’t likely be that comfortable knowing Emily was delivering the baby away from all that high tech gear. To be honest, the history of complications was the thing I was most concerned about as well.

How could a home be a safe place to deliver our baby?

Emily took me to a seminar on home births and it played a huge part in making me far more comfortable with the experience. The main reason Emily wanted a home birth was that she felt she would be far more comfortable at home on her bed (or in a small pool) than being stuck in a strange hospital bed. The birth would be safer if Emily wasn’t stressed, and there isn’t anything less stressful than being able to stay at your own home. On top of that, the baby had spent the last 9 months taking in the air Emily been sucking up from the home environment, and so the theory is that it would be better to introduce the baby to a place he was familiar with.

Now, obviously the midwives wouldn’t be able to bring all the equipment that would be available at a level four hospital (one equipped for emergency and complicated pregnancies). They would have the same tools as what is considered a level one hospital (probably your smaller county hospitals). I realized that Emily was really healthy and all the tests pointed to a fairly uncomplicated birth. I finally saw the value in having a home birth.

It didn’t work out that way, but I don’t regret our choice. Because of our experience, I would recommend a midwife even more. Our midwives were amazing. Even when we had to transfer to the hospital, they followed us to provide amazing support and advice. The day went by much better thanks to the incredible skills and compassion of our midwives.

It is unfortunate we couldn’t do the home birth, due to Emily’s contractions not providing the necessary power to help push Everett out. Because of this experience, we’re most likely going to use a hospital for our next delivery (with a midwife still, though). I’d still recommend a home birth if it is something you’re considering.

Our midwives were experts. They weren’t willing to take any risks. They erred on the side of caution. They still tell us that there was a chance they could have tried the delivery at home, but they felt it was far safer to head into the hospital. I’m happy to know they didn’t gamble with my son and wife’s health and instead were concerned about being as safe as possible. Sure, it was tough to see my wife wheeled away on a stretcher and Emily didn’t like having to stop pushing for 40 minutes, but we’re glad the midwives made the safe call. They were wise and professional women. In all the craziness, it was still nice to be at home for the first bit and to be surrounded by a comforting environment. It was also great to realize that when things didn’t go as planned, they had the safety measures in place.
If you were considering home birth then I hope I didn’t scare you away. And even if your home birth doesn’t pan out, you might get an exciting story like mine.