They suck in their breath. Maybe gasp. They’ll say you are crazy to take a risk. You’ll hear it all. I mean, for goodness sake…you are clearly insane to chose to birth your baby at home….away from the safety of a hospital, without a wise doctor to rescue you if there is a problem, without all that technology to save you or you child.
But, you know better. You know that those things are just not so. You know that there was a mistake made when birth was medicalized. Birth turned from a simple miracle to a medical emergency. Why would we be created to push a 9 pound baby out of a teenie body orifice? Must have been an evolutionary oversight---right? That is why those babies need to be vacuumed out, pulled out by forceps or cut outta their Mamas via the quaint l’il c-section. Not “major surgery”, a c-section. Just this routine thang we can do for ya.
Don’t get me wrong. My sarcasm is not to say that you are somehow bad if you choose a hospital birth, if that is truly what you wanted. Nor is it to say that when that doctor resuscitated your baby he was not necessary. The hospital does have a role in birth. My feeling is that its role should just be to aid in situations where there is a real true need. A life and death need. Doctors are excellent at saving lives. I don’t discredit that in any way.
But don’t discredit me when I say that I want to have my baby at home. Don’t tell me that I am a nutcase to have my baby on my bed if you don’t want me to say you are a wacko for having it on an uncomfortable hospital plastic pad-of-a-mattress. I’ve done birth both ways and I can say with absolute certainty that my homebirth rocked my world. And the hospital birth scared the be-jeezus out of me. I don’t want to have another child in a hospital (God willing) but I would be overjoyed to have another baby in my tub or on my bed or just about anywhere in my own cozy home.
People will tell you that there was a reason that midwives were outlawed, called witches and cast outta cities and birth became a hospitalized event. That babies and Moms were saved, that everyone was safer and healthier. You tell them for me…and I quote… “Ummmm…No.”. Babies still died in those early hospitals. Back then people thought that you could go from the room of a dying person or the room of a severely ill person and then catch a newborn, without even washing your hands. Birth became safer when we became a bit cleaner.
Midwives have the same if not better mortality rates than hospitals. And honey, I ain’t ly’in! They know their stuff. They know that Mamas know their stuff. Mamas come equipped to beautifully and exquisitely birth their own babes wherever they want, where they are most comfy and happy. There is no risk.
I do not think that a doctor is the best person to have at a birth. They are trained to know what to do if something goes wrong. That is the essence of the problem with a medicalized childbirth. They look at the miracle of birth as though something could always go wrong which can make a woman worry that indeed something may go wrong and they no longer trust themselves. This causes a cascading effect on the birth scenario as the more fear the woman carries, the more likely she will have a problem.
One of my favourite things to tell people when I see they are nervous about a homebirth is this. When you are in the hospital and birthing your babe and things are going badly, it takes the hospital staff 30 minutes to prep you and the room for a cesarean. Well, when I had my homebirth I was 10 minutes from the hospital. If my midwife suspected that things were seriously wrong she would have called the hospital (or my doctor or both) and let them know we were coming and you know what? No time would be lost. She carries a few medical things to carry us through the transfer.
But that is not the point actually. I also am “insane” enough to think that you don’t have to have a hospital that close. I know that a woman who chooses the homebirth path, who believes in herself and in life enough, she can do it. You prepare for a birth like you would prepare for a marathon. For nine months you know you have to get ready for this incredible life event and you work towards your goal. You plan your birth, you gather your supplies, you prepare your mind (the biggest job of all) and then you just do it baby!!
The clearing of your mind, I say, is the toughest part because you have to unlearn so many things you were taught. You have to tell yourself that you are powerful enough to push a baby out of yourself without anybody telling you what to do. My midwife let me be in the driver’s seat. I was never once examined internally by her the entire time I was in her care (prenatally or otherwise). She didn’t need to feel that I was at 10 cm to “allow” me to push. She knew my body would intuitively and intricately tell me when. She trusted me. I trusted myself. And we were fine. Better than fine actually! You see, my personal opinion is that just like not all babies are as big as each other, just like we do not all gain the same amount during pregnancy, just like anything, we are all unique. Maybe we do not all have to be 10 cm to push. Maybe I pushed at 8? Maybe my friend needs to push at 11? Maybe the nurse who checked me with my first and said I was ready to push actually made a mistake and I was only 9.5 cm.
Why are we putting all our concerns on a number? Let the woman’s body tell her. It won’t let her down if she is connected to her body. All will be just fine. You trust yourself and all will happen the way it was intended.
Some women say they really go to another world during certain points of their labour. They are virtually unaware of what is happening around them and they are very in tune with their body and their baby. This can not happen at a hospital. You will hear other women screaming out their birth song, you will have people endlessly ask you if you want drugs even if you specifically told them you do not. You will have people wanting desperately to examine you. You will have little time to go within.
Giving birth is personal. We should have the chance to choose our own environment, our own people present, our own positions. Many women have likened it to having people around when you are having a bowel movement. It's private and you don't want people watching, waiting, checking, feeling, disturbing.
One book I can highly recommend about homebirths is “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth” by Ina May Gaskin. I know many others but that is one that will touch on women who want to birth their babies in a hospital, those who want to have them with a midwife at home or those who want to have their baby on their own without any assistance.
Get your power back. Don’t hand it over to your doctor. Understand that birth is joyous, magnificent and ~yours~. No one birth is the same, no one person has all the answers, and nobody knows you like you do.
Now go and birth that babe wherever you damn well please and tell that woman over their who tsked tsked and shook her head at me to push out her own babies where she wants and leave your God-given right alone.
Happy Baby Catching!