Where you birth your child seems to be just as controversial to someone who disagrees with you than about the choice to have a natural birth or not.
Your doctor, midwife, family, friends, even your husband may disagree with you no matter where you desire your birth to take place–hospital OR home.
You may feel that sharing the fact that you want to birth at home with others will only bring on bitter disagreement.
I’ve never birthed at home, but I didn’t fully disclose that I wanted a natural unmedicated birth to just anyone unless they distinctly asked. Even though I wasn’t birthing at home, I still got some flack otherwise.
Or maybe you’re still trying to explore your options and learn about what risks are associated where and what will work best for you and your baby. It’s really YOUR call.
But when it comes to home birth safety, there are various views to consider.
The New York Times Debate On Home Birth Safety
I recently came across a grouping of six opinionated articles written by various experts in the obstetrical field: midwives, obstetricians, professors and one mother having experienced a home birth.
They all provide their personal perspective upon the risks associated with having a home birth versus a hospital birth. I found each piece quite compelling even with their varying view points.
They all back their points of view with scientific evidence. (Note they’re all in reference to modernized countries. Third world countries face much different scenarios you can learn more about here.)
I’m going to share with you their pointed mindsets and let you judge whether you agree or not with the discussion. You won’t be bored and they are quick reads!
When Pregnancy is Low-Risk, Home Birth Is A Safe Choice
The first article was written by a certified nurse midwife who is also health sciences clinical professor. She feels that it doesn’t matter which location you choose to birth in and the argument is useless for the sake of argument.
But what really matters is what sort of circumstances are needed in order for a home birth to be a completely safe choice for mothers? If you have a specific pregnancy or mental condition that warrants monitoring for your safety and the baby’s safety, the hospital is of course the optimal choice.
While access to correct information is important for expecting mothers, so is their choice. –Tekoa King
She cites the fact that life threatening emergencies occur in birth cases EQUALLY between home and hospital births. Thus in turn, she advocates for better systems to be put in place for mothers in the United States that assist birth at home needing immediate emergency care.
Home Birth Is Not Safe
The next article was co-authored by two obstetrical directors. They support their belief that the absolutely safest place for you to birth your child is within the walls of a hospital or birthing center, no matter what your individual circumstances and risks are.
They cite a study showing that midwife deliveries at home see a marginally higher rate of issues and infant mortality than those occurring in a hospital setting. Also the fact that interventions such as c-sections are immediately available and save the lives of mothers and babies often that otherwise would not have been had they stayed in their home.
Compassionate care is essential for all births and the profession should strive for home-like hospital births. –Amos Grunebaum and Frank Chervenak
I do like how they also state that minimizing the need for such, if any, interventions needs to be mainstream across all physician’s and hospital practices.
In Home Birth, What Risk Is Acceptable?
The fourth piece was also written from the point of view of an obstetrician. He discusses a bit about the methods and rates of infant mortality between home births and hospital births mostly in European countries.
But his comparison between the United States and European countries still shows that even though greater systems are in place for European mothers to birth at home with lower risks, the rate of infant deaths is barely lower.
But as long as women are being properly educated about the risks and benefits of location of birth, hopefully they are able to make a decision that reflects their preferences. –Aaron Caughey
Thus the trade-off between home or hospital is the increased risk of interventions in the hospital, which you may not think is worth it against the slightly higher chance your baby could have complications at home.
My Experience With Home Birth
I’m glad they included a mother’s story about her home birth. Many of you don’t know anyone who delivered at home–I haven’t.
She expresses the fact that she did have a previous birth in a hospital that she didn’t have a bad experience with, but that having a home option worked better for her family and it was a greater desire.
Having an excellent midwife was clearly important to her and she felt very comfortable and trusting with her midwife.
Supporting the mother is always the key. –Aja Graydon
She liked the freedom of being able to move around without restriction and not having to worry about nurses or staff that would clash with her needs.
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I found this great video interview about a mother’s experiences with both a medicated hospital birth and a water birth at home. You may find it quite interesting.
Emergency Care Can Be Too Urgently Needed For Home Births
The fifth in this debate series was composed by the President of American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. His view doesn’t vary much from the previous physicians’ about the risks involved.
Knowing that in the hospital, the difference between the speed and availability of an emergency medical team can mean the difference between complete health and safety of you and your baby or the loss of tender life.
But we must be prepared, if need be, to provide mother and baby with the medical interventions they need to survive and to thrive. –John Jennings
But he also is a proponent and supporter of the ideal of bringing as close as possible a comfortable home setting into the hospital or birthing center in order to achieve those same comforts and benefits afforded so.
Hospitals Carry Their Own Risks
The final argument in this debate series was concluded from a professional midwife starting off clearly stating that those who do choose to birth at home are aware of the risks, especially with their own personal circumstances; midwives properly assess all risks for their patients and confer a joint decision with awareness of things that do arise on occasion.
But she also concedes the alarming fact that hospital rates of c-sections has climbed steadily over the years and argues whether or not the need for such a high rate is indicative of medical necessity.
We firmly believe that all women should be actively encouraged to explore the place of birth that is right for their family and risk profile. –Marinah Valenzuela Farrell
She presents organizations and refers to developed guidelines that certified midwives follow when determining even minor needs for a mother and her baby that would be best served in a hospital setting, whether during labor or after a birth.
You may already know what position I support. I feel that birth in a hospital or birthing center is the best option, personally. I have had two births, both in the hospital, and BOTH were completely natural and unmedicated as far as I could control.
Yes, you can read the find details of those studies referred to in these arguments about safety. Yes, you can agree that the occurrences of c-sections is much higher in hospitals, obviously.
But from my perspective, even in just a scientific manner, the statistics showing that the safety of infant mortality is just slightly higher in the hospital is enough for me. I would rather know that I have a better chance, however minute, of bringing home my baby after its arrival in safe and loving arms no matter how it arrived.
In my book, the fact is cesarean sections DO save lives and for good reason. Yes there are risks. Yes things can go wrong. But knowing that I can still bring home my child is worth it if the case is ever presented to me.
I may not have my younger sister, younger brother, and possibly even my own mother today if such a modern procedure didn’t exist.
I believe that being able to achieve the kind of natural birth you desire is STILL possible in today’s world.
And I believe it to be the best of both worlds.
Do not take just my point of view as your final decision or even as offense against me. I am just ONE person with one set of experiences and knowledge.
I WANT you to make the best decision for yourself and for your family.
℘ If you choose to birth at home … WONDERFUL! I applaud you. It is a magnificent thing to be able to share.
℘ If you choose to birth in the hospital … there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with doing so. I know you’ve made the best choice for you and your family.
I need to hear from you. Has anyone here birthed at home?