I read a lot of online posts and very rarely feel compelled to join the conversation. The drama, judgement and bantering that typically follows is never worth it. But every once in a great while, I think a comment warrants a response. This week I came across such a post. It sparked something in me. It sparked in me a desire to inform, educate, and empower others to do more research and really think critically. It made me realize that the information most readily available on birth is flawed and sub par. It made me want to advocate for change.
Under a post about the midwifery bill currently in legislature a woman posted “I simply do not understand why one has to have a baby at home. Just go to the hospital. It’s not 1890.”
I responded because I think it is important to understand why people choose home birth. Often times, home birth is not a choice to birth at home but rather a conscious choice not to birth in our current hospital maternity system. For most families, home birth is not a rash or selfish decision but one based on research, evidence based care and lack of other choices.
While home birth is not for everyone, neither is the hospital. There are many reasons not to go to a hospital to birth a baby. The debate always becomes the safety of a home birth but really there are lots of risks to choosing a hospital that no one ever talks about. Our country has deplorable birth outcomes compared to other industrialized countries (who have much higher midwife and home birth rates…just saying.) There are significant risks to both mother and baby when they enter an American hospital to give birth. A risk I wasn’t willing to take. I chose home birth. I would have considered a birthing center but didn’t have one close enough. And if hospitals had better policies, humanized birth and better outcomes, I would have birthed at a hospital. The real home birth debate isn’t about location of birth. It’s about humanizing birth. It’s about trusting a woman’s body to labor naturally without intervention, in a comfortable, calm environment and providing access to care only when actually medically warranted. It’s about instating policies that are actually evidence based care. When hospitals begin to offer that for normal, healthy, low risk pregnancy, I’ll go to the hospital. Until then, the hospital isn’t worth the risk for me.
She responded, “I’ve never disagreed more with a post on Facebook than I do yours. I don’t even see a valid argument. “Humanization” of birth? Lol. Birth situations change on a dime. Home birth is irresponsible.”
At first it infuriated me. My thoughts were angry and defensive. No valid argument?!? But studies and data back me up! Irresponsible?!? Why irresponsible? Because there is a risk of death or injury? As if I knowingly chose something that would kill my baby. Really? Irresponsible?!? I have a risk of killing my baby or causing him brain damage every time I get in the car. Am I irresponsible to drive? Should we all stop driving because our baby might die? I began rationalizing my thoughts. Should we stop living or is there acceptable risk in everything we do? What makes it acceptable risk? Who decides?
I acknowledged that everything comes with risks and we must individually decide what risks and choices are best for our family. Then I realized I wasn’t infuriated anymore. I was just sad. Sad that so many women are misinformed. Sad that the medical system fails to present women with true informed consent, contributing to the misinformation at hand. Sad that women trust this system to the point of researching cars and computer purchases more than they do birth choices and outcomes.
Then the anger returned. Not anger directed towards the people who believe in this system of birth, but anger towards the system itself. Anger and sadness so deep it inspired me to advocate. Advocate for better information. Advocate for better birth. Advocate for change.
The fire has been sparked. I will defend home birth. Not because I believe every women should have one (some shouldn’t!) Not because I believe home birth is the ideal option (I don’t!) I will defend home birth because it will change the way we approach birth. I will defend home birth because every women deserves a birth filled with respect, dignity and choices. I will defend home birth because it is time for change.
For more information on our decision to birth at home including birth statistics and birth choices, read here.