Thursday, July 16, 2009

Let's Discuss: Birth

Has anyone been keeping up with the blog Pacing the Panic Room? The author Ryan Marshall recently wrote about his wife's at-home water birth, and I found it totally fascinating (you can check it out here).

I'll admit that I've never been much for the idea of at-home births. I've heard enough stories to know that even normal, healthy births often require emergency medical attention for some reason or another. Often the window of opportunity for that attention is mere minutes- meaning that even a quick car ride to the hospital could put off treatment long enough to put someone (mama or baby) in trouble. And while, yes, our great-grandmothers may have successfully given birth to 12 children at home, it's probably not a coincidence that their rates for infant mortality and birth complications were a lot higher.

That said, reading the Marshalls' birth story still has me intrigued at the idea. Maybe as our medical knowledge of birth and its risks increase (and as we develop medical technology that's easily transportable), safe home births will become a reality for more women. And being able to give birth in a comfortable, familiar environment versus a sterile hospital DOES sound a lot better.

I thought I'd open the floor up for discussion: what do you think of home births? How about the recent increase in birthing centers, which are designed to give the feel of a home while being close to medical help if needed? I'd love to hear opinions! Just remember to keep it nonjudgmental, we're all friends here :)

Personally, I feel like we still need more impartial, unbiased information. What's the risk of birth complication in a normal pregnancy? How about a pregnancy with slight complications? Will being at home increase any of those risks or decrease them? If the risk of complication is low assuming there is a midwife present, then maybe home birth is a viable option.


  1. Personally, I would be MORE stressed out at home, knowing there wasn't a team of medical staff and fancy equipment right there if something went wrong. It's not something I'd ever do, I'd just rather not take the risk!

  2. I think you're right that we need more impartial information. Right now, you have OBs who get all excited at the idea of a homebirth and midwives who think it's the only way.

    The reality, however, is that a lot of these complications that require emergency treatment are not prevented -- more often caused -- by a hospital birth in itself.

    I never had a home birth because a) I never found a midwife I trusted enough and b) my husband was scared of the idea. I had one birth center births and three in hospitals. There is something about being in a hospital that -- for me -- slows down my labors. They don't tell you this, but there's a lot of pressure to deliver in a certain window of time (empty out that bed for the next woman!). Pressure makes it harder for me to relax. And labor is all about relaxing and trusting your body to open up and let that baby out.

    That said, I've had "good," drug-free hospital births. I was also really glad my last birth was with a midwife in a birth center, as I suspect I would've had a c-section otherwise. (Not that c-sections aren't sometimes a good thing.)

    I had four births without pain medication; there was undoubtedly pressure to take the meds more in hospital births, although I was also lucky enough to get good nurses for two of the three hospital births.

  3. I like the idea of a home birth and honestly I don't know enough about it all to make an informed decision. My initial reaction is to head to the hospital because I'm terrified of giving birth and I imagine I'd feel more comfortable there. However, I'm open to the information given by others for and against either position. Actually, I'm not planning on ever having kids, so this doesn't really relate to me at all, but I find the subject interesting.

  4. My mom gave birth to me at a natural birthing center. I might be ok with doing that, but I don't think I could manage having an actual home birth

  5. Maybe a birthing center that gives you a lot more freedom than a hospital would, but the at home thing scares the daylights outta me, personally. But hey, if it works for you, go for it!

  6. My mum had me in hospital, and then my four siblings at home. Generally it isn't recommended for first time mums to have a home birth, as the risk of complications is too high - it's all the unknown factors, really.

    In order to get the ok from both the doctor and midwife the woman has to have a good pregnancy and be low risk for anything. The midwife also drops off a LOAD of medical equipment and at the first hint of a problem (which, is usually way earlier than when it is responded to in hospital) an ambulance would be called.

    Personally, I think it's great. My mum loved being at home and having us all around.

  7. I like the idea of a midwife but NOT having it at home. Giving birth, to me, is like having surgery...I would've want to have surgery at home, fully awake and without a doctor present.