homebirth v. hospital birth

the NYT recently had a big article on homebirth versus hospital birthing, and reading the comments after has been fascinating for me.  It’s actually been amazing, since I’ve become a mom, how much parenting is like a religion for many people.  Everybody seems to decide that what they have decided to do is the right way, and other ways are either too hippyish, too mainstream, too uncaring, too at the whim of the child, too corporate, too involved, not enough involved, too much money spent, not enough spent.

good god.  does everything have to be totally right one way and absolutely wrong the other with parenting?  in light of that…

so i thought i would put my two cents in about hospital birthing, because i personally go to the hospital, but the idea of a home birth intrigues me.  after Kieran, I couldn’t do it at home though – I know personally that I want/need that epidural option.  every experience is different, and i do have to say that i favor a hospital birth because if something goes horribly wrong (as it nearly did with Kieran) then there are facilities and people that can do something RIGHT NOW.  i don’t know whether the death rate is higher or lower in home birthing.  i do know that home births are very common in europe, and they still have low death rates.  

interestingly, i have noticed that a huge number of women that choose to homebirth do so because they had a horrific hospital experience the first time around.  i would like to ask who the hell their docs/midwives/nurses are and WHAT facility were they in?  why, if you had any choice at all, would you stay with a doctor who did not understand and respect your wishes?  why would you go to a hospital you were not comfortable with?  why in the name of heaven would you not check out the facilities and find out their philosphy if you were at all able to? here i am addressing the privileged women who had the time money and other resources to do a home birth later. 

those points made, those very points emphasize that hospitals need a lot of work in the birthing department.  women who don’t have the option to shop around or do a home birth have just as much right to have their voices heard and their wishes followed.  

i gave birth in a hospital with an OB that I trusted TOTALLY, with great nurses and wonderful staff.  stating again…i’m not against homebirthing, but is there a way that hospitals can make women feel more in control and comfortable in a hospital setting?  birthing centers in hospitals are a good start…

i think the bottom line question that i have for women who want to home birth is whether it’s based on having a midwife and doula that you trust, a backup plan, and reasonable expectations of what birth entails, or is it based on a romantic notion of cuddling with your newborn in your bed with your partner looking on adoringly?  if it’s the first, kudos and all my best to you and your child.  if it’s the second, re-think.  it’s all about making an informed decision, no matter which way you go.  and if you’re going with a hospital, for goodness sake, make sure you know what you will and won’t consent to, make sure you trust your OB/midwife TOTALLY, and make sure you have an advocate with you in the birthing room who knows your wishes and will stand up for you.

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3 Responses to “homebirth v. hospital birth”

  1. My first birth was a hospital birth with my family doctor who assured me she was everything I was looking for. Turned out she lied. I was comfortable with the hospital. It was the local hospital that I and everyone in my family have gone to for everything. You don’t know how a hospital or maternity ward will be until you actually experience it. My next 2 births were homebirths with midwives.

  2. I appreciate both points of view, in fact have a friend doing a home birth in March. What I hate is extremism on either side; birthing is such a personal thing; how could the decision be WRONG? Well, that’s kind of my take on informed medical decisions, in general. I dislike people who sit around and judge because so-and-so got an epidural, or so-and-so had a tub birth. Who cares? It’s all about the Mom and the Baby and whatever makes HER happy. The end.

  3. Caroline, I’m not sure about the rest of medicine – but in birthing and parenting, it’s like people go CRAZY once kids/babies get involved. Suddenly, informed, researched decisions aren’t good enough. Moms suddenly need to use THEIR story to prove why you must choose the same thing. And militantly so. It often ends up being an attitude that all hospitals are evil institutions. Or, conversely, and attitude that home births are stupid and irresponsible and that midwives are hacks. Neither extreme is true of course. argh. Trying to participate in parenting conversations is one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever done. It’s like a bunch of religious fundamentalists.

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