Homebirth Tuesday – This Is Why I Won’t…

Every day, whether on blogs, or facebook, or emails, or twitter, I hear the phrase “This is why I won’t have a homebirth.” And it is always followed by some tragic story of a baby dying or a baby with problems or a mother dying or a mother with problems.

The one thing that gets me about this, is they never say “This is why I won’t have a hospital birth” or “This is why I won’t have an induction” or “This is why I won’t have a cesarean.”

No matter how many deaths are reported or babies that have problems or have to stay in the NICU, the hospital and all they do seems to seem like a safehaven women can go to make sure everything will be okay.

I once tried telling someone that women die in childbirth more in the hospital than anywhere else, and she didn’t believe me. Chalked it up to my “hate for hospitals and doctors.”

It truly amazes me that people don’t believe that women still die in childbirth. Just because the news doesn’t report it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Just because it isn’t on your list of questions in your interview with your doctor, doesn’t mean he hasn’t lost patients or babies.

I know that in most homebirth interviews, the parents ask if the midwife has ever lost a baby or a mother. It is a hard thing to ask and a hard thing to answer, but I think it is in every consultation.

Why isn’t this in the questions we ask our OBs? Do we not want our little bubble of safety to break?

Now, I don’t like to question anyone’s choice of where to give birth. I don’t feel comfortable with that unless I know you really well.

But, if you tell me you won’t have a baby at home just because of some story you heard, I will ask you about it.

Judging someone’s terrible experience at home and deciding then what to do is kind of underhanded. I know hundreds of websites that are there for women with terrible and tragic hospital birth stories. I know very few that have terrible stories from a homebirth.

Why listen to only one side? Why not get the truth?

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7 Responses

  1. Great points. Unfortunately, tragedy can strike anyone at any time. Sometimes it's unavoidable.I do know my blood pressure is usually low and the entire I was in the hospital, my blood pressure was high. It's a stressful place.

  2. Really good point… asking an OB if they've lost a patient/baby SHOULD be 1 of the interview questions. I'll be honest–the thought never occurred to me.When I got pregnant, there was no other option to me than to give birth in a hospital. It was just what I knew… the idea of a homebirth was foreign to me and sounded like something I DEFINITELY didn't want.I'm totally the other way now. Yes, I'm still giving birth in a hospital, but I'd definitely look in to a homebirth for next time. Just the way hospitals handle things and all the restrictions, etc. It makes me nervous for this birth, that I may not get what I want (like when they stuck me with the Terb needle while I was mid-sentence trying to say I didn't want it).I would have been one of the people you're talking about- who says they'd never have a home birth- and not even because of hearing someone's bad experience, but just because I didn't know any better. Now I do!! It took nearly 9 months of pregnancy to get me there though 🙂

  3. Im a labor and delivery nurse who works in a hospital AND assists a homebirth midwife and I can totally relate to what you are saying. I especially hear this sort of thing from the other nurses I work with at the hospital. They have no idea what the statistics actually show…and really, c-sections are not considered a negative outcome under the medical model –even when they are not truly indicated– so this skews their perception of homebirth even further.

  4. I don't have any illusions of absolute safety in the hospital because bad things can happen in childbirth that have nothing to do with where you give birth. I do think that hospitals and OBs are better equipped to deal with the bad things that might happen. That is why I wouldn't have a homebirth. On the off chance that I am the one with rare complication, I'd rather take my chances with the hospital and an OB.As far as statistics, hospitals might get a bad rap because they serve a higher risk population where things are likely to go wrong. If a doctor loses 20 mothers but has delivered 4000 babies including many high risk babies he shouldn't be compared with a midwife who has delivered 500 babies in from a low risk population. It is my understanding that most homebirth midwives don't take the higher risk patients. To compare the two sort of seems like apples to oranges.

  5. I agree with you, a lot of people base things on the worst thing they've ever heard. I know I could die crossing the street, or driving my car, or fall down in the tub. Crap happens. Basing my entire life on "horror stories" would be pretty sad!I won't have a home birth, but it's not because of anyone else, I just don't want to. I had a hospital birth w/my first and now am almost 20 weeks with my 2nd. I'll be having him at a birth center, which is in a house. It's perfect for me, it's like a home, comfortable, warm and everything. I think it's going to be great.

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  7. Thanks for your blog. I am saddened by the extremely high emotional and physical price women pay for an illusion of absolute safety in a hospital. To interrupt hormones and interfere routinely is NOT safe. Yes, I think there is a place for hospitals in childbirth. I think if women felt better to not give birth at home, they shouldn't have to face an environment so ignorant of what is required for a happy, healthy birth. Just because a baby doesn't die, doesn't mean the birth was healthy by any means. I think midwives and docs should have a wonderful, respectful relationship in which they honoured each others' expertise and used each other as resources, like they mostly do in the Netherlands, which has the best birth outcomes in the world. But docs generally dislike midwifery, and as a result of many witch hunts, many homebirth practitioners are not so enamoured of doctors. The ones who suffer from this split are women and babies.

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