Many of us feel concerned about having a hospital birth, where doctors view birth as a medical procedure and treat the mother as a patient. Unnecessary interventions, being forced on our backs to give birth, and a hostile environment full of disrespect for the mother’s choices are common things we hear about hospital births.
My Personal Birth Story
Almost four years ago, I was pregnant with my first child. I was feeling very nervous about a hospital birth and very confident in my ability to give birth. I knew I could handle the pain, I knew I wanted to try a water birth, and I planned to stay calm and comfortable for the whole process. My conclusion was that I needed to have a home birth.
I found a supportive midwife, made sure she understood my birth plan, and got everything ready for my exciting home birth. I had a number of friends who had had home births, read a lot about natural birth, and felt completely confident in my decision. Our families felt uncomfortable, but I made it clear that I wasn’t interested in talking about it.
Labour Finally Starts
Finally the day came when my labour started. I dealt well with the pain of contractions, used the water as pain relief in the later stages of labour, and felt in control. Then things stopped being so perfect…
I wasn’t making progress pushing and my baby’s heart rate was showing signs of stress. We got out of the water and I pushed like crazy, got an emergency episiotomy, and finally my son was born, just before the ambulance arrived. My son was carried to the other room where they made sure he was fine as I lay there in shock.
I ended up hemorrhaging and needed to go to the hospital for a D and C, where I spent the night. I was weak from low iron for about a month.
Things may not have been different had I been in the hospital, but I would have been close to the medical interventions that I needed. What’s more, I believe that the great parts of my birth story would have been the same since I would have had the same great midwife as support.
Great Birth Support Makes For A Great Birth
My message is that the location of birth is not what makes it the best possible outcome. It’s the support you have. Whether that be a great midwife, a great doula, or even a great OB, friend, or family member.
The 3 aspects that made my birth support perfect was:
- Having prenatal support where you are given all the information needed to make informed decisions and where your wishes are discussed and understood.Midwives and doulas tend to offer lots of time before birth to discuss anything you feel necessary, about either physical or emotional topics (1). They care about the emotional side as well as the medical side of birth and help you understand the process from both aspects. (1).
- Having someone with you during birth who can give you honest and knowledgeable advice with your wishes in mind.Midwives and doulas have non-medical interventions for things like speeding up or slowing down birth, and naturally managing pain, which could be the difference of having medical interventions or not. Women reported being more satisfied with their ability to make decisions about the birthing process when assisted by a midwife (2).
- Having someone who stays with you through the whole birth process, never rushing any part of it and only intervening if necessary.Unlike OBs, midwives and doulas stay with the mother for the whole birth. They are not in and out of the room as nurses and doctors would be. This allows them to monitor the birth more closely, which could catch “problems” early so that natural interventions can be used instead of medical ones. They are also not on a schedule the way OBs and nurses are. They allow the process to naturally progress since they view their role as supporting the natural process, while letting nature take it’s course (3).
Not all midwives or doulas offer the same support. Ask questions, and talk about your wishes to make sure you find a support that works well for you. Where midwives or doulas are not available, a supportive friend, family member, or spouse can help your birth be as great as possible.
What The Birth Od My First Son Taught Me
My final thoughts are this: It is not the being at home part of a home birth that makes home births so special, instead it is the calm atmosphere and great birth support that usually comes with a home birth. This is possible in both a hospital setting and at home. Don’t let fear of the hospital keep you from making the best choice for you.
Amy is a writer and a mother of a blended family with three young kids, soon to be four. She has a wide variety of interests including mindful parenting, successful blended families, gardening, health and fitness, recipes, and more… all of which are reflected in her writing.
Sources for this article include:
(1) Baby Centre: Doctor or midwife: Which is right for you?
(2) WebMD: Certified Nurse-Midwives, Certified Midwives, and More, by Kecia Gaither, MD, MPH
(3) KidsHealth: Midwives, reviewed by Larissa Hirsch, MD