Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Who Cleans The Mess?

I am a Homebirth Midwifery Apprentice. As of right now I am doing self-study and shadowing a midwife that I love! I attend the prenatals, the birth, and the postpartum checks, and mainly am in an assistant setting, all the while learning as I go.

I was never pro-homebirth. Growing up, I thought only hippies still did it, if people even still had babies at home at all. My mother had cesarean sections with my brother and me, and even though she labored with me, I never once had a second thought about having surgery to give birth. It was normal to me.

I had a cesarean section with my daughter, and a lot of problems ensued, from PPD to PTSD from her NICU stay, and not knowing what was missing from our relationship.

About a year later I was set on the path to becoming a midwife for homebirths, and I never had the thoughts that people do concerning birth.

I researched like crazy, I learned everything I didn't bother learning when I was pregnant with my daughter. Since I was researching birth on my own, I didn't have others suddenly talking about it with me. I didn't have the questions people do since I dipped my own feet into the topic. I wasn't worried about safety or the mess or emergencies.

The midwife I am apprenticing with was a guest speaker at a college class last week, and a lot of the questions were so surprising to me. Since I have been studying nothing but pregnancy and birth for the last two years, I had forgotten that the very vast majority of people don't have the same grasp on the subject as I do, and even then my grasp isn't as large as others.

A few questions were always on safety, especially dealing with emergencies. Birth is seen as a very dangerous time in our culture, which has changed from how it used to be. Yes, people used to die a lot more in childbirth, but not all of those would have been saved with our current technology. Our maternal and infant mortality rates prove that.

There were a few questions on tears, a few on transfers, and then one question came up that I had never actually ever considered.

A girl behind me raised her hand and asked very worried, "Who cleans up the mess?"

I feel bad, because I wasn't speaking, I was strictly there as a guest, and I instantly burst up and semi-yelled, "Me!" It got a laugh, and the midwife introduced me as her apprentice and that I was very good at getting blood out of carpet. Which got even more laughs.

The midwife started discussing what really happens at a homebirth, and how long she stays after the birth. Since I have been apprenticing with her, the soonest we have left after a birth is three hours. And we never *ever* leave a house dirty.

The last birth I assisted at, we drained the birth pool, I cleaned up the few spots of blood that were on the carpet from when the mom went from the pool to the bed, we put in a load of laundry, made sure mom was fed and had something to drink, we repacked the bags with all the birth items, and we went home. When we walk in for a birth, we always walk out with it looking like a baby hadn't been born there.

I guess I take it for granted. I never thought of who would clean after, even at the first birth I helped at, I started cleaning without even a second thought. The mom and dad have a new baby, the midwife is helping them and making sure things are okay. Unless I was needed, cleaning was a way for me to help the family so they didn't have to worry about anything.

When you have a homebirth, at least with my midwife and many others I know, you aren't supposed to be worried about how your home looks. You aren't supposed to be worried about if the blood on the carpet will be there in the morning. Your only job (and I am strictly speaking to the mother) is to nurse your baby. Cuddle your baby. Enjoy this period. It is not your job to do laundry, or cook, or clean.

So, to those that are worried about the mess from a homebirth and using it as a reason to not have one, just know this.

Yes, birth can be messy. I have actually seen it more messy in the hospital, but don't fret. Your house will not have blood stains. You won't have to worry about people knowing what you "did" in your living room or bathroom or bedroom. You don't have to worry about the towels we used or your sheets if you give birth on your bed.

Birth is a beautiful time, and it isn't your job to worry about what it looks like, besides that gorgeous baby that you will be holding.

Leave the mess to us, and seriously, you won't even know if there were any accidents anywhere.


Jenn said... [Reply to comment]

love this! When we first considered homebirth, I remember worrying about this too!

Tacey said... [Reply to comment]

This is really encouraging. It shouldn't be, but it is something that has worried me before!

Dr Josephene Juell said... [Reply to comment]

We had a home birth and our midwives did an amazing job cleaning up. They drained our birth pool, did laundry, fed us, bathed us... It was wonderful.
I blog too at www.takeyourbabytowork.blogspot.com

Ashley said... [Reply to comment]

People ask me this question all the time. I laugh and say my partner did. My youngest daughter was born unassisted and it wasn't that messy. I was surprised how little clean up there was. three loads of laundry, some blood on the bathroom walls and toilet and a few clots in the bathtub.

I swear once people get past the 'dangers' of home birth the automatically assume it was super messy and unmanageable.

Carla said... [Reply to comment]

This is awesome, I'm so glad I have this post to share with others now!

Kayce Pearson said... [Reply to comment]

I'm so glad I was able to answer the ultimate question ;) Really, there is no mess, and even if there is, it will be gone before the midwives leave!

Kelly Hogaboom said... [Reply to comment]

I had a way, way tidier homebirth than my hospital birth, which was all drama and tubes and needles and crunchy creepy hospital paper towels and ill-fitting robes. Not to mention tension and what felt like an undignified experience overall. Blech.

I have a picture of my midwives post-birth and all three of them (they were training one of them) are in WHITE overalls. It was their statement that birth isn't usually just fluids gushing and splattering everywhere. And they were right.

They were gone about 2 hours after the birth. My house was spotless, cozy, warm, food at my side, peaceful. So amazing.

Annie said... [Reply to comment]

Great post! It is so true, that is honestly one of the things that worried me about a homebirth. I did not want to have to worry about cleaning up the "mess" after having a baby. A homebirth sounds wonderful and I wish I could have one, but it never will be. I've had 2 c-sections and from what I have read a VBA2C is pretty dangerous if not near a hospital.

Jenn said... [Reply to comment]

Annie, attitudes toward VBA2C are changing dramatically. New research shows its almost as safe as a VBAC and much safer than a repeat c-section. I'm planning an HBA2C next time around - might be worth looking into!

Kayce Pearson said... [Reply to comment]

Annie, right now I am actually doing prenatals for an HBA2C mama. It isn't any more dangerous than a VBAC, plus, if you have a good midwife (of know what to look for if you are going unassisted) you won't have to worry about getting to the hospital if you need it. Even in the hospital, it is about 30 minutes from decision to incision if something goes wrong. So even if you are at home, the midwife can call the hospital, get them ready and when you get there, they are ready to go.

Plus, during homebirths, you have *constant* supervision, and the very vast majority of things that go wrong in birth go wrong long before it becomes dangerous. They are able to see these things and make decisions based on that so it isn't an emergency, and transfer you then.

Even the ACOG (American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology) have changed their stance on VBA2C and said that most mothers should have the option to have one.

Seriously, it isn't too late.

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

Great post.
I never worried about the mess. I didn't have mws attending my hb but I did have a husband and a MIL who cleaned while I had my first babymoon (4th bub). It definitely should be the last thing a pp mum should worry about.

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

hate to admit that this has been a concern of mine, but this article really helped to put things in focus and put me at ease.....

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