Tuesday, November 2, 2010

It Doesn't Work That Way

Fear. It is everywhere. It is on TV where you see commercials for safety and how to protect your family from others. From the flu shot being commercialized to car accidents to show how well car insurance works, we see how every day we could die from something.

Then you add in the fear surrounding birth, which is an entirely different animal.

When people hear about my job working with a homebirth midwife, they love to tell me why they couldn't have a homebirth. Most times it deals with "emergencies" which aren't emergencies, or how homebirth is dangerous, but most of them end with "but my baby/I would have died if we hadn't been in the hospital!"

So many times this isn't true, but we have been taught that birth is inherently dangerous and that we need to be in the hospital where emergencies can be taken care of. We have been taught that regardless of what is happening, the hospital is where we need to be, whether it is birth or death or anything in between.

There is a special group of people that are very close to my heart, even amidst all this fear. These are the women that choose for themselves to have an unassisted/unattended birth (or freebirth, which I like so much more).

These women push past the fears generated by the media, by providers and professionals, and by other people, and choose to take the responsibility on themselves for their birth. They choose to trust their body and trust their intuition more than someone else's judgement. These women choose their birth.

I hear all the time how freebirth is unsafe. I hear all the problems that could happen, all the things that no one but a surgeon would be able to handle. I hear people shout statistics about how often problems happen, how often mothers and babies die during birth.

However, my favorite is when people tell me they are okay with freebirth as long as the woman is educated.

There are so many things said that are just purely laughable.

One thing I do want everyone to know is that the women that choose freebirth are more educated that most providers and professionals. It takes a lot of research, trust, and work to get to the point where you know you are ready to be responsible for your own birth.

At freebirths, they have everything that a midwife brings to a homebirth. They have everything they would need if something happened.

And yet, there is so much more to birth than simply having tools. There is so much more to birth than having someone there to monitor every little thing.

A lot of midwifery books talk about intuition. They all say that a midwife's greatest tool is knowing before something happens. The midwife I work with once told me a story about how she knew a mom was going to have a complication as she drove to the birth. She didn't know how she knew, but she trusted her instinct, which turned out right, and she was able to be prepared for something that hadn't happened yet.

One of the best parts about having a freebirth is that you don't have to trust the intuition of someone else. You don't have to wonder if they will handle everything and know what will happen.

You know your own body, you know what you are capable of and what you aren't capable of. You have a special bond with your baby that makes you know that you would do anything to make them have a safe birth. You want them to be a part of your family, and you wouldn't risk anything just to have the birth you want.

Instead of spreading your fears and your insecurities around and projecting them onto other people, why not trust that those choosing homebirth or freebirth know what they are doing?

In a perfect world, this would be amazing. But we don't live in a perfect world.

We live in a world where a lot of women's birthing choices are taken away from them because they don't understand they truly have a choice. We live in a world where having a good birth doesn't mean everyone had a great experience, it only means that both people came out alive. We live in a world where women aren't trusted to have the ability to make their own decisions regardless where and with whom they birth.

Freebirth isn't about showing people that you are better than the system, that you are better than them. Freebirth isn't about putting yourself or your baby in danger. Freebirth is simply about trusting your own body and trusting the education and decisions you have made.

Freebirth is about being your own provider, which even in homebirth, birth center birth, and hospital birth is the way it should be. Women should be central to their birth decisions, even when they have a provider.

It is just really and truly sad that in the United States, the only way you can be central in your care and responsible is to have a freebirth.

It should be that way in every birth, no matter the location or provider, but sadly, it doesn't work that way.


Carla said... [Reply to comment]

I could be wrong, but don't the statistics say that freebirth infant and maternal mortality rates are much higher than home birth attended by a midwife or hospital birth? Is that number skewed by parents who do it without any real preparation, or do you think a planned freebirth is usually preceded by a lot of preparation and having all the tools, etc?

Kayce Pearson said... [Reply to comment]

Unassisted/unattended birth statistics are skewed. Even the research for homebirths took into account accidental deliveries, unplanned homebirths/car births (basically anything not at a hospital). They also include births for babies that will not survive anyway, but their parents wanted to give them a birth where they could be with them and didn't have to deal with them being taken away because they were born still or passed away shortly after birth.

Planned freebirth is definitely preceded by a lot of preparation. A lot of freebirth families take neonatal resuscitation classes, have everything on hand that a homebirth midwife has, and they are able to trust themselves completely. Plus, a freebirth doesn't mean you birth alone, you can have anyone you want. Autonomous birth is where the woman births completely alone.

Plus, the mortality and morbidity rates in the hospital are awful. Half of them aren't reported, most states don't have committees to research this, and most people don't realize that interventive birth has a higher rate of both morbidity and mortality than normal, spontaneous, vaginal birth. (But that is a post in and of itself).

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