Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Do You Know The Risks?

"Well, as long as you know the risks of birthing at home, I'm sure you'll be fine"

Women that birth at home are some of the most informed and educated women I know.  I'm not trying to put down other groups of women, but working with this group specifically, I see how incredibly smart they all are.

At prenatal appointments they ask insightful questions, they have done research on their own, and they are prepared and understand the "risks" as so many put it of birthing at home.  They are taking charge of their birth and bringing their baby into the world in the most calm, peaceful, and gentle way they know.

They prepare their bodies for labor and birth.  They learn about labor, about what is normal and what isn't.  They form a very special closeness to those that will be attending this very intimate and sacred event.  I count myself so lucky every day that these women allow me to view their births.

When people give you that line, not only does it put down the women that are truly taking control of their birth, it shows how very little faith you have in them.

No woman I know would purposely put herself and her unborn child at risk.  Even if they want a great birth experience, they would not put themselves or their child in danger just to get it.  That isn't how motherhood works.

You are implying that these women might be smart enough to gauge for themselves what the risks are, but you aren't really sure.  When the fact is, most of the people that say things like that have no idea what is even involved in a homebirth.  They wouldn't have the slightest idea what a midwife brings or what is at home.  A lot of them actually think that all homebirth midwives wear ridiculous hippie clothes, bring a piece of leather for the mother to bite, bring sheets and towels and buckets of hot water, and chant in the corner to keep the evil spirits at bay!

If it wasn't so sad and ridiculous, it would be funny!

Instead, what if the tables were turned?  If you told someone you were birthing in the hospital, and they asked if you knew the risks, would you know how to answer?  Do you *truly* know the risks of birthing in the hospital?

Regardless of what people say, it isn't the safest place to have a child.  Women are dying in childbirth, as are babies.  The very horrible thing is that more women are dying now compared to 1982.  The United States is one of the worst first world countries to have a baby.  With all the advancements in science and medicine, you would think it is the opposite.

Birth is meant to be left alone, to happen on its own.  When you start messing with a natural body function, you can make it so much worse.

Imagine a set of dominoes.  You line them all up so you can push the first and start a chain reaction to have them all fall over.  You have them set up, and then someone walks by and decides to change the middle domino.  Even moving that domino an inch can mean that either the chain will stop there, keep going, or it will veer down another path.  Would you want to take the chance to mess up all that work just to see if things will still come out the same?

It goes the same with childbirth.  You have a great pregnancy, are still low risk, and *wham*!  You are induced, augmented, or taken for a cesarean, for a very non-medical and non-emergency reason.  Your dominoes were lined up, they were moving together and had almost reached the end.  And then someone decided to move that middle domino.

So, I repeat, do you know the risks of a hospital birth?  Have you researched your hospital, not just your doctor or midwife?  Do you know the nurses, the standard procedures?  Do you understand informed consent and refusal?

In a homebirth, you get to know your midwife very very well.  You meet her assistant and her back-ups.  You are in your *own* home, your place of safety and trust.  Most midwives end up friends with their clients for years after the birth.  They create a friendship, a bond.

Do you have that relationship with your OB?  Do you sit and giggle and talk in prenatal appointments for an hour or more?  Are you friends when you leave, still talking to them regularly about every day things?  How about your nurses?

Birth is about so much more than the "risks" that people perceive.

No matter where you are birthing, whether in a hospital, birthing center, hotel, car, airplane, under a tree or home, you need to educate yourself on the benefits, the risks, the middle ground.  It isn't anyone else's job to tell you that you should be fine as long as you know the "risks".

It is your birth, take control of it!  Whether that means sitting down with your OB and truly becoming friends or having a midwife that you can be yourself with.

Your birth needs to be about you and your child and your family.  No one can take it away from you, and you will carry this birth with you for the rest of your life.

Be an active part of it.

Even if that means going against the grain, learning the "risks", and having a homebirth.


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