I have thought long and hard about writing a post like this. It’s a touchy subject, especially in the natural childbirth (NCB) arena and I’m still having a hard time finding my words but I’ll try.
When I was pregnant with Logan, I had no desire to ever enter the medical field other than working in administration. When I was 28 weeks, we watched The Business of Being Born and I thought my world was turned upside down. I cannot explain how one documentary on childbirth, home birth, and how OBs are only surgeons, changed my mind in 90 minutes and made me question every decision we had made up until that point about our care. We were with an OB office and had a decent, uncomplicated experience so far. We had started going to natural Bradley Method childbirth classes and learning more about the birthing process. But as I reflect on that time almost 5 years ago, I am dumbfounded how easily influenced I was, and how I tried to manipulate my husband into thinking that a home birth was the only way and that hospitals were just a place where they wanted to perform all these interventions so they could get more money.
Um….crazy thoughts, right??
Even still, we checked into our insurance options and switching providers and to a home birth was not something our insurance would cover. Good thing since our son had a spontaneous pneumothorax at birth. When I shared this with a local home birth midwife recently, she said it must have happened when they tried to suction him since he had meconium in the waters and she had never seen a spontaneous pneumo in her 30 years of doing home births. Not so. I have a video of Logan laying on my chest immediately after birth and you can tell he is really struggling to breathe and cry. And he didn’t actually aspirate any meconium. Had we been at home, it would have taken at least an hour to transfer to the hospital if the midwife attending was able to quickly determine that there was something wrong. By the time Logan was an hour old, he had been treated with an oxygen hood, chest xray, and diagnosed with the pneumo. It was, by far, one of the scariest nights of my life, but I am so incredibly grateful that we delivered in a hospital with a level 3 NICU.
After his birth, I found my passion. It took many months for me to accept it, but I knew pretty quickly that my career path was about to change. I toyed with the idea of what kind of midwife I wanted to be. I even considered home birth at one point but I never felt comfortable with the liabilities and risks. Even as I type this, I feel a lump in my throat. My husband also expressed his concerns and thoughts and we have always had a deep understanding with each other that if one of us felt strongly about something, that we would respect each other’s thoughts and feelings on the subject. He’s a very easy-going guy and for him to feel strongly about my career path means the world to me.
Since then, I have busted my butt to really figure out what kind of midwife I want to be and what I believe. I know that there are good CPMs out there, just like I know there are good OBs and CNMs as well. This is not a post where I am going to knock CPMs and talk about how terrible they are and how home births should be outlawed. I’m not that close-minded or disrespectful. What I will say, though, is that I do not agree with the safety of home birth and how it is portrayed in the NCB. I think it feels like brainwashing and I can say that as I was one of those new mamas feeling the pull to make a rash decision without any education behind my choice to have a home birth (or not). I can say that I felt brainwashed into thinking that OBs were just surgeons looking for the big bucks and that they have no invested interest in their patients. In general, this is not true! I know and work with some incredible OBs, both male and female (not that that matters). I also know some OBs who I would not want to be under their knife, but isn’t that the case about any thing? You can have good lawyers and bad lawyers, good engineers and bad engineers, good OBs and bad OBs.
There is a huge part of me that wants this to sound like I am a devil’s advocate, comfortable with either side of the debate of home birth vs hospital birth but the truth is, and what I believe, is that there IS a difference and that there are countless statistics showing how much safer hospital births are than home births. I am not going to list those here because most of us know how to use Google and other people have already gone the distance to do all that work. This blog is one of them. And here is another.
Long story short, I am not a fan of home births. I respect you if you’ve had one and if you are planning on having one, I hope you’re doing everything you can to learn about risks and complications for both mom and baby. Post partum hemorrhage, nuchal cord (around the neck), shoulder dystocia, meconium aspiration…just a few to name as complications that can happen even to a low risk healthy mom. Some of these become even greater risks if mom has other identifying factors, but they can still happen. I had a mom come in recently who had been laboring most of the day. She came in to be checked, was a 3, contractions kind of all over the place so she was sent home. She came in later that night when I was on and was a 6, but complaining of terrible pain in her stomach and baby heart tones were pretty low, despite position changes and even after contractions ended. Baby was not recovering and something was wrong. We rushed her to the OR and it turns out her placenta was abrupting. Had we waited much longer both of them could have been in a world of trouble and had she been at home…I don’t even want to think about how badly that could have turned out.
I am constantly learning. The more I learn, the more I realize that home birth really is not a safe choice. It wasn’t for me, and for so many others it has ended in absolute tragedy. I have worked in the hospital for over 3 years and in that time, no babies or mothers have died due to something we were able to treat them for. Yes there have been hemorrhaging and codes and even an amniotic embolus in which both mom and baby survived!!
In closing, I would like to officially join the #notburiedtwice movement. I’m not going to go into detail about it here as I’d like to encourage you, dear readers, to find out for yourself. I am a firm believer in self-education and this is an opportunity for you to do just that.
Thank you for reading and allowing me the space to express these tough feelings. All I ask is that if you choose to comment, be respectful.