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Home Births vs. Hospital Births

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The New York Times had an interesting story this week about the increasing number of homebirths.

Home births have been around as long as humans, but since the 1950s, the overwhelming majority of American women have chosen to give birth in hospitals, which the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists identifies as one of the safest places for the unpredictable and sometimes dangerous process of childbirth. (The group has officially opposed home births since 1975, and this year the American Medical Association adopted a similar position.)
Recently, though, midwives and childbirth educators say, a growing number of women have been opting instead for the more intimate and familiar surroundings of home — even in New York City, where homes are typically cramped warrens of a few hundred square feet and neighbors often live close enough to hear every sneeze and footstep.
Births in New York’s hospitals, where pediatricians are able to check babies immediately for potentially dangerous conditions, it should be noted, still vastly outnumber those in its homes — in 2006 home births accounted for only one-half of 1 percent of the city’s 125,506 reported births.
But local midwives say they have been swamped with calls and requests in recent months, in some cases increasing their workload from two, three or four deliveries a month to as many as 10. (New York health department statistics for this year will not be available until 2010.) Several certified nurse midwives who have home-birth-only practices said they had gotten so many more requests in recent months that they have begun referring pregnant women to midwives in Rockland County, Long Island and New Jersey.

The article attributes the increase, in part, to a documentary Ricki Lake made about giving birth at home.
This fall, while speaking at some conferences, I had the chance to watch two other documentaries that cover the same topic: Orgasmic Birth, and Pregnant in America. These films were eye-opening for me. While I never even considered having our kids at home, and could not have because I had pre-eclampsia, these films did really change my view of having a baby at home.
If you’d like to read some blog posts about home birth, check out Breastfeeding123.



4 Responses to “Home Births vs. Hospital Births”

I encourage people to read the whole NY Times article & see the slide show.
Links are contained in my post:
http://doulamomma.blogspot.com/2008/11/baby-youre-home.html

I had my baby girl at home a year ago (yesterday! wow!). It was the most amazing experience of my life. As long as everything is healthy for mother and baby, there is no need to run to the hospital to deliver.
This is kind of gross, but when people don’t understand why I had my baby at home I try to sum it up shortly by saying: “You don’t go to the hospital every time you have to poop. If everything is functioning normally you do it at home. Same for birth, as long as everything is functioning normally, there is no reason to go to the hospital! Your body will take care of everything itself!”
Midwives are as fully trained as OB’s in child CPR, maternal care, how to treat excessive bleeding, etc. And will have patients transported to the hospital in an instant if the need arises. The ride to the hospital typically takes the same amount of time as prepping a surgery room does anyway!
The big thing that made me opt for a homebirth was the C-section statistic.. In some places the C-section rate is approaching 33%.. midwives are typically 2% or lower. And that’s without any difference in maternal or newborn death rates. I also didn’t want an episiotomy.. I didn’t need one with the midwife.
I am 7 weeks pregnant with my second child and plan on giving birth at home again. I can hardly wait for awesome experience #2!

Bianka says: This is kind of gross, but when people don’t understand why I had my baby at home I try to sum it up shortly by saying: “You don’t go to the hospital every time you have to poop. If everything is functioning normally you do it at home. Same for birth, as long as everything is functioning normally, there is no reason to go to the hospital! Your body will take care of everything itself!”
However, Bianka’s analogy falls apart in that a pooping event never veers from “normal” to life threatening for pooper/poop in a matter of seconds as sometimes happens with childbirth for mother/child.

I was far ahead of this trend when I gave birth at home twice, once in 1980 and again in 82. My first child was born in a hospital in 1975. The experience left me traumatized. Things were a bit different back then but I’m not sure by how much. After my first birthing experience I knew I wanted to feel more in control the second time. I did my research, which was much harder without the internet! I did find good statistics that made my decision making process easier. I spoke with women from The Childbirth Education Association. They were very informative and supportive. They gave me the names of three local midwives and I was on my way.
Both birthing experiences were wonderful. I am left with the most amazing memories. The births were uncomplicated, very warm and family oriented.
My husband and I were made to take birthing classes twice a week for six weeks in preparation for the births. These classes went far beyond the typical Lamaze classes. We were taught what to do in many emergency situations in the event our midwife was not able to get to us. We had a doctor and ambulance on call as soon as labor began. All of these things added to my level of comfort and safety.
If you are healthy and think you would enjoy giving birth at home I would highly recommend it to anyone. My oldest son remembers both births with fond memories. Our middle son was present for his sister’s birth and still talks about it each year on her birthday. It was a beautiful and loving experience for the entire family

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