Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein on The Today Show. discussing their book Your Best Birth and movie The Business of Being Born.
I totally agree that the biggest thing is not that every woman should have a homebirth, but for women to know they have a choice, that it's important to know what their choices are, and to do your research. Women go into pregnancy and birth not knowing anything about it. With Karis, I kind of just did whatever was told to me, and I never knew why. Before I got pregnant with Ethan, I began a long journey of research, and I found that homebirth was a great option. The biggest reason many women wouldn't even consider a homebirth is the possibility of problems. What most women don't know is that midwives are TRAINED to recognize problems and know early enough so they can get you to the hospital if necessary. The midwives that delivered Ethan were trained in EVERY possible complication that could occur, and have actually experienced every situation that could occur. They know what they are doing.
Hospitals aren't horrible places, technology isn't a horrible thing, but those should be saved for necessary cases. I personally think that a hospital is fine, but I found it MUCH harder to have a natural childbirth there, so I turned to homebirth.
Interventions are routine in hospitals, which eventually often lead to c-sections. Pitocin (which is routinely used to speed up labor) can cause a lot of problems, including decreasing uterine blood flow, reducing the oxygen to the baby, increased risk of fetal distress, possibility of premature separation of the placenta, ruptured uterus, laceration of the cervix, and postpartum hemorrhage. The contractions produced by pitocin are much worse than God intended, which means most women get epidurals. Epidurals, although nice because they help with pain, have many risks that women don't know about. These are: possibility for drop in blood pressure, fever, spinal headache, the inability to move or feel (which makes it hard to birth a baby, which usually makes tearing more probable), and the slowing down of labor.
Many times, when labor is "taking too long," doctors decide to "just" do a c-section. What most people don't know is that a woman's first labor can take anywhere from 12-24 hours. It's NORMAL. I've heard stories of doctors doing c-sections after 10-12 hours because they are ready to go home. That's ridiculous. Now, I don't think c-sections are a horrible thing either, but they are way over done. The World Health Organization states that only about 10-12% of births should be c-sections. Today, 31% of births are c-sections. What's the big deal about c-sections, you ask? They are done so often that people don't know there are risks. Or, their risks are just swept under the rug.
Risks of c-section to the mother:
- This is major surgery- the mother is down for many more days than with vaginal birth, which make it hard to care for newborn.
- 1 in 2,500 women die in c-section and 1 in 10,000 women die from vaginal birth
- Increased possibility of infection
- Respiratory problems (because of the anesthesia)
- Possibility of needing hysterectomy, bladder repair, intestine repair from the Dr cutting something that he shouldn't
- Premature birth. Often, babies who are "scheduled" to be born by c-section, are born too early. What many women don't know is that your estimated due date is just that, it's an estimate. It can be two weeks off either way, so if a doctor decides to do a c-section at 38 weeks, you could really just be 36 weeks. Another one is that an ultrasound giving the weight of the baby can be up to 2 POUNDS OFF. An ultrasound doctor actually told me that. So, if a baby is taken by c-section because of "being big," many times the baby ends up being normal size, or small. I have heard this time and time again.
- Increased risk of respiratory issues in newborn. When a baby is born vaginally, the fluid is squeezed out as he/she is born. When born by c-section, this doesn't naturally happen, and many babies end up in NICU because of infection.
- Fetal injury- this is rare, but occasionally a doctor nicks the baby when making the incision.
Not only is there an increased possibility for c-section, in the hospital, there is an increased possibility for tearing (because of laying flat on your back, the doctors and nurses telling you when to push and how hard, etc), many doctors routinely do an episiotomy even though it isn't necessary (my doctor even told me this with Karis), and increased possibility for vacuum and forceps delivery (many times this can be prevented).
I actually liked my doctor with Karis, but I felt that being outside of a hospital for Ethan was much better. I would never go back to having a hospital birth, unless necessary.
The thing is, if someone tells me that they choose to something, that's completely fine and I applaud them for making a choice. I just hope that it's truly a choice, and research was done on the pros and cons. I am saddened mostly that women just do what they are told, and don't know why. I choose to do things in a way in which most people don't agree. But, I have done my research and know WHY I've made the decisions that I have made.
Birth is a normal part of life, and shouldn't be treated like a disease.
Some great books and websites that I encourage you to check out if you are pregnant or will get pregnant:
The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth, by Henci Goer
Homebirth by Sheila Kitzinger
Childbirth without Fear, by Grantly Dick-Read
Any book by Ina Mae Gaskin (although, keep in mind that she's a hippy :)
Websites on Natural Childbirth/Homebirth:
Childbirth.org (which is where a lot of my info above came from)
Homebirth, What are the Issues?
Citizens for Midwifery Fact Sheets
Outcomes of Planned Homebirths
InHisHands.org- What's so great about this website is that it is the number one used website for homebirth supplies, and he lives here in Texas (Liberty Hill, I believe). Their business is a family run business, all done from home.
Information on what midwives do:
MomsandMiracles Comprehensive Birth Services, Other services