Birthing at home: Getting over the fear.

Mrs.P and I have hired our midwife and have set-up everything for an amazing, healthy, happy, relaxed birth at home.

We find two different reactions when we are talking about this with friends:

  1. Oh Gawd! I could never do that, it’s so unsafe and or unsanitary.
  2. That’s beautiful, what an amazing way to bring a young human being into the world.

So our midwife is amazing, we went with a woman who has delivered over 1000 babies and has seen just about everything. In fact, last week she delivered a baby who came out with her hand and arm around her neck, kinda like if you grab your left shoulder with your right hand. She’s delivered Breach, dealt with placental abruption, cord around neck [which apparently is very common] and all sorts of other things - but more often than not, everything is fine.

We also like her because she is not afraid to say we need to transport if needed.

We have taken many, many steps in making this decision, one the on hand we know in a hospital everything is taken care of, and everything is quite sterile*. We also know that Doctors are not exactly patient individuals and will induce after a certain period of time. That, to us, is not acceptable.

Our insurance covers everything with no co-pay, everything but a midwife that is. They will not cover a midwife, but she is allowed to be in the birthing room should we need to transport.

In our research we find the scary statistics our medical doctor has given us are accurate, but slanted to make them seem more prevalent then they really are. Our midwife informed us that there are very, very few reasons why we would need to transport very fast, and in 26 years of midwifery she has never had to do it.

There is a business to birthing, [and a movie of the same name] and much of it is talking about what costs go into giving birth at the hospital and how much each doctor gets paid per “unit”…i.e. per birth.

For my wife and I the main issue was choice, not fear. On our first visit to the doc, she informed us that if we showed up to the ER and then transferred to the birthing center, and it went over 1o hours they’d just induce us. :eek: we thought, Oh, no you won’t.

We understand extended labor, and the risks of going longer than 10, 20, 30 hrs and were informed by the midwife that there are plenty of things we can do to coax the little tadpole out! :slight_smile:

Back to the fear: I was amazed at how actively the medical doctor was trying to frighten us. Trying to blatantly scare us into not having the birth at home. When we brought the concerns of the doc to the midwife, she had very logical retorts to everything. More and more we began to believe that a hospital was not only not necessary [for a low risk pregnancy], but was something that was inserted into society long ago for the profit of hospitals and doctors. I was born in a hospital, my wife was born in a hospital, and all of our family the same way…but now we are seeing more and more moms give birth at home after overcoming the fear of the unknown. We are seeing more and more informed parents.

What do those who have had home births think of this societal fear, and what do those who are having babies in hospitals think?

Neither one is better or worse for the purposes of this thread…

*hospitals are more likely to have harmful pathogens in rooms and hallways etc…than your home.

If something goes wrong, I would much rather be in a facility filled with doctors, nurses and all the medical equipment and medicine one could imagine.

I don’t see how doing it any other way could even cross anyone’s mind.


That. Modern midwives can be great, but they are not physicians and have no access to modern medical equipment or procedures. There are all kinds of things involved in childbirth that can be dealt with in a hospital setting which are quite deadly elsewhere.

An ob/gyn has delivered dead babies. I can really, totally understand how someone who has had to go through that, has had to see parents go through that, would never be ok with anything that increased risk, however slightly.

People always act like ob/gyns are interventionist because of greed, but I think a lot of it is because they’ve seen the worst case outcomes, and it’s human nature to always want to risk doing too much rather than risk doing too little.

Put it this way: if you knew a woman who had lost a baby, and because of that she didn’t want to take the slightest risk, would you think she was being unreasonably fearful? A doctor losing a baby he/she delivers is not the same, of course, but it’s also likely to have happened more than once, and there’s no way that’s an easy emotional experience.

If Drain Bead doesn’t show up on her own, you should PM her to get her experiences. If I recall correctly, she had a homebirth that ended in an emergency transport, so she may have some interesting perspective on this topic.

Personally, I enjoy the 21st century.

I was lucky enough to get a happy medium.

I had my daughter in a free standing “birthing center” with a midwife. There was some emergency equipment there in the room with me, but stowed out of sight so that the room looked like a room in someone’s home, we also had access to a kitchen. I was able to labor in a whirlpool, and had several friends and family members there supporting us. My ob/gyn was oncall if there were difficulties, and the hospital was less than a block away. We went home about 4 hours after I gave birth.

On a more practical note, I could never do a home birth because it would mean keeping my house “company clean” for weeks and weeks leading up to the delivery.

Yep. And I wonder why giving birth is singled out for doing at home–Ive never heard anone get all moon-eyed over the beauty of home dentistry, for example.

And the whole “they just want you to give birth at the hospital to make money off you” thing is very :rolleyes: IMHO. If a person wants to make tons of money, there are much better ways to do it than birthing babies.

Finally, if you hire someone to give you advice, I think you should take their advice or fire them. So it seems weird to me to not take your doctor’s advice but still keep them as your doctor.

I hope everÝthing goes well for you. For me, if we gave birth at home and something went wrong, I’d feel like such a selfish jack-ass for not following the doctor’s advice and doing something that made me happy and jeopardized the health of my baby. I could share an anecdote here, but I wont–you’ve apparentlÝ done your research and know the risks.

I have to agree with the consensus. Why take even the slightest of risks with something so important?

I wouldn’t do it. I think birthing centers provide the best of both worlds, so I wouldn’t do it at home.

The amount of time it takes to respond to a problem is too great. Wanting to risk dying in childbirth to be in your own bed seems needlessly risky, especially considers the risks vs. gains compared to a birthing center. What do you get out of giving birth at home that you can’t get otherwise? Is there some tangible benefit? Without one, you’re risking sacrificing your baby and your wife for someone’s ego or hippie cred. I have a huge ego, and it’s not a risk I would take. Do a pros vs cons list, and consider how acceptable each is.
There’s a reason that infant and mother mortality have plummeted since the advent of modern medicine. Throwing that shit away for whatever spurious reasons your midwife (who has at least as much financial incentive to BS you as the hospital does, probably more) gives you seems no different than refusing vaccines to me.

Yes, this. I’ve shared before that I can’t work in OB because of the interventionist nature of the beast, but aside from the hospital beancounters, I honestly don’t think anyone WANTS to see complications and c-sections. They’re scared because they’ve seen it before, and have a skewed sense of probabilities d/t a) confirmation bias b) patient selection (they see more high risk mamas than a homebirth CNM will and c) routine interventions which are “mandated” by hospital policy that may increase the need for further interventions and d) a routine familiarity with some interventions such that they don’t even *see *them as potentially unwanted interventions, like an IV or a fetal monitor or the lithotomy position for delivery.

The actual numbers show very little difference between the outcomes of homebirth and hospital birth. Frankly, instead of attacking each other on the issue, I think we should look at that evidence to remove prejudicial bias and allow each side the same amount of consideration. It should be up to the parents, in consultation with a midwife or doctor who can tell them if they have additional risk factors which would affect them either way*, and the choice should be made out of personal preference absent those factors.

Said another way - the outcomes are about the same. That’s not an endorsement of homebirth over hospital birth the way midwives tend to make it out, nor is it an endorsement of hospital birth over homebirth, the way doctors tend to make it out.

*Some of the time, factors such as pre-eclampsia, placenta previa, prior trouble in labor, etc. will clearly weigh in favor of a hospital birth. Other times, factors like a desire for born children to share in the birth, medical phobia, or even lack of childcare options may weigh in favor of a home birth.

Do what you feel is best. Personally I would not ever consider birthing at home, but I have very good reasons for that. You may not want to give birth at a hospital and you probably have very good reasons for that too. I would just say to be very, very prepared for any and all emergency situations. For example, if you live in the north and she is due this winter go to the hospital instead of having it at home so that you aren’t dealing with icy, blocked off roads in case of an emergency. Same thing if you live in an area that floods easily and she is due in the spring, etc.

I wouldn’t give birth at home any sooner than I would refuse prenatal care.

My ob had delivered over 13,000 babies by 2004. I trusted him.

Why do something that intentionally raises risks to cater to your ‘phobia’ ?

I don’t understand. Women who refuse medical care or do drugs during pregnancy can be charged with abuse. How is this different if something goes wrong?

You can avoid certain medical interventions if you have the right doc & hospital.

I agree with the fear of home birth. My own deliveries could probably have happened in the back yard for all the lack of problems; I didn’t need any fancy schmancy drugs or interventions. On the other hand, my daughter’s delivery of my granddaughter went from “Eeverything’s hunky dory” to “OMG we gotta get that child outathere stat” in far less time than it would have taken to transport the few miles to the nearest hospital even if there had been an ambulance idling in the driveway. I’m happy to have a living daughter and granddaughter.

You said “We also know that Doctors are not exactly patient individuals and will induce after a certain period of time.” I think you should also find a doctor who is in harmony with your goals and respects your preferences. Can a hospital even perform a procedure such as induction if you refuse? Last I heard, one had the right to refuse anything although it might mean signing an “against medical advice” form.

Back when I was birthing babies, I had a serious discussion with the OB/Gyn early on. Turned out he had studied in France with Dr. Lamaze and understood my concerns perfectly. In those days it was extremely rare for the father-to-be to be allowed in the delivery room. My doctor said no problem, with one exception: If I tell him to get out of the way and leave, he has to do that instantly.

Finally, as much as you might say now, no induction ever, you might feel differently after you’ve been in active labor all day and all night. Or if one of those pesky and annoying monitoring machines indicates fetal distress. I had a second-trimester miscarriage that took a day and a half to happen. Believe me, after 12 hours all the Lamaze training in the world ceases to be of use. I was begging for every available drug that exists.

In the UK, this is more common.

Here’s some interesting stats.

I think you’ve talked about this plan before, haven’t you Phlosphr? I seem to remember that you had a lot of similar reactions before. I hope you’re able to maintain confidence in your decision and don’t get scared off by other people’s reactions, here or IRL.

For what it’s worth, I entirely agree with you. I do think there’s a lot of unnecessary fear around about non-hospital births. In the UK there’s a similar resistance, but obviously we can’t blame the profit motive for it here. I think here (and perhaps there is some of this in the US medical profession as well) it’s more that doctors medicalise the birth process because that’s what doctors do. What’s that phrase? When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Doctors approach the birth process as a series of required medical interventions, in the same way they approach everything they encounter. I read a quote once from a doctor (admittedly it was in a book about hypnobirthing) saying that they had gone into obstetrics because they liked surgery! Surely a really successful birth is one where no doctor is needed at all.

I don’t assume any malicious motives though - as people above have suggested, if you have encountered difficult births, perhaps even fatalities, it would be understandable that you would do everything you could think of to avoid that happening to other people. Unfortunately I believe that doctors’ positions tend to be to err on the side of intervention. They also tend to believe that their opinion is the one that counts, and that the parents, especially the mother, don’t know what they’re doing or saying.

For various reasons, this thread is particularly timely for me. I’m 8 1/2 months pregnant with my second child. I’m not considering home birth, as I have some pre-existing symptoms which would make it unwise for me. However, had my situation been different it would definitely have been the choice I would have made. Just today I had an appointment with my consultant and saw an on-call registrar instead. Despite my explanations (I know my medical history and current condition inside out, and my consultant and I are very happy with the way things are going) he essentially bullied me into some extra testing and left me in fear and trepidation, and virtually in tears. Again, objectively I’d find it difficult to blame him for his opnion - he’s a doctor, he sees a list of my symptoms, he goes straight to a medical ‘fix’. However, I’m not ill, I’m pregnant - it’s not an illness or a medical condition that requires intervention as a matter of routine.

I think that’s the essential disagreement, and why comparisons to ‘home dentistry’ and the like are not accurate, IMO. Pregnancy is not an illness. It’s not a condition that requires curing. Would we be happy if we returned to the days of a routine ether-and-stirrups approach to birth?

IF it raised risks, then I would agree those risks would need to be balanced against the risks caused by subjecting a phobic person to her triggers, with the increased pain perception and delayed cervical opening that anxiety and pain cause.

But homebirth, in and of itself, does not increase risks. That’s the point of my post. When we look at the numbers over a large enough sample of women, homebirth and hospital birth have about equal outcomes for mother and infant for low-risk births. Cite 1. Cite 2. Cite 3. Cite 4.

The denial of that by medical doctor and non-CNM nurses is what bothers me the most, honestly. For people dedicated to practicing “evidence-based medicine”, it’s a huge part of the evidence that they simply ignore because of their preconceived ideas and fear. That’s not evidence based.

The home birth business wasn’t for me. It’s probably the most dangerous day in your child’s life and I couldn’t see getting into it without all the support available, needed or not.