Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Hippie Method-Home Birth

I hesitate to write this post. I am opening myself up for attack as this is something people are very passionate about. I respect your position and choice, and I ask that you respect mine. You do not have to agree with me. And this post is not to get you to do what I do. It is just an account of why I chose the route I chose...home birth.

(I welcome comments and thoughts. If you leave a nasty or overly negative comment, however, rest assured, I will delete it.)

A couple weeks back someone read my "why Barefoot Hippie Girl page" and asked me to share about my home births, as this is an option she is considering.

First moments with my baby. These are all Meres. The others
are on another computer.

Pro and Cons
Today I was researching home births, and the common arguments for and against them. There is a lot of evidence that planned home births actually tend to be safer for the mother. There is less intervention than in hospital births. And generally, low risk women are the ones who are considering home births.

That being said, there is also a lot of evidence for higher infant death rate in home births. It almost doubles the hospital rate. The most reliable studies that have been conducted are the ones that are comparing planned home births and planned hospital births-no matter where the birth ends up happening.

Most sites I look at quoted the same study published by Wax. It was recently published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology  This site list the results of several studies, including the one by Wax, that have been conducted.

The current stats for home births is about 1 in 200 in the United States. It is a growing trend. Why?

In a study published in the Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health, women were asked, Why did you choose a home birth? The top five reasons given were safety, avoidance of unnecessary medical interventions common in hospital births, previous negative hospital experiences, more control, and a comfortable and familiar environment. (Debora Boucher; Catherine Bennett, Barbara McFarlin and Rixa Freeze (March–April 2009). "Staying Home to Give Birth: Why Women in the United States Choose Home Birth". Journal of Midwifery & Women's Health 54 (2): 119–126.)

I would agree whole heartedly with these five reasons. They are exactly why Mr. Hippie and I decided to have our babies at home. I personally have no negative hospital experiences to base my choice on. But I have observed many close family and friends' experiences.

People automatically assume that I have checked my brains at the door, when I mention that I have home births. They are shocked that I would expose my babies to such foolish and unnecessary risks.

One of my friends thinks I am a woman of faith because I have my babies at home. Not because I love the Lord and desire to glorify Him in all I do.

I am pretty sure my bff thinks I am crazy to have home births. She went the total opposite way-scheduled c-section and all. And, we are still friends. She cooked me dinner last night.

Just as a side note, I participate in a survey with every birth. I think it goes to MANA. The surveys will continue to provide an accurate look at home birth experiences.

Getting weighed (ignore the legs=)) But look at those nails!=)

Safety First
Frankly, I do not feel like I am taking unnecessary risks with my children's lives. I would never assume that about someone. Please don't assume that about me. I have made conscious decisions to protect the welfare of my child, in the birth of my child.

I picked a reputable midwife. My midwife is certified with the Michigan Midwife Association and is a CPM (Certified Professional Midwife) through MANA. My mom used her for 3 of her pregnancies, and one of her births. (more on that in a minute). When I used my midwife for BMV, she was at over 1200 births. By the time she delivered Meres, that number had gone up to almost 3000. That is a lot of babies.

My midwife apprenticed for several years with another established midwife, and has now been in this field for almost 30 years. She has a very good reputation with the hospitals around my area. She even goes in to the hospitals to teach birth assisting classes to the RNs.

I feel wholly confident in my midwife's skills. And I feel wholly confident that if she is feels something is out of her league she will not hesitate to send my butt to the hospital.

Why do I have this unswerving confidence? Remember my mom? Three pregnancies, 1 birth. My 8th sibling was stillborn. My midwife had worked with my mom-not during labor, but prenatally. When there were some questions, she sent my mom to the hospital. She didn't have an "I can do it, let's just try" attitude. She sent her to the hospital.

Sibling number 7 was born smoothly and wonderfully at home. For my 9th sibling, my mom still decided to work with our midwife and try at home. There ended up being issues at the end of the pregnancy, and again-no midwife sent her right to the hospital to get checked out. #9 ended up being born by c-section at the hospital.

So, I know that if there are any warning flags/signs, my midwife is going to send me to the hospital too.

I live less than 10 minutes from the hospital. EMTs can get here in 3 minutes. Even when we lived further out, I knew the EMT's were close (even less than 3 minutes) and the hospital was less than 20 minutes away. That was for only one birth.

My midwife always has oxygen-for mother and baby. She does post-partum check ups-day of, next day, a week later.

I feel safe in her care. And I have entrusted all four of my births to her. And I don't regret it. As a matter of fact, if I ever have another, I will use her again. And, if I have another, it will be before she retires in less than 10 years. I can't bear the thought of trying to find someone else.

My midwife is calm. She is skilled. She knows what positions to have you in to best keep things progressing. She is firm when she needs to be. She is encouraging. She is competent and she is confident.

I am not a crunchy person. (Mr. Hippie thinks that term is hilarious) I am into privacy and natural and least intrusive.

I was raised very modestly. As in modesty-modestly. Being raised this way, I find it hard to reconcile these ideals with birth and the birthing experience. All your goods are to be kept under raps except for your husband. But, in a birthing scene, every Tom, Dick or Harry can take a gander?

Okay, I realize that is an exaggeration, but, you can't guarantee you will only have female nurses or doctors. And I would not be comfortable with a male doctor. If you are, I'm not knocking you. This is my reasons-for me. My inhibitions that have shaped my choices.

Birth is a natural experience. And natural doesn't mean easy either. It has been happening since Eve. Medical technology and the knowledge of germs has definitely helped with the birthing experience. It has made birth safer. Overall stats for infant/mother mortality are much lower in developed countries than in not.

Home birthing is a rich heritage. Midwives were the women skilled.

Most of our presidents were born at home. But since the advent of the 20th century, the home birth rate has drastically reduced. In 1938, 50% of births in the USA were still happening at home. By 1955, less than 1% were. The home birth rate has stuck right around 1% since the 1970s.

I look back on this innumerable sea of women who have birthed children before me. And I feel part of a community. I feel encouraged. I know that if they did it without meds and survived-really the majority-so can I.

Which is so NOT to say that I don't get to about 5-6 cm and wonder why in the world I am doing this at home again without any pain killer?! Let's just get to the hospital and have them cut this baby out! Usually it isn't too long after that point that things are done.

One of the things I enjoy most about home birth is the privacy of it. Birth is a very intimate experience. And I have had the three same people at all my births-my mom, my husband, my midwife. Incidentally-mom and midwife are always catching up on what has happened in their lives since my last child.

I don't have my other kids around. They are not even in the house. This is not a 3 ring circus. (And I have no desire to scar them for life. Again, my opinion=)) Birth is when a woman is at her best and at her worst. She is strongest and feels weakest. Birth is not something that happens, it is something you do. It is hard work!

It has been the four hardest experiences of my life. (#5 was that 25k this spring). It is emotional. It is draining and it is empowering.

And I love doing it in my home. I love being able to birth my baby, and then be in the comfort of my bed, in my room. My midwife always makes a meal right after the birth for me. My mother takes care of me and my new baby. My husband is there with me, coming down off the high together.

Cleaned up and with her daddy
The Moral of the Story
I can't recommend that anyone have home births. Based on my experience, I have had 4 wonderful, uncomplicated births of 3 big, and 1 huge, babies. It isn't a fun experience. And I really have no desire to do it again. Birth, that is. Not home birth.

But, I won't tell you not to either. It is a decision between you and your spouse. What you do has to be what you are comfortable with. Is there a reputable attendant available? How long would it take you to get to the hospital if things went south?

What is on your list of pros? What is on your list of cons?

Strong Women
We have a secret in our culture, and it’s not that birth is painful. It’s that women are strong. -Laura Stavoe Harm

Birth is a rite of passage of women. Their journey should be honored, their rights should be fiercely protected, and their stories should be shared. – Marcie Macari

Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers ~ strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength. – Barbara Katz Rothman

First moments with Meres. Awed that this birth is over,
and that I have another Girl!
Whatever you choose, however and wherever you give birth, you are strong. You are a woman. You are a mother. You are blessed.

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