I get lots of comments from people when they find out I'm having a home birth with a midwife. Those who have done it before completely understand and are excited for me. Most often I hear that I'm "brave" or "crazy". LOL! I don't think I'm either, really. Like many things, a home birth isn't what it seems at first glance, mostly because of the things that have just become normal as a society, that we maybe don't stop to question. So here are my reasons. There are so many, I may only get to some of them, but it will at least help everyone to understand where I'm coming from. If you are a guy, this might be TMI - just a warning!
Is a home birth really safe? I think this is the question that is on the forefront of every couple's mind. Everyone wants to make sure that their baby will be safe! The short answer is "Yes! A homebirth is safe!" Statistically a home birth is as safe or safer than a hospital birth, for healthy, low risk women. When I was interviewing my midwife years ago, and asking her a billion questions, I was surprised at all the complications that my midwife said, "I've never see that, because I don't do _____ (which would cause the complication)." What I found out is that many complications are actually caused by the hospital's interventions! For example, pitocin. Many, many women receive this, either to induce labor or to augment labor. What they may NOT tell you is that it makes your contractions much stronger, longer, and closer together than what your body would naturally produce. This often causes fetal distress in a baby who would otherwise tolerate labor well. Fetal distress is a common cause of caesarian delivery. Also, once you receive pitocin, you may have a difficult time tolerating the contractions and ask for an epidural. An epidural sounds like a great proposition on the surface - who wants to tolerate pain unnecessarily? However, while it may relieve your pain, your baby is still feeling the very strong contractions caused by the pitocin. What is more, an epidural numbs your body, mostly from the waist down, and will prevent you from being able to get up and move freely around the room, something that midwives know would help your baby wiggle into the best position to be born. So an unnecessary c-section may be performed. Thirdly, an epidural interferes with the pushing process. A woman may not be able to effectively push her baby out, causing the use of forceps, vacuum extraction (both can cause damage to baby's head/neck/spine) or a c-section. It also interferes with a woman's ability to feel what is going on while pushing. At a certain point, it is wise to stop pushing to allow the body to stretch and prevent tearing. However, many doctors do not support a woman's body in order to prevent tears, and may actually perform episiotomies that could have been prevented had they just known what to do! How much easier recovery is when there are no tears! I've only once had a small tear - with our first son - a superficial tear that healed without stitches. Our last two births have been without tears, including our 9 lb., posterior, acynclitic Faith! I've heard some women tell me their doctors told them they were "too small" or that their babies were "too big", but I think their doctors just lacked the patience and knowledge that many midwives have in regard to preventing tears. So, while an epidural may provide some temporary relief during labor, I think the tearing/episiotomies that accompany them may not really be worth it!
Concerning pain & long labors, I have a few thoughts. Our pastor just preached last week about how suffering and the will of God are not mutually exclusive. That means that sometimes, God allows suffering to build much needed character in our lives and to bring glory to Him. Just because we are suffering does not mean that we have done something wrong! I believe labor is a spiritual experience. It takes a lot of faith to believe that that baby is going to come out the way that God has designed it. It takes surrender to accept the things about birth that are beyond our control (including the interventions that ARE sometimes needed). And it takes humility to ask for God's strength to do things that we know we couldn't do otherwise, without His help! So, while I'm very much hoping that one of these days, I will have one of those quick and easy labors (Ok, like any labor is easy?), I accept the fact that a long labor may the process that God wants me to go through in order to teach me something I need to learn. Unlike in a hospital, midwives also accept the fact that sometimes labors need to be long in order to get the baby out. And long labors can happen with any size baby! Jude was only 7 lb. 12 oz. and his labor was my longest. Faith, at 9 lbs. was my second longest labor, and Seth was by far the shortest of all, and he was only 1 oz. smaller than Jude!
I have to blog in spurts these days, as most moms understand, so I hope to continue this in a later post.....