July 11, 2012

Birth @ Home vs. Hospital

Moriah, Lily and Shiphrah were all born in the hospital.  Each of their deliveries were different, but  my birth with Shiphrah was the complete opposite from what I was expecting and hoping.  Being in the hospital created more complications and stress than was needed and I felt that a lot of unnecessary medical intervention was pushed upon me.  As a result I felt like an object of labor and not an individual with thoughts, wishes and a free will.  So I considered other options and elected to give birth at home.  Here are the perks:

Personal Prenatal Care
I switched from an OB to a homebirth midwife.  Debbie Pulley and Kay Johnson at Atlanta Birth Care are excellent midwives with a combined 50+ years experience.  During my prenatal visits with them, I noticed that they were just as thorough as the doctor's staff, but much more personable towards me and individualistic in my care.  Each of my visits with them lasted at least an hour and they were excited about my pregnancy.  The OB doctor doesn't take too much interest in low-risk cases like mine and I felt like a number.

Doctors know about drugs and surgery.  The midwives know a lot of alternative, natural methods to aid your body to do what it's supposed to do.  They also administer drugs and do stitches too.  The home birth midwives in Britain can give intravenous drugs.  It seems to me as I research more and more, that midwives (being a traditional profession dating back to Moses and probably before) have a broader depth of knowledge than most doctors.  I have every reason to trust them with my gynecological care.

No Bureaucracy
I didn't have to worry about my pre-registration forms getting processed before I showed up in labor to the hospital.  Neither did I have to worry about signing legal waivers at 10 cm dilation.  A lot of the care received in the hospital is so they can cover their own rear ends from litigation.

Freedom to Labor
I didn't want to give birth on my back, pushing the baby uphill and be stitched up later because I couldn't push in a different position.  Being able to labor at home was such a HUGE benefit!  You are in a comfortable environment where you can do whatever you feel would help alleviate or distract you from the pain.  As a result of this, I never really felt like I was in labor until the last 5 minutes because everything I was doing, REALLY made all the progression bearable and the pain less severe.  When you're forced to lay in a bed without the ability to move the pain seems more intense.  At home I could participate in my labor, instead of letting labor happen to me.  I wasn't expecting that squatting in the shower or sitting on the toilet would effectively reduce my pain but it did, to the extent that my labor was more like an illusive hope rather than a stark reality. 

No Unnecessary Medical Interventions
I wanted to give birth naturally and vaginally.  I wanted to avoid a cesarean at all costs.  During my pitocin induced labor with Shiphrah, the OB threatened me with a Section, as I was not progressing.  As a result of the threat of C-section, I was coerced into receiving an epidural I didn't initially want.  A C-section is major abdominal surgery with serious risks involved, as with any major surgery, and I knew my body would never be the same afterwards.  The Doctors present C-section as though it were like cutting your nails, but it's not.  One in three births is now a c-section.  If your labor endures until 24 hours (which is typical for some, unfortunately) they will just cut you open to get the baby out, even if your water hasn't broken because, "It's time."  They are too impatient to let nature take it's God-ordained course.

If I did end up going to the hospital after attempting a home birth, it's because medical intervention was necessary because a complication arose during labor.  The hospital, doctors and nurses are there for emergency situations and women with real complications.  Preeclampsia, incompetent cervix, pre-term labor and other risky situations are why hospitals were originally created.  In 1900, 95% of all US births were delivered at home.  By 1955, 97% if all US births were delivered in the hospital.  Both of my parents have siblings born in the home and hospital. 

Better Bonding
In the hospital, they take the baby from you after the birth.  Some nursing staffs are more eager to take the baby than others, but they do this to perform a variety of tests and to bathe the babyAfter Moriah was born, I didn't get to hold her at all for several hours!  As soon as she came out of the birth canal, she was whisked by a nurse to the other side of the room where she remained until I had to ask to even see her.  They put her next to my head but not in my hands before taking her to the nursery.  After Lily and Shiphrah were born they placed them on my chest and cleaned them there and allowed me to nurse before taking them to the nursery.  Joseph and I have never been separated while he was awake which has allowed me to become better acquainted with my newborn and it has given us a stronger start at establishing his breastfeeding and sleeping patterns.

Real Rest and Recovery
I did NOT want to stay overnight in the hospital.  The nursing staff comes to take your vital signs at all hours of the day and night.  During the day, people want to visit you and during the night the nurses want to take all your vitals, so I never got any sleep.  I would come home from the hospital exhausted with baggy eyes.  I wanted to be able to rest and recover at home without the poking and prodding.  Real rest allows the body to recover much more rapidly.

No Worldview Confrontations
I hate how the nurses ask you, just hours after giving birth, about birth control methods.  "We don't want our babies too close together," a nurse said to me once.  "Fine.  These are not your babies!  This decision is between God, me and my husband."  

There are also so many safety reasons why I wanted to plan a home birth.  Occasionally you hear about babies being switched at birth or people trying to steal a newborn out of the hospital.  There are also many illnesses all nicely contained in the hospital. 

Also, giving birth at home is consistent with our efforts to live more self-sufficient lives.  The more you're "on the grid" (as Jeramy says) the easier it is to track you in the event that our country becomes more and more communistic.  Plus, if you're more self-sufficient, you're more prepared for missions in a lesser developed country.  You don't have to pay someone to do a skill that you are capable of doing yourself.
I commend you to watch the documentary by Ricki Lake, The Business of Being Born. It's filled with statistics, personal stories and birthing scenes.  They interview doctors, nurses, couples, and midwives.

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