By Megan Leary
Out of all of my hippie ways, I surprisingly get the fewest inquiries as to why I decided to birth from home. My theory is that people have already decided that homebirth is a bad thing and do not want to broach the topic in order to avoid awkwardness. However, if you are one of these people I want you, most of all, to ask me about my decision. If you have a hard time understanding why a mother might choose to homebirth, it is likely you are drawing conclusions about birthing at home from assumptions that are simply not true.
The most common untrue assumption is that homebirth is not safe. First, certified midwives are trained and educated to do this. They are guardians of safety. This is their profession. They are trained to see the first signs of trouble. They know how to respond to any situation that could arise. They know when, and are not too proud to, send a mom to the hospital. Second, midwives have all the equipment at the ready to ensure safety and everything is just as sterile as you would find them in a hospital. Moms do have quicker access to operating rooms in the hospitals should it be necessary, but I could get to the hospital quicker than an OR can be prepped and an OB paged and readied (especially the way my husband drives). Besides, I feel confident my midwife would have me there way before an immediate need for surgery. And I can’t help but add… If you think there is a soul on this planet that cares more than me about the health and safety of my baby, you are outta your mind!
Another untrue assumption is that U.S. doctors and hospitals are the greatest thing to happen to modern birth. One out of every three women who walk into a hospital to have a baby will be wheel-chaired out with a Cesarean scar. The U.S. currently ranks 50 in maternal deaths in the world. When you look at all the developed countries in the world, the U.S. stands apart from the rest in how we care for pregnant women before, during, and after childbirth. So it’s not just looking for reasons a mother would choose a homebirth, but also the reasons she would choose to stay away from the commonly accepted standard of care the U.S. has adapted.
My least favorite assumption is that homebirth moms are careless, peace-signing, mother-nature-loving, dirty, hippies out to prove a point and be better than the suburbanites. Homebirths are increasing in the U.S. and over half of homebirth moms are college educated. They are typically married and, statistically speaking, they have probably already had one birth in a hospital. Also, while I agree that birthing is a very spiritual experience, my personal experience with homebirthing communities shows a strong link between Christianity and homebirth individuals. This is of course not to say that hippies can’t also be Christian, but it should paint a different picture of the archetype homebirthing mom for those with a prejudice.
If you are genuinely curious about why a mom chose to homebirth, ask her. I will bet that she is willing and open about what led her down that path. It requires a lot of research, personal reflection, and effort to find a care-giver. She is likely passionate about her decision, the miracle of childbirth, and anxious to put these assumptions to bed.
Image: My daughter and me just 12 hours after our homebirth.
About Megan Leary
I am a work-at-home mama of one darling girl and a baby boy who is still on the way! I am an advocate of natural and homebirthing. I am passionate about pregnancy, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, and most things natural in a mama's life. Visit me and my friends at our blog Hippies with Babies.