I have to say something here. I doubt that meepycat or anyone who actually believes that birth is inherently dangerous will listen, or even be able to wrap their heads around this concept, but I still feel the need to say this. Birth is not inherently dangerous. Yes complications arise, many of which can be anticipated by warning signs during pregnancy, and almost all others will have warning signs during labor. The few that are surprise instances, like cord prolapse, and placental abrubtion are more common in hospitals due to routine amniotomy and pitocin use, and even if they do happen at home, the chances that (especially in my case, considering I live less than 2 miles from a hospital) the outcome would be different in a hospital is slim. I know that at my hospital, OB's are rarely on site, and if I was there and the need for an emergency section arose, it would take just as long if not longer for the dr to arrive and the OR to be ready, as it would if we called on the way to the hospital. Then there are things like pp hemorrhage, which can usually be handled at home or at least managed at home until help (emt's or ER) can be aquired.
And then there are the routine use of interventions in US hospitals, most of which have not been proven effective, beneficial, or to decrease infant or maternal morbidity or mortality, and have in fact been proven to be useful only in emergencies, or during complication, but not good for use in the average, healthy pregnancy, with the majority of average, healthy moms and babies. Some that come to mind are the lithotomy potition for pushing, which is only beneficial to Dr's and never to moms, unless that is the position she has chosen herself as the most comfortable, routine IV fluids, which disrupt the bodies natural ability to produce Oxytocin, often necessitating artificial oxytocin which causes the uterus to contract in a very unnatural way and often causes signs of fetal distress due to oxygen deprivation, and increases the chances of a cesarean that would never have been needed if mom had been able to hydrate herself with water.
Not allowing mom to eat or drink, which when considering what a strenous activity labor and birth are, just simply doesn't make sense. You would never tell an athlete to fast and only take IV fluids during a football game, let alone a triathalon. Not allowing mom out of bed, because moving around and changing positions have been proven to make mom more comfortable, as well as help labor along, continuous fetal monitoring, which has been proven to increase the rate of csections without a change in fetal outcomes, and has been recommended for use only when intermitent monitoring suggests a problem, constant cervical checks which introduce bacteria to the vagina, and can increase the risk of infection for mom and baby, especially if the membranes have been ruptured. Routine amniotomy which increases the risk of cord prolapse, and the need for pitocin to get baby delivered by that all important 24 hour mark.
The 1cm per hour rule, which does not apply to first time mothers or any mother actually, because the study was done in the 1950's and the subjects where all given atrificial pitocin. Routine use of epidurals, which have a list of often undisclosed risks, including drop in blood pressure and due to the fact that mom must receive 2 liters of IV fluid before getting an epidural, theres a risk of fluid overload which could also affect the baby, spinal headache, spinal cord damage, and in rare cases, which are usually attributed to the anesthesiologists mistakes, maternal and or fetal death. Routine use of Pitocin to augment a labor that doesn't fall into the already abnormal "normal", which as described above can cause issues with baby, but as Dr. Marsden Wagner has warned, we don't really know the full long term affects of. The hormones released by mom and baby in a natural spontaneous labor and delivery are so complex and so hard to study let alone recreate to an exact science that disrupting this process with artificial oxytocin is just dangerous.
The routine inductions done weeks and months before baby is ready to come, which are very commonly done for physician and patient convenience without actually disclosing how risky it is, along with being done "just in case" when there really wasn't a need. Like when the Drs suspect a large baby at 37 weeks, just to induce, have it fail because baby wasn't ready, and shows signs of distress or failure to progress, and baby is born via csection (unnecessarily), and ends up being only 5 lbs and has to spend a month in the NICU.
YES, these interventions are great in an emergency, but they are NOT beneficial when used on all women, regardless of her health, and regardless of whether she wants them or not. The active management of obstetric patients can also cause longterm psychological effects to the mom. Telling her that her body is incapable to birthing her baby without all of these high tech devices and drugs. We don't really know what the long term affects of all of these interventions will REALLY have on women and babies.
Now I did not list all of the possible complications, but the bottom line is, in the US, with healthy women, who have had healthy, uncomplicated pregnancies, and even some who have experienced complications, who have either educated themselves and their birth attendants to spot an issue like a decel, or excess bleeding or any of the other complications that a midwife can handle at home and either deal with it or get help, or have hired a trained midwife, and have a reasonable back up plan should a complication arise, the RISKS of going to the hospital and enduring the routine and often dangerous interventions, are higher than the risks of staying home, IMO.
Yes birth can be dangerous, and OB's are great to have available for when complications arise and things do go wrong, and no, it is not "inherently" safe, but it is also not "inherently" dangerous, and it is no way the most dangerous thing I will do in my life. My body works fine, and I can deliver my 3rd son at home with a trained midwife or without because I know that my body works just fine and if there is a problem, or a complication, I am so close to a hospital I could walk if I had to. I am WAY more affraid to go back to the hospital where I gave birth to my 2 older sons, due to the staff and OB's lack of understanding of the actual birth process, and that their job is to handle to emergencies and not manage a labor or birth that is happening just fine on it's own. I don't need the natural process of labor and birth to be managed with drugs, machines and rules that have nothing to do with scientific evidence, because there isn't a problem. Should a problem arise, or should my midwife feel or my mother or husband or myself feel the need to go to the hospital because something just "doesn't feel right", I will, without question, because I want the Drs and the technology there if something is wrong, but otherwise, I will be home, delivering my baby the way it has been done by thousands of women for thousands of years. The difference is that I have access to medical care should it become necessary.