I'm warning everyone that this is really long lol. I am a woman of color who is debating whether or not I should try a home birth when I decide to try for another child or if I should find a way to advocate for women of color and low-income women to have more control over their birth experience in the hospital. I was treated so poorly at the hospital where I gave birth that it has inspired me to do something about it so other women don't have to experience what I did. I am thankful that my LO was born healthy without any complications, but I felt so degraded by the hospital staff. The nurses and doctors who helped in my labor and delivery were extremely dismissive, unresponsive, and down right rude. I felt humiliated when I left. I'm not one to blame everything on racism, but I am convinced that my poor treatment was a result of my ethnicity.
I've noticed that most of the stories, debates, information on home birth focus on white, middle-class, and older women. These are typically women who are in the best position to advocate for themselves, be treated by more experienced health care professionals, and to be treated with more respect (even though that is not always the case) than women of color or low-income women.
I'm really encouraged by reading the stories about positive home birth experiences and how empowering and calming it can be for a woman to labor in the comfort of her own home surrounded by a midwife that she personally selected and to be in the presence of friends and family. Many low-income women have little choice in an Ob-gyn or CNM. A lot of times that have to go to a "clinic" where they meet with whatever doctor who is available that day, and often it is a resident who has very little experience. Then, you go to the hospital and whoever happens to be on call that day delivers your baby. These women are often robbed of the ability to form a relationship with a health care professional to feel more comfortable during labor. They also may be at a disadvantage when it comes to advocating for what they want since they may be stereotyped by hospital staff.
Although I think home birth can be really positive, I've read a TON of blogs where they talk about how horrible and irresponsible it is to have a home birth because of all the risks involved. Reading those blogs has terrified me.
So, my questions are: How safe is home birth? If more women of color or low-income women were able to have home birth, would that helped to decrease the negative mother and infant health outcomes faced by women of color? I understand that there are many serious and potentially life-threatening risks with home birth, but what I want to know is it any safer for poor women/women of color to have a baby in a hospital where they might be disrespected, treated by inexperienced Ob-gyns, and not given the highest quality of care than to have a home birth?
Thanks for reading!