I had a hospital birth for my first, and so far only child, however, any subsequent children will be homebirths due the horrible experience that I had in a hospital.
I would like to say though, that even though I agree with this thread in a lot of ways, it doesn't totally sit right with me. When I chose to give birth in a hospital I thought I was well informed and educated. I consider myself to be a feminist, which is why I went with a practice of midwives instead of an OB. To my friends and the people in my community I had made a choice, or choices rather, that were completely unfamiliar to them. I was going against the norm and driving an hour away to a different hospital in order to have an empowered midwife and doula attended natural water birth for my son. And we were even going to leave him intact on top of that! I felt like the choices I had made were powerful choices and they impacted almost everyone I shared them with. I was going outside of the box, the typical hospital experience, to have the type of birth that some people that I know never even knew existed. Is that not radical? I guess I chose a hospital birth because I wanted the best of both worlds, and I thought that existed, in fact I read birth stories where it did and my own mother had a a very empowered midwife attended hospital birth with my sister when I was ten, so in my world a hospital birth was not typically a gentle and natural experience, but it could be if you stood up and made it that way for yourself. I ended up being totally wrong, but while I was researching my options, I never had a warning from anyone about what it would really
be like to give birth in a hospital. I was extremely angry at other women after I gave birth for not warning me. All those other mothers I encountered while I was pregnant, who never once warned me what it would be like to have a hospital birth. But honestly, if they had, I would not have listened to them. I felt very good about my choices, I trusted in what I was told about the hospital and the midwives and having a homebirth wasn't something I gave any real thought to. I don't even know why now, I just never even considered it as a real option.
Another thing that I think about, and that is never really talked about on this board, so maybe it was only me, is that when I was pregnant I couldn't make a decision to save my life. For the first time in my life, I allowed my husband to order for me at restaurants,
: and if he hadn't I would probably still be sitting there trying to decide what to get. He picked out the baby's furniture, the baby's clothes, and made every other decision that needed to be made while I was pregnant. And instead of being mad at him for not letting me decide, I was so grateful when he would recognize my indecisiveness and just take over for me. It was such a huge relief for some odd reason. I briefly turned into the kind of woman I can't stand, and during labor that was amplified 1000 times. I felt vulnerable and confused during pregnancy and labor. Maybe it was the hormones, or maybe it was because I was physically vulnerable, but it was horrible and I hated that part of it. I came very close to not choosing midwives or hiring a doula because it was just so hard to make choices, especially ones that seemed to make things more complicated. If I had not thought of those things and known that I wanted them before I ever got pregnant, I don't think I ever would have done it. Since I had never considered homebirth before I got pregnant, it wasn't even something I wanted to look into in pregnancy, I couldn't even handle deciding what I wanted for dinner let alone where I wanted to give birth. So if a mainstream woman is presented with facts and statistics and whatnot during pregnancy, I don't think that would change her decisions at all if she is anything like I was during pregnancy. And I have seen it already with my own SIL who had a baby a few months after I did. I presented her with so much evidence and facts and statistics, and she said thank you and went on to have every drug they offered her and ended up with a vacuum extracted baby whose heartrate had dropped from the epidural. I told her and my brother how the hospital can be and how to overcome these obstacles, and they shifted around and got all nervous like "what, you mean we have to stand up for ourselves?" and they pretty much told me they were just gonna do as they were told, in there annoyingly passive aggressive way.
I feel lied to and cheated by the hospital and their nice website and their nice brochures and their childbirth classes that showed video's that reassured me that everything would go naturally and smoothly just the way I planned. I sat with midwives for my prenatals and told them all my wishes and they wrote them all down and acted like that is what they do anyway. I didn't know that hospitals hated women, I didn't know that there were CNM's out there that hated women and had no understanding of the emotional needs of a woman in labor. My DH was respected, my doula was respected, and I was treated like an insane child. It bothers me to this day to watch the video right after my son was born. The nurses took him away from me right after birth, I didn't even get to touch him, and they had him over across the room poking him and doing stuff that could have been done later. Twenty minutes later, the nurse finds it in her heart to be a little bit compassionate... to DH. Oh, never mind me over there who was just repeatedly violated by a horrible midwife with a vagina fetish, never mind that I just got cut and tore on top of that, never mind that I didn't get the birthing room and got stuck in L&D and was treated like an L&D patient, and that I wasn't allowed to use the tub so no water birth, and I could on and on but this is already to long. Anyway, the nurse turns to DH and says "I can wrap him up and you can hold him if you want to." Those nurses hated me, that midwife hated me, they could have cared less if I ever held my baby, they only cared about DH, they talked to him so nice like he was an actual person. Why did they hate me? Because I labored loud, because I snapped back at them, because I screamed, because my veins were hard to get into, because I kept telling them no to everything they wanted to do to me and DS and I kept telling them to check my chart and then they would find it there and be even madder. If I would have been quiet and meek and did everything they told me to do, I'm sure they would have liked me a whole lot better and I would have gotten better treatment. So if women think that there is no other choice besides being in a hospital, no wonder they go in and get hooked up to everything and play by all of their stupid rules. Maybe then the nurses like you and they let you hold your baby and they treat you like a person and they look you in the eyes and they try and comfort you.
Being treated that way came as a total shock that I am still not recovered from. Nobody warned me, I never read anything about the evils of hospitals, I never heard anywhere that we would have to go in fighting. Maybe I wasn't reading the right things at the time, but it was my first baby, how do you know what to read or where to go, especially when everyone you know is mainstream? And at the time I did feel good and empowered by the decisions that I had made for the birth, and I had no idea that the hospital would be an oppressive place. Those two things are reversed now as to how I feel about them, but at the time that is what I felt and if someone would have come along and told me having my baby in a hospital was going to be oppressive to me, I would have just rolled my eyes and thought "whatever, maybe at your hospital with your OB, but not with my midwives, they would never be that way." Anyway, sorry that got so long, I hope it is halfway coherent.