She said “home birth?” I said “No.” That’s how my wife, Jenny, and I began a rather interesting discussion which is about to lead to a temporary birthing tub in our living room.
Although, according to WebMD, fewer than 1% of US births occur at home, there is a growing community of people who are choosing to avoid the hospital, medications, cesarean sections, and other interventions that often accompany many modern births. While avoiding unnecessary medical interventions makes complete sense, I–like most fathers–have a strong instinct to protect my family and to make sure that mother and baby are completely safe. Even though a home birth is very important to my wife, being “OK” with my wife in a hot tub in the living room with only a midwife and one or two other nurses for support is a bit of a stretch for my protective paternal instincts.
To prepare for our decision about a home birth we watched the popular movie “The Business of Being Born.” (Who knew Ricki Lake was still involved in show business?) We had already taken the Bradley course for our now one-year old son’s birth and recently completed the Hypnobabies course in which Jen has become a master at deep relaxation and medical hypnosis for pain control.
Lastly, we started interviewing and visiting with the surprisingly small number of midwives in our area who are properly training and licensed to deliver babies at home. Among their awards, accolades, credentials, and reassurances rested a simple business principle that set this dad’s mind at ease–well, at least more at ease.
The midwifery group that we eventually chose to engage for our upcoming home birth is a faith-based practice that feels called by a higher power to provide an important service to well-informed families. These families understand the risks and benefits of bucking the medical system to welcome their child into the world–an event that has been happening with little or no medical intervention for hundreds of generations and was only “medicalized” within the past 100 years.
Also, the people who run the practice gamble their livelihood on the fact that they can assist mothers, without incident, and they have been doing so for several years without a single mother or baby dying or experiencing a serious medical problem. They assured me that whenever they feel like any situation might cause injury to the baby or the mother, they “risk out” moms or transport them to the hospital. This made sense to me from not only the altruistic perspective, but also from a business perspective. This practice has great statistics because they’re conservative with how they handle risk. That realization pushed me over the edge into being more “OK” with attempting a home birth.
So, although our journey with home birth isn’t complete yet, my “no” has turned into a “well, alright, I think we should try this since the emergency room is fairly close.”
With our baby due in early November 2012, I plan to have a follow-up on how things went within a few weeks.
Image: Stuart Miles