Homebirths. . . at home?
A previous poster here recently mentioned: “There’s a lot about homebirth that appeals to me, but for a few reasons […], it wasn’t a realistic option for me.” Clearly, bottom line, if a woman doesn’t want a homebirth–for whatever reason–then homebirth is not the right option for her. But I’ve heard this train of thought (homebirth = appealing but not a realistic option) voiced many times, and I have to confess I just don’t understand it.
When I’ve asked friends (both RL and Internet) who’ve voiced this idea more about their reasoning, they tend to elaborate by saying one of the following things:
1) Home/apartment not ideal, not big enough–space too cramped, too dark, too close to neighbors.
2) Pregnancy not going perfectly smoothly–baby too big, iron too low, blood pressure too high, etc.
3) Husband/partner/family not ideally supportive–would be too nervous at home, too concerned about noise, mess, emergencies.
Honestly, I think all three of these reasons are just the surface-level symptoms of the underlying reason–the woman herself, voicing these “reasons,” does not feel comfortable trusting herself, her body, and her midwife. I don’t mean to sound harsh here–not at all: I’d just like to strip away some of the veneer here to point out that really, if you trust yourself, your body, and your midwife, these objections to homebirth tend to disappear.
House too small? Believe that your midwife would tell you if she really thought your apartment was impossibly unworkable for a birth.
Pregnancy not ideal? Again, trust your midwife: midwives want good outcomes for their clients, and a good midwife will screen you out if she truly does not think you are a candidate for homebirth. But realize, really, that the percentage of women a midwife (who views birth as a natural process and who trusts your body to birth your baby) will screen out is almost certainly going to be smaller than the percentage of women an OB (who views birth as an unpredictable event that must be managed and controlled and kept from veering into disaster) will declare “high-risk.”
Partner not supportive? Many, many partners begin the process being unenthusiastic about–even unsupportive of–homebirth, yet go along because they don’t want to contradict their wives. By the end, partners/husbands tend to be huge supporters of homebirth. And, honestly? Even if they’re not supportive, if you trust yourself and your midwife, you can still have your baby at home.
Of these three objections, I really think the unsupportive partner is both the most common and potentially the most serious. Still, while no one would suggest a woman have a homebirth at the risk of completely destroying her relationship with the baby’s father, if you and your partner disagree so strongly on homebirth and your partner cannot support your wishes in this, then you will have major problems with other aspects of parenting once the baby is born–in the hospital or at home!
In the end, as I said above, if a woman feels for any reason at all that homebirth is not for her, then she’s right, of course–she’s the authority on herself, she has the power of choice, and if she doesn’t want it, then homebirth is not the right option for her at that time.
I just think that sometimes it’s too easy to shift the decision onto other people or external factors; I think the impulse to say, “Oh, homebirth would be great, but I can’t have one because of my apartment/partner/body” is a dangerous one because it actually removes the decision-making power from the woman herself and allows her to sit back and go with the flow. And in this day and age, in this country–in this culture with its medicalized view of pregnancy and birth–the “flow” is of course a medicalized, managed birth in a hospital.
Good luck to all, of course–have your births, at home or in the hospital, but have them on your own terms, articulate your own reasons for or against them, and have them be your decision.