Homebirthin' Midwives

When I was younger, I never really had a clear picture of how I would bring my children into the world. I knew that I would have kids someday and I suppose I assumed that I would have them in a hospital, but I honestly never really gave it much thought. The only notion that I had about how a birth "should" go was based on what my mom had always told me about my own birth. I was the third baby and born in a small hospital a half hour's drive from where my parents lived. Apparently, mom's labor progressed more quickly than she was expecting and there was just no time for any drugs or other interventions. She wasn't necessarily planning on having a natural birth, but ended up with one by default. All through my childhood she gushed about what a satisfying experience that it was. How she held me immediately and that I smelled so good that she wanted to lick the vernix off of me. How energized she felt and how she told my dad she was ready to have another one right then and there. So that's what I've always thought birth should be. Satisfying. Exhilarating. Powerful.

Well before Steve and I made the decision that we were ready to add a baby to our family, I found myself at a fundraising screening of The Business of Being Born. Until that point, I hadn't known that there might be barriers to the birth I was starting to realize that I wanted. I'd like to say that my decision to birth at home came after much intensive research, but it didn't. I made the decision first and was relieved to find the safety of it supported again and again when I later did do the intensive research. For me, it was a common sense approach. Over and over I heard that the number one predictor of positive birth outcomes is that the mother feels that she is an active participant in the process and has continuous one-on-one support. I knew that, for me, I would find that situation at home and not in a hospital. It also helped that my midwives are amazing. Choosing them was, again, something that I felt my way through. We didn't interview anyone else. We knew from our first meeting that we all clicked and that they would be able to provide us the balanced approach that we were looking for. 
Which is why the current state of midwifery in this country is so frustrating. I can throw out all the stats I want to about the safety of home birth for low risk pregnancies like mine or about how cost effective it is. But in almost half of the states, Certified Professional Midwives, those who generally attend home births, do not have recognition of their license to practice, causing them to face prosecution if they do provide the birth options that women like me are demanding. Women should be able to birth wherever they choose and be attended by the practitioner of their choice. I'm very lucky to live in Iowa where we have an incredibly dedicated team who are trying to pass a bill recognizing CPMs. But, progress is slow and there is always more work to be done. I didn't before, but I have a clear vision of my baby's birth now. Everyone should have the freedom to make the choice that is best for them and to have it safely realized.

3 comments:

  1. Here, here! Very well said. Unfortunately, South Dakota is one of those states where it is illegal for a midwife to assist in a home birth. Of course, it happens anyway, but that doesn't make it easy to coordinate a home birth if you'd like to have one. It is hugely disappointing to me that so many people in my state are uneducated about the amazing benefits of birthing at home.

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  2. You touch on such important topics here. There are even larger pieces to this as well. For example, if midwives were the main providers of obstetric care for ALL women - in the home as well as hospital or birth center - it would be so much more cost-effective for our country and the health outcomes would be excellent. Also, if we had unified national support for midwifery care, we could have better unified education and certification for all midwives. Right now, there is an unfortunate undercurrent of mistrust among midwives who have taken different paths to practice. Also, in reality, most women choose to give birth at a hospital. All the more reason to have midwives on the front line of this care. Then, whether at home or in a hospital or birth center, women can receive compassionate, appropriate, evidenced-based care.

    I could go on, but I know you are engaged with these same ideas! I am glad you are able to make the choice that feels best to you. Your babe is a fortunate soul!

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  3. I love midwives. I had hospital births but with a midwife (and now dear friend) both times. The attention she brought to my care was way beyond any medical care i've ever received.

    Sounds like you putting everything into place to have a wonderful birth experience.

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