I have many friends who decide on home births, but few of them are my actual relatives. This is why I was so excited when I learned my cousin Matthew and his wife Dayyanah would be having their second daughter Dylan (born just days ago!) at home. Everything went smoothly, and here she is below wearing her cloth diapers that her Mommy made (these are amazing and make me want to have a baby just to try them out!) She was almost born on her older sister Zia’s birthday, who just turned 2. What a great birthday present to get a new baby sister. When Zia was born 2 years ago, everything went swimmingly as well. It happened so quickly, they didn’t even have time to get the tub set up to do the water birth! Matthew and Dayyanah allowed me to post these photos and their story because they want people to understand more about home births. You’d be surprised how many folks I talk to who know nothing about them and are frankly, scared to death at the idea.
I seem to hear this story time and time again when friends who choose to have their babies at home or use a Midwife and or Doula in a birthing center or hospital. Yes, even my friends who have their babies in a regular hospital with a Midwife or Doula seem to all have had much easier births than the friends and family I know who opted not to use one (or didn’t know such an option existed).
This Youtube link to the full movie of “The Business of Being Born” (trailer at top of story) is an eye opening documentary about how doctors don’t want women hanging around the labor rooms and use drugs to sedate the mothers to make their job easier. The problem with that strategy is that it often backfires, and many end up getting C sections which could so easily be avoided.
Just over 100 years ago 95% of US births took place at home as the NY Times explains in this raving review of the film.
Now? Statistics show less than 1% of births are at home.
The very mainstream conventional Parenting Magazine does a great piece entitled “American Hospital Births, Not as Safe as You Think” In it they say:
Spoiler alert: hospital births in America are definitely not more safe than home births in the Netherlands. In fact, hospital births in the United States aren’t very safe at all when compared to home or hospital births in other developed counties in general. Ours is one of only a handful of countries in the entire world whose maternal mortality rates are rising. And they’re doing so rapidly. Our maternal death rate has doubled over the last 25 years. In California, it tripled in a mere decade (1996 to 2006). Given that a great many maternal deaths aren’t even reported to the CDC (Gaskin herself goes into this in more detail here), these numbers probably actually look better than they really are. And, well, they don’t look good.
Our infant mortality rate in the US is just around 50th places (not good!) when it comes to safety in this department, despite our spending $98 billion a year on hospital births (more than any other nation). Hospitals’ C-section rates (also on the extreme rise) don’t nearly reflect real ‘emergency’ rates – many hospitals are well over 50% — and are a driving force behind the maternal death rate problem. But there are driving forces behind those C-section rates, too.
That’s right. We come in 50th place for maternal mortality rates world wide. The US actually comes in lower than some third world countries where nearly all infants are born at home (or in tents and huts) despite the billions we spend a year in on hospital births. Ah the irony.
Whether you choose a home birth with a Midwife or unassisted, a birthing center with a holistic OB GYN or a hospital with a Doula there are many choices besides the conventional hospital birth which actually can be one of the riskiest of all.