My wife and I haven’t agreed on every little thing over the years, but there is one thing that we have always agreed on: the best experiences of our lives so far have been the home births of our two sons.
I still remember both home births as though they occurred a few hours ago.
Margaret’s labor with our firstborn was about six hours long. With the help of three midwives, we sweated and huffed and puffed our way through every hour. And I mean we.
About halfway through the labor, I distinctly remember thinking, I’ll never say no to this woman again…whatever she asks for from now on, my answer will be yes. I know this is a bit of a funny thought to have had while she was crushing my hands during each wave of contractions, but the point that shouldn’t be missed is this: I felt some serious respect and awe for my wife as I witnessed her giving birth to our firstborn.
And what can I say about the moment when I first saw our first son? Never in my life before that moment did I sob uncontrollably out of pure joy. I knew all too well what it felt like to bawl out of self-pity or fear or sadness, but not out of joy, not until that moment.
The birth of our second son was a similar experience, but with far less anxiety, given our previous experience. Labor for our second born was about two hours long, and to have our toddler son there with us to greet our new baby made it special in a way that I have difficulty describing. In a way, I feel that having our toddler son there to help welcome his little brother set the tone for their relationship forever.
Given our experiences, Margaret and I can’t imagine giving birth in a hospital. We have no doubt that hospital births can be good experiences, and we feel that it is best to carry out home births with midwives who have hospital privileges. But knowing the many advantages of giving birth at home, we feel that all expectant parents should take some time to learn about the advantages of giving birth at home before deciding on where to give birth.
If you are an expectant parent and want to familiarize yourself with the advantages of giving birth at home, I recommend that you view a documentary called The Business of Being Born. This documentary is definitely for home births and against hospital births. While the makers of this documentary have a strong bias against hospital births, they ask viewers to consider questions that every expectant parent ought to seek answers to before making a decision on where to give birth; some examples of such questions are:
- Why does the U.S. have the second-worst newborn death rate in the developed world?
- Why are more than 40 percent of the deliveries done in some New York hospitals Caesarean sections?
- Why, according to a study, are the peak hours for Caesarean procedures at 4 in the afternoon and 10 at night?
Here are some disturbing points that The Business of Being Born brings up while answering these and other questions:
- The U.S. spends twice as much per birth than any other country in the world, yet has the second-worst newborn mortality rate and one of the highest rates of maternal death during childbirth.
- Midwife-attended births in the U.S. have dropped from 50 percent in 1938 to less than 8 percent today; in the five countries that have the lowest infant mortality rates (Japan and four countries in Europe), 70 percent of births are carried out by midwives.
- By 2005, 25 percent of American women underwent a Caesarean birth.
- Modern American obstetrical care prioritizes making labor as convenient as possible for doctors, sometimes to the detriment of mother and baby; here are two examples of this:
- ◦ It’s natural for a woman to want to be in different positions (and even walk around) during labor; having a woman lie flat on her back on a gurney during labor serves to makes things convenient for medical personnel.
- ◦ Powerful drugs are often used to speed up labor to decrease waiting time for the doctor, even when these drugs sometimes necessitate the use of powerful painkillers.
- Female obstetrician and gynecologist, Dr. Eden Fromberg, recalls being advised that Caesarean sections are a hedge against lawsuits, because “(Patients) can never fault you if you just section them.”
- According to Dr. Michael Brodman, chief obstetrician and gynecologist at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital, American hospitals and insurance companies want patients in and out of bed as quickly as possible; C-sections can be scheduled in advance or can cut short the labor process.
I think that this documentary does an excellent job of encouraging expectant parents to think about how they can have the healthiest and most meaningful birthing experience possible, rather than just submit to what’s expected of them by their health care provider, relatives, and friends.
Based on my wife’s and my experiences with giving birth at home, we feel that it’s well worth every expectant parent’s time to give serious consideration to having a home birth.
If you have a home or hospital birthing experience that might be helpful to share with expectant parents who aren’t sure about where to give birth, please consider sharing your experience via the comments section below.
DVDs and film downloads can be obtained at their official website: The Business of Being Born. You can also watch the full film via YouTube in the player below:
Dr. Ben Kim is a chiropractor and acupuncturist who runs a residential fasting and chiropractic clinic in Ontario, Canada. Click here to read more of Dr. Ben Kim’s writings on health and wellness.