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.
Erik Bays says
The infant mortality rate should not be used the way this article uses it. The U.S. reports newborn deaths differently than most other countries. The U.S. reports every birth, while many other countries only count a newborn death after it has been alive for 24 hours or more, or don’t count deaths from children born before full term. The U.S. arguably has the best health care system in the world.
Also, the article claims cesarean sections are pushed onto mothers by doctors and insurance companies, but a survey by Childbirth Connection found that only 25% of cesarean sections occurred because they were pressured into it by their doctor. Many women get a cesarean because they want to preserve their vagina or because they believe it will be less trauma to the child.
jessica | @JessOhBee says
I am a home birth mama and total fan of home births!!! I understand they are not for all families, but I think the option should be an option to all and that everyone should educate themselves about hospital policies and modern prenatal care so that they can advocate for the birth that want – whatever environment they choose.
Both of my children were born in home births, attended by a certified nurse midwife and for the latter, her assistant. (My first went so quick the assistant/back-up never arrived!) I gave birth with no medical intervention, no drugs, no IVs, etc. My baby and I were monitored only with my midwives finger tips (for pulse) and a traditional stethoscope (for heart rate). However, my midwives were fully prepared with equipment should I have anything from an expected tear to an emergency hemorrhage (neither of which happened though). Both were fast and furious – clocking in under 4 and under 2 hours respectively which I credit yes to my body and sheer luck but also to how much support and guidance I got leading up to the birth. I was encouraged to do meditation/visualizations, stretches, follow certain dietary guidelines and talk out any fears I had in way, way more detail than any of my friends have been guided to do by their OBs. That’s what I always try to share about home births. It isn’t about just the labor and delivery: it is the prenatal care, the post-natal support. It is a different experience for your entire pregnancy.
When you chose a midwife team who is focused on women birthing without unnecessary
medical intervention, they have a respect for women, their bodies and the process of birthing that I don’t feel traditional doctors may share. And the benefit is, they don’t focus on the negatives or scare women in terms of what could go wrong – they focus on the positive and empower women. Whereas my first appointment with an OB (of my first pregnancy before I selected a midwife team) was conducted with me, naked in a sheet gown before the Dr. ever even entered the exam room, at my midwives office, every single visit begins with the parents seated, fully clothed and comfortable in seats at the same level as the midwife. Even the most respectful doctors tend to come from a place of being the expert, wanting to tell women what to do, but I felt like my midwife viewed me as an equal and that she was there to work with me like we were a team. For a first time pregnancy, this love, respect and care was invaluable.
I got to stay home, position myself as I wanted, drink coconut water and ask for lights off or no sound – things I wouldn’t have control of in a hospital. I understand the thought that the most important thing about a birth is that the baby makes it out alive and healthy, of course, but I do think that is used to justify bad practices or unnecessary interventions that may not need to occur in situations like home births.
This isn’t a formal study of course, but in relation to my friends who have given birth, not one has had a quicker labor than me. Not one has tore less than me (or not at all, like me). Not one has spoken about their experience as positively as me. And none of them had what you would call negative experiences! Home births just can’t be beat I think 😉
My prenatal care, births and post-natal care were under the supervision of TLC Midwifery in Los Angeles for which I have the utmost respect and love. Davi and Michelle, the midwives there, are magical women who I just love dearly.
I watched Business of Being Born BEFORE getting pregnant – but when we knew it was on its way – and I recommend that time frame quite a bit because once you are in the thick of pregnancy, it gets harder to have time to make decisions and shop for a midwife and such. There is also a companion book that I checked out from the library and thought was very helpful. The documentary is obviously slanted to support home births so it isn’t 100% fair and balanced, but I thought it did an excellent job of showing shortcomings of US medical care today and why home birth is sought by some.
My recommendation to other families is to: 1) Watch BoBB and read the companion book, 2) Google “positive home birth stories” – so inspiring!, 3) research and interview many midwives and 4) if you can, connect with some one who has done it before for guidance.
Lovely seeing home birth on here and congrats to the author!
Jessica | @JessOhBee
ned kelly says
I had 2 at hospital (one was a failed homebirth after 3 days labour) + 2 at home. 4 total. No comparison between them. Home was far more easy, fun, less interference. I wish 1 of the hospital births had been at home, she was my smallest, quickest, (28 hrs, ok I have long labours) + they insisted on cutting me, even b4 I started pushing, then sewed me up wrong, like a cardigan buttoned wrong, pffft. The nurse forced me to put me leg up on her shoulder, so she could see better, even tho I took it off 3x, as it was incredibly uncomfortable. If id been older + more assertive, id have just pushed her over with my foot.