Over a year ago I gave birth to my second baby at home. Almost 3 years ago I gave birth to my first baby in a hospital. Both experiences were valuable and the results were phenomenal because I have two amazing sons.
Lately I have been going over each birth and the anticipation leading up to them. As a first time mother who was living in a new state, far away from family, I was relying on acquaintances to help pick the OB/GYN that would eventually deliver my son. We chose the OB based on the hospital he delivered at. I never considered a homebirth but I was planning on a natural delivery.
The desire to get pregnant was strong for me. I always wanted to be a mother. The scariest thing to me, prior to getting pregnant, was the idea of being in a hospital. I had never been admitted to one in my life before giving birth. Other than the occasional ER visit (including one for swallowing the bar on my tongue ring in college!) I never spent much time in the hospital as a patient, only as a volunteer. The idea terrified me. Hospitals are cold, depressing places in my mind. There are sick people there, dying people, people in pain. Then me: going to give birth on what would become one of the happiest days of my life.
I was afraid of getting lost in that gigantic hospital and never finding the labor and delivery ward. I was pertrified of having any IV’s put into my veins. I worried about how the unwelcoming environment would affect my labor and my overall comfort level. I was even afraid of sleeping there overnight and the possibility that my husband wouldn’t be allowed to stay with me.
With all of these concerns a homebirth still never came to mind.
I ended up with a very intervened birth. I was induced, I had IV’s in my veins, I had a heartrate monitor on during the entire 20+ hour labor, I wore a hideous hospital gown, I received an epidural, I had to have a catheter inserted, and I received stitches. I am still amazed that I still had a vaginal birth. The odds were against me.
Now it is very easy for me to look back and scream into the past “Have a homebirth!” It is even easier for me to wonder why, after having experienced both, hospitals are the norm. Hospitals are for the sick and injured.
Labor is not a disease or a broken bone. Pregnant women are not sick. Birth is a part of life that every mother is intended to experience. On rare occasions complications make hospital births safer for mothers who are high risk or for babies who are known to have problems that will need medical attention after delivery. Thank goodness these options are there.
It saddens me to think of the women who are in my shoes, or will be. Afraid of the hospital but unaware of the alternative of a homebirth. The more we talk about it the more the idea won’t sound so crazy.
I’m incredibly thankful for all of the women who make homebirth a topic of conversation, who normalize it, and who live it. Ina May Gaskinand Ricki Lakeare my homebirth heros and women whose work and passion played a huge role in giving me the courage to homebirth. I also admire Gina of The Feminist Breeder who writes about homebirth and feminist issues. She also gave birth at home, live. I’m honored to have witnessed it as well.
I don’t know if there are more children in my future. If there are I will plan for another homebirth. I can’t imagine ever going back to a hospital. If I had to choose between a Hospital and Homebirth I would choose a Birth Center (which is cheating, I didn’t give that option). The next time I’m admitted to a hospital it should be for a real emergency or illness. Eventually my lucky streak has to run out, right?