Sunday, February 10, 2008

Home Birth vs Hospital

Yes, I am taking it easy. And I am a little bored and lonely. It's okay, though, because I would do anything in the world to keep the little one safe in there. I cannot remember the last time I went this long without exercise. I get winded going up one flight of stairs! Heck, I could go on and on about all the hormone related stuff. But I'll sum it up: heartburn, crying at anything, asleep by 10pm, peeing every 20 minutes, inability to tolerate any bullshit, constipation, nausea and headaches. No big deal. Bring it on! It's all worth it to eventually know the feeling of this:

Thanks, Dave and Christy.

So I have started thinking about and researching the home birth versus hospital birth idea. I have thought about it even before I met Mark. I want to temper my thoughts from being too new-agey or too conventional, and focus on what's best for Mark and me.
On one extreme there are the folks who want to give birth naked under a tree in the mountains. On the other extreme is lying in a hospital bed with IVs in my arms, a tube in my spinal cord, monitors strapped to my belly, and my legs in stirrups.
If everything goes normally, I am completely comfortable with having a certified nurse midwife come to my apartment to assist my giving birth. We live less than 2 miles from the hospital just in case. I have spoken to women who have done this, and they recommend it enthusiastically.
Also, I think I am capable of having the kind of experience I want in the hospital. My fear is that I will be pressured to do things contrary to my wishes in the hospital. Maybe I have read too many bad stories. But why would there be so many bad hospital birth stories and practically none about home births?
Mark is so wonderful and listens to all my ramblings intently and patiently. We want this to be a team effort and mutual decision.
I think that my generation thinks that a hospital birth is the way it should be. It is all we have ever seen or heard about. Actually, home birth has been the norm throughout history, and still is the norm in most other countries. And with all my research of medical studies, I have yet to find one that says that hospital birth shows any advantage with a normal pregnancy birth. And I have read many which show much much lower rates of cesareans and epesiotomies, and shorter labors in home births. The bottom line is I want to have the freedom to move around and be in whatever position that feels best for me when the birth comes. The next step is to go to the hospital and see what their policies are. I'll let you know how that goes.

What are your feelings about this matter? I would love to hear your opinion!


Kristin C. said...

I would love a home birth, but unfortunatly (because of job as and RN) know all of the many things that can go wrong during pregancy, labor, and beyond. The thoughts haunt me when I even begin to entertain the idea of a home birth. But, that is not to say that you can't have any number of those things happen while in the's just that I would feel safer knowing that I would have the reactive ability of skilled specialists available within seconds if needed.

My perfect scenario would be a water birth, with no drugs, in a calm hospital environment with a doula or midwife to support and guide me as well as be my advocate during labor.

Kristin C. said...

What I failed to mention above, is that I think your approach to this decision is great...and I look forward to reading your blog as you learn new statistics about home births vs hospital births.

AllBeehive said...

Aw man, I'm so mad at DG. I thought I had completely enforced a NO pictures of mom rule until I lose this baby weight. That picture doesn't even look like I washed my hair. Gawd!

And now back to the conversation at hand. Hospitals don't just hook you up to monitors to make your life miserable during your stay there. I believe that everything they do is for the well being of you and your child. I loved everything about our hospital room and staff. Our birthing experience was so amazing that we talked about it every day for weeks. I would birth a baby every day if I could. Woo hoo, goooo hospitals!

saffry said...

My friend Alison was trying for a home birth with her third child. The second was a planned homebirth, and then a snowstorm hit and the midwife didn't make it, so her husband delivered her. She just had a girl this past weekend (Coco Bluebell), and had to go to the hospital after losing two midwifes, and not having a proper back-up doctor. But that was largely a problem of living the rural life, and not something that would be as likely in L.A. Even so, she said the hospital was wonderful and she doesn't have any regret about not being home for this one.

You must have birthing centers there, the best of both worlds, as long as you don't continue in a high risk category. I had no choice but to go the hospital route with gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. Had Nathan while flat on my back with an epidural, but no stirrups. I can't imagine anyone does stirrups anymore.

I'm going to conditionally recommend the book Birthing from Within, even though a large chunk of it gets alarmist and may make you want to stay 100 miles from any hospital. But, it does prepare you for what the worst of the worst can be, and I think that knowledge is important when it comes time to make decisions in the confusion of labor. It also has a lot of artistic/focusing exercises to prepare for a non-medicated birth.

I definately agree that as long as you and the baby continue to be healthy and thriving, that a home birth is perfectly safe. Good luck.

Angela said...

I just had my baby at home on August 5. It was a wonderful experience for both me and my little girl.

I was dilated to 4 8 days before she was born, but she was in an incorrect position. I went to my chiropractor and he performed the Webster-Breech technique. I went back the next day, Friday, and he performed it again. That night, she moved completely out of pelvis, and moved back down in the correct position. I started fairly strong contractions on Saturday.

After about 52 hours of hard labor, I had her at 2:28 on Tuesday morning.

I know if I had been in the hospital I would have had a C-section because of the length and intensity of my labor.

My midwife was constantly checking her heartbeat, and never once did she seem to be in distress. Even though there were times when I had contractions that lasted 2-3 minutes and were less then 2 minutes apart.

I think that home birth is greatly made or broken by who you have with you, and your state of mind going into the process.

I now have a healthy baby girl who did not have any jaundice (we left the placenta attached till it stopped pulsing), and was alert from the start. Looking around at us all and making fun noises in her first minutes. I thank God and my team for that wonderful experience.

Misa said...

I had an unmedicated hospital birth with a midwife and a water birth at home with a midwife, and even though the hospital birth was just fine, it pales in comparison with the home birth. So I'm totally biased, but I hope you hear me out.

It depends on your hospital, of course, but the fact is that most hospitals do have protocols that they like to follow, and even if they accommodate your individual requests, the fact is that your anti-protocol request is an inconvenience that they will try to circumvent. Gently and kindly, perhaps, but still, you will have to be pro-active and assertive at the very least. Yes, they're all about the safety and well-being of you and your baby, but it's also about making it easier for the nurses to care for many babies and moms at once, and for making it convenient for doctors to care for many moms and babies. It's sort of like the difference between having a wedding reception at a hotel that's hosting three receptions at the same time, and you being in charge of the details on the wedding day; and having it at, say, your favorite small restaurant where you know the owner, the chef, and the waitstaff, and your completely trustworthy best friend is in charge of the details on the wedding day. You'll probably have a good time either way, but the experiences will be different. Everyone at the hotel may be trying to please you, but you still have to be vigilant about getting what you want if it's not the norm, while at the restaurant, you can just relax and enjoy personal, loving service.

The biggest benefit to being at home: it was home. I went outside and stood under the wisteria trellis for a while, I took a little walk in the neighborhood while I labored. I ate fresh organic strawberries and hot, homemade buttermilk pancakes after the birth at home--as opposed to institutional cream of wheat and fake eggs at the hospital. I showered in my own shower. I sat on my own toilet (weird, I know, but it does lower the stress in a way, ya dig?) I'm not a family-bed mom, but the first night of my younger son's life, his big brother, my husband, and I all snuggled (gently) with him in our bed and felt like a family--so amazing--which would have been impossible in a hospital.

As for the nurse who has seen all the things that can go wrong, remember that mostly, things DON'T go wrong. It sounds like you've done your research on that front, so you know how that midwives are rigorously trained--probably better trained--than OB's to handle bumps in the road that are safely within the range of normal; and that they can spot an "emergency" and get you to the hospital long before you need an expert "within seconds".

I encourage you to talk not only with your hospital and OB, but also with a few home birth midwives and/or doulas. Best wishes for the rest of your journey--up to, through, and especially beyond the birth.