Its understandable to be bombarded with questions after having a baby, esp one who was born at home with absolutely no outside medical intervention. I will try to answer as many as I can.
First let me say there is no better way to introduce a child into the world. The calm serene environment a home provides is ideal for such an event. Not only is the mother in a comfortable location and can move about freely, to make her delivery easier, the newborn is reprieved of all the prodding the medical community deems necessary and is justified in doing to the most delicate of humans. The first thing a newborn needs is skin to skin contact with mother. Nursing as soon as baby is ready is very important. I think many adults forget that the baby also went thru an incredible ordeal.. They have just been born. They have exerted energy and have wiggled their way out into our cold stark world. They also need a bit of quiet downtime. It just seems cruel to do it any other way.
I know not all women can birth at home. Many midwives offer birthing centers closely designed to a home like environment. These have become increasingly popular. And of course for women who are high risk, hospital births are advised. My only concern is what is truly considered "high risk". For my local hospital, anyone who has had a previous cesarean birth WILL have another one here. They do not encourage vbacs at all.. Take a trip 45 min north and you will find many Dr's to encourage vbacs. There are many many testimonies to vbac homebirths on the web. This, among other "risk" factors, are pre decided by a medical community, not on a case by case basis, as it should be.
I had my first child in a hospital with a midwife. It was a great experience and I was pleased with the results. The hospital was a midwife friendly place and everything was done in the same room. I also admit I didnt know as much as I do now. When I was pregnant with my second I was in another state and it was easy to find a midwife to birth at home. She attended that birth and the 2 others that followed. It wasnt till the 5th child we decided to go unassisted. We felt confident to do so. We took the time to do some extra studying and we researched the "what ifs".
Childbirth comes with risks. Life comes with risks.Whether you are in a hospital, at home or a taxi cab in between, the potential for tragedy is there. Childbirth is not math. There is generally more than one answer and several ways to get to it. Some common concerns about homebirth are as follows: Cord wrapped around the neck~ this has occurred with two of ours. Its actually so common its considered normal. The first time a midwife was present and the second time was not. In both instances the cord was adjusted as to allow the baby to be born as normal. This not something to panic over. True knots can be dangerous as they cut off supply to the baby, but are also extremely rare. Umbilical cords are meant to be stretched bent and twisted.Again, this is completely normal and can be corrected quite easily. Breech, transverse, posterior positioned babies. ~ The difference between the woman who delivers these types of babies and the women who have them "rescued" by a surgeon lies on many factors. How empowered the mother is, her trust in her own body and her faith in God, whomever that may be to her. I agree in some cases medical intervention is necessary, but by taking away a woman's empowerment and her faith, medical intervention becomes even more necessary. Spend 20-30 min on you tube watching "natural breech births". Its pretty fascinating... well for me it is :). Homebirth also allows for a woman to regulate her movement. Being able to move freely is important to help the baby move down the birth canal. Laying on your back is the worst position for childbirth as it reduces the pelvic opening and causes many babies to become "stuck". Yet most hospitals restrict a womans movement. Heart rate dropping~ The idea of constant fetal monitoring seems to helping attorneys, not physicians. Consistently watching fetal heart rate can actually cause an increase in the mothers heartrate and inturn the baby's. Again we have to remember the baby is also feeling every contraction. Group B Strep~ Along with antibiotic treatment, Garlic, Vitiamin C, Echinasia can be taken to remedy GBS during pregnancy. The reduction of vaginal exams, esp duing labor, decreases the chance of the baby getting an infection. Preventative measures~ when you are preparing for a homebirth you are not only more inclined to educate yourself on birthing issues, but you are also more likely to care for yourself better. Not just simple nutrition but ways to avoid birth complications such as pre-eclampsia. Education plus preparedness will help guide you to the birth you desire. We must first take responsibility for our bodies, and in turn, the body growing inside of us.
Another area of question is pain management: This is a key word for childbirth. To have a successful childbirth you have to admit to yourself that childbirth is painful. The kind of pain you never imagined. Then you have to learn how to manage it. You have to have control over it, or you succumb to it.The techniques for each woman is different and can differ from delivery to delivery.I prefer the use of hot showers and baths. Hip movement and walking around is also helpful. There are several birth positions that can be used. The traditional lithotomy position ( on your back) actually creates problems ( and pain) and is generally only used in hospitals for the convenience of the doctors. Think about it.. when you are 9 mos pregnant, does laying on you back EVER feel comfortable? It also cuts off blood flow.. not a good idea. Its also reduces the pelvic area as I addressed above. Crawling, squatting, kneeling, even standing can make a huge difference in pain management. I know for myself, going from an upright position to laying down is impossible in the laters stages of labor. The pain is unmanageable at that point. Its no wonder so many women rely on epidurals. Those types of birth positions also encourage the baby to descend into and out of the birth canal. Its like some supernatural being had it all planned out ;)
As soon as our babies are born I hold them as close to me as possible and clean the airways. I gently rub the babies skin as well, observe activity and watch for signs of rooting. As soon as the baby is ready we nurse. We wait for the placenta before we do anything else. Once the placenta is delivered we clamp the cord and wait a few min before cutting. Our oldest had had the opportunity to cut twice. Daddy begins clean up ( I know how awesome is that!) While mom, baby and siblings bond. Then we rest.
Childbirth has been occurring since the beginning of time.. Hombirth was the only option untill the earyl 1900's when hospitals became more accessible and homebirths were encouraged to be phased out. In the 1950's the creation of Obstetrical organizations created a greater decline in homebirths and midwifery. Recently the desire to homebirth has come back but is now labeled "trendy" or " dangerous" depending on ones outlook. Talk Show Celeb Ricki Lake brought nationwide awareness the "new trend" of freebirthing, aka unassisted homebirth. I find the media reference to this being "trendy new idea" amusing. I didnt realize Eve was such a trend setter.
When it comes to prenatal care that is something we do on a limited basis. I last saw a midwife in the beginning of my second trimester with my 7th child. I had just wanted a basic check up appt so we made one. I am not opposed to prenatal care, nor do I see anything wrong with it. I just use it on a needs be basis. If I have a concern I have it looked into. We do not do sonograms either unless we have a concern. I did with my first after suffering two prior miscarriages, I had to see the strong heartbeat!! I also had one with #3 and #4 as we needed to be sure of the EDD. I do not screen for disabilities. They have been wrongly diagnosed in the past and I want to enjoy my pregnancy. If I have a child with a disability then I have a child with a disability. There is no other option for me.
What it boils down to is there are no guarantees in life. Childbirth is a beautiful natural process which sometimes has casualties. There is nothing man can do to change that. While we have taken great medical measures to reduce those casualties and injuries, we have seemed to go full circle and our mortality and injury rates are increasing. I feel that every mother to be should be educated in all aspects of birth. I feel saddened when I hear of a mothers traumatic birth story that has made hear fear another. Especially when, in many of those cases, unnecessary intervention caused it. We can spend our days doing the "what ifs". Once you are educated on an issue it comes down to what is the best option for you. Unfortunately for most women they are not educated, they are being made fearful of childbirth.
*originally posted 4/8/10