Recently my husband and I found out excellent news; we are expecting our first child. A family member of his is a Doula so I had already become interested in natural childbirth and knew I wanted to go that route. On top of that, I had witnessed what a bad epidural experience did to my aunt and did not want to risk that happening to me. The nurse inserted the epidural wrong and she ended up developing epilepsy that required five years of treatment, including acupuncture, to correct. Also, a cousin of mine recently found out she will probably have lower back pain for the rest of her life due to an epidural as well. Beyond these and other horror stories I have heard about birth, I wanted a natural birth because I feel that women’s bodies are much more powerful than we give them credit for and are designed for pregnancy and childbirth.
In order to feel comfortable with something, I need to research it and learn all I can about it. With something as big as childbirth, if I did not fully understand the route I chose to take and the risks and benefits associated with it, I would not be content with my decision regardless of what path I chose. My quest for more knowledge about natural births led me to home births. This was an absolutely crazy thought to me at first, but the more I learned about it, the more it made sense.
Hospitals look for problems which leads them to find problems where there are none. This increases the chance of medical intervention and each intervention increases the chance of more interventions until finally the woman is drugged up and cut open. Giving birth at home with a midwife allowed me to be in a calmer environment with a professional who trusted my body, but was still trained to spot anything going wrong with plenty of time to help.
Midwives themselves were a foreign subject to me so I read up on what it takes to be a midwife, different midwives’ philosophies on birth and people’s personal experiences with midwives. I realized they did so much more than “catch” the baby and was amazed at just how skilled they are. My husband and I found an excellent midwife in our area and set up an appointment. We did not have to go to a hospital or a doctor’s office to see her, it was simply a room within a co-op type house where acupuncturists, masseuses, herbalists and fellow naturalists occupied the other rooms. Our first appointment lasted two and a half hours. She really got to know us and listened to our desires for how we envisioned the birth. She offered a birthing tub to use for free if we were interested in doing a water birth. My research had led me to the benefits of birthing in water and I knew it was something I wanted to do.
Although we were in such a relaxed setting, the midwife still had a clinical part. She took my blood pressure, pulse, urinalysis and vials of blood. The difference between this and a doctor’s office was immeasurable though. We were seated on a comfy couch the entire time which served as a conversational place and an exam table where I laid back so she could feel for my uterus. Before I had gotten pregnant, pregnancy and childbirth had always scared me. I looked at it as a process in which a ton of people would end up invading my privacy and make me feel uncomfortable. This was nothing like that at all and I was beyond relieved to have found an alternative route, that ironically used to be the norm and is still proven to be safer.
We have since had a couple more appointments with the midwife and each time we see her it reaffirms my decision to have a home birth. Even if I have to transfer to the hospital at some point before, during or after the delivery I know I will have done my baby and myself a huge favor by avoiding medical interventions from the start.
I do not necessarily think that home birth is the right path for everyone, but I firmly believe that every pregnant woman should weigh the benefits and risks of each outlet for birth and go with the route that she is ultimately most comfortable with. We should all take personal responsibility for our health and the health of our family because we are the ones who have the most to gain as well as the most to lose from it.