It’s been awhile since I worked on researching this topic. In fact, I couldn’t remember the exact thing to influence my taking the step of having a home birth. My last hospital birth had been rife with the things that are common for women to suffer, although it wasn’t itself the worst of the hospital experiences. I don’t have any horror stories like some, but I did have some issues that home birth eradicated. Most of my information was from books I had read, but I did develop some online resources in the making of my childbirth pages some years ago.
That is all fine and good, but I am going to try to find blogs and online resources to share here for ease of investigating it. That is, after all, the great asset of blogs.
When we are talking about homebirth, it isn’t some ‘pie in the sky’ outre fantasy topic. It is science. Science applied to one of the most basic of women’s functions: that of reproduction.
As you would imagine there is research, the latest of which I came across is Outcomes of planned home births with certified professional midwives: large prospective study in North America, a paper written by Kenneth C Johnson, senior epidemiologist, Betty-Anne Daviss, project manager ( out of Canada). There is further commentary on this particular study by this blog.
In my own experience, homebirth helped me with several aspects: I found a great difference in amount postpartum depression. Little to none with my home births contrasting with quite a bit after the hospital experiences. Greater ease and recovery of strength and health after homebirths, although some of this is attributable to practices that some of the established medical profession utilize: no episiotomy, application of warm oil and support for the perineum, optimum birth positioning, baby given to nurse immediately after birth, etc. But read between the lines here, you as a woman are given no guarantees that your birth will not be hijacked by the prevailing hospital protocols and policies.
Before going further, it might help, especially if you are new to this subject, to read “Reading Scientific Birth Studies Critically: Washington State Home Birth Study, by Susan Hodges “ which will help you sift through the information and medical-ese.
And then get on into the meat of this subject:
Benefitting the Mother
One matter that is important in the benefit of homebirth is the psychology of a birthing woman and how that impacts the birth process. In one of the books that I had read ( and a reading list will accompany this post) the finding of sheep behavior was applied to that of humans. It was found that labor may stop or slow down considerably when a sheep is taken from its familiar environment or exposed to unfamiliar influences. This effect on women is described by Dr. Thomas Verny in a later mentioned article, “As her anxiety increases, her body will try to delay labor rather than facilitate it; this will provoke medical interventions and may culminate in a cesarean section.
Many women, myself included, have experienced how this works. Strong contractions lead to trip to the hospital , only to slow down or stop completely by the arrival in this strange and forbidding environment. And most modern hospitals are forbidding, which starts with the rules given you before you enter the doors: no food or drink, husband rushed off to complete paperwork, the process begins. It is so usual for women to have this delay in labor that the staff treats it as completely normal. “Just walk the halls for a little while”.
Benefitting the Baby
Effects on the baby: if you would read through this article from the Midwifery Today site, you would find detailed, scientific findings that add up to home birth being ideal for a baby. They get to bond with their mother surrounded by loving supportive people. They are free from invasive pathogens for the most part, and their mother feels more capable and in control of learning to mother. These are all long term and important considerations.
A quote from Midwifery Today’s article is worth noting:
It makes sense that studying the third stage of labor [expelling the placenta] from a non-medical perspective makes many peopleâ€”particularly doctorsâ€”feel uncomfortable. Any approval that might lead us to reconsider our attitudes during this short period of time is shaking the very foundations of our cultures. Research can be politically incorrect. Politically incorrect research includes certain aspects of “primal health research,” particularly studies exploring the long-term consequences of how we are born. The medical community and the media shun the findings of these important studiesâ€”on such topical issues as juvenile criminality, teenager suicide, drug addiction, anorexia nervosa, autism, etc.â€”despite their publication in authoritative medical or scientific journals.
Just let that sink in for a minute or two.
Why aren’t you hearing more about this? One answer may be that submitted by yet another MT article, disinformation.
The problems with hospital birth practices. Ah yes, where to start? If you read the anthropological paper cited here, you will no doubt have your disagreements, but it listed, so well, the many dehumanizing procedures and their contribution to why women often would rather avoid giving birth. The Rituals of American Hospital Birth
Another article that illuminates hopsital procedures is The Birth Scene by By Thomas R. Verny, M.D., D. Psych., F.R.C.P.(C), author of The Secret Life of the Unborn Child, and founder of the Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health (APPPAH)
list of available books
Two books I read and enjoyed:
Natural Childbirth The Bradley Way
by Susan McCutcheon
The Complete Book Of Pregnancy & Childbirth
by Sheila Kitzinger
Sold on the benefit of having your hospital epidural? Then you better get educated about it. An excerpt: “Problems of the newborn associated with epidurals include poor sucking, poor latch, sedation, unresponsive for long periods, less alert, poorer muscle tone, poorer orienting behaviors, more tremors and startles at 6 weeks, poorer behavioral outcomes and recovery for first 30 days of life, lower performance on Newborn Behavior Assessment Scale.”
If you add that together with the information from the important social events taking place in that first hour after birth you can immediately see the benefit that a homebirth has, relying on supportive measures to offset pain and aiding the mother.
….when I next come back to this topic I would like to look at some of the cultural issues for women concerning giving birth, and look at why depression can get such a hold. what can we do about it? Then there is more information on successful practices in Holland.