Thursday, November 11, 2010

My choices are better than yours!

A short while ago I was reading an article about the safety of home birth. The article was well written, concise, and to the point about how home birth can be a viable option to many women in the United States, however what really struck me was the overall theme of the comments section. Over and over I read comments that stated something that amounted to this: It's more important to birth your baby in a hospital where it is safe, than to have some spiritual, or hippie like experience. This sentiment is echoed by doctors and women alike. Even ACOG stated that "Choosing to deliver a baby at home, however, is to place the process of giving birth over the goal of having a healthy baby"

I find this line of thinking somewhat hypocritical and here is why: Many times the same women who make comments like the ones above, are the same that can be heard saying she wanted to enjoy the birth of her child and not be in pain. How many times have we heard of the nurse trying to convince a woman she isn't a martyr and that there are no rewards for women who endure the pain? Doctors are always selling the experience of easier, pain-free birth through epidural. Yet epidural does not come without risks, some of them very serious. By the previous rationale, aren't the women who choose epidural putting the experience of having a pain-free birth experience over the goal of having a healthy baby as well?

Now before anyone gets all riled up, I want it to be known, I believe epidurals have their place, but so does natural birth. It does come down to personal choice. So why as a whole, does our society value one personal choice over another? Some out there in pro-medication land may be quick to say that home birth holds more risk than a medicated birth and let me be the first to go on record and say you don't know what you are talking about. Yep, I said it and what's worst, I am NOT going to cite any references to back that statement up. I am not playing the statistics game today. I am blogging from a different place. Matter of fact it can be quite liberating stating my opinion as fact! Now I know why so many do it, but I digress. More or less risk is really irrelevant. The risks are there regardless and most times the risk of epidural is completely downplayed.

I've been pondering this double standard for sometime and while I can speculate on many different reasons one thing that comes to mind is ignorance. This is going back to my previous statement about people not knowing what they are talking about. The bottom line, people are ignorant. They are ignorant about home birth. They are ignorant about the real risks of interventions. They are ignorant about the driving force of hospital policies and procedures. They are ignorant about midwives. They are ignorant about the reasons so many women truly choose home birth. They are ignorant about the kinds of women who choose home birth. They are ignorant about their rights. They are ignorant about their choices. Wow, that's a buttload of ignorance. Now, I'm well aware these aren't the only reasons this double standard exist. There is the Hospital, Insurance, Doctor factor. We all know that song and dance, so let's get back to the ignorance.

See, the underlying problem that keeps coming up in these article's comments section and in conversations I have with people, not only in person, but all over the internet is that this ignorance often morphs into something I like to call willful ignorance. You try to share statistics, research papers, medical articles, journal entries, books, and just plain common sense with people and it falls on deaf ears. They say the information is tainted, bias, unreliable, or the completely ignore the evidence and harp on one regurgitated statistic of their own. Yeah I am looking at you she-who-shall-not be named! This is why I am writing this totally opinionated blog post. I'll write another one chalked full of evidence later, but for now I just want to get this off my chest.

So what is the solution? How can we allow for value to be placed on both choices. I think first we have to teach everyone, women, men, doctors, nurses, insurance companies, hospitals, to value choice . Because let's face it, many do not. The system isn't set up for valuing choices or informed consent and decision making and that crap way of thinking just spreads in our society like a disease. We devalue the choices women make that do not mirror our own, and what's worst, we devalue our own right to have choices and this couldn't be more evident than in the birth practices. So I guess once again, my opinion is that everything begins with choice. Owning them, having them, respecting others, and understand what they are.


  1. Thank you for posting this. We chose a homebirth after much research and consideration. Our attempted homebirth ended in a transfer to the hospital and c-section. I just couldn't get our baby out on my own. She was never in distress and was born perfectly healthy. I am so thankful for being able to labor and push at home with my wonderful midwife. And I'm thankful for the doctor who performed the cesarean, who during the procedure let me know we could have a VBAC next time.

    I was fortunate to have a midwife and doctors who worked together. I am thankful for my choice!!

  2. "cite" any references.

    I had 6 homebirths after 3 hospital births...and I tend to believe MY later choices were better. They sure were better for me!
    Susan Peterson

  3. @ Eulogo's Oooh..I knew I wasn't going to get away with NO typo's writing this up at 11pm at night! :-)

    Anyway, when we use the word better I think we should always apply it personally. No one can argue with what you feel is better for you!

  4. The bottom line is educating yourself, knowing what you can handle, knowing what you are willing to risk, and taking responsibility for those choices. My first four children were born in the hospital. While the experience wasn't terrible, it wasn't what I was looking for. Four home births later,(one fabulous midwife, one unintentional unassisted, one midwife that was insane and worse than my hospital births, and one glorious by choice unassisted)I can confidently say it's for our family. My oldest daughter doesn't think she could birth at home without the drugs and was afraid I would be disappointed in her. My statement to her was "Honey, it's your body. Your baby. Your birth. You have to make the choices that are best for you and your baby. Educate yourself on all your options. That's all I will ever ask. And if you have a hospital birth, with all the bells and whistles, I will be there to cheer you on."
    We can't choose for another and should be respectful, but by golly, I expect the same from them! And I certainly will fight for my right to an educated choice!

  5. @ Crunchy - loving your comment just now, it's the same viewpoint I have myself. Your daughter is lucky to have such a intelligent, informed mother - go you! Wish there were more of us out there, the world might go round a bit easier.

    Loved this blog - I totally agree 100% with everything. I really wanted to do a homebirth this time around (I'm 14 and a half weeks along with number 2), especially after my awful experience having my son (33 1/2 hours of back labour resulting in an emergency c-section) - but have decided we cannot afford the cost of a private midwife ($3000 at the most, $1000 at the least! Corr!). I HAVE hired a doula this time, though, and have been reading EVERYTHING. I now have a very detailed birth plan that I fully expect (with the help of my awesome, ass-kicking doula) to be followed. I will not be going into this naive and trusting like I did with my son - nope, this time I'm going in eyes wide open and watching for EVERYTHING. The only way I will submit to intervention is if it is actually necessary, either for my life or my baby's. This is my last baby and I plan to make the birth experience wonderful, even if it is in a hospital. Haha, the hospital staff aren't going to like me very much - I've developed a real militant attitude lately thanks to all the reading...!!

    Keep up the awesome work, ladies!

  6. Amen and THANK YOU! Keep telling it!

  7. Great post!! I'm 6 weeks pregnant, and planning my first home birth (first was a trainwreck in the hospital ending in C-section, second was a natural, virtually intervention-free VBAC in the hospital, and this one will be at home), and I'm afraid to tell my friends and family because I don't want to hear the criticism. Now I might actually tell them before the birth, and if they try to "reason" with me, I will just ask them whatever happened to "my body, my choice"?

    It angers me that I even feel like I have to hide my home birth until after it happens. :/