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Would You Want to Give Birth at Home?

Would You Want to Give Birth at Home?

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso / Atlanta Journal Constitution

November 14, 2008

The New York Times reports, oddly in their Home and Garden section, that there is an increasing number of women choosing to give birth at home because they feel more comfortable in their homes instead of the hospital.

Julie Scelfo writes: “Home births have been around as long as humans, but since the 1950s, the overwhelming majority of American women have chosen to give birth in hospitals, which the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists identifies as one of the safest places for the unpredictable and sometimes dangerous process of childbirth. (The group has officially opposed home births since 1975, and this year the American Medical Association adopted a similar position.)”

“Recently, though, midwives and childbirth educators say, a growing number of women have been opting instead for the more intimate and familiar surroundings of home — even in New York City, where homes are typically cramped warrens of a few hundred square feet and neighbors often live close enough to hear every sneeze and footstep.”

“Births in New York’s hospitals, where pediatricians are able to check babies immediately for potentially dangerous conditions, it should be noted, still vastly outnumber those in its homes — in 2006 home births accounted for only one-half of 1 percent of the city’s 125,506 reported births.”

“But local midwives say they have been swamped with calls and requests in recent months, in some cases increasing their workload from two, three or four deliveries a month to as many as 10. (New York health department statistics for this year will not be available until 2010.) Several certified nurse midwives who have home-birth-only practices said they had gotten so many more requests in recent months that they have begun referring pregnant women to midwives in Rockland County, Long Island and New Jersey.”

To each her own, but I don’t think I would personally want to give birth at home. I am by nature a chicken so I would worry that if the baby needed medical help, we wouldn’t have it on hand. My first daughter needed lung intervention, and I’m not sure that would have been available at home. We also all know it’s awfully messy. Plus, if you’re at home the other kids start asking you for stuff. I don’t think my two oldest would have respected “I just gave birth!” It was good to be out of pocket while I recovered some.

I will say that I do fully support the use of midwives and laboring at home as long as you feel comfortable. I labored at home entirely with my third (mainly because I didn’t realize it was the real thing), and it does help you choose a natural birth if that’s what you want. Believe me I would have taken drugs had I been in a hospital setting with that last one.

I was in the bathtub, walking around, hanging onto furniture, screaming. (Scaring the heck out of the dog. Luckily the children were at their Mimi’s already.) When we got to the hospital it was just 23 minutes— and it only took that long because they told me not to push.

What do you think: Would you want to give birth at home? Can you see the attraction for some women? Would your worry about your safety or the baby’s safety? What about laboring at home but birthing at a hospital? What about certified nurse midwives?

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