First off I want to emphasize that no research has ever found hospital births to be safer than home births. Folks on both sides of the fence are adamant about their view being the safest. Still, when you’re debating which setting is right for you, there are many factors to consider.
There are many scientific studies published in obstetric journals showing that for healthy women with normal pregnancies, planned home birth results in outcomes as good as or better than similar women planning hospital births, with far fewer medical interventions. In-hospital births in the US put mothers at considerable risk of unnecessary Cesarean surgery.
According to the January 2010 issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, birth center and homebirths are “associated with a number of less frequent adverse perinatal outcomes” when compared to births that occurred in a hospital facility. A study of 745,690 low-risk births occurring in the US in the year 2006, concluded that birth center and home births “were associated with less frequent chorioamnionitis, fetal intolerance of labor, meconium staining, assisted ventilation, neonatal intensive care unit admission and [low] birth weight.”*
Another study published in British Medical Journal in 2005 showed that, “Medical intervention rates for planned home births were lower than for planned low risk hospital births.”
After a rough recovery from the episiotomy given me after the birth of my first child and a cesarean that I wasn’t sure I really needed with my second, I was ready for a different experience. I had a 4-year gap between my second and third child, so I had time to read and study about how to increase my chances of a good birth experience.
I did lots of research, as Mike wanted to see some convincing evidence that home births were safe. I learned about natural tools, like Dr. Christopher’s Complete Tissue ointment. Rubbing this on my stomach for 2 months helped heal the knots of scar tissue from my cesarean. It also helped my confidence level in trying a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean).
My third birth, which was a home birth, was successful, but rough due to a slight complication combined with an inexperienced midwife (my cervix didn’t dilate so I had some external tearing). Overall, I was still happy I had chosen a home environment over the hospital.
I was hunting for a midwife to deliver my fourth after we had moved to a new town. I asked around and several people told me about Vickie Sorensen. I told her of the problem I’d had before and asked her how it could be avoided. She gave me the answer which was to insert a capsule of evening primrose oil, vaginally the last two weeks of my pregnancy to soften up the cervix. We were very impressed with her broad base of knowledge and that she had delivered over 1000 babies.
The births of my fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh children were all beautiful experiences, with a few intense moments, of course. I was able to chose my own caregivers, wear my own clothes, stay in my own bed, labor in my own tub, and have complete control of what happened to my baby after it came out of my womb. I didn’t have anyone telling me I needed drugs and I wasn’t running the risk for me or my baby being exposed to hospital-borne germs.
Alternatives to Cesarean
I asked Vickie recently if there was a way I could have avoided the C-Section with my second child. The cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck causing the heart rate to fall every time I had a contraction. If there’s an alternative to surgery, Vickie almost always knows what it is.
Sure enough, Vickie told me about “Tummy Pulling,” a trick she learned at a midwifery conference from some Mexican midwives. They get the mother on all fours and put a strip of fabric under her tummy, held on both sides by the midwives. Then they gently pull back and forth, so the baby in the womb is rocked loose from the pelvic bones. Then the cord is able to loosen itself from around the baby’s neck. This can be monitored with a doppler.
Many midwives and most MDs wouldn’t know about this technique unless they actively seek education and alternatives to conventional thinking. Instead, too many women submissively agree when their doctor tells them a cesarean will be the best way to go.
The cesarean rate in the US is almost one third in new mothers.** This is way too high, in my opinion. In 1994, the World Health Organization recommended that a nation’s cesarean birth rate should be in the range 5–15%. If all the women choosing hospital births were to call their hospital and ask for care from a midwife, the number of midwives would increase and the number of surgical deliveries would decrease.
This is already happening in the state of Washington. The state has given midwives hospital privileges, has seen a dramatic drop in cesareans and has already realized millions of dollars in savings.
Tips For A Safe Birth
Focus on nutrition. Make sure you’re getting enough greens, omega oils, red raspberry and live, raw foods. Get more details by reading my post on pregnancy nutrition.
1. Exercise. Good bets are walking and yoga. Don’t forget the specific exercises that help you prepare for birth, like kegals, squats, pelvic rocks, etc. My favorite program is The Divine Mother Prenatal Yoga Series with Anna Getty.
2. Find a good midwife, whether you’ll be at home, in a hospital or in a birthing center. Ask around. Ask her how many babies she’s delivered, how many episiotemies she’s done, and how many emergency transports to the hospital she’s had to make. Then, go with your intuition.
3. Decide ahead of time what procedures, medications, and interventions you will or will not allow. Your attendants will be involved in many births besides yours and tend to get into routines of what’s easiest for them. Make clear what things are important to you at the beginning and then stick to your guns!
4. Limit ultrasounds and tests unless absolutely necessary. Ultrasounds have been linked to hearing problems, and other tests can lead to medical pessimism. You have the power to choose what you really need, so do your homework and don’t be intimidated.
5. Get familiar with natural tools (ie. herbs and essential oils). When you have alternatives to medications, you won’t feel trapped into doing things just one way.
Conventional medicine has convinced women that birth is a medical problem that needs constant monitoring, but this mentality can lead to many unnecessary procedures and surgery. Viewing birth as a natural, joyous experience can make it so. It’s up to our viewpoint and how well we follow the Lord’s guidance and our divine intuition.