Home birth decision based on trusting myself

It’s quite interesting the range of reactions I’m getting when I tell people what we are doing for the birth of our second child.

If all goes smoothly, my husband and I are planning on delivering our baby at home.

My beliefs about hospital birth versus home birth have changed. While I appreciate what hospitals have to offer women with riskier pregnancies and who experience difficulties in labour, I am now 100% comfortable with the idea of having a baby at home.

The conversations about our plan have been, well, quite entertaining.

“First off, where do you go see this midwife?” one family member asked upon learning I was seeing a midwife instead of a doctor.

Of course I had fun telling them weekly appointments took place in the neighbour’s barn behind our house.

Just tossing out the idea of home birth led to eyes being rolled and hands thrown up in a "whatever-floats-your-boat-but-I-think-it’s-weird" motion.

And then there’s this comment, which I took as quite funny, actually: “So what, are you going to save your placenta too and serve it to us for dinner after the birth?”

Other reactions were more serious: “She’s completely crazy because that’s so dangerous” or “What’s the preparation, set-up, and clean-up like?”

To be fair, home birth is a relatively new concept making waves across the country and in Cowichan. But the reactions I noted above weren’t supported by the research I’ve come across in my planning.

In 2009, CBC reported home births with midwives were as safe as hospital births. That conclusion came from a Canadian study where researchers looked at 2,889 home births attended by regulated midwives in B.C., 4,752 planned hospital births attended by the same group of midwives and 5,331 births in hospital attended by a physician.

The rate of deaths per 1,000 births in the first month of life was 0.35 for the planned home births, 0.57 for the hospital births with a midwife, and 0.64 with a physician, the researchers found.

“Women planning birth at home experienced reduced risk for all obstetric interventions measured, and similar or reduced risk for adverse maternal outcomes,” such as electronic fetal monitoring and postpartum hemorrhage, said Dr. Patricia Janssen from the University of British Columbia.

So there! (That’s my rebuttal to anyone who’s flabbergasted by my decision.)

I’d say only about a handful of people have responded negatively; most friends have been supportive and family understands I’ve done my homework.

Homework has included lots of research, reading, conversations with my midwives including clearance of health, pregnancy and labour history, as well as the support of my husband. We’ve also taken into consideration how really close we actually live to the hospital in case of emergency. Also, I’m quite obsessive-compulsive about cleanliness and having a home birth doesn’t push my buttons the slightest.

So with the research and conversations complete, I can follow my inspiration behind the decision in the first place: allowing my second birth to take place somewhere that’s completely comfortable to me, possibly with the aid of water to ease the pain.

Please trust me in me trusting myself.

Ashley Degraaf is a News Leader Pictorial reporter who writes about family issues here monthly.

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