Friday, November 19, 2010

On Homebirth and Controversy

And now for a rant that has been sticking in my craw for months.


I support it. I think the current midwife legislation on the Illinois floor should pass. I think it is a beautiful and generally safe option for many women. All that said, I have no horse in this race. I wont be having any more children, and it is not an issue I feel strongly enough about to actively support with money or time.

However, just like hospital birth, homebirth comes with risks.

A have an acquaintance who recently had a very scary homebirth. Long story short, her baby was born without a heartbeat and after resuscitation has brain damage from a lack of oxygen. The mother did everything right as far as homebirthing goes. She had a certified nurse midwife. The baby was monitored periodically during labor. Ect. ect. Something bad just happened. Scary and heartbreaking stuff. It was not the mom's fault. It was not the midwife's fault.

I associate with a crowd that is very pro-homebirth. I have heard a lot of chatter about this birth and how it should not be considered a "homebirth gone bad". A fair number of people have said, "the same exact thing could have happened in a hospital". I really have to disagree with both statements. I will also go a step farther to say that making statements like that is harmful to the cause homebirthers are trying to promote.

Just like some births would have had a better outcome without hospital intervention, in this case, this homebirth would have most likely had a better medical outcome at a hospital with interventions. Trying to say otherwise makes people that are on the fence about homebirth or are against homebirth look at pro-homebirthers like they are crazier then they already think they are. If this was not a "homebirth gone bad" then I don't think (outside of the worst possible outcome) you can have a homebirth gone bad.

I get it. I get not wanting to give naysayers more ammunition against your casue. But in this case I think the best argument is not knee jerk denial, but an acknowledgment that all types of births carry risks, and that the birth referenced above is an unfortunate example of the very small percent of homebirths that have an unfortunate outcome. Just like there can be induction with negative outcomes, just like there are c-sections with negative outcomes.

Sometimes sad things just happen. Being an ostrich rarely helps.

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