Friday, April 10, 2009

My 2 cents on the homebirth debate.

I have largely stayed out of this debate. Why? Because what other women do with their bodies is none of my business. I am TOTALLY against the recommendations set in the recent maternity review let me add, because I believe that every family has the right to make their own choice as to where they want to birth their babies.
I know many of you scoff at the word "choice" and "information" because of the monopoly the hospitals have on birth and it's info. I'm not talking about that sort of info. Informed choice is about getting REAL information-not just taking what your OB says as gospel-or the hospital, or your GP. But also not just assuming that you will have a traumatic experience because you go to hospital. People can and do have positive hospital experiences-it is not simply "winning the lottery" as one friend was told. The difference is that these women are informed of different choices, rather that going along with policy and have lots of information and usually a support person.
Why am I in defense of hospital? I'm not. I'm in defense of women who choose to birth there. Informed, empowered women who know their rights and choices-let's face it, a powerful woman is she who bucks a system to get what she needs from it.

On the flip side if a women gathers ALL the info and chooses to have a freebirth or a homebirth it should be her right to do so. Not because of fear or one sided information that hospitals are dangerous and the only way to have a positive experience is at home. And the camp is getting more and more divided there. With or without a midwife? Do you have scans? Use a doppler? Have a doula? Did you pee on a stick or is that too much intervention? When did it become a bloody turf war between home and free birth? Informed consent for women to choose their level of care at home should give everyone the warm fuzzies, not be dividing the homebirthing masses.

So why did I choose to have a homebirth? I had a bad hospital experience-in fact a traumatic one. I went in without doing my homework and expected that it would all be roses. I gave my power away to the hospital system and came out the other end feeling cheated and abused. And yes, the hospital did a very shit job of my care and the care of my baby but I was a part of the decision making process and I really didn't know any better. I did more homework on where we were going to stay on our honeymoon than how I was going to achieve the best birth for me and my child. It is very empowering to take some responsibility for how things went (if there is responsibility to take) because that meant the next time I was in control. I gathered LOTS of information and explored all my choices. I decided that homebirth was the best choice for me, my baby and my family. I chose a midwife. I chose a couple of scans and I did, indeed, pee on a stick.

I had an amazing, ecstatic, beautiful and SAFE birth at home. I was empowered. But was it the fact that I had the information, and confidence in my choice and body or was it purely because I birthed at home? I just birthed my 3rd baby, again at home, and while the birth was different I still came away feeling empowered. I made some different choices pregnancy wise-but again I was responsible for gathering the information and I made my own choice as to what I would do.

So for me this debate isn't about who's birth is better. Elective C-section, private or public hospital, Ob or GP, birth centre, homebirth or freebirth. If you, as a woman with CHOICES do some investigation, real information gathering-not just taking the words of an OB or the stories on a website-and decide that you have made a choice where you feel you will get the best outcome for you, your baby and your family, where you feel safe and cared for, where you feel empowered and in control-then that is the decision for you and your baby.

So what I choose and what I think is right or wrong birth wise is moot. How you birth your baby is not my decision-nor is it any of my business. But be sure you have all the information and are confident in your decision-and willing to accept help where needed.

We all need to make sure a woman's right to CHOOSE is not taken away, and that she has access to good unbiased information.

Crucify me if you must

10 comments:

MoederKip said...

Just a big Two Thumbs Up here from me.
It's not a competition. And it's not a badge of honour.
But it is probably the single-most important event in a woman's (family's) life... and we need to all start supporting each other in making sure that we are informed and empowered to do the right thing by ourselves and our bubs.

Amanda O. said...

Got to say I agree 100% and one of the reasons I've largely been quiet on the various debates also.

Sif said...

I think it can be very challenging to have ALL the information though, whether in the hospital or home setting, and I think it can be quite dangerous to believe you have all the information, as well, in either setting.

We live in the Information Age. We have information at our fingertips day and night, but can we ever have ALL the information, and can we trust the sources of information we tap into... On the one hand you have people telling you that your pelvus is too small according to an ultrasound, on the other hand your have people telling you that 190/120bp is "just the high end of normal"...

Information is decontextualised by biased disseminators all the time...

I guess it comes down to who to trust...

Sif said...

I can spell pelvis, LOL, I just have a wriggly bum balancing on one of my knees...

katef - www.picklebums.com said...

I so agree.. it is about choice... about the right to choose... about those choices not being narrowed any further than they already have been! It is not about what is best or worst or right or wrong... you are so spot on!

loz said...

Thank you Shae you have summed it up beautifully it is all about the decision process and women will make the best decisions/choices with the information they have. How we each choose to give birth doesn't affect anyone but ourselves and our families and we have to believe we have those best interests in our heart. We are all smart, intelligent women who are quite capable of doing the hard yards in research. Mwah thank you again it is nice reading something in these past few days that isn't about making a point to prove one side or another is wrong or right.

shae said...

I guess I'm coming more from the "don't take all your info from one camp"

I think.....Just writing off the top of my head lol

Stitch Sista said...

Well of course, I absolutely agree (surprise surprise!)

I know some people think feminist is a dirty word, but for me this is most definitely a feminist issue, and it is about my rights as a woman to make a decision about my own body.

Although it has not necessarily always been the case, I do now support all choices for birthing women from elective c-section down to freebirth. Neither of those are choices I'd make for myself - but nor would I have someone take away my choice to birth at home with a midwife.

I think people need to realise that you can support someone's choice without actually making that choice for yourself. That's why I won't piss on the freebirthers who are being crucified right now.

Sif said...

Oh, gosh, I completely disagree with the sentiment that how we give birth doesn't affect anyone but ourselves...

Humans are social beings, which is why we live in societies, and how each of us acts and reacts completely impacts on the rest of society. If enough people change a practice, that changes how society views a practice - attachment parenting in recent years if a great example of this. 10 years ago when I had Erik, controlled crying was the norm. Then someone said, this is cruel and I won't do it, and then more people said it was cruel, and more parents felt strong enough to say, I won't do it. Now, it's fairly widely condemned and many of the centres which advocated it's practice have dropped it altogether in favour of gentler parenting methods.

We do NOT give birth in a vacuum. How we give birth impacts our families, both close and extended (otherwise some of us wouldn't feel the need to change our birth stories for our families), our friends (as both positive and negative influences), even the strangers we meet in the street. The birth choices we make influence society - even blind Freddy can see that...

Donna said...

I totally agree with you. It is a womans choice where they birth their baby.Having had a emergency c-section with my first baby. Then a v-bac with a epidural for my second baby, I understand how tramatic hosptial births can be. With my third baby I made an informed decision to birth her at home.The midwifery care I received was outstanding.When my little babe turned breech at 37 weeks I was faced with the decision about what to do. Again, I gathered all the facts and made a informed decision to still birth her at home. At 40 weeks my little one was peacefully born after a 4 hours labour and flipping 30 minutes before being born to come head first into this world! Now, if I had chosen a hospital birth she would of been born via c-section at 38 weeks.The experience of having a homebirth has forever changed me as a mother and as a women.

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