Friday, November 27, 2009

Why I Don't Regret Planning a Homebirth

As many of you know, I was planning to have a homebirth. I bet that some of you are thinking I'm crazy for wanting a homebirth, with all that can go wrong in birth. In this post I will explain why I don't regret planning a homebirth, but also why I believe that everything that happened to me was for the best.

Hospital Birth Can Be Dangerous Too

The truth is that the United States has one of the worst rates of infant and maternal mortality in the developed world. In the US, birth has become a medical event, where unnecessary interventions lead to more interventions, which then lead to more interventions. Birth must proceed the way the doctor wants it to; a woman must dilate at a certain rate, or her labor is augmented with pitocin. Women are often induced unnecessarily as well, often with Pitocin, but sometimes with Cytotec, even though the drug is not approved for this use and is associated with adverse outcomes. Induction increases risk of needing a c-section, in part because of the increased need for epidurals, to deal with increased pain from stronger contractions. C-sections are more medically risky than vaginal births. Many women choose homebirth after having a horrible hospital birth experience; I chose homebirth after seeing a loved one go through a horrible hospital birth. I highly recommend the book, "Born in the USA: How a Broken Maternity System Must Be Fixed to Put Women and Children First" by Marsden Wagner.

European countries have a high rate of homebirths, and lower rates of infant and maternal mortality. Certified Nurse Midwifes are highly trained and educated in normal birth, which is what most women have. A good midwife also knows when it is necessary to transfer care to a doctor. Only low risk pregnancies are candidates for a homebirth.

For me, choosing homebirth was a perfectly sane, and even smart choice. Unfortunately, it just wasn't meant to be for me.

For Me, Everything Happened The Way It Was Supposed To

I mourn for all the experiences that I missed, both those that pertain only to homebirth, and those that pertain to any birth. I don't even remember meeting my baby for the first time. Many people say that "everything happens for a reason." In general, I don't believe this to be true. But I do think that in this case, it is true.

As I've mentioned in other posts, I have problems with anxiety. I was nervous about if I would be able to handle labor and birth. I was afraid of having a panic attack and freaking out during labor. I believed that my anxiety would be best controlled in a homebirth, because I would have more control over the situation (because I could control who is present, and I wouldn't have to worry about pressure to have unnecessary interventions, etc). Maybe I would have had a panic attack or not handled labor well, I don't know.

Many women report feeling empowered, more confident, and able to do anything, after a natural birth. Well, I think that my experience empowered me. I went through so much: it was scary, nervewracking, very uncomfortable, and I had to confront my vomiting phobia at least 4 times. But I was strong; I got through it. Though I experienced anxiety, it didn't get the best of me.

Everyone knows that breastfeeding is extremely important to me. I never thought my baby would get even 1 oz of formula. But I was so sick that I didn't breastfeed for the first 9 days of his life. However, I was determined to breastfeed if it was possible, and I pumped around the clock, and now I am producing enough for James plus extra to freeze.

I still feel sad for the experiences that I missed, but I feel that I experienced my birth the way I needed to, to feel empowered and confident that I'm able to be a good mother to my son. I know that I am determined to do what needs to be done, so that my son will grow up and be healthy, happy, and secure.

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