In today’s modern world, there’s much ado about the idea of birthing at home. Since the 1930s, the majority of women birth at hospitals, with only 1.5% of births currently happening at home. With the regression in home births came a lot of aggression toward them, as if home birth was all of the sudden a barbaric choice. There are many factors contributing to the mindset that hospitals are superior. But there are many downsides to hospital birth which many women haven’t considered. There are, of course, also reasons to not give birth at home. So why choose home birth?
Statistics show the safety of home birth
According to a major study published in the Lancet in 2019, statistically, home births are just as safe as hospital births. In fact, it even mentions its findings of home birth lowering the risk of the need for medical intervention. There is a lot of controversy surrounding the overuse of medical intervention in hospital births, including the risk of a “never event” outcome, so this is an interesting find.
Written by Dr. Sara Wickham, this thorough article also cites and links various studies on the safety of home birth, including the Lancet’s study mentioned above. Notably, the article mentions many of the risks of hospital birth, citing studies of this topic as well. It’s a fascinating read, and it also gives credence to what many women have been saying for decades: home birth is safe!
The beauty of home birth
I’ll admit it here and now; I am a home birth junkie. I had my first baby in a hospital, walking away with an unnecessary c-section, and a lot of emotional trauma. My next five babies were born at home, attended by a midwife. I had an unwanted but necessary hospital birth with my seventh, and then two more attended-home births. Even though my more recent hospital birth itself was mostly fine, there’s no question why I choose home birth.
Home birthing naturally lends itself to a slower pace and quieter atmosphere. It also more readily solicits the all-important uninterrupted mama/baby bonding needed in those first few hours. Midwives- who adopt a holistic approach to pregnancy and birth- understand the value in baby/mother-led birth, attachment and recovery. The need for mothers to surround their baby, nurture and nourish it, without a lot of fanfare from others, is inherently primal.
There is also something so sacred about birthing a baby in the comfort and safety of your own home. It allows the ability to snuggle your baby in your own bed, under the gentle, unobtrusive care of your birth team. This team can consist of your midwife, husband, doula, or others of your choosing. I’ve had my now-15 year old in attendance at my last two! I know there are amazing nurses in the hospital. Still, nothing compares to the atmosphere created by these beings who are there only for you and your sweet new babe. The intuitive respect for the mother-baby bond trumps the desire to control every minute post-birth just in case.
The alternative life
These days, so much of an “alternative” lifestyle is accepted in society. Alternative birthing places should be part of the equation as well. In fact, choosing a home birth instead of a hospital birth plays no role in the detriment to society, as do other alternative lifestyle choices. If anything, it contributes to the betterment of society in many ways, proving to be a healthy alternative choice.
When statistics show home birth as just as safe as hospital birth, there is no reason to not accept it. In reality, home birth often proves a better holistic outcome for the mother and baby. It should be a common option for women to consider, and supported by the medical community. A woman’s right to choose how, when and where she births her babies should never be challenged.