Saturday, May 15, 2010

Rising up

I got married in the summer of 2001. When I was a newlywed, I had only known one woman who had given birth outside of a hospital by choice.  (And I never could have imagined I'd eventually do the same!) 

Nine years later, I can't believe how much has changed.  I can't even count the number of people I know who have given birth at home (or would be open to the possibility).  So many women! That is partly because I have sought friendships and attracted friendships with like-minded people.  But I don't think that's the only explanation.  I think giving birth at home is becoming more and more common.  In fact, I know it is.

Did you see that report back in March from the CDC?  Amy Newman from RH Reality Check summarizes it's findings:
Over the last five years, out-of-hospital births (which includes home birth and birthing at a free-standing birth center) rose 3 percent and home births rose 5 percent after having sharply declined between 1940 and 1969 and then remaining static over the last few decades.
Clearly women aren't abandoning hospitals in droves.  We're talking about a tiny percentage of the total births in the U.S.  But I expect that trend to continue.  Not because hospitals are BAD.  They're not bad.  They serve an essential purpose for women who experience birth complications.  But I expect home births to continue to rise because more and more women are realizing that, being low risk, they can have an equally safe but likely more satisfying birth experience staying home.  And the more women choose that path, the easier it becomes for their friends and family members to choose it... and on and on.

I often wonder what maternity care will be like in the U.S. when my daughters reach their childbearing years. 
Will the cesarean rate have decreased?  Will home birth midwives be able to practice legally in every state?  Will hospitals be more mother-friendly? 

I know my daughters may not choose the same path I have chosen.  I will support them in whatever they choose.  But watching them both scramble to get on my lap whenever they hear the unmistakable sounds of a YouTube birth video, seeing their complete and utter fascination with every detail, their comfort level and curiosity as a baby head emerges from its mother... all of that makes me hopeful that they will at least not enter their childbearing years fearful and uneducated. 

When my oldest daughter does tell me, on occasion, that she doesn't want to have babies because "It will hurt,"  I always smile and respond, "But it's SO COOL!  I love doing it!"  I hope that hearing my love of birth will, with time, ease her fears. I plan to school them all their lives in the beauty of birth and teach them how to help each other and other women through that process.  It makes me so happy to think of them doula-ing each other some day... and their friends... and their daughters... and grand-daughters. 

When I got married in 2001, no one in my family or circle of friends would have ever dreamed of giving birth at home.  Ever.  And now I'm surrounded by home birthing mommas... and looking at the possibility of generations of my own daughters joining those ranks.  What a beautiful sight.

Change is good.


laura c said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
laura c said...

Great article! I, too, know of a lot of people choosing homebirth, although I'm finding it's because it's the cheapest option. I watched the Gentle Birth Choices video yesterday, and my daughter (13) watched it (while reading a book at the same time). She's already becoming a birth advocate, and I love that she takes an interest not only in the "hows" of birth, but the "whys" of natural birth as well.
I can see why you consider this "change" and you're right, bringing birth back to the home is a good change. But I would argue that the "change" was actually moving it to the hospitals and the OBs to begin with. Women have been having babies at home since the beginning of time. When they changed that and moved it to the hospital is when women began having a harder time with labor and birth. And of course, I agree with you that hospitals CAN be amazing, life saving tools. But only a small minority of women will need this. I know you already know this, and probably agree with it. :)
Thanks for the post. I really enjoy reading your blog!

Brittany said...

I love that you are teaching your daughters about birth. I think passing on change to the next generation is so important. My mom used nurse-midwives for two of her births and had an unmedicated hospital birth with her youngest, but I didn't know this until I was well into my first pregnancy and in the middle of a process of research and transformation, which resulted in a change of hospitals and care providers at 34 weeks. I hope that my children will grow up knowing that I believe in natural childbirth. My 2 year old daughter already sometimes watches birth videos on the computer with me. I want to be sure that when she has her first child, that this stuff won't all be new to her like it was to me when I had her.

Missy said...

It's amazing how our perspectives can change. I was the same way, only knowing of one mom who had a homebirth, and now I'm referring pregnant friends to homebirth midwives left and right. I'm also considering having a hbac myself, something I would have never considered 3 years ago.
It's great to see this kind of change! I hope things only get better for the next generation:)

kamille said...

i am now that "weird" person people think of when they think homebirth. i hope my example can help change that stigma and help people realize that intelligent women are CHOOSING to birth at home because they feel it is right, and safe. change is hard, and uncomfortable, but i am so glad i did it...and that others are doing it too! i have a friend who had a very typical first pregnancy which resulted in an "emergency" c-section. she is not pregnant again but is already researching and considering homebirth, but definitely a VBAC. she said if she wouldn't have had that experience, she may have never even considered a home birth. i thought that was very interesting, and true...sometimes it is the experience we didn't have that motivates us to create an environment to experience what we truly desire. birth is so beautiful!

Mother Earth said...

yep. I never thought I would have a home birth. I wanted a planned c-section. Look at us now.