The Best of Both Worlds

One of the most common questions I’ve heard posed by those who oppose home birth is this:

“Which is more important to you- the birth experience? Or the baby?”

It implies that mothers who choose home birth are irresponsible. That they care more for low lighting, eating and drinking, and romantic photographs of labor than having the possibility and convenience of immediate medical care. That they are making the choice to birth at home as a trade-off- “Well, I understand my baby might die, but I really like my house better than that cold, sterile room.”

Of course those women who chose home birth cringe at the accusation. We love our babies just as much as those who chose the hospital. And home birth moms cry out that it’s not just the experience that draws them to home birth-it’s also the medical advantages that home birth offers.  It’s the lowered risk of hospital-based infections, the probability of faster, easier labor, the less likelihood of unnecessary interventions that can cause even more problems. They challenge the idea that the hospital is the safer place to be for low-risk mothers.

And both sides pull out studies. Both sides pull out horror stories or anecdotal evidence to support their own position. It seems that either you risk a life or you compromise your healthy, calm labor experience.

But I challenge you all.

My question is, why can’t you have both a beautiful and safe birth experience in either setting?

Why can’t home birth midwifery be legalized in all 50 states so that it wouldn’t fly under the radar, creating unqualified providers and dangerous birth settings?

Why can’t there be standardized training for those legal home birth midwives so that all mothers can get the safest care available?

Why couldn’t there be traveling OR units for cesareans at home in a true emergency, as one birth blogger suggested?

Why not require OB’s to have more training and experience with completely natural births? How about having to witness some home births before beginning practice?

Why not allow a mother to have a “home birth in the hospital?” All it would require is to allow a mother to labor freely under midwifery care, just as she would at home- only just down the hall from OB’s & the OR as needed.

Why can’t OBs provide the quality and continuity of care that mothers love when hiring a midwife- longer appointments, a holistic view of woman’s health, having the same doctor from prenatals to birth to postpartum care?

Why do money and legalities rule our health care decisions?

Why doesn’t the minority have the same opportunity to birth naturally and safely, just as women have the opportunity to birth with pain medication and/or in a more medicalized environment?

And why can’t these things change?

I know many of my hopes are only far off dreams… things that seem impossible now. But in reality, why not?  Why can’t we live in a world where we can have the option of more natural and peaceful hospital births, or the opportunity for a qualified home birth care provider for every woman who wants one?

Most of these ideas aren’t even on the horizon yet. But hey, a girl can dream, can’t she?

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