Monday, November 17, 2008

My Birth Options and Choices: Location, Location, Location!

I find myself in a situation where I have a lot of decisions to make. In the past I've birthed my babies in a hospital. I felt the need to be in place where all the medical stuff was ready "just in case". I realize now that just being in that setting can open a woman up to unnecessary and sometimes dangerous medical interventions. Obstetrics are designed for high-risk situations where intervention is needed in order to save the mother or baby from serious injury or death. More than 90% of pregnancies and births are not high-risk, so the majority of them do not require obstetric intervention. Henci Goer's book The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to know more about this.

I have had four healthy pregnancies, wonderful births and healthy babies. I no longer feel the need to have all the medical interventions in place nearby "just in case". I now want to create a birthing environment and experience that is uplifting, comforting, natural and peaceful. The hospital does not create that setting for me. Hospitals in the state I live in also have a policy against water birth.

Birthing Centers are a great option for those who want a more comfortable setting, but want the comfort of having some medical machinery and options on-hand for possible complications. If the birthing becomes high-risk, then the mother is transferred to a hospital. The problem I have is that in my state there is only one birthing center, and it's about an hour drive from our home if there's no traffic.

There are a couple of birthing locations closer to us that offer the comfort of home in a different place. These are set up like a home, with a large bed, bathroom with a large jetted tub, full kitchen, and even a play room with toys for the other kids. There is no medical apparatus or machinery at these places. The advantages and disadvantages are the same as a home birth, but provide a setting separate from home for those who want that.

I feel if I'm going to birth in a place with the same benefits and risks as home, I may as well be at home. I like the idea of not having to drive somewhere just to birth my baby, and not having to drive back home afterward. A birthing tub can be set up at home for the water birth I want to have. With a good midwife and doula the mother will be well taken care of at home. Generally after birth they clean everything up for her, including the birthing mess, but also the dishes and other household needs. By the time they leave, the mother and baby are clean and comfortably resting in bed. I have always gotten lonely recovering in the hospital because I miss my family, and the transition from the hospital to home has been difficult in some cases. I would feel more comfortable being home with my family and loves ones rather than in a sterile hospital for two days.

I plan for a low-risk, safe birth. However, should complications arise, I will have my midwife and doula to assist me and my husband in making the best decisions for me and my baby. Midwives generally have an obstetrician reserved on-call for emergency situations in case a transfer to the hospital is needed. There is a hospital about 15 minutes from our home, and another one about 20 minutes away.

I feel safe and peaceful about choosing a home birth. I've made the choice about the location, and now I need to find the right professionals to work with me in making this happen the way I wish it to.

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