But what really, really bugs me in the whole ‘should women be permitted homebirths’ debate is not so much the continued dictating to women about the choices they can or can’t have in relation to their own bodies, or the fact that the majority of the medical establishment views birth not as something that women are designed to do but as a potential minefield of risks and possible disasters, or even that nobody mentions that in the majority of births any issues that arise are signalled so that something can be done about them before they become a disaster.
No what really bugs me is that when people compare home birth and hospital birth they don’t focus at all on the bad things that happen in hospital.
Because one of the reasons I wanted to have a homebirth was because I didn’t want a forceps delivery, an episiotomy or a c-section and everyone else I knew who had had babies in hospital had had one of those.
And the media also seem to have an awful lot of focus on women being selfish having 2 midwives attending their homebirth.
You know what why shouldn’t women be selfish in labour?
When did we sign up that we women would selflessly not have the best care we can get hold of because the NHS is over stretched and there aren’t enough midwives to go around? I certainly didn’t and in fact one of my reasons behind having a home birth was to give me continuity of care. Yes, that was partly driven because Mr Muddling did not want to be my birth partner but also why should I not be attended in birth just because the system hasn’t got it right.
In fact one of the arguments that is regularly missed out is that in hospital your birth partner frequently has to act as stand in midwife for significant parts of the labour AND because they aren’t qualified and experienced and you haven’t got continuous care things can get missed so instead of being dealt with when issues start to arise they become more urgent, more acute.
What they also don’t focus on is that in your own home you are on your own turf and as such the dynamic between healthcare professionals and yourself changes.
You aren’t submitting to their care, you are permitting them to attend you.
So there isn’t so much of the routine things that we have to do – the vaginal examinations that aren’t actually a necessity but are part of the fill in a form culture, the breaking of waters just because it might speed things alone, or rather might kill your baby if you have one like mine with a placenta with bi-succinate lobes, and the ‘just a little injection’ after the birth rather than considering whether the woman would prefer a physiological 3rd stage rather than a dose of drugs to help deliver the placenta.
Its also apparent that a lot of people commenting on childbirth choices haven’t actually had a baby. The Guardian article contained an awful lot of focus on the mother saying she couldn’t do it and criticising the midwives for not giving her drugs, transferring her or ordering an emergency c-section.
I don’t know about many other mothers but talking to my midwife every single labouring woman she has attended has had that moment of not being able to do it as she goes through transition. I clearly remember shouting that I couldn’t do it, and that it hurt, and that I didn’t remember it hurting this much. And my cruel midwife telling me that it is called labour for a reason, that it does hurt but that most importantly all of this meant I was doing well and that my baby was getting close to arriving. And you know what, the woman whose birth it was that the journalist attended agrees that it wasn’t a big deal and she was going through transition and that it wasn’t cruelty or a compromise but more her midwives helping her do what she wanted.
Oh and on the debate that women should pay for choosing this luxury of a home birth actually quite a few of us do.
I hired an independent midwife with both my pregnancies something that was worth a million times its cost. Something that I now believe that every woman should have as an option and without having to be able to afford hiring someone to get your out of a health service that seems to view expectant mothers as wombs on legs not as engaged, informed participants in their labour.
So when someone can give me a satisfactory answer as to why I shouldn’t be selfish in labour and do everything I can to ensure that my experience is as good as it can be then I’ll consider a hospital birth but until then, I will look at my friends who have an almost 100% intervention rate for hospital deliveries and I’ll look at my experiences ‘bravely’ having my babies at home and I’ll know that for me, for us, homebirth was the right choice.
p.s. I had never seen this photo of me post Bigger’s birth – part way through what would have been a medical emergency in a hospital but which was actually a fairly major haemorrhage dealt with calmly and easily at home (although I would say that, I was unconscious but even Mr who was sat rocking Bigger in the rocking chair next to the Aga agrees that it wasn’t traumatic). So there.