Many people feel that women choose home birth selfishly, putting their own experiences above the safety of their babies. This simply is not true – everyone has the same priority: a healthy mother and a healthy baby. Women who have their babies at home have learned that statistics bear out the safety of home birth for healthy mothers experiencing normal pregnancies. They also recognize that there are many advantages to home birth for the baby as well as the mother and the entire family.
Home Birth Advantages for the Baby
❥ He or she is more likely to be born vaginally, without the breathing difficulties often caused by cesarean section and/or anesthesia
❥ There is less likelihood of infection when the baby is with the mother than the in newborn nursery
❥ The baby’s experience at birth is considered important and made as gentle as possible. Routine procedures such as deep suctioning and unnecessary stimulation are avoided
❥ The baby is not separated from the mother. The mother-infant bond is never sacrificed for institutional procedures
❥ Breastfeeding is easier to establish when the baby can nurse on demand and is not given bottles.
Home Birth Advantages for the Mother
❥ She is not subjected to routine procedures such as immobilization for electronic monitoring, IV’s, multiple vaginal exams or stirrups.
❥ She can eat and walk freely.
❥ She will have continuity of care with the same attendants, increasing safety.
❥ She is more likely to be treated and her progress evaluated as an individual, rather than being sacrificed to protocols or statistical averages.
❥ She is much less likely to request or require drugs for pain, forceps or a cesarean section when she has attendants who know that birth is a normal physiological function.
❥ She is comfortable in her own surroundings, relaxed and able to labor and deliver wherever she chooses
❥ She has less chance of developing an infection.
❥ Postpartum depression is less common since there is no separation of mother and baby and the midwife relationship/support continues well after the birth.
Home Birth Advantages for the Family
❥ Partners are in their own homes, not “allowed” to be present; they can participate as fully as they please.
❥ Other children can be present as appropriate.
❥ The birth is an integral part of family life, which helps with postpartum adjustment.
Disadvantages to Home Birth
❥ Requires a higher level of effort and responsibility.
❥ Often not supported by society or doctors.
❥ Access to some emergency equipment can be delayed and require transport.
❥ Minimizing the Risks Birth at home, Like birth in the hospital, home birth is not risk-free. You can minimize the risks by:
A Must for Home Birth to be at its Best
❥ Eating well and gaining adequate weight, which can help in avoiding high blood pressure and other complications
❥ Finding a midwife who is skilled, confident and experienced in birth at home
❥ Receiving prenatal midwifery care
❥ Informing yourselves through reading, classes, videos and other resources
❥ Having adequate support during labor and postpartum
❥ Having a plan for facilitating transfer to the hospital, if necessary, which you and your midwife have discussed and posting telephone numbers by the phone
From “Homebirth as the Standard of Care” By Rahima Baldwin Dancy Article copyright 2001 by Informed Homebirth, IHIBP@sbcglobal.net. Used with permission.