Over the last two months three of my homeschooling friends have had baby boys. One was born at home, one in the hospital, and one at a birthing center. I have reflected on the births of my kids and have come to two conclusions. One, I am very glad I am done with the growing and birthing phase and have moved on to the raising only phase. And, two, homebirth is dangerous.
Now, that’s probably a strange statement to hear from someone who had three out of hospital births, two of those at home, and continues to be a huge advocate of women being able to choose where they are most comfortable giving birth whether that’s at the hospital, in their own bed, or in the middle of a field. But it’s something I truly believe and the reason is simple. Laws.
Homebirth is not dangerous at all provided a midwife is equipped with the skills and things needed to deal with minor emergencies. Mostly my conclusion comes from women experiencing excessive bleeding following the birth of their baby. I did that with my first three (still don’t know why Adrian was different). Laws preventing midwives from carrying certain drugs make homebirth more dangerous than it should be.
After I had Ani, my only in hospital birth, the OB could not figure out where I was bleeding from. Now, the obvious answer would be uterus, but she didn’t seem to think the obvious answer was the one she should choose. See, I was hooked up to pitocin and they all seemed averse to checking to see if my uterus was clamping down properly (it wasn’t, and that was likely complicated by an overly full bladder). I had torn some and she was convinced that must be where the blood was coming from and so she sewed and unsewed me dozens of times. Once the nurse finally felt my boggy uterus they got things under control.
After I had Cameron, the midwife (CNM at a freestanding birthing center) saw the crazy bleeding and gave me a shot of methergine. Instantly my uterus clamped down like it was supposed to and the bleeding slowed dramatically. After I had Fritz, I was, in the words of the midwife, “flowing.” She gave me herbs. It took a little while, but the bleeding slowed and all was well. How much easier would it have been to give me a shot of methergine which worked so well and so fast after my previous birth? But she couldn’t. Why? She couldn’t, as a CPM (a midwife who is licensed but not a nurse), carry the drugs.
It’s silly, really, how laws make something that is perfectly safe – homebirth – a little more dangerous. I’ve heard more than one midwife ask if doctors would rather they transfer a woman in critical or stable condition or even not have to transfer at all. A shot of methergine or some other drug could make that difference. Maternal death during a homebirth is not common, but allowing a midwife to carry certain drugs could save some of those women.
I really don’t think homebirth is dangerous. I’ve had two of them. They were awesome, safe experiences. My midwife knew what she was doing and handled the bleeding after Adrian’s birth perfectly. Had the herbs not worked in a reasonable amount of time I am sure the next step would have been transfer. An unneeded, in my opinion, transfer to the hospital to get the very drugs that licensed midwives should be able to legally carry with them and administer them as needed. Laws, and lawmakers, need to stop getting in the way and making something safe a little more dangerous.