A good friend of mine had a baby at home recently, and she was telling me about her experience of finding a midwife in her area. She mentioned that home birth was illegal in her state! I couldn’t believe that such a thing would be illegal, so naturally, that started a long conversation about laws and babies and such…
I hafta say, it’s pretty messed up that they won’t allow licensed midwives to attend home births in certain states. It’s not that home birth itself is illegal. A woman is free to have a baby wherever she wants. But because it’s illegal for her to be assisted by a licensed professional, she is more likely to plan a hospital birth—which, as I have learned, can be way more dangerous than a home birth for a low-risk woman such as my friend Sarah.
I know that sounds crazy, but hear me out.
At a hospital birth, women are more likely to undergo unnecessary and often harmful interventions, such as:
- an epidural (a cocktail of toxic substances that many women opt for to decrease the pain of labor)
- premature rupture of the membranes (when they stick their hand up your you-know-what and break your water forcefully instead of letting it happen naturally in its own time)
- induction of labor with synthetic hormones like pitocin
- pressure to vaccinate or circumcise the child after birth
- routine fetal monitoring
- unnecessary c-section
Even if you were to have a completely natural birth with no interventions or complications at a hospital, there’s still the whole environmental factor. All other creatures of the animal kingdom retreat into dark, secluded, private places to birth their young, so wouldn’t it seem fitting for humans to do the same? Instead, we are escorted down bright, fluorescent-lit hallways into cold, sterile rooms full of hospital personnel.
Don’t get me wrong. I know some women feel much safer in the hands of medical doctors and nurses. But I still think that women should be free to choose where and how they give birth. If you want to labor on a birthing ball, then you should be able to without hassle. If you want your baby to be born in water (which is what my friend is planning to do), then water birth should be an option. If you don’t want to undergo routine cervical checks, which can easily disrupt the natural process of labor and birth, then you should be free to refuse them without dirty looks from hospital staff. If you don’t want to vaccinate your child or want to do so on a delayed schedule, then you shouldn’t have to jump through hoops or be put through hell for making that choice.
Likewise, if you prefer to give birth in a hospital, or if you choose to vaccinate your child based on the CDC’s recommended schedule, the home birth, so-called “crunchy mom” community should not ostracize you for doing so.
Not to mention the risk potential for a woman who chooses to give birth at home unassisted, which is more likely to happen since there aren’t a lot of licensed midwives to service home birthing mamas. It makes no sense that a woman could expose herself to a potentially fatal situation and it’s perfectly legal for her to do so, but it’s not legal for a licensed, experienced professional to assist her in that choice. We are exposing more women to harm through our medical system through routine interventions and unnecessary laws. The c-section rate in the U.S. is absolutely outrageous!
There are a lot of misconceptions about homebirth. WE have been led to believe that it’s unsafe, which is simply not true, especially for a woman who is low-risk. Also, movies and television sensationalize the birthing experience with exaggerated portrayals of what it’s like to give birth in a hospital. Women being whisked down hospital halls screaming and writhing in pain. That’s just not an accurate picture of what birth is really like. Check out this video for a more accurate depiction of what it’s like to labor and birth at home: