I know this is a sensitive subject, and for the right reasons! Giving birth is a very personal moment in a woman’s life, and the decision of how she does so should be entirely up to her. I want to emphasize that I am sharing here my reasons for choosing to give birth at home, but I’m not trying to convince anyone. Here are four questions that I have been asked regarding my decision, and some brief answers outlining my most basic feelings (sans statistics, which I can share later). I could write a few posts per question! I’m sure my sister authors (who have all chosen natural births) could as well. Forgive me if I failed to be succinct enough:
Question 1: Isn’t it unsafe to have a baby outside of a hospital?
Women have been having babies without hospitals since the dawn of man (and still today), and the race survives. Would God or nature design a female body that could conceive a child without medical intervention, nurture it in the womb and after its birth, but not safely deliver it? Of course there are rare exceptions, when a woman does need medical intervention if she and her baby are to make it through labor in safety, just as there are some women who do need to turn to medical science for aid in conception. But the exception remains rare. I believe --- and there are thousands of birth stories to back this up --- that my body will know how to have this baby. It will know what positions I should take, what relief I can seek, and when it is safe for the baby to emerge. Birth is a normal physiological process, and not a medical procedure.
Question 2: What if there is an emergency?
In the event of a true emergency, which my highly experienced midwife would be able to identify in plenty of time, we can move to the hospital to finish the labor. Because of my healthy pregnancy, and good nutrition, such a transfer is highly unlikely.
Question 3: Aren’t you afraid of the pain?
No. And I’m not making that up! I have seen the pain of labor first-hand, and know what I am in for. But I am not afraid of it, which is an incredibly empowering feeling. Our nation’s culture cultivates fear of labor in girls and young women their whole lives (especially via movies and television where only the worst-case-scenario is sensational enough to get viewers’ attention), so that by the time they are ready to have a baby they automatically default to taking drugs for pain relief. I know there will be pain, but I am training myself now in ways to bear it peacefully --- and even to embrace it. The pain of labor isn’t like the pain of a broken ankle that says, “This is bad. Something is wrong. Stop whatever you’re doing.” It is, as I recently discussed with a ballerina friend, like the pain of stretching. “This is good. This is telling me to relax and let my body expand. Keep doing this… you’re making progress.” (I'll write another post about labor pain, and why I chose it, once I've actually experienced it. :)
Question 4: Ok, that’s kind of crazy you don’t just want to avoid the pain of labor, since it’s possible. But why not just have your baby in the hospital and refuse the drugs?
This is a long answer, and I’ll write later in more detail. The bottom line is that I am a little spoiled. I have spent my entire pregnancy in the comfort of my home, with food and water available whenever I wanted it, with a warm bath standing by when I needed a bit of relief, and with a big bed where my husband can wrap his arms around me for support and comfort. I’ve spent it in a place where I have total control over what I do with my body, over who walks through the doorway and over who touches me. Never a stranger… but always someone with whom I have a relationship of trust and love (including my midwife). Why should I throw all of this away at the most crucial moment? Though labor may mean dreadful pain and fatigue, when it is over I will still be here, where it all started, with my newborn lying on my chest (not down the hallway) and with his father by our side.