Why Home Birthing Pools Freak Me Out

Linda Sharps

I was reading today about Jennifer Connelly giving birth to her third child, and I was intrigued by several of the details around the happy new addition to her family. For one thing, they named the little girl Agnes, which is a great name that's been mired in frumpy old-ladyville for too long. Let's see some more Mildreds, Beatrices, and Winnifreds while we're at it, Hollywood trendsetters!

I also love what she had to say about her morning sickness: "You know how like you have your cellphone and you have to stand in one spot? It was like that with nausea. I had to stand in one spot, which happened to be in front of my refrigerator, which was open with me dipping pretzels in cream cheese and stuffing them in my mouth."

Ha! Oscar-winning actresses, they're just like Us!

Lastly, I see that she gave birth at home, and not only that, it was a "scheduled home water birth in a birthing pool."

Hmmm, maybe not so much like Us after all. Or at least not like me.

Honestly, I think women who choose to give birth at home are very brave and I admire their convictions—but man oh man, I never had the desire to give this a shot. Especially the water birth thing, because ... well, I just think they sound kind of terrifying. I've read all the great stuff about how it's easier for babies to transition into a warm watery environment and how it eases pain for the mother and decreases the risk of tearing and all that, but I cannot help it: my brain performs an involuntary DOES NOT COMPUTE over the idea of a newborn being deliberately submerged underwater during the birthing process.

I mean, those suckers are slippery. I'm picturing lunging around an inflatable pool after a tiny goop-covered baby like it's a bar of Ivory soap.

I'm also ridiculously fixated on the cleanup job such a birth would require. Is this a Shop-Vac type of task, or can everything just be drained down the tub, or do you draw on a hose to create a siphon and if so what happens if you accidentally suck up some birth-related detritus because EW?

I'm kidding about these things, but the truth is I decided a long time ago that birthing at home wasn't for me. I knew a woman who had a home birth go wrong, and I can't remember all the details—inhaled meconium, I believe?—but her child went a scary amount of time without oxygen and he has permanent hearing damage as a result. I know these things are very rare, but I've never been able to get past the What Ifs.

Back to Jennifer Connelly—I didn't even know you could have a scheduled home birth, did you? Doesn't the whole idea of inducing sort of contradict the desire for no-medical-intervention birth, or do you think maybe her rep just meant that it was a planned home birth, rather than scheduled?

What are your thoughts about home water births? Have you had one?

Image via Flickr/danoxster

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