Why I Would Never (Ever!) Consider a Home Birth

When I was expecting my first son, I had the same fears about labor and birth that many pregnant women do. How bad would it hurt? Would I be able to handle it? What if something goes wrong? What if I poop on the delivery table and someone takes a picture of it?

At some point I read a book that really changed how I felt about the great unknown of giving birth. It was called Baby Catcher—a collection of thrilling, painstakingly detailed birth experiences written by an experienced midwife. After reading so many delivery stories about women who chose to welcome their babies into the world at home, I felt … I guess empowered is the word I'm looking for. I was much less afraid, and I had more faith in what my body would be capable of.

Still, despite how motivating the stories were, I knew one thing for sure: there was no way in hell I would be attempting a home birth.

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I was never particularly drawn to the idea of a home birth to begin with. I know many women have specific desires and plans when it comes to giving birth, but I didn't. Maybe it was because it all seemed so foreign anyway—if I had no idea what labor was going to be like for me, how could I know if I was going to want to bounce on a ball, listen to a particular kind of music, or submerge myself in a tub?

After I started reading so many home birthing stories, though, I could see the appeal. You'd be in your comfortable, familiar environment instead of a clinical setting. You could eat or shower or stroll around, instead of being shackled to an IV or being fed ice chips.

I could understand it—but I never wanted to try it, because I knew a woman whose home birth turned into a total nightmare.

I can't remember the exact details of what went wrong, but the gist of it was that her baby aspirated meconium, was deprived of oxygen, and despite a mad rush to the hospital, he sustained permanent hearing damage as a result. The event was so traumatic the mother has anxiety attacks to this day, many years later.

Now, I understand that anecdotal evidence is highly unreliable. Just because one woman had a horrible home birth experience doesn't mean that it's not, statistically, a perfectly safe option for most healthy women. The argument has certainly been made by many people that hospital births are far more risky, and can involve preventable surgeries, decreased breastfeeding success rates, exposure to infection, and disruptions to the mother-baby bonding process.

What can I say, though—that one story was enough to scare me off for life. I know things can go wrong in any setting, and the best-laid plans don't always pan out the way you hope they will. But ultimately, the reason I never considered a home birth is because I was terrified that I might be in a position to look back and wonder how my child's birth might have been different … if only I'd been in a medical setting instead of my home.  

How do you feel about home births?

Image via Flickr/madaise

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