Factors to Consider before Birthing Your Baby

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Deciding between a home and hospital birth is a difficult decision for some couples. Although a general perception exists that hospital births are safer than homebirths, this is actually not the case. An additional factor to consider is the general philosophical framework in which birth is placed in each setting. Most homebirth midwives consider labor and childbirth to be a normal natural process; many doctors view childbirth as an event they must control in order to avoid catastrophe. When problems do arise at a homebirth, midwives are prepared to deal with them, and they know when hospital interventions are necessary. But the vast majority of births, when they are allowed to unfold physiologically, are straightforward and considered normal at the very least, if not beautiful and sacred by homebirth midwives.

If the mother`s contractions pause briefly after she reaches full dilation and before an urge to push materializes, most midwifes recognize that this is a common and normal part of birth ... If during pushing the baby appears to retreat some in the birth canal after each push forward, the midwife recognizes this as a dance of two steps forward, one step back that is more likely to result in an intact perineum for mom (no tearing). The burning sensation experienced by the mother during this phase also keeps the pace in check and protects the perineum. After birth, the baby`s umbilical cord is usually only cut after it visibly stops pulsing - when it has shunt all of the baby`s blood back into his body.

At the hospital, in general, any pause in labor is considered cause for concern, not for rest. During pushing, the faster the fetus emerges the better. Burning pain? No problem. This can be eliminated by a local anesthetic, sometimes without the mother`s consent. After birth, the cord may be cut as soon as possible in order to speed up the delivery of the placenta, as many doctors pull on the cord or inject Pitocin into the mother to hurry the afterbirth along. The focus on speed and the air of emergency can render the atmosphere of many hospital births as pathological rather than as a sacred initiation of life.

Not all hospital births proceed as described above, and many doctors ... respect birth and the process of childbirth. Expectant moms should try to be sure that they and their care providers share similar visions of what birth should be.

The most important determinant of your birth outcome is the care provider you choose and your place of birth.

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