Why women shouldn't fear home birth

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My second son was born at our house, in the middle of our living room, just under three hours after my labor began in the darkness of dawn. I would like to speak to the most commonly cited reasons not to have a home birth to try to illustrate why we chose and advocate home birth for women eligible for and interested in this experience.

1) Birth needs a hospital

For all of human history, save the last 200 years of the organized medical establishment, birth was managed by women, for women in privacy and comfort, giving them a safe, dark, quiet place to labor, providing fluids and rest over the days that labor usually takes (that's right, ladies: days of on-and-off labor is not unusual), and attending to the needs of mother and baby throughout the exciting, powerful, and earth-shattering emotions and sensations ...

2) Interventions may be necessary

The administration of uterus-contracting drugs like Pitocin, ... [epidural], extraction of the fetus by vacuuming it out of your body, ... episiotomy ...:

... The first intervention most often given, that of Pitocin, brings on contractions more powerful and spaced more closely together than nature intended ... it's no wonder Pitocin very often leads to epidurals.

One intervention often snowballs into another, and this is part of what has led to the astounding rate of unnecessary C-sections in this country.

3) What about the pain? Birth is intense; squeezing a baby out of your body is a challenge, no matter what your ""pain tolerance."" However, our culture medicates routinely for a variety of ""normal"" emotional experiences (encouraging medication for people in the early stages of grief comes to mind), and medicating for the emotions of birth is no exception.

The vocalizing and emotional experience that is commonly referred to as ""complaining,"" ""screaming,"" or ""suffering"" is a normal part of labor. Birth is not neat and fast and quiet: it's gritty and primal. But it's nothing to fear unless you also think we ought to fear women crying when they are sad or laughing when they are happy.

There are numerous effective pain-management techniques to use in labor ... showers and baths, massage ... and the greatest power of all: the power of my mind to force out the notion that pain with purpose – labor -- is something to fear.

4) What if something goes wrong?

Midwives are qualified to manage a variety of medical complications, and any good midwife knows when transport to a hospital is necessary ...

... Our culture has instilled in us a fear of the natural experience of birth and a fear of our bodies. In countries where women are supported in their desire and ability for a natural birth ... babies and mothers have the lowest mortality rates.

Natural birth is not for hippies; it's for anyone who wants to work hard at breaking down what they have been told is true about birth, pain, and the human body and spirit.

Home birth is right for people who want to take natural birth to the next level ...