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Advantages of homebirth.

Many medical people feel that women selfishly choose homebirth by putting their own experience above the safety of the baby. This simply is not true--everyone wants a healthy mother and a healthy baby above all else. But couples who have their baby at home know that statistics bear out the safety of homebirth for low-risk mothers; they also recognize that the advantages are many for the baby as well as the mother and the entire family.

Advantages for the Baby

--He or she is more likely to be born vaginally, without the breathing difficulties often caused by cesarean birth or anesthesia.

--There is less likelihood of infection when the baby is with the mother than in the newborn nursery.

--The baby's experience at birth can be recognized and made as gentle as possible. Routine procedures such as deep suctioning, suctioning the stomach, scrubbing the baby, vitamin K shot, etc. are avoided.

--The baby is never separated from the mother. The mother-infant bond is never sacrificed for institutional procedures.

--Breastfeeding is easier to establish when the baby can nurse on demand not be given bottles.

Advantages for the Mother:

--She is not subjected to routine procedures such as electronic monitoring, IV's, shave, prep, enema or stirrups.

--She can eat, walk freely and give birth physiologically, her body working with nature.

--She will have continuity of care with the same attendants, increasing safety

--She is more likely to be treated and her progress evaluated as an individual, rather than being sacrificed to protocols or statistical averages.

--She is much less likely to need drugs for pain, forceps or a cesarean section when she has attendants who feel that birth is a normal physiological function.

--She is comfortable in her own surroundings, relaxes and able to labor and deliver in the same bed.

--She has less chance of infection and episiotomy.

--Postpartum depression is more uncommon since there is no separation.

Advantages for the Family

--Husbands are in their own home, not "allowed" to be present; they can participate as fully as they want.

--Other children can be present as appropriate.

--The birth is an integral part of family life, helping with postpartum adjustment.


--Requires a higher level of effort and responsibility.

--Often not supported by society or doctors.

--Often not covered by insurance.

--Access to some emergency equipment can be delayed and require transport.

Minimizing the Risks

Birth at home, like birth in the hospital, is not risk-free. You can minimize the risks by:

* Having good nutrition and adequate weight gain.

* Not smoking or drinking.

* Getting good prenatal care and avoiding high blood pressure and other complications which can be helped through nutrition.

* Finding a good midwife, one who is skilled, confident and experienced in birth at home.

* Informing yourselves through reading, classes, videos, and getting supplies together.

* Making sure that if you have a "statistically high-risk situation" that you and your attendant are informed and comfortable, having taken adequate steps to minimize the chances of your becoming a statistic (for example, they used to say that over 35 was "high risk" (high risk of having a cesarean if you birthing in the hospital, perhaps, but even the studies are showing no more incidence of complications with today's well-nourished "older mothers!"

* Making sure your baby is head down (or that your attendant is very skilled in breech deliveries; the same is true for twins).

* Having adequate support during labor and postpartum.

* Having an emergency back-up plan and numbers posted by the phone.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Association of Labor Assistants & Childbirth Educators
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:includes disadvantages and related article on minimizing the risks
Publication:Special Delivery
Date:Mar 22, 1992
Previous Article:Homebirth/midwifery safety studies.
Next Article:How to find an attendant for birth at home.

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