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You're having your baby where???

The decision to have a homebirth can be a difficult one to make. Sometimes couples are not in agreement at first--this requires gathering more information and doing a lot of talking. If the mother is more comfortable in a hospital, that is where she needs to be! If the father is unsure about homebirth, perhaps reading and attending classes or meeting midwives will help to answer his questions. Sometimes couples decide to compromise and birth in a birth center when they can't come to agreement.

Once you have decided to have a homebirth, you need to make sure that you are in good health (low risk) and find a skilled attendant with whom you are very comfortable. Just when you are feeling satisfied that you have everything in place, how do you deal with the lack of support you may encounter from family and friends? From mothers-in-law to checkers at the grocery store, people may not hesitate to give you their opinions and their horror stories.

Dealing with Family

Thank them for sharing, but reassure family members that you, too, are concerned with the safety of baby and mother. Read Special Delivery, so you can feel comfortable with statistics supporting the safety of birth at home and know answers to the "what if's." Once they are aware that you are informed and taking everything very seriously, they may feel better. Sometimes if they live in e area, it helps for them to meet the midwife and get their questions answered.

If they don't come around to a supportive or at least neutral position, you may have to agree to disagree and simply stop discussing it with them. Neither of you needs to be upset so often. In this case it's best to give relatives an approximate due date (all due dates are approximate anyway!) and notify them after the birth so they won't be so antsy.

All the "What If's"

Most people think that there are countless things that can go wrong at a birth, and this makes them afraid. In fact, there are a finite number of emergencies, and many of them can be eliminated in advance of labor. Many things that people are most concerned about ("What if the cord is around the neck?") occur all the time without incident (the cord is around the neck in a third of all births).

There are very few "time pinch emergencies," which you can know about and understand what would be done at home and in the hospital. There are a handful of other complications which require evaluation, but for which you have plenty of time. And there are other complications for which the problem is too much time (such as lack of progress, rupture of the membranes without labor, etc.). Chapter 8 in Special Delivery presents a detailed description of emergencies and complications--how to recognize them at home, and what would be done. Knowledge is empowering!

Comparing Apples and Oranges

Sometimes people will be eager to tell you that they almost bled to death, and had they been home.... You need to realize that such incidents fail to take into account that had they been home, they would have been different people, their attendants would have handled third stage differently (most hemorrhage is caused by mismanagement of third stage by the attendant), and the problem not only might have been avoided, but would have been handled differently.

Attitudes, procedures and protocols often differ between homebirth and hospital birth. As you become more informed about birth, you will hear in many people's stories about why they needed a cesarean the fact that the problem was caused by going to the hospital too soon, artificially rupturing the membranes too soon, trying to use pitocin on an unripe cervix, or mismanaging the "latent phase" of labor (up to complete effacement and 4cm dilation).

You are not a statistic; you need to be informed and make your own best choices. There is no guarantee that your baby, if born in a hospital, will not have any birth defects or that the hospital could set up for a cesarean in less time than it takes you get there (if you phoned ahead telling them what you were coming in with). Birth is as safe as life gets.

Finding Support

Keep reading! Attend childbirth classes taught by an Informed Homebirth, Bradley or other independent educator, not those offered by the hospital. Talk to each other! Attend LaLeche League meetings or other gatherings where women are into a more natural lifestyle. Arrange a get-together with other homebirth couples (your midwife must have a list of past and present couples--for a mother's or homebirth support group).
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:explaining homebirth to others
Publication:Special Delivery
Date:Mar 22, 1992
Previous Article:How to find an attendant for birth at home.
Next Article:ICEA resolution on birth at home.

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