After some talk at work last night, I decided I'd post on this subject. I've thought about it before, but, since it's a hot topic in some circles, I've avoided it.
But, I'm a brave girl...and I figure, "what the heck!" Why not? Maybe I'll learn something in the process too!
A warning to those who read me regularly, I'm not expecting this post to be light and fluffy and witty. I'll try my best to make it light, but I do feel strongly about some things (and this is one)!
A note to those just "accidentally" stopping by or those whose opinion will differ from mine, please be kind with your words! Please don't crucify me...please? I'd love to have this be a "dialogue" and not a nasty session...besides that, I'm kinda sensitive, and I'd probably cry if you said mean things!
Okay, so here goes:
Home births. As a nurse in a fairly large hospital, I see a lot of stuff. A lot of stuff, some of which I wish I didn't have to see and some of which brings me to tears of joy and happiness (which is more often the case).
As you know, I am a kind of "crunchy, granola" type of labor and delivery nurse...kind of. I have my own babies au natural, I love helping people through their own au natural experience (or non au natural experience--I love it all!!)...but, I also realize, that while many people have wonderful, romantic ideas about childbirth, it is a serious thing.
I've mentioned it before, but an "experienced" (read: older) nurse once taught her Labor class pupils, "Our end goal is a healthy mom and a healthy baby...not a fabulous labor experience". Some people are lucky enough to get all of the above. Some people, unfortunately, draw the short stick and wind up with unexpected plans to keep mother and/or baby healthy. That is the nature of my business.
While, I would never want to rob a woman of a wonderful birth experience, it sometimes needs to be...and that is why we have obstetricians and hospitals and operating rooms and fetal monitors.
I'm guessing the home birth advocates (and I could be wrong) are against hospital births for a reason. And I'm interested to hear what it is...truly.
In my opinion, I think home births are risky, dangerous, and, well...selfish. I know that sounds harsh, but that's how I feel. What about a home birth is safe for babies (and I'm not asking rhetorical questions, I do want to know what you think...I think it makes me a better nurse to see all sides)? In my mind, a home birth is a romantic ideal of a delivery...a delivery in which things can go horribly, atrociously wrong.
No woman is "risk-free" from a c-section, even the low risk, perfect pregnancy, the woman who's had vaginal births before...you could get a prolapsed cord, a placental abruption, a shoulder dystocia...things you would want to be in a hospital for...trust me.
I have to wonder, if you elect to have a home birth, and your baby has a severe shoulder dystocia...can you live with that decision as you are being whisked to the hospital in an ambulance with your dead baby's head between your legs? Could you handle hearing the thump...thump...thump...on your midwife's doppler of your baby's hearttones in the 60's...and falling, and know that when you get to a hospital your baby will likely have died?
Okay, I know that's harsh, and I'm sorry, but these are things that have happened. It sucks. I know it's a risk I would never take, and I'd like to tell you a few fabulous things about hospitals.
First of all, we, as nurses, are YOUR advocate. It's part of our job. We are here to assist you with the healthy, successful delivery of your baby...and to the best of our ability, we want this to be everything you've dreamed of. If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times (okay, well...I think I have only said it once...) if you have a nurse that you do not feel is advocating for you or that you just don't mesh with, ask to speak to the charge nurse and tell her (kindly) how you feel and request another nurse. Often times, when a patient is upset with her care, she will end up getting the nicest, most compassionate nurse (as a little "service recovery", if you will!) if she requests a different nurse.
Would that be hard? Yes, but honestly, if you aren't lovin' your nurse, she's probably not lovin' you and you'll all be happy for a change.
Second, laboring in a hospital assures you that an operating room is near-by...in the unfortunate experience that you would need one. And it's a nice safety net to have...you know, just in case.
Third, we are not out to derail your birth plan. But, we do have standards that we need to adhere to. Write out your birth plan, be familiar with it, and then review it with your midwife/doctor and nurse, so everyone's on the same page. Birth plans are a wonderful way to communicate your wishes, desires, needs to the hospital staff.
And last, if you really can't stand hospitals...will you just consider delivery there? If you feel strongly about not being in a hospital, many docs will discharge mom and baby within a few hours of delivery if everything is okay. Just discuss it with your MD/midwife prior to delivery (waaaayyyy prior, like mid-way through your pregnancy...and have a lot of conversation about it.).
Please remember, we are not out to get you. Not in any way, shape or form. We are here to help you and support you. Research your options, if you want a "natural childbirth", seek out your options. Typically, in my experience, midwives are much more open to the "natural" way of things...and if need be, they always have an OB to back them. Look at the hospitals in your area, find a midwife or a doctor that you love, discuss your wishes, your desires, your goals.
Be on the same page with your provider. And please, please reconsider that home birth. Please?