Thursday, January 22, 2009

Home Birth vs. Hospital Birth

One of my students had a wonderful homebirth today.

I know their doula, Hannah, that attended their birth and I spoke with her this morning. She was on such a "birth high." She actually works for an adoption agency attending births with the birth mothers. As you can imagine, nearly all these women want the drugs. Hannah really believes in natural birth though. She offered her services for free (I can only picture Adam Sandler in "Bedtime Stories" when I say "for free") to 3 couples in my current class, hoping to get more experience with natural birth.

What a great birth to be at! Hannah had a hard time explaining how different the homebirth felt in comparison to the medicated hospital births she has attended. It really is a spiritual experience to birth your baby in the privacy and intimacy of your own home. To welcome this new person into your family. Not to be separated. I truly wish all women trusted themselves to birth their babies in this way. You have no idea what you are missing unless you have attended or birthed your babies at home.

I have another couple right now wrestling with their insurance over this issue. They are halfway through my classes on DVD and have been asking their doctor a lot of questions, mainly about fetal monitoring and skin-to-skin contact with the baby after the birth. While his answers were actually decent, he said his hands were tied due to hospital policy.

It is a tough thing to change your birth plans at 33 weeks, but I am so proud of couples that understand the significance of that move. It is taking your healthcare into your own hands. Birth is a life experience, not a medical event. Midwives generally acknowledge this with sensitivity, but doctors/surgeons rarely do. Their focus is solely on getting the baby out, no matter what the method.

This couple is doing their best to get covered to see a midwife, preferably in an out-of-hospital birthing center, but I don't know if their insurance will cover that. (Another topic for another day.)

If you have experienced the differences in hospital birth and homebirth, please feel free to put your experience in words.


Scott and Hannah said...

It was such a beautiful experience. I wish more people would be open to birthing at home. I guess that is what you and I were put here as advocates for!

Thanks for all your support, help, and advice. I surely don't know what I would do without your expertise!

Kristina said...

In very simple words I could sum up the difference between my hospital experience vs home birth experience as this: "We don't care if you are ready to push, you have to wait until we figure out where the doctor went," compared to "Are you ready to push?" (after I was fully dilated, of course.)

As for the insurance, when I called my insurance company about my midwife, they told me they would not cover her because my mw was a cpm, not a cnm. My mw, however, was lucky enough to have a skilled insurance person in her corner who's job it was to call the insurance company and make them see reason. In the end, it was just treated as an out-of-network provider.

publichealthdoula said...

It is difficult to convince people to see that changing late in the game is an option, but it is so important! Nine months is such a short time...often by the time people truly understand what they want, they're at 33 or 34 or even 39 weeks and they think it's "too late" and "I'll be fine". But the provider makes such a difference!

I know that I would pay out-of-pocket to have the birth I wanted (if you can pay $3000 to go on a cruise, you can pay it for a home birth midwife) but I am speaking from a place of great privilege. So many women do not have this option.

Sarah said...

I could say so much on this topic (and I do regularly!) but I guess the things that stand out the most to me between my hospital birth and my home ones is attention to the mother during and after labor. In my hospital experience, neither I or the baby were the focus of the midwife and her entourage of nurses and aides (and let me tell you there were enough to go 'round). The monitor and my vagina were the central focal points, and I seriously needed emotional support after that many hours of labor.

With my two home births, my midwife sat and watched *me,* not anything else. She would often look at my face, and now and again after a pushing contraction, gently place a finger on my furrowed brow to remind me to release the tension there. She knew the importance of keeping me relaxed to help get the baby out and conserve energy!

I also loved that after the placenta was delivered and I was in the shower, she brought me some juice and had Casey fetch something to eat right away so I wouldn't faint (she knows my history). Not leaving it up to me to demand (I'm not the type) or my husband to remember (also not the type).

We switched to home birth at 28 weeks, and spent $2500 on our first one (two-and-a-half times what we paid for the hospital one), and would make the same choice were we to do it again. It is so much more than just an experience, and though publichealthdoula has a point about privilege, I see it more as an issue of priorities. (We afford what is really important to us, to some extent.) My husband and I think it was worth every penny.

God willing, I will never birth in the hospital again without SERIOUS medical indications. Home is where I want to be!

Sorry so long!

The Panic Room said...

My wife and I just decided on a home birth a few weeks ago so I am glad to have found your blog. Can't wait to read thru all the insight.

Donna Ryan said...

Your comments are all great. Panic Room, I hope you'll learn a lot here and it will build confidence in your birth choice. Congratulations on choosing homebirth!

hayley said...

i've had two beautiful home births and i can't imagine doing it any other way (or wanting to). god help any hospital or OB that would have to deal with me and how well i know my birth rights!

i live in ontario, canada, where midwives and homebirths are blessedly covered by our provincial health care plan. not all provinces have this luxury. i'm hoping it's just a matter of time though! the demand is really going up.