Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Checking in on the homebirth debate

070909 Chani at the Homebirth Rights Rally
070909 Chani at the Homebirth Rights Rally (Photo credit: Nico Nelson)
"Homebirth is dangerous!" "Homebirth is safe!" This argument has become a big angry throwing match using a bunch of muddy statistics. The anti-homebirthers slam right into our deepest fears with neonatal death statistics. Homebirth advocates throw back the pain and anguish of maternal injuries and deaths. Sadly, it has come down to pitting the mother against her unborn child.

Statistics can be argued indefinitely, but what if we focus on those things that are known to be true and NOT a matter of debate.

-Hospital birth is always an option when wanted or needed. Homebirth isn't an all or nothing proposition.
-IVs, medications, surgery, and other medical procedures are never completely risk free. If the risk of the intervention is greater than the benefit then you're simply creating risk that would otherwise not exist.
-A majority of babies will be born healthy no matter where birth takes place. Only a few rare emergencies will cause serious problems.
- The cesarean section rate in the United States is too high and can be reduced without compromising safety.
-If mom suffers baby suffers. A mother's physical and mental health is closely tied to that of her child's before and after birth. Extreme stress during pregnancy (arguing with a doctor or nurse over testing and birth plans would count) is bad. Arguing during labor is even worse. A mother traumatized by rough treatment during birth is going to be less able to give the constant care a newborn needs.

If that isn't enough for you, consider this instead of arguing whether or not homebirth is safe: How can hospitals say that they are the best place to have a baby due to their ability to quickly respond in an emergency, but in the same breath say that they are not equipped to handle VBAC because they can't respond quickly enough in an emergency?

Why are we even debating this in a country with such a "good maternity care system"?
Deadly delivery: The maternal health care crisis in the USA

One of the best journal articles I have found about the debate
Mother Beware: Perilous Scholarly and News Media Discourse around Homebirth
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