"Where are you going to have your baby?" Raya asked me when I told her I was pregnant.
"I haven't decided, probably in a birthing center," I said.
"Why not at home?" she asked.
"What do you mean?" I looked at her confused, "do people do that?"
Because of my good friend, I learned that many people have their babies in their own home, welcoming their new child into the heart of their family from the beginning. I learned that it costs the system 1/5th the cost for a home birth than a hospital birth and 1/2th the cost for a home birth than a birthing center birth.
I learned that birth is not a medical condition in and of itself and doesn't require a hospital stay. Of course, unless it is--if there is a medical complication then a person should go to the hospital--that is what it is there for. But in our society, we've come to demonize birthing itself as if it were a disease.
It was fascinating and, actually, kind of shocking, to learn that despite that births could happen much less intrusively and more cost effectively, most insurance companies will not cover the cost of home birth but will cover hospital births and accredited birthing center births. The irony is that home birth becomes the privilege of the rich and educated while many would have assumed it was what someone does if they can’t afford the hospital.
There are many pros and cons of where to give birth and it is a very personal decision. The articles and books in the resources section will help. For myself, I feel relieved and grateful to have learned I could greet 3 wonderful children at home. These were priceless experiences for me and for them that were truly personal, unencumbered by intrusive machinery and with loved ones of my choice surrounding us.
A notable side-effect of this for my first birth is that it supported my desire to have a natural childbirth in a way that a hospital birth would not have. About 24 hrs into labor, when my dilation hadn’t changed for 12 hours, I was exhausted and I told my midwife I wanted drugs and I wanted to go to the hospital. Despite my desire to welcome my baby without drugging him, I had reached a level of tiredness and pain where the best I could say was “he’ll get over it”. But when Lani reviewed basic hospital procedures with me, including how I would be hooked to an IV (standard protocol), I said, “OK I’ll try a little more!” Luckily my extreme distaste for the idea of an IV trumped my pain and exhaustion and we made it through. So
I hold no negative judgement towards those who feel more drawn to the hospital or a birthing center; it is a very personal decision. And I feel it is important for people to know their choices and to know that birthing is natural and for women to know they have the choice to go through this fundamental rite of passage in their power, in their home, in their way and give their newborn a more connected, more peaceful start to life.
Sometimes a more traditional route is more natural, more simple and has many positive ripples for our life and society, despite what we have been educated to believe. Home birth has a positive effect on the mother’s health, the baby’s health, the emotional connection of each, the closeness of the family and the lessening of health care burden to society.