Why We’re Planning a Homebirth: Part 2

When I realized that the only reason we had gone to the hospital was to have the doctor there “just in case”, it started to dawn on me that something was really wrong with that way of thinking. Being in my own home would have given me the security to relax and do what I needed to do, not what the nurse’s guide to childbirth says is supposed to work for the “average” woman. I began to research what happens to women with healthy pregnancies when they go to the hospital for birth. This will be a long post, but I don’t feel that any of this important information can be left out.

One of the first things I learned was that obstetricians are trained to manage complicated pregnancies and perform C-sections. They are trained to handle emergencies. They are NOT trained to stand back and allow a normal pregnancy and birth happen. I have seen several interviews with obstetricians who say that they feel like they aren’t “earning their pay” if they don’t interfere. They are trained to “do something”, so they apply their emergency training to perfectly healthy moms and babies. It usually starts with inducing labor when a baby is “late”.

You might be surprised how the idea of a 40-week pregnancy came into being. In the early 1800s a German obstetrician simply declared that pregnancy lasts ten moon months counting from the start of the menstrual cycle prior to the pregnancy. (2) It took nearly 200 years for researchers to investigate whether this was, in fact, true. It turns out that it wasn’t. When researchers in the late 1980s followed a group of healthy, white women with regular menstrual cycles, they discovered that pregnancy in first-time mothers averaged eight days longer than this, or forty-one weeks plus one day (2). The average was three days longer than forty weeks in women with prior births.

Read More http://www.ivillage.com/when-baby-due/6-a-129259#ixzz1Zai0c4iD

OBGYN textbooks still teach 40 weeks, in spite of the facts. Hmmm…. So, it usually begins with induction of a baby that is not yet ready to be born. Once you are induced, the clock is ticking. The baby is under stress from a forced early labor, and when the baby shows any little sign of that distress, such as the heart rate not doing exactly what the textbook says, they insist you are endangering your baby if you don’t have a c-section. They shorten the amount of time that they will “allow” you to labor. The pitocin they gave you to induce labor causes extremely painful contractions, so women are urged to get an epidural. Epidurals slow labor down, so they increase your pitocin to speed things back up. The baby shows more signs of distress. You’re told that the baby is in danger because you are “failing to progress” quickly enough. You end up with a c-section and a drugged and stressed baby. Unless there were serious medical conditions necessitating that the baby be delivered, all of this happened because of an impatient doctor acting on an early 1800’s theory of a 40-week pregnancy. (Please note: In the case of a true medical problem, such as the placenta covering the cervix, I am very thankful for obstetricians and their training to provide c-sections. It is the unnecessary interventions that I take issue with.)
Since doctors and nurses are trained for handling problems, the odds are slim of a healthy woman with a healthy pregnancy being allowed to labor and birth her baby without medical intervention. They have all of that technology and most of them feel compelled to use it, which creates complications that they then get to swoop in and “fix”. Last time, my doctor was wonderful, but I have no guarantees about who will be on-call when I go into labor. I’m not interested in risking having a doctor that will be comparing my every little bit of progress to a textbook and jumping at the chance to induce because I’m “failing to progress” according to what his textbook says.
I know many women who would ask, “What’s the big deal? Why work so hard to avoid inductions and epidurals and c-sections?” Please understand that I am not judging women who have chosen these things, but I do believe that if they fully understood the possible outcomes of those choices, they would reconsider. I have yet to hear a story of a doctor fully disclosing the risks and side effects of the drugs used for these things, but I have heard countless women say, “they never warned me that this could happen”. Here’s the reality…
  • Pitocin: info from www.drugs.com
    • The following adverse reactions have been reported in the mother:
      Anaphylactic reaction Premature ventricular contractions
      Postpartum hemorrhage Pelvic hematoma
      Cardiac arrhythmia Subarachnoid hemorrhage
      Fatal afibrinogenemia Hypertensive episodes
      Nausea Rupture of the uterus

      Excessive dosage or hypersensitivity to the drug may result in uterine hypertonicity, spasm, tetanic contraction, or rupture of the uterus.

      The possibility of increased blood loss and afibrinogenemia should be kept in mind when administering the drug.

      Severe water intoxication with convulsions and coma has occurred, associated with a slow oxytocin infusion over a 24-hour period. Maternal death due to oxytocin-induced water intoxication has been reported.

      The following adverse reactions have been reported in the fetus or neonate: (that’s medical code for “baby”)

      Due to induced uterine motility: Due to use of oxytocin in the mother:
        Bradycardia   Low Apgar scores at five minutes
        Premature ventricular contractions and other arrhythmias   Neonatal jaundice
        Permanent CNS or brain damage   Neonatal retinal hemorrhage
        Fetal death
        Neonatal seizures have been reported with the use of Pitocin.
  • Epidural anesthesia using standard medication doses increases your risk of:
      • Having a prolonged labor. The average epidural labor takes an extra hour to deliver the baby.2
      • Having a drop in blood pressure (hypotension), which can lower your baby’s heart rate. This is why you receive fluids through an intravenous (IV) line beforehand and why you’re encouraged to lie on your side, which improves blood flow.
      • Being unable to feel your contractions and to push. This increases your risk of needing an assisted (forceps or vacuum) delivery and possibly your chance of needing a cesarean section you wouldn’t otherwise have needed.2
      • Having your baby move into the wrong position (malposition) because of slack pelvic muscles and a slack uterus. This increases your risk of needing an assisted (forceps or vacuum) delivery.
      • Having a seizure related to the medication.
    • After childbirth with an epidural, you may have:
    1. Back soreness at the catheter site during recovery.
    2. Severe, prolonged headache after delivery, when the spinal cord sheath has accidentally been punctured during the procedure. ( http://www.webmd.com/baby/should-i-use-epidural-anesthesia-during-childbirth ) (I have personally known of a couple of women who had severe headaches for six months!)
      (What they do NOT mention, is that women have had brain damage and death from spinal infections which were caused by the epidurals.)
  • C-Section:
    • Infection of the bladder or uterus
    • Injury to the urinary tract (I’ve known women who are still suffering decades after having a c-section)
    • Injury to the baby
    • Reactions to medications
    • Problems breathing
    • Bleeding
    • Blood clots in the leg or pelvic vein

    A C-section may also cause problems in future pregnancies. This includes a higher risk for:

    • Placenta previa
    • Placenta growing into the muscle of the uterus and has trouble separating after the baby is born (placenta accreta)
    • Uterine rupture

    And March of Dimes says the baby can experience these problems:

    • Some babies are affected by the drugs given to the mother for anesthesia during surgery. These medications make the woman numb so she can’t feel pain. But they may cause the baby to be inactive or sluggish.
    • Breathing problems: Even if they are full-term, babies born by c-section are more likely to have breathing problems than are babies who are delivered vaginally.
    • Women who have c-sections are less likely to breastfeed.
So, our choice is between risking having a doctor and risking not having one. I know that I am not willing to risk the complications caused by interventions in a healthy pregancy, so am I willing to risk an “emergency” without a doctor? I began to research those “just in case” situations that supposedly necessitate having babies in hospitals.
Part 3 coming soon…
Have you had a homebirth, or is it something that you might have considered, if you had known it was an option?

10 thoughts on “Why We’re Planning a Homebirth: Part 2

  1. Princess says:

    I had a c-section with my first child. I was in labor for hours and was told my 9 lb. 3 oz. baby was too big to be born naturally. I was induced.
    I was also induced with my second child almost 7 years later. He was 8 lbs. and I had a vaginal birth.
    I breastfed both my babies.

    I really wish I’d known then what I know now about natural birth at home. I think I would’ve been scared, though, about the risk if something went wrong at home.
    Still, I would’ve done research back then and may have chosen to have my babies at home.

    • I’m so sorry to hear that your first birth didn’t go how you wanted, but good for you for doing a VBAC and breastfeeding! 🙂 Those bigger babies can take a lot longer to come than the doctors are willing to wait. My first was 9 lb. 9 oz and I had back labor for 36 hours straight with her. Once she was born, the nurse weighed her and said to the doc, “No wonder it took so long! She’s a big girl!!” Since they induced you, though, maybe your baby just wasn’t ready to make an appearance. I think most doctors would have wanted to induce me since I was 11 days “late”, so I was very blessed to have a patient doctor.
      My next post in this series will be about the things that “might go wrong” with homebirths, which I hope will actually help reassure women who would be good candidates for having their babies at home. Of course, each situation is different, so not all women should be at home. There are some women who really should be in a birth center or hospital. 🙂

  2. Well, everything you say is true. I lived it. When my water broke with Annie and I didn’t go into labor, they told me I MUST have pitocin to start labor or infection could be an issue (later I found out that’s not a problem until MAYBE 24 hours after your water breaks). With pitocin, my contractions were unbearable, so I got an epidural. My labor went from 7am until 11:40pm that night when Annie was born. I was being pressed for a c-section because of a low heart rate. I was adamantly opposed. Thankfully, they listened.
    I will do things so much differently next time.
    No pitocin. “Pit to distress” is very really.

    • That sounds like a lot of moms I know, but most of them were too afraid of their doctors to say “no” to the c-section. Either that, or they were under the impression that they had no choice. I’m so glad that you were able to avoid the c-section!

  3. Holly says:

    My four dc were born at home. A lovely older lady at our church gave me the name of the midwife that her daughter used. I began doing some research and saw, as you have, that interventions were the hospital norm rather than letting the body work as God intended. I hope that you have a wonderful birth!!

  4. Kristen says:

    I had two wonderful home birth experiences with my daughters. My midwife is amazing. Very calm and quiet, so I learned by the second go round to know EXACTLY what I wanted. With our second I also progressed very quickly and didn’t realize I was so far along. My husband helped me do squats and we were able to get everything ready together. My midwife said she’d been thinking of me and decided to text (I was two days overdue). Though my contractions were strong they were also sporadic. When I told her I had to breathe thru them she started packing (thankfully she was only 30 minutes away) and made it here with just a few minutes to spare. This time I delivered in the tub and I’d totally do it again 🙂 I love my birth stories. I just get so happy and excited, and feel so blessed.

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