When I tell people that I had a homebirth I usually get a very positive response. Usually, people say something like….”That is great. You are amazing" or "I could never do that.”
I really didn’t do anything amazing. Women’s bodies are designed to give birth and the vast majority of the time, it all happens perfectly.
Before I was pregnant, my sister had told me about a midwife that attended homebirths in the area. I wasn’t really interested. With my previous birth (at Northside Hospital in Atlanta) I had planned to have a birth without medications. However, after hearing from nearly everyone that the pain would be unbearable and exhausting, I had considered that I may not follow my birth plan. My active labor lasted 3 hours and I pushed for 2 contractions – there was no time for pain medication and it never even crossed my mind. The hospital didn’t even have time to offer anything.
Now, that I was pregnant again, I was confidant I could handle labor on my own. I wanted to find an OB that would not intervene unless medically necessary– instead just let me have the baby. I started calling around with a few questions – What is your C-Section rate? How often do you do an episiotomy? Do you require an IV? I thought these questions would give me an idea of the OB’s philosophy and willingness to work with “opinionated” mothers. None of the OBs would even answer my questions. Each suggested I make an appointment. This irritated me. I felt like… already, they were uninterested in treating me with respect and care. I asked around if anyone knew an OB that was supportive of natural childbirth – none.
I did get the name Ranata Hillman from a lactation consultant on the coast. I searched online and found her website. After a long phone conversation, I was considering the idea of homebirth.
I started searching online and reading books. I watched the movie “The Business of Being Born.” I learned a few facts that helped me make my decision. America is not good at delivering babies – we rank 45th in Infant Mortality Rate (not quite as safe as Cuba) according to the CIA World Factbook. Also, It is generally accepted knowledge that 12% C-Section rate is ideal, any more than that, and the risk to mother and baby actually increases instead of decreases. In many hospitals, the C-section rate is 35% to 40%. As I said, none of the OBs I called would tell me their C-section rate, neither would the hospital.
Giving birth at home is nice because you do not have to travel to the hospital while you are in labor and then recover in a hospital room. However, being “at home” is not the primary factor, in my opinion. More important is the professionalism and quality of care. I belived that the quality of care was inferior at the hospital. I believe that the ideal situation is to receive the same fantastic care I received that is supportive of the natural process of childbirth in a comfortable setting that can also provide the medical facilities & equipment that are sometimes needed. We simply don’t have that option. So, Renata Hillman at my house was the healthiest, safest option I had available for me and my baby.
During my labor, Caprie’s head was not positioned ideally for labor. This is called “Deep Transverse Arrest” or “Occiput Transverse.” Obviously, I am not trained in childbirth, but I did some research online. From what I understand, she engaged in the right position, but did not make the needed turn. The reason this happens is unknown – possibly the shape of my pelvis. If I had been in a hospital with this situation, I would have VERY likely not have been able to deliver vaginally. At 6am, when I was fully dilated, I would have been told to start pushing – most likely for counts of 10, while laying in bed, with my knees being held up. I probably would have pushed for hours before being told, “The baby is stuck” or “The baby won’t fit.” That type of pushing could have been painful and exhausting and stressful for the baby. The OB may have tried to turn her with forceps, but few doctors attempt this. Most likely, she would have been born via C-section. Re-positioning me on my hands and knees, in order to get the baby to turn is simply unheard of in the medical world. My birth and recovery would have been totally different in the hospital.
C-sections seem so common place, you may think – “no big deal” but it is a huge deal. It is one of the few invasive surgeries that is still performed. With a C-section, the risk to the mother and baby increase dramatically. If you want to learn more about these risks, I recommend the book, “Pushed” by Jennifer Block.
I feel so fortunate that I had a skilled midwife that had the knowledge to bring Caprie safely into this world.