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What's Really Keeping You From a Homebirth?

I want to know why more women don't choose homebirth.

I don't know many women outside of my little circle that do choose homebirth. Still, these women are highly educated women who seem aware of their options, and many have even elected to have natural births. So what is keeping them from wanting what I consider the “optimum” birth experience?

There are studies touting safety- check out the link to latest study showing homebirth is just as safe, if not safer than hospital birth- if that's the concern. There is all kind of support, if you look for it, and birth stories and birth videos to get a peek at what it might really be like. If you ask the right people in your community, you can find out who the homebirth midwives are and interview them, ask them about all your questions and concerns. But why aren't most women doing these things? Why do they just choose the default option, hospital birth?

So, if the “facts” about homebirth are convincing and available, it seems to me that women are choosing hospital birth from an emotional, instead of practical viewpoint. Women are more emotional it seems, at least compared to men, so this makes sense. What bothers me is that the “emotion” is fear.

Let me back up here. I am not fearless in the face of pregnancy and birth. But I am not fearful.

I view birth as something to be respected, not controlled. I respect birth as the miraculous process it is, but I fully recognize that it is not always what we want, need or hope it to be, and there are risks just as there are with anything in life. On the other side of life is death, and we must respect that. Because I respect birth, I do not and would not try to control it or relinquish the responsibility of my body or my baby to anyone else, regardless of the situation.

I think that choosing hospital birth is relinquishing this responsibility, and the sad fact is I think many women consciously choose this path over homebirth because the respect for birth is not there.

And ultimately, many women also do not want the responsibility that comes with birth.

You can't really rid yourself of this responsibility of course, but you certainly can transfer it, and this is my definition of hospital birth. But still I ask, why would any women want to transfer the responsibility of her own health and her baby's health to anyone else?

It really comes down to informed consent.

It's not about knowing it all, or tuning out information or a scenario you don't want to hear. It is about being provided all of the options and information, and making your own decisions and your own choice. And here lies the crucial difference between homebirth and hospital birth and also the reason I think most women choose the latter.

They don't know that informed consent exists, and ultimately they don't want to have to do the work to make their own choices and live with them. They choose “the doctor says” over what their body is telling them to do, and there is no worse place for that than in birth.

To put a positive spin on this dire situation, I challenge you to ask yourself a few really hard questions during your pregnancy that only you know the answer to. For many women, the way to a homebirth comes after soul-searching and connecting with the innate ability we all have to give birth naturally and with minimal interference.

How do I view birth? What experiences have I had that have influenced this view?

Deep down, do I feel like I need “help” in having a baby?

Am I willing to truly accept the responsibility that comes with being pregnant, giving birth, being a parent, even when and especially when I cannot control every aspect of these things?

Do I feel like I have to be socially acceptable in my birthing choices (often choosing hospital birth)? How important is it to me to make a choice that everyone else agrees with?

Watch birth videos, home and hospital. Close your eyes and visualize what you want for your baby. What do you see?

The greatest power we are given in pregnancy and birth is the ability to examine our fears and make conscious choices. When you think you have gotten to the bottom of it for yourself, tell me what you think.

Do you respect birth? Is fear holding you back from a homebirth? If not, what is? I'd like to hear your thoughts.

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