Medicine can soothe excruciating pain, CT scans can spot cancer early, and ultrasounds allow mothers to see and connect with their baby while they are still in the womb. These revolutionary advancements have helped many people and brought about much good. But medical professionals should not treat a natural human experience as a medical procedure.
Humans are the only animals that doubt their ability to give birth unassisted. Too many women have been told the lie that they are incapable of delivering their baby without medical assistance, even with a low-risk pregnancy. This misconception has led to skyrocketing birth trauma, It has become common, but it should be a rarity. The idea of a home birth is often scoffed at, but it offers many irreplaceable benefits.
Many women give birth in hospitals and have a beautiful experience — the doctors were accommodating and everything went smoothly. My own mother delivered all five of her children via Cesarean section in a hospital. Women should know about all of their birthing options, so they can make the decision that will be best for them and their baby.
According to PubMed Central, 45% of women experience birth trauma, and 98% of women in America give birth in hospitals. So, there is birth trauma occurring in hospitals, and it is important for women to know the risks of a hospital birth before they commit to it. Birth trauma can be caused by many things like a failed induction, over use of delivery drugs, or an unnecessary c‑section. Home births present the opportunity to give birth free of drugs, and a lessened chance of having a failed induction or c‑section.
When one is planning on a hospital birth, there is usually a certain timeline laid out, whereas a home birth fully depends on when the baby is ready. If a mother who plans to give birth in a hospital goes past her due date, she will most likely be induced. Although there are times when an induction is necessary for the safety of the baby and the mother, many times these inductions are performed before the baby is ready, which can lead to unnecessary c‑sections and more painful experiences in general. According to Mayo Clinic, 25% of first time inductions will fail and most times result in a c‑section.
An induction is usually performed when the mother has been pregnant for more than 40 weeks, but some are performed before this. However, “full term” really means about half of women will give birth before 40 weeks, and half after. Standard due date calculations come from an obstetrician in the 1800s named Franz Karl Naegele. This calculation starts with the first day of one’s last menstrual cycle, goes back three months, then adds one year and seven days. This calculation is based off the assumption that every woman has a 28-day menstrual cycle and ovulates on day 14 of their cycle. Since all women have differing or inconsistent cycles, the 40-week due date does not apply to all women. Back when Naegele came up with this rule, it was thought of more as a “guess date” rather than a strict eviction notice. But since our world is centered on conveniency and money, this 40-week “guess date” has turned into something it is not meant to be.
A home birth allows the baby to be born at the natural time, leading to a more comfortable birth and the lessened likelihood of medical intervention. There is also the comfort aspect of birth, which has a large impact on a mother’s ability to cope during delivery. If a mother is in a comfortable setting, she will have a much easier time giving birth. Mental readiness has the biggest effect on physical readiness, and if a mother does not feel comfortable, she will most likely experience more pain, or failure to progress, which will increase her chances of an induction or a c‑section.
Many claim that babies are more likely to die in a home birth since there is no doctor present and there are fewer resources available. Yet, according to a study reported by Reuters, the likelihood of a baby dying during a home birth is only 0.07% higher than a hospital birth. This study involved almost 16 million infants over the course of four years.
Not only does a home birth provide a more comfortable environment and less medical intervention, but it is also more affordable. According to parents.com, giving birth in a hospital can cost up to $11,000, and for a c‑section, the price can reach $14,500. This does not include extra costs if a complication arises during birth. For a couple having their first child or expanding their family, the last thing they should have to worry about is the price of delivery. The average cost of a home birth is about $6,000, according to parents.com. Of course this price varies depending on midwives and doulas, but it is almost half the price of a hospital birth regardless.
Hospital births can offer doctors and multiple nurses, which bring comfort and assurance to many women and may be worth the extra money. But, a home birth offers many irreplaceable elements in a different way. Midwives offer an abundance of knowledge about birth and the human body. There are also doulas, who offer emotional support and comfort. A home birth also offers something money cannot buy — to be in the presence of family and in an environment that is your own as you bring new life into the world to be the very first one to hold your baby and share a connection with them. To immediately get to be home with your child and not have to wait until the doctor releases you from the hospital.
Birth is something miraculous, no matter how it is performed. Whether it is via c‑section, naturally, or with an epidural, every birth is just as beautiful as the next. Mothers should be educated on all of the options available for birth, and they should not be told they are incapable of doing it on their own. It is an insult to doubt women’s capability of doing what they were created to do. Whether it be a home or a hospital birth, a mother should be comforted, listened to, and trusted that she knows what is best for her baby.