Home Sweet Home – Why More and More Women Are Opting For Home Birth

When you hear the phrase “home birth,” what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Old fashioned? Unsafe? Crazy? How about all natural, incredible, and safe? Each day, more and more American women are opting to give birth the old fashioned way – right from the comfort of their own homes. And the reasons for doing so are plentiful.

For starters, home birthing moms, midwives, and the like concur that pregnancy is not an illness; and labor is not a medical emergency; and therefore, neither should be treated as such, unless of course there are pre-existing medical problems for the mother and/or unborn fetus, in which case, the pregnancy would be treated as “high risk,” and home births would not be recommended.

Home is a comforting place to be, hence the reason why so many women and men feel comfortable having the birth of their child take place there as opposed to the cold, sterile hospital. In addition to home births, there are many people who, through online medical consultation or telehealth services, are being treated for an array of medical conditions from their homes as well. Online doctor consultation services are available from home, or anywhere remotely where Internet access is available, and offer online prescription refills, doctors’ excuses for work and school, and more.

Going Au Natural

Giving birth is one of the most natural occurrences in the world – so why are so many pregnant women treated as though pregnancy and labor are medical conditions? With all of the advancements that have come from scientific discoveries and experiments conducted in the past few decades, medical science has still not been able to improve the human body and the way it is designed to work. However, when our bodies are not functioning as nature intended them to, we are more fortunate than generations past in that modern medical science can work wonders.

In the majority of cases, pregnancy and childbirth are normal functions of a healthy body – not a potential life-and-death crisis that requires the assistance of a surgeon. It is for this particular reason that home births, and online doctor consultations, are on the rise.

Only a small percentage of pregnancies bear risks, and ultimately will require the skills of an obstetrician/gynecologist and usage of high-technology equipment (ultrasound, fetal monitors, etc.) in order for the mother and/or the baby to survive childbirth without long-term ill effects.

The U.S. Has One of the Highest Neonatal Mortality Rates in the World

In 1989, the recorded neonatal mortality rate for the United States was slightly more than 10 per 1,000 live births. Ironic, considering that the U.S. has the most highly sophisticated and expensive maternity care systems in the world, yet, in that same year, 20 other countries (with significantly less technology) had more babies survive their first months of life than babies in the U.S.

Why is this? It is likely due to the fact that these 20 countries, which fared far better than the U.S. in terms of neonatal mortality rates, use midwives as the primary caregivers for healthy women during their pregnancies and births.

Considering the statistics before them, the World Health Organization consistently urges the United States to return to a midwife-based system of maternity care in order to reduce high neonatal mortality rates. Physicians, in spite of advanced training and surgical specialties, have never been proven to provide better pregnancy and childbirth care than midwives. Moreover, no research has concluded that hospitals are the safest places in which to give birth for normal, low-risk pregnancies. In fact, respiratory distress among newborns was 17 times higher in the hospital than in the home. Not only that, but the United States has the highest obstetrical intervention rates, as well as an alarming problem with malpractice suits.

Testifying before the U.S. Commission to Prevent Infant Mortality was Marsden Wagner MD, European Director of the World Health Organization, who suggested the need in the United States for a “strong, independent midwifery profession as a counterbalance to the obstetrical profession in preventing excessive interventions in the normal birth process.”

Homebirths are Safe

Myth – Hospital births are safer.
There have been numerous studies done that have compared hospital and out-of-hospital births, all of which have indicated fewer deaths, injuries, and infections for homebirths supervised by a trained attendant (such as a midwife) than for hospital births. There have been no studies that conclude hospitals have better outcomes than homebirths.

Standing out among the studies is a six-year one conducted by the Texas Department of Health for the years 1983-1989, which revealed that the infant mortality rate for certified nurse midwives was 1 per 1,000; and non-nurse midwives attending homebirths was 1.9 per 1,000; compared with the doctors’ rate of 5.7 per 1,000.

Midwives are Trained Professionals

Myth – A pregnant woman gets more professional attention in a hospital than she does at home.

In addition to being trained pregnancy and childbirth professionals, midwives offer pregnant women more time, care, and attention than the standard medical office or hospital visits. In the hospital, obstetricians rely on machinery and others for information, and appear in the room with the pregnant women for typically only the last part of her visit. Most (and not all – as there are plenty of physicians, such as those offering online medical consultations, who encourage natural birth practices) physicians do not build a relationship founded on support with their patient; nor do they offer much encouragement on giving birth naturally.

On a daily basis, an increasing number of childbearing women are finding solace with the care of midwives, as opposed to the cold, clinical atmosphere of hospital birthing wards. In response, many hospitals are now leaning towards making their sterile environments feel more like “home” for the patient. Most of the hospitals now allow women’s partners into labor and delivery rooms, as well as accept the presence of a professional labor coach, or doula.

But, even with this, many women are opting to engage in the natural act of giving birth right in their own home – as they feel childbirth does not belong in a clinical environment when all is well with the pregnancy. Statistics show that home births that are planned with a trained attendant have positive outcomes. Home births with untrained attendants or no attendants at all have less positive outcomes; therefore, those who are planning home births are recommended to have attendants, such as certified nurse midwife, there to assist/deliver the baby.

In addition to childbearing mothers, people of all backgrounds are electing to be treated from home by utilizing online doctor consultation and prescription services – available immediately from their home or remote computer, eliminating the need for in-person doctor visits.

What is Midwifery?

Midwifery consists of a system of wellness and natural care given by professional midwives to women and infants during the childbearing year. In several countries around the world, midwives are the primary care givers in maternity systems with significantly better neonatal mortality rates than that of the U.S.

Midwives are trained to be on alert for deviations from health throughout a woman’s pregnancy and labor, and will refer their clients to a physician if necessary. While prenatal visits to an obstetrician’s office typically involve long waiting periods before even seeing the doctor or nurse for a brief checkup, visits with midwives are generally relaxed, friendly, and last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. During this time, midwives examine the women by taking the both the mother and baby’s heart rates, collect specimens for the laboratory, check high blood pressure rate and weight, as well as teach the benefits of proper nutrition, exercise, hazards to avoid, and how to prepare for a natural birth. Additionally, the midwife watches for any signs of fetal distress, and are equipped with the proper medical equipment for home births such as oxygen equipment.