7 Myths About Home BirthLauren Hartmann
Have you ever seen that Jim Gaffigan standup rouine about home birth? “Oh! You had your baby at home? We were gonna do that, but we wanted our baby to live.” It’s a pretty hilarious bit about some of the misconceptions surrounding home birth (factoid: Gaffigan’s wife had all five of their children at home!). I love that it’s simultaneously informative and entertaining, because there really are a lot of myths surrounding home birth.
I’m lucky enough to live in Portland, Oregon, where home birth isn’t as off the beaten path as it might be elsewhere, but there are still many myths and misconceptions about it and I wanted to dispel a few of them. Here are just a few of the most common myths I’ve encountered–and why they’re just not true.
Myth #1: Home birth is for hippies 1 of 7Not true! Home birth is for women who are looking to take control of their births and who are looking for a gentle and natural experience. Home birth isn't for everyone, but it's a great option for those who are interested in a more natural approach and who want to be active participants in the birth experience. I, myself, am definitely not the type of person you would expect to be a "home birther," which just goes to show that home birth doesn't fit a specific mold. You can still rock high heels and have a home birth.
Myth #2: Midwives are not medically-trained 2 of 7Midwives are medically trained. They go through rigorous training and apprenticeships before they can become licensed midwives. Often midwives are confused with birth doulas, who serve as more of a birth partner and who are there for emotional support and as an advocate during labor and delivery. Doulas may be very well educated about birth, but they do not go through the same type of intense training that midwives do and they do not have the same expertise.
Myth #3: Home births are more risky than hospital births 3 of 7Studies have shown that home birth is not less safe than hospital birth. In fact, some countries with the lowest infant mortality rates are those who have much higher incidences of home births (i.e. the Netherlands where the home birth rate is about 30%). Yes. Babies do die at home births sometimes, but babies die at hospital births, too. Every option has its risks--and rewards.Photo by Lisa Warninger
Myth #4: Home birth is too expensive 4 of 7Home birth can actually be less expensive than hospital births and many insurance companies cover home birth as long as your midwife is one of their listed care providers. For us, even though our insurance won't cover our home birth, it was actually about the same cost for us to pay for a home birth out-of-pocket vs. the cost of a hospital birth with our deductible. Home birth can be a very affordable option for families with less than stellar insurance.
Myth #5: You will receive better care at a hospital 5 of 7As someone who has experienced both care models (the midwifery care model and the medical care model), I can confidently say that the care I have received from midwives out of hospital has been far better than the care I received in the hospital. Doctors and hospitals focus tend to focus on managing problems and complications and routinized care, whereas midwives tend to focus on health and wellness and individualized care. Every appointment I had with my doctor in a hospital setting lasted no more than 12 minutes (I timed it) and I always felt like they were just checking for "problems" instead of finding out how to make my pregnancy a positive experience. My midwife appointments, on the other hand, typically last about an hour and allow me to get to know my care providers throughout the course of my prenatal visits and develop and trusting relationship. They also ask plenty of questions along the way. Doctors can be great, too, but to say that the care they give is better just because they are doctors simply isn't true.
Myth #6: You will be unprepared for emergencies 6 of 7Obviously, midwives are not equipped to perform emergency C-sections, but they do come equipped with emergency tools and procedures. Most midwives carry fetal monitors, oxygen, neonatal resuscitation equipment, IV and suctioning equipment, suturing supplies, local anesthetics and a variety of other drugs including those for hemorrhaging.
Myth #7: Hospitals are the most sanitary place for having a baby 7 of 7
According to a study by the CDC, there were over 98,000 deaths from healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) in 2002 and the total number of those who acquired HAIs was 1.7 million. This does not mean you will get sick just because you have a baby at the hospital (most people don't!), but it does mean that hospitals are not necessarily more sanitary than your own home.
Lauren Hartmann is the founder of The Little Things We Do, a blog about life and adventures in Portland Oregon. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram or catch up on all of her posts here on Babble.
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