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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Home Delivery is for Pizzas

I was already in a bad mood yesterday. When I got to the grocery store, I happened to park next to a car with a bumper sticker that read, "Home delivery is for pizzas," with an image of a stork next to it. 
I wanted to blow a gasket. I searched female faces once I got in the store, wondering, "Was it her? Is it her car?", which is ridiculous, but still: I wanted to know who could possibly espouse such narrow-minded ideas. Surely, as a result of the great abortion debate, the mantra is, "Our bodies, our choice!", right? I guess only in certain situations. If you want to keep your baby, suddenly it's not your choice anymore what happens to your body or where and how you give birth. It's as if you've handed over all your rights to someone who suddenly knows your body better than you do. Lots of doctors (although not all, let's not lump everyone into that group, I suppose) use your baby as a weapon to coerce and pressure you.
While I've never had a homebirth, I was pretty darned close to the idea of one during my last pregnancy. I realize now it wouldn't have been the right choice for me (yay, two points for Dr. Congeniality and mom has to admit she is wrong!) but, had my child been in the birthing position, I was seriously considering going into labor on my own and having my friends at the local fire station attend their very first HVBAC. 
There are lots of reasons why someone might choose a homebirth: a terrible hospital experience, fear of being pushed into numerous unnecessary interventions, or wanting to birth in a natural place that was most comfortable to them. One look at the crazy ridiculous c-section rate in this country and I can totally understand, especially after having had two sections myself. I haven't met a doctor yet who doesn't see pregnancy and birth as a medical condition, a clinical process that has nothing to do with your mind and spirit as much as it has to do with your body being an amazing machine, really. They offer little support in the process and do more to tear you down than build you up. They could have witnessed thousands of successful births, but the minute you mention the words 'homebirth' or VBAC, they immediately start pulling out the horror stories to dissuade you from making a decision about your own body. Yes, it's important to know the risks - but more importantly, it's key to have support in your decision. 
I got online to read the statistics on the safety of homebirth, and once again was directed to the blog of Dr. Amy Tuteur, an OBGYN. While not discounting any of Dr. Tuteur's experiences, I couldn't believe the sheer arrogance expressed in her blog. She claims her site,, is for both supporters and opponents of homebirth. But it reads more like a bash session against homebirth and midwives than anything else, and supporters are probably few and far between. At one point, Dr. Tuteur actually says, in the comments section of her post "and they wonder why no one takes them seriously," that "midwives lack basic knowledge, and don't like what they find out when they do acquire basic knowledge." She goes on to say, "Midwives aren't knowledgeable, they don't like what knowledge shows them, and they place inordinate value on their own emotions."
Midwives aren't knowledgeable? What? Isn't that a bit of an overgeneralization? The certified nurse midwife who delivered my second child certainly seemed to know what she was doing. No woman, or midwife, should approach homebirth without a lack of knowledge. I also don't know many women who wake up at 39 weeks pregnant and say, "Oh, I think I'll have a homebirth!" Nor can I imagine a midwife who says, "Sure, let's do a homebirth! How hard can it possibly be?" You cannot approach a homebirth or VBAC without knowing the risks, and the facts - not the trumped up worries of a handful of people who think you're being selfish or dangerous. Tutuer is trying to separate the emotional from the clinical aspect of birth, and in my experience, you can't do it. You can't deny that birth is a very emotional, spiritual process, something that many cold, scientific doctors are unwilling to admit or lend credence to. If midwifery is not to be trusted, and midwives like Ina May Gaskin are so 'unknowledgeable,' then how do you explain her success rate
Whatever the case, yes, there are risks. But there are risks to doing everything: riding in your car, going for a walk outside, even having a fatal accident within the four walls of your own home. It's important to put this into perspective, rather than fall victim to scare tactics like the ones Dr. Tuteur has firmly seeded in the brains of women everywhere. The what if's that might never be suddenly take on a life of their own and completely overshadow everything else, and ultimately, there are risks involved that might be unavoidable, even in a controlled hospital setting. Because that's what it's ultimately all about: control, and how countless American obstetricians suffer from a God complex and are trying to control a process that is still not up to them. What she fails to mention is that women still do die during hospital births and after c-sections, even despite our wealth of knowledge and superior facilities. She also fails to mention that the intrusive and often unnecessary practices of her very cohorts are what drives many women to seek out a homebirth in the first place.