Matt Ramsey, The Province
Published: Sunday, February 18, 2007
Some things -- like stripping naked, making breakfast and sipping coffee in the buff -- are better done at home.
Comfort and privacy, not to mention nonstop nude coffee action, are the primary reasons Euphemia and I are opting for a home birth assisted by midwives.
Now, if it's your desire to have a hospital birth, with or without midwives, then power to you. Whatever floats your boat on the amniotic sea is your business.
Unfortunately, domestic delivery for anything more than a pizza is often viewed with a skepticism bordering on reproach, which is why I find myself in a position potentially as hazardous as buck-naked bacon making -- Homestyle Defender.
Home birth is dirty, we are told, dangerous for mother and baby, you'll have to sterilize the house, boil the cats in bleach, etc., and even then you're taking a huge risk. It hurts too much to do it without drugs. Plus you'll annoy the neighbours. You're a crazy hippie, global warming is a myth and your mother dresses you funny.
Here is what a year-long study comparing outcomes between home and hospital births among B.C. women who were able to choose between the two found in 1999: nothing.
Fewer interventions during labour for home birthers, fewer maternal infections, fewer episiotomies and no significant differences in perinatal mortality. Oh, and because women who are able to birth at home typically stay there, homestyling is cheaper for the system, too.
The study concludes: "There was no increased maternal or neonatal risk associated with planned home birth under the care of a regulated midwife."
Studies in New Zealand, the U.K., U.S., Switzerland and the Netherlands have made similar conclusions -- home birth with qualified caregivers is as safe as birthing in a hospital. Just last week, another study showed women who choose caesarean section without medical justification face a five-fold risk of postpartum cardiac arrest over natural births and the wound infection rate was five times higher. The old-fashioned way, vaginal delivery, is actually safer than a C-section.
That may be surprising, but so are many accepted elements of birth we just assume are correct.
For example, lying down with feet up is the worst position imaginable for a labouring woman, like standing on your head and attempting a bowel movement. The beetle-on-the-back position grew popular only after Queen Victoria decided in the late 1800s that chloroform was precisely her cup of tea. Vicky huffed and puffed on the stuff while birthing so was naturally unable to stand up. The upper classes must have assumed she was on to something good, adopted the recumbent pose as fashionable and the rest is history.
Victoria also married her first cousin and claimed she smoked cigarettes to keep the flies away, but who doesn't?
Pregnancy is not an illness and we are not going to treat it as such. If we need to go to hospital to safeguard mother or baby's health then we will go and do whatever is needed. In the meantime, the coffee is on and the curtains are drawn at home -- where women gave birth long before there were hospitals.
Matt "Homey" Ramsey, whose wife Euphemia is due March 20, writes regularly about The Grub's impending birth in Unwind.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
A cool op/ed piece from up there. I had to include this!