The Right to Home Birth
Women have been giving birth since the beginning of human existence, often unassisted, definitely without medical help. It was not until the 1920’s that hospital births were the standard here in America. Before this, birth had always been a female process; mothers were assisted by midwives, women who had the mothers’ best interests in mind. When hospital birthing was introduced, women were entranced by the pain-free medical approach that doctors had to offer (Cohen). What they didn’t realize was that they were giving up their freedom, comfort, and control. Home births can be given at home assisted by midwives or unassisted. It is illegal in almost all states for a woman to give birth at home unassisted. In fifteen states, it is still illegal for a midwife to be the only presence at a birth. These laws either prevent certified midwives to assist with the birth, or even prevent midwives from getting certified (O’Connor). Home birthing with a midwife is a safe, if not safer, alternative to hospital birthing, and should be a legal and supported choice for women in the United States. Some argue that it is unsafe for women to give birth in any setting other than a hospital, where a qualified team of doctors is present in case of any complications. Despite the common misconception that hospitals are safe, and doctors are the only people fully qualified to assist a women with the birthing process, fatalities occur just as often in hospitals as at home, and more babies are born with complications in hospitals than in homes. In fact, births that occurred at home need less medical intervention. According to Debora Boucher in the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health, “Listening to Mothers II (LTM-II), a national US survey of women's childbearing experiences, found that interventions have become routine in hospital settings, including electronic fetal monitoring (94%), medications for pain relief (86%), and epidural analgesia for vaginal deliveries (71%). Nearly one-third of hospital births in 2005 were cesarean deliveries.” These unnecessary interventions, which most commonly take place in the hospital, often cause problems such as respiratory distress in the newborn infants. In fact, it has been found that respiratory distress among newborns is 17 times higher in the hospital than in the home (Tipton). While hospitals are much safer places for women with high-risk or complicated pregnancies to give birth, for low-risk, normal pregnancies, giving birth at home is not dangerous, and can actually save a baby from complications and distress. At home, a woman has a midwife, a specialist in natural vaginal birth, who has been there throughout the pregnancy and truly knows the woman and all about her pregnancy. In a hospital, women are often cared for by unknown labor and delivery nurses whose only knowledge of the pregnancy is what is on the medical charts and an obstetrician, a surgical specialist. Some argue that in case a surgery is needed, having only a midwife present is not enough. I agree that midwives are not as qualified to deal with complications as trained doctors are; many would not be able to perform a Cesarean if necessary. But women are able to have a back-up plan to transfer to a hospital, a plan that allows them to receive the correct medical help, a plan that rarely leads to fatalities. And, because midwives do specialize in natural birth, they focus on avoiding unnecessary Cesareans. And more often than not they succeed. Approximately three to four percent of low-risk births at home result in a Cesarean. Nineteen percent of low-risk births in a hospital result in a Cesarean (“Midwifery Care”). Midwives are able to give undivided attention to mothers as they are giving birth. It is this undivided attention that prevents complications, which often lead to interventions. Midwives focus on a healthy birth, beginning at pregnancy. Midwives usually have routine check-ups throughout...
Cited: Boucher, Debora . "Staying Home to Give Birth: Why Women in the United States Choose Home Birth." Journal of Midwifery and Women 's Health 54.2 (2009): 119-126. Print.
Breed, Amie . Personal interview. 10 Nov. 2009.
Cohen, Jill. "The Homebirth Choice." Midwifery Today - Pregnancy, Birth, Homebirth and Midwife Information. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2009. .
"VBAC Facts: Why Homebirth/ HBAC?." VBAC Facts . N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2009.
O 'Connor, Tanya . "NURSEWEEK: Midwifery still illegal in some states." Nurse.com | Nursing News, Nursing Jobs, Nurse Continuing Education, Nurse Community. N.p., 31 Oct. 2000. Web. 16 Nov. 2009. .
"Out-of-Hospital Midwifery Care: Much Lower Rates of Cesarean Sections for Low-Risk Women." Citizens for Midwifery. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 1990. .
Tipton, Janet . "Is Homebirth for You?." Main Index for gentlebirth.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2009. .
Please join StudyMode to read the full document