Monday, August 8, 2011

Safe at Home Pt. 2

Shortly after our experience with Warren's birth my sister-in-law and her husband announced that they were expecting and that they were planning on having a homebirth. My mind was reeling with questions. First of all, why would they attempt a homebirth with their first child? She didn't even know how she was going to labor or what might happen. How could that be at all safe?  I could only imagine a rustic woman coming out of the woods and showing up at their door completely unqualified to assist in any way.
They seemed pretty determined to persist on their course and even started explaining to me how they felt my C-section was not necessary.  Although they were planting small seeds of doubt that would later be irresistible to my drive to know how, why, and what could have gone differently, at the time I dismissed their comments as them just not truly understanding the situation we were in.
When my sister-in-law did have a healthy baby at home with no complications it was as if we all breathed a sigh of relief. Something similar to the feeling we would have had after hearing that she went bungie jumping but thankfully ended up just fine.  In our minds it was just a fortunate coincidence that she and the baby made it through unscathed.
However, before we entered our journey with #2 I had to figure out what my options were.  We had just moved to a city which we discovered was very opposed to VBACs even in the hospital.  By this point I was convinced that I wanted another shot at a normal delivery.  I started reading books on VBACs, homebirths and anything that would help us in this process. My husband and I also started attending a homebirth class taught by a midwife that attended our church.  Yes, I ended up reading my share of very hippie, earthy, free spirited books.  I couldn't necessarily argue with what they were saying but their lifestyles were so very different than mine that I certainly couldn't give the books to anyone else to read.  I did however, find one that changed my viewpoint entirely. That book was Ina Mays Guide to Childbirth. Ina May was the quintessential hippie of her time but she is extremely knowledgeable about birth and brought whole new insight to my formerly cynical perspective.
Initially my husband was extremely nervous about the idea of having our 2nd at home but when we started looking into our options we realized that was our only choice. There was no other way for us to have a chance at a normal delivery otherwise.
Shortly after our decision we found out we were expecting and broke the news to our family and friends that we would be using a midwife and having our baby at home instead of going to the hospital.
Reactions to this news were diverse but with some explaining we were able to alleviate some fears if not all of them.  The biggest reaction was the fear that I had had a C-section before. What if something went wrong?  What if my uterus ruptured?
I can't say that we were blind to these concerns. Of course we had asked ourselves those questions countless times before we made our decision. Would this really be safe?  What would we do if something really did happen? We had to be convinced that homebirth was our safest option before we would ever pursue it.
One of the most comforting things about homebirth to me and my husband was the fact that our midwife would be with me through the entire labor. We would not get that kind of attention in the hospital and we were convinced it was extremely important for me to have someone who would be so involved that they would know when and if something did go wrong.  The minimal amount of intervention was also something we knew we had to have.  Most of the uterine ruptures after C-section happened in hospitals when the formerly sectioned woman received pitocin or some other uterine stimulus (this is extremely dangerous to a woman who has had a C-section).

Since that time we have had 2 babies at home and are preparing for our 3rd homebirth in a few months.  People often say I am brave for having my babies at home. They assume I have an extremely high tolerance for pain or that my labors are not as hard as others. This is definitely not the case. With our 2nd baby we learned that I labor long and hard.  My labors for both babies have lasted more than 24 hours from the starting of more intense regular contractions and after my 3rd baby was born I was completely convinced that our family would have to stay at 3.  I could not imagine going through all of that again. I am certainly not brave and labor is extremely painful; however, there is nothing like having my babies at home.  It is safe. No one is pressuring me to follow a time clock, no one is suggesting that "we move things along". Instead my husband and I work together through the entire process. I could not do it without him.  We read Bible verses, go on walks, and work through it all together.
I'm not saying that homebirth is for everyone but it certainly is something that is worth looking into.  There is no harm in exploring all the options before bringing a life into this world even if in the end your decision is that the hospital is the best place.  I mostly write these things to encourage those who have had a c-section before, that it can be done.  You can have a normal, natural delivery with the rest of your children. My 1st baby was 6lbs and my "small" pelvis was able to deliver 2 8lb babies naturally with very little pushing.
I know this is a very sensitive subject but I am thankful for all the progress that has been made regarding homebirth within the last 4 years and I hope that natural birth continues to become the more trusted option in the future.


brite said...

Well said. We had the providential experience of having a hospital midwife tell us we would not be crazy to have our first at home, and she helped us get out of her office and transfer to the homebirth midwife...I'm not sure we would have felt so comfortable without that encouragement. BUT, now I'd encourage anyone who has been approved by a competent midwife to have their first at home! No regrets.

P.S. I would NEVER bungee jump.

Grace said...

Thanks for that, Mary! It was very encouraging, especially since Isaiah was also an 8lb baby and I know that I will probably have more big headed, 8 lb babies. When dealing with all of our insurance issues recently, my mother in-law was very concerned that we might get pregnant and not be covered for maternity costs so I had to break it to her that we are planning to have our next baby at home and she was VERY concerned about the fact that I have had a c-section. I tried explaining about how home births are so much safer for VBACs due to the lack of interventions and having the midwife with you constantly, but I don't know if she'll ever be comfortable with it until she has seen it happen.

I think my next read is going to be Spiritual Midwifery. I just saw that they have it at the Floyd library! Once you get past all the hippie stuff, you can see that Ina May Gaskin is VERY knowledgable about all aspects of childbirth.

Anonymous said...

He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, And carry them in His bosom,And gently lead those who are with young. Isaiah 40:11
A friend shared this verse, especially the last phrase, with me before my last was born. Such a comfort to Moms!