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Tuesday, 29 May 2012 09:53

Midwives and Doulas and Homebirths... Oh My!

Last night, I started watching a documentary called 'The Business of Being Born' which is an American commentary on their maternity healthcare system as well as the controversial topic of midwives and homebirths. 

I am Canadian, and although we are similar to the US in many ways, our healthcare system is quite different so much of the documentary wasn't really relevant to my situation and didn't warrant too much energy on my part - that is, I didn't feel the need to fact check because it didn't apply to me anyway.

Before our daughter was born, I had met a few people who had either had home births with midwives, or had gotten a doula involved in the birth of their child and found the idea rather interesting.  My husband and I come from different backgrounds and views here; my parents were slightly older than my husband's parents and more influenced by the 'Hippy' era of the 60's.  My husband's family is much more conservative, and when my husband uses the word 'Hippy', I find it a little offensive.  My husband's response to home births was that he didn't want to be stuck at home with 'some hippy' if something really serious were to go wrong.  I had no strong beliefs about it at the time, and in Canada it is completely free to go into the hospital to have a baby while it would cost us hundreds or even thousands of dollars to get a midwife, so I didn't even bother with discussing it.   Our healthcare system seemed fine, I really liked our OBGYN, and we certainly didn't need to be spending a ton of money on something unneccessary. 

After having my daughter in the hospital, however, my thoughts are a bit different.  Firstly, our OBGYN - who I love - was not on call the day we were brought in to the hospital, so it was another doctor who helped birth our daughter and I wasn't entirely confident I liked the way she handled things.  I would have loved to have had an entirely natural birth - except for maybe the epidural :) - but I was quickly induced for reasons that may or may not have been necessary.  Because I am not an educated medical professional, and have almost always trusted healthcare providers implicitly, I felt that I had no choice but to go along with the choices the doctor was making.  I may not have wanted to choose differently in the end - but because I wasn't given the option, I felt very out of control and confused.

If I knew for certain that a home birth was just as safe as a hospital birth, I can't get over how much more comfortable it would be to be in my own home - with my own music, with my daughter able to be there.  My husband is certain the risks would be too great, and maybe they are.  I have been following the 'Free Range Kids' blog lately, and am a believer that it is better for my kids to take the 0.002% chance that something terrible could happen to them if they are at the park unsupervised for half an hour than to take the 50% chance that they will not learn how to be confident and independent adults if I shelter them too much.  I feel like my husband's argument about 'what if something happens' is similar to over-panicking about that 0.002% chance.  Yes, there is a small chance that something serious could happen and if we're not at the hospital my life, or the life of the baby could be lost.  But there is also the chance that something could go wrong in the hospital.  And, I know from experience that there is a much greater percent chance that I will have an uncomfortable and forced labour and birth - again - if I go to the hospital and put myself at the mercy of the doctors. 

I have certainly not made a decision on this. I have promised my husband that I will not do anything that he is truly uncomfortable with, and I have begged him to consider the same for me.  I also don't have enough knowledge to make an informed decision, and fear that every study and statistic that supports either side of the argument is manipulated to do so. 

My husband wants hard facts and numbers, and ultimately I want something we can both be happy and comfortable with. Is there an answer to this dilemma?

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