Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Okay. Deep breath.
As most of you know from my post about Birth Story, my second child is due the first week of January. As with my last baby, I am planning and hoping to have a home birth with a midwife.

When I tell people I am planning a home birth the typical responses are "You're crazy!" "Wow, you're brave!" or "I'll pray for you."  While I know these are well-meaning sentiments, I smile politely and typically walk away in utter disbelief. I am not jumping out of an airplane with no pack. Giving birth is not an extreme sport. When did I become the freak for wanting to deliver my baby in a normal, natural, human way?

First of all I have to express that to me, personally, "home birth" and "natural birth" are kind of the same thing.  In some cases it is feasible to have a natural birth outside of your home and it is also totally feasible to have a home birth with interventions--drug or otherwise --but it is not the norm. Right now, generally, there is a big line right down the middle...the hospital system and the midwifery system.

Like so many things in our culture, we blindly believe that because something is the norm, it is the best and safest thing to do. Eating fast food several times a week is a cultural norm. Drinking 4 or more alcoholic beverages per week is a cultural norm. Not exercising and watching a whole season of Breaking Bad in one shot is a cultural norm. Does that make it the best thing for us?

Perhaps if I had said " Hi, I'm having a natural birth in a hospital", most people would shrug at my over-share and congratulate me?  Perhaps it's the "home birth" part that is shocking? What really floors me is that there is nothing natural about the way the majority of births are happening in our hospitals and this has become our cultural norm.

It is pretty much widely accepted among most Americans that pregnant women shouldn't drink, have sushi, eat unpasteurized cheese, or be exposed to cigarette smoke, yet it is considered completely normal to be rushed into a hospital with a bunch of strangers, be de-robed, strapped to a bed, be denied food and water, and hooked up to Pitocin, Cytyotec, epidural, magnesium, ultrasound waves and god knows what else. 

Can we stop for a second and maybe even consider that THAT is not normal, natural, or best for any pregnant woman--who, by the way, is already scared shitless out of her mind because she is about to squeeze a person out of her body and then--be a parent 5 seconds later?! Can we maybe possibly, for a second consider that this is not the best thing for a newborn infant who is about to come out of the nice little, safe, toxin-free womb it's been in during its entire existence? Can we consider that before labeling me the "crazy one?"

A question I often get asked is, "What if something goes wrong?" Now, that is a valid question that I can address, but first I have to ask, when did it become the norm and or belief to think that something is always WRONG in pregnancy?? Giving birth is not a medical emergency! It is not an injury or a heart attack and when did everyone start believing that women can't give birth and that complications are the norm. They are NOT the norm. The statistics show that the majority of complications come from interventions in the natural process. This is proven, factual information. Mayo, W.H.O, Wiki, whatever your source of absolute health knowledge is--look it up!

Now, back to that "what if" question. . . Complications typically do not arise spontaneously out of nowhere on the day of your labor.  The whole point of choosing the midwifery system is that you have a personal, attentive, prenatal caregiver who is paying attention to what is going on with every aspect of your pregnant body and baby.  Does your OB do that? My midwife knows EVERYTHING about me often including my emotional state. We have a personal relationship and her intuition when something is amiss has never been wrong--through two pregnancies.When I developed complications in my last pregnancy, there were signs at the beginning of my third trimester. She trusted her gut and sent me in for observations immediately. By 34 weeks I was on blood pressure meds and by 36, I had a baby girl. It is not the screaming, bloody, emergent rush to the hospital we all think it is from watching too much Grey's Anatomy, and it is not last minute.

It needs to be said and I will say it over and over again--I am not trying to bash any woman who has her baby in a hospital. There are women who are truly high-risk and need the kinds of interventions that are available. I am not bashing hospital professionals, OBs, or women who have c-sections. I had a c-section! Perhaps you would think that it would have somehow scared me into thinking that I need to have another one, and that home birth is too risky with my history, but it is the opposite. That experience solidified for me even more just how seriously fucked up our birth culture is--and spurred me to take a more active role in this pregnancy.

When I say at the beginning of this post that I am planning and hoping to have a home birth, it's because as much as I 100% believe this is the right decision for me, I learned from my last pregnancy that you can't control how its going to go in the end. I don't know it all. A huge amount of outside factors affected my last pregnancy and I will be sharing that story next time.  Do I think I could have changed the outcome of my last birth if I were more informed--I can't be certain, but I think so. 

Why am I planning a home birth? Because I got INFORMED. That's all I want to do with these posts.. I want people to get informed..find out the truth, and look in the Kool-aid before they just drink it.  Just because its become common doesn't mean it's good for you and what's happening to birth in our culture is a travesty.

Do 30% of our pregnant women need to have their babies surgically removed from their bodies?
It's the norm.

PS. Join the discussion.. but keep comments informed and respectful.

For more information on home birth, birth culture, downloads, and other resources visit:

Netflix also has the "business..." series available for streaming! A great documentary even if you're not pregnant.


Sara Petit-McClure said...

Great Post Rachel!

Jessie said...

Yay! Good luck to you guys! I'm so excited you are going to take another go at this and you have such an awesome midwife ;) Home births are the best. My mom had three of her four kids at home and I had my son at home; we both had totally safe and positive experiences. The best part is having the support of all your loves so close and the empowerment of knowing you're in charge. Can't wait to meet the little bugger!

Emily said...

I did not have home births, but I did both of my babies naturally (they are now teenagers). And can I tell you....out of the 10 people in our Bradley Method classes, I was the only one not interested in a home birth. But, I did find a Dr. who was respectful of my desire to use no drugs or epidural. I learned exactly what was going to happen to my body during the birth experience, and that reduced so many fears. I'm with ya. Often problems resolve with all of the intervention. I commend you for doing it the way you want to do it. And, I respect the way others want to do it too. Wishing you the best.

Rachel Anderson said...

Thanks for sharing everyone!! Emily, that is a great perspective. Let's hope that enough women get informed enough on this topic prior to their birth and speak up--that it becomes the norm for all doctors to respect their wishes instead of having to search to find one! R