I have written about home births before and I am going to write about it again.
One, I seem to behind the boat about New York Magazine‘s little narrative about home births. This is another reason why being subscribed to the print magazine doesn’t always cut it. I had missed several responses (not all negative, but some irrelevant) to the article, “Extreme Birth” which I had written about earlier (I think). The original article was published 3/30/09.
Then, October 22, 2009 there was a post on their blog, Daily Intel about Cara Mulhahn (the midwife interviewed in the original article, Extreme Birth and featured in the documentary, The Business of Being Born). She is being sued for the result of a stillborn birth. A lawsuit was filed by the couple who hired her against Ms. Mulhahn for “alleged malpractice, unauthorized practice, deceptive business practices, and false advertising.”
This is disappointing. This one tragedy may put off a lot of people from home births, thus tainting the whole movement. And the negative publicity is coming before have the details of the birthing experience. Was the couple forthcoming with their medical history so Ms. Mulhahn could help ‘Mommy’ make accurate choices? Why was the labor three days? Did the couple and Ms. Mulhahn follow their normal procedures? What was different about this birth? Not to mention, shouldn’t the couple have been doing all their routine prenatal care with an OB/GYN prior to the birth? The stillbirth could have been detected earlier. There are so many questions that need to be asked and answered before anyone can draw a conclusion about the merits of home birth. Furthermore, it would be unjust of us to extrapolate from one tragedy and condemn the entire practice of home births when the majority of them are very safe. What needs to be understood is that home birth is not for everyone.
Particularly frustrating is the lack of information, the misinformation, the internalized hatred and mistrust of our bodies that women support fervently surrounding alternative birthing practices. For instance, a family friend of mine is pregnant and thinking of home birth. She isn’t doing research and she is using someone with a poor track record. That frustrates and angers me. Also, the comments on these articles infuriate me. Many in favor of hospital births cite the risks involved. Again, no one in the movement is advocating to leave out medical treatment. In fact, a good midwife, which Ms. Mulhahn has attested to in the documentary, BOBB, recommends putting a doctor on standby in the event of an emergency during birth. She also recommends going through the prenatal treatment with your doctor in order to ascertain whether or not you will have complications during birth because a great deal of them can be seen beforehand. Again, this is about doing the research. This is not a one size fits all gig. One commenter implied that birth is not about the mother, but also about the child. To say this is to assume selfishness on the part of the mother. To assume selfishness to the point of putting the child at risk. There is not enough that can be said about that comment, other than its brimming with ignorance. The majority of European countries have midwives stationed in their hospitals attending 90% of their births. Our infant mortality rate is quite high as compared to other industrialized nations in Europe; facts no one wants to hear because the United States is rarely compared within a global context.
Even worse is the article in New York Magazine responding to the New York Times article about home births, asking why a woman in her right mind would want to have a home birth in New York City. This implies that if you embark on the wonderful journey of birthing outside the hospital that you are insane. She also equates living in New York City with materialism, an anti-nature viewpoint, and an evasive move so we may forget we are “fragile bags of blood, guts, and gore.” At this point, I had to think the writer was being facetious. And maybe she was. However, I don’t think so looking over the few articles that have been printed in the magazine which exclaim bewilderment and a more than hostile skepticism. Her comment has been dismissed in my mind for its utter absurdity.
For a completely different perspective from across the pond here is an article from The Guardian, click here.
Obviously, none of these women have done the research involved in order to be a viable candidate for home birth.
Worst of all, it seems these women are scared of the power contained within their bodies.
For more resources on home births:
I’m sure there are more that I’m missing, but have at it – support a woman’s choice in her birthing process.