Wednesday, August 24, 2011

On Birth

One of the many major decisions when bringing a child into this world is the choice of how and where to labor and give birth. There is a lot of information out there, which is fabulous, as I am a big advocate of making informed and educated decisions, but at the same time there is an abundance of misinformation and fear surrounding birth in this country. Clint and I have been researching and discussing our options since the day we found out about our little one, and we have made the decision to have a natural, unmedicated, home birth. (Here's a great, short article from Midwifery Today called The Miracle of Homebirth that nicely sums up some of my thoughts behind making this decision.)

Here are some statistics surrounding our decision for a home birth:
  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2000 the US ranked 31st in the world in maternal death rates.
  • In 2005 the US ranked 41st for infant mortality rates, and continues to drop.
  • In a survey done in 2002, 44% of mothers reported that their caregiver tried to induce labor, oftentimes for non-medical reasons. In first time mothers, induction increases the risk of cesarean by 40%.
  • The WHO has declared that a 15% cesarean rate is the maximum acceptable rate in any country. The American rate is roughly 1 in 3. Some of the potential problems associated with cesareans include: injury to maternal bladder or bowls; extension of the uterine incision into arteries, cervix, or vagina; dense adhesions from previous surgery; hemorrhage from placental implantation site; uterine rupture; endomyometritis; and wound infection.
  • The National Institute of Health (NIH) states that maternal morbidity is 5-10 times higher with cesarean births, and mortality rates are 4 times higher.
  • A study done by Johnson and Daviss in 2005 found the following results: Compared with a relatively low risk hospital group, intended home births were associated with lower rates of electronic fetal monitoring (9.6% versus 84.3%), episiotomy (2.1% versus 33.0%), caesarean section (3.7% versus 19.0%), and vacuum extraction (0.6% versus 5.5%).

There are many many more statistics out there, all along the same lines as those above, but I think (hope) you get the idea. Home birth is safer than hospital birth for low-risk women and babies, and I thankfully fall into that category. Even in light of all of those wonderful facts, I understand that our decision is still considered abnormal and possibly even irresponsible to some in our culture. I appreciate well-intentioned concern from family and friends for my and the baby's safety. But in the end it's our decision, and ours alone, and our final decision is to have a home birth. Because that's finalized, support and encouragement from our friends and family is what is most needed now, and I'm thankful for all the wonderful people in our life who will do and are doing just that!

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