Freebirthing? My recommendation: Go with a home birth and a midwife…

Also in this morning’s paper was the article “No doctor, no midwife — women go it alone” on “freebirthing”. It is quite a heartwarming article–you feel for the mother after the medical interventions of the first two births. Child three was at a birthing centre with a midwife, but for child four they decided to go it alone at home–as the title of the article says–with “no doctor, no midwife”.

I know that homebirthing midwives are hard to come by and expensive these days. Put that down to a lack of vocational direction for young people who may be called to this profession and ridiculous insurance premiums for homebirthing midwives–but I think it is sensible to have at least an experienced midwife about the place for a home birth.

Both our girls are homebirthed in our bedroom–in a waterpool no less. Picture below taken a few minutes after Mia’s birth with Maddy and grandad present. For Maddy we had two midwives and a doctor on order–but she turned up so quickly that only the first midwife made it to the birth, and when the second one arrived she rang the doctor to say he wasn’t needed.

So for the second one we decided we would just go with the midwifes. All went well except that Mia didn’t start breathing straight away–she only took her first gasp when one of the midwives–growing concerned–took her out of the comfort and security of Cathy’s arms in the pool. But they had all the gear (oxygen etc.) there for an emergency, which meant that if any emergency had arisen, they would have been able to deal with most of the immediate dangers there at hand while waiting for medical backup.

(our two midwives)

Cathy and I can highly recommend the homebirth alternative (I was converted after Maddy’s birth–a little unsure before then). The only advantage I could see in total “freebirthing” is that you end up saving on the cost. But there are health insurance companies out there that cover home births (not many, but they’re there). Our experience has taught us to value the work of midwives and believe that it is probably sensible to have people of experience and sensitivity around to help if you can. Besides, they do all the immediate care for the baby required, and also give afterbirth care in the week following, help with breast feeding etc., and psychological support for both Mum and Dad.

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3 Responses to Freebirthing? My recommendation: Go with a home birth and a midwife…

  1. LYL says:

    Good for you!

    I would gladly go down the same path if I could do it all over again.

  2. Sammy says:

    I second the homebirth choice! I hope that our culture will begin to recognize midwifery care as an important health care option for women. I believe the first step is to make sure we are educating people about making informed choices and telling them about midwifery. Here is a great article with facts about midwifery care, you could probably email it to people you know so they will have information about midwifery.

  3. eulogos says:

    The accessability of homebirthing options varies greatly depending on where one lives. Many places in the United States there are no legal homebirth providers available; the few nurse midwives only deliver in hospitals under MD supervision. There are illegal home birth midwives who operate under the radar, whom you can find out about only by word of mouth networking, but they may not have access to oxygen tanks, methergine shots etc, may or may not be able to stitch tears if necessary. If you need to go into the hospital they cannot accompany you and provide continuity of care. This varies from state to state in the US; some states do have certified direct entry (non-nurse) midwives who do home births, and a few of them have begun to bill insurance companies successfully, but this situation is more the exception than the rule in the states. Most nurse midwives work in hospitals because this is what pays and this is what their professional organization supports.

    I myself could not get nurse midwifery care at home, even when nurse midwives were doing homebirths in my area, because I was high risk by their criteria since I had had a previous C section. I had one friend who had been to about 30 births with other providers assist at a birth, one direct entry midwife with a fair amount of training at another, and then my husband and I were alone for numbers 6, 7, and 8. I had a family practitioner who gave me prenatal care, was available for consultation over the phone, would have met me at the hospital had I needed transfer, and who came afterwards to examine me and the baby…and to draw blood to be crossmatched for my Rhogam shot, which he then took to the lab, and came back and gave me the shot. For my 9th, after I had moved, I finally had a nurse midwife whose covering MD figured that after all those successful homebirths I was a good risk and let her assist me.

    When I was involved with the homebirth movement back in the 70’s and 80’s, I thought that by now, it would be a norm. Instead the trend is to more intervention, more epidurals, more C sections. It is discouraging. And the number of women whose priority is “I don’t want to feel any pain, just give me that epidural” is discouraging.

    Susan Peterson

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