Most people think choosing a homebirth means sitting in a pool of your own fluids while waiting for a midwife to arrive with a bottle of vodka and a towel to bite on. As interesting as having a care provider that moonlights as a sorcerer would be, that’s just not what having a homebirth looks like. The following are the top misconceptions of homebirth and the truth about what really goes on.

Myth #1

What if there’s an emergency! Something terrible could happen.

Despite the fact that we have been conditioned to believe that birth is scary and dangerous, it is not. 95-97% of all births go smoothly.

My midwives didn’t come with a witch’s broom and a magic ball, they came with an oxygen tank, Pitocin—amongst other drugs—and a Doppler for hearing baby’s heart rate.

Midwives also weed out any high risk clients during prenatal visits. In the event that any out of the ordinary situations arise during labor—elevated blood pressure, meconium in the amniotic fluid, transverse baby, fetal distress or any other indication of something going wrong—they transfer to the local hospital.

If you think that is still too risky realize that usually homebirths transfer to hospitals within 5 to 30 minutes away and call in advance to have a surgery room prepared. Any idea what the average wait for an emergency c-section is when in the hospital? A little under an hour.

It’s true that sometimes bad things happen but that is true at home just as much as it is in the hospital.

Myth #2

Home births are irresponsible because they are a danger to both mother and baby.

You’re not going to believe this because you just don’t want to believe it. Studies show homebirths are actually just as safe or safer for mother and baby. That’s right, I said ‘or safer’.

A Canadian study in 2000 surveyed 5418 homebirths performed by Certified Professional Midwives and concluded that these births were associated with significantly lower percentages of intervention (3.7% c-section rate as compared to the national average of 30-50%). This same study purports that mother and baby mortality rates are exactly the same as mortality rates for low risk births performed in a hospital.

Another study from the Netherlands featuring 530,000 homebirths found no difference in birth rates for mother and baby as compared to hospital births.

Add to this the reality that mortality rates for mother and baby are actually increasing in hospitals. The United States has maternal death rates similar to such first world countries as Uganda. Now, that’s scary.

So, there you have it. It is not less safe at home. Don’t trust me, I’m a fun-loving homebirthing hippie, trust the facts.

7353090110_d63a80cde9_mMyth #3

Only hippies have home births.

Actually home birth has been growing in popularity predominantly in the more affluent societies not in the tree-hugging ones.

Different kinds of people choose homebirth for different reasons. You can watch the ‘Business of Being Born’ for some examples and even check out their sequel ‘More Business of Being Born’, for some celebrity homebirth stories.

Maybe if Kim Kardashian or Angelina Jolie had a homebirth people would be more ok with it…

Myth #4

Home births are messy. How did you get the stains out of your couch after that?!

A friend came by my house an hour after I had had my homebirth and was shocked to see the place was immaculate. No sign of a blood bath or placentas indiscriminately placed in sight.

First of all, birth is messy. Just like your period is. But, I imagine most of us don’t sit in our own filth, we know how to keep clean discretely. In the same way, nurses, midwives and doulas know how to keep the mess under control.

In my case the beds were all lined with plastic and then covered with sheets bought to be thrown away. The midwives were great at placing chuck pads anywhere I might be. The truth is, they did such a good job of cleaning up I never saw any blood at all. They even took the garbage out with them when they left!

Maybe I’ll hire them for regular trash duty.

Myth #6

Hospitals are cleaner.

Well I guess if like a hospital you use your house as a breeding ground for the sick and dying then perhaps that is true. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be so sure.

Germs are everywhere. The difference between those in your house and at the hospital is that the germs in your house are ones you are regularly exposed to while the hospital germs are unknown to your immune system.

Statistically, giving birth at home reduces the risk of infection for both baby and mother.

 

Myth #7

But people used to die from birth, do you really want to revert to those times?

People seem to want to connect the fact that ‘back in the old days’ people gave birth at home and the fact that maternal death was also very high. The high death rates, though, had less to do with home birth and more to do with nutrition and sanitation.

Two major causes of maternal death used to be childbed fever and ‘The Doctor’s Plague’ two diseases causes by doctor’s introducing bacteria into the woman from dirty unclean hands.

Additionally, there was no diagnostic testing back then meaning that undiagnosed health problems were left unnoticed. Today, midwives have tests, sonograms and other measures that can test for health problems that would make homebirth as an ideal option.

Midwives don’t just take anyone without examining all factors to determine whether this is indeed a low risk birth.

The clear proof that homebirth was not the cause of maternal death is that we simply don’t have those homebirth statistics today.

 

So, if you stop me on the street and I care to share my birth preferences with you try not to act horrified and instead read this blog.