I Had A Successful Home Birth, But I Don’t Plan On Having Another

childbirthI’m one of those crazy moms who had a home birth with a lay-midwife. I suppose what makes me even crazier is that I did this for my first child. Most home birthers I know choose it as an alternative after having a disappointing hospital birth experience. Plus, having a home birth takes some degree of guts, and it makes sense that a second-timer would be feeling a little more confident about giving birth sans hospital than a first timer. It’s also common for home birthers to get hooked, to have the rest of their children at home. It’s addictive, some say.

But I don’t know if I’m going to do a home birth again. Most of everything went well. Labor started the evening of my baby’s due date, and after thirty minutes I was already fully dilated  much to my midwife’s surprise. But because the cord was wrapped around baby’s neck, pushing took two full hours. I was so exhausted I would actually lapse into a deep sleep for the sixty seconds or so in between heavy contractions.

When my midwife finally did an episiotomy and baby came out, baby was bluish from lack of oxygen and we had a few very scary minutes in which we desperately tried to warm her up with body contact and warm towels. Although this was scary, it would’ve been just as scary in a hospital. It’s actually the aftermath that makes me hesitant to have a home birth again.

To my understanding, at a hospital, there are a handful of people looking out for both mother and baby at all times. At home, it was just my midwife, and she was running on very little sleep due to attending three other births in previous days. She actually napped for the majority of my labor, thinking it would take me hours to dilate. I suffered through transition, the most painful part of labor, all by myself (my husband, poor dear, was scrambling to fill the pool, which we never got to use).

Then, after baby was born and stabilized, my midwife went in the other room to nap again. Granted, that crazy surge of post-birth love hormone was coursing through my body so I didn’t care much about anything but the tiny face staring up at me. But when my midwife left us alone with baby just hours later, things started to get rough.

First of all, there was blood. On the carpet, in the bathroom, coming out of me. Shaun did his best to clean things up, but I couldn’t blame him for wanting to bond with our daughter rather than a bottle of Resolve.

I really started to worry when I tried to walk again after labor. I could barely take a step without completely losing my breath, and the only way I could breathe was to hunch over and carry my still-large belly with both arms. Using the bathroom was painful and frightening because of the incision my midwife had made. And it just kept bleeding. I called her and asked about these things; she assured me they were normal.

Even a week later, after my belly had shrunken somewhat and my wound had healed a little, I still found myself breathless whenever I had to walk. I couldn’t sit comfortably — not on a couch, a bed, a Boppy, nothing. I had spoken to other new mothers, even those who had episiotomies, who said they didn’t experience anything like this. So I was pretty irate when my midwife came back after a week and commented lightly, “Oh, honey, your balance is off…you need to wear the brace for your belly!” Um, yeah, what happened to all the talk about this being “normal”?

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    • allisonjayne

      Just wanted to chime in that at least here in Canada, when you have a midwife, you get at least 2 midwifes at your birth (and often a student or two as well). One midwife is for you, and one is for your baby.

      As well, in Canada, your midwife is with you for aftercare (and baby advice!) for 6 weeks post-partum (the norm is that they visit you – either at home or in the hospital – the day after, then again 2 days later, etc).

      And I’ve never heard of a primary midwife napping during labour! My primary midwife (and her student) were with me from the time I called them until almost 24 hours later. The secondary (aka the ‘baby midwife’) came an hour before I started pushing and stayed until well after my daughter was born.

      I’m not trying to detract from your experience, just wanted to add this here for anyone who is considering having a midwife/home birth. That said, having a doula is a great idea and I think birthing centres are an amazing alternative to hospital or home.

      • Steph

        There is a big difference between the midwifery systems in the US and Canada. Here in the US most midwives who attend homebirths are non-nurse midwives. They may or may not have had any formal training, and if they did receive training they may or may not have a license or certification. This is why the author referred to her as a lay-midwife.

    • Justme

      What an interesting perspective on home births! My SIL had three and she swears she did it so that she could crawl into her own comfy bed at the end of the birth. But I had never thought about the rest of it – the needing help moving around or caring for your child.

      I had a c-section in a hospital and I will admit that it was pretty nice to push a button and have water, ice, medication or whatever else I needed brought to my room.

      I would also venture to guess that you might have just gotten a crappy midwife which can happen just as frequently as people get crappy OBs or nurses in the hospital.

      And as far as the food and having people come help me after the baby is born….I just can’t demand my friends to bring me dinner and clean my house just because I had a baby. Just pick up some Starbucks and lets rest on the couch.

      • Erin

        I daresay there are many more safeguards against crappy OBs/nurses than there are against crappy lay-midwives.

    • http://www.facebook.com/houde.veronique VĂ©ronique Houde

      Thanks for sharing your story! I think it brings up the point that it’s really important to find out before the birth what your midwife can and cannot do, and what kind of support you might need after the fact in order to be able to rest and heal properly. I’m wondering if you knew before the fact that your midwife was a lay-midwife and wouldn’t be able to stitch you up, give you pitocin in case it was needed, etc? Although in the US there might be a shortage of certified nurse midwives, I think it’s important for all women who are considering a home birth to at least have someone that qualified to give limited medical treatments, and have a back up plan in case of an emergency.

      I know that in my case, I HATED my hospital birth. I HATED that although it was my doctor that was on call that day, he never (before the birth and during the birth) took the time to talk to me about how I imagined my birth process. I tried talking to him about it before the birth but he always brushed it off, and considering I gave birth 2 weeks early, I never had time to bring it up again… I HATED the fact that, although I wrote a very detailed birthing plan and hired a doula to accompany me at the hospital, his priorities hadn’t alligned with mine. I have to point out that the nurses themselves were amazing and did their utmost best to communicate with the doctors. However, between all of the residents taking care of me, the changes in shifts (my labour lasted 20 hours), all of the nurses and the fact that it was a full moon and the maternity wing was 100% full, I felt that my birthing process wasn’t exactly what I had hoped for it to have been. Bear in mind, I still managed to give birth naturally, even on pitocin, which was my number one priority, and in the long run, I’m very happy to have a healthy child that I adore.

      I also had difficulties after the birth, when I wasn’t able to urinate and the nurses, being so busy and taking care of patients that had more difficult births, hadn’t had the time to bring me to the bathroom in time, so that they then had to install a catheter… The next day my doctor was a bit upset about that ;). The nurses also warned me that they might not be able to care for me as much as other women because I was in better shape and a lot more agreeable and patient than others. At the end of the day, all I wanted to do was go home!!! I signed my release form 24 hours after the birth, and went straight home :).

      • BigBlue

        Unfortunately it can be really hard to find out before the birth what your midwife can and can’t do. A close friend who was looking into homebirth was trying to research midwives and find relevant information, i.e. their skills, training, and, most importantly, their safety records, including death rates or any investigations/disciplinary actions. It would have been easier to find a needle in a haystack. This information isn’t available anywhere in our state. You’re basically left with the “honor system,” meaning you ask the midwife your questions and hope she’s honest with you. My friend wasn’t comfortable with this, precisely because she’d heard several stories similar to the author’s, and ended up having a completely natural, unmedicated birth in the hospital. (Keep in mind I’m only talking lay midwives. CNMs do not do homebirths in our area and this information is easily found through the state board for them).

    • http://www.facebook.com/cheri.kannarr Cheri Kannarr

      I’m so sorry you didn’t receive the support after birth that you needed. From my own experiences with both home and hospital birth, and those I’ve heard from friends, I believe your experience was unusual. I’m most surprised to hear that a home birth midwife would provide no follow-up for a week after birth – true for any birth, but especially one where baby needed a bit of help afterward – this is very concerning, especially after a first-time mom calls with worries! And no home birth midwife I know would leave Mom without cleaning up any birth messes. Your experience highlights the need to find out exactly what services are provided, whether birthing in a hospital, birth center, or hospital, what follow-up care is available, and what back-up your midwife has available if she is unable to provide the expected services.
      All the home birth midwives (lay, certified, and CNMs) I know in our area (Northern California) have either at least one partner, or share services with another midwife, so there is always someone available who is not exhausted. At my own home birth, I had 3 providers (2 licensed, direct-entry midwives, 1 student midwife doula) here for the majority of the birth, and at one stayed for the whole day afterward. The tub was emptied and cleaned, the floor cleaned, any towels and sheets with birth fluids were washed. I was fed, moved to bed, helped to use the toilet. My main midwife was even conducting science experiments in the kitchen with my two older children, I found out later! My perineal tears were stitched (direct-entry midwife, not CNM) and I was given pitocin post-delivery due to heavy bleeding. You do not need a CNM to receive this sort of care. We were visited on days 1, 3, 7, 14, and 6 weeks postpartum for baby and for my own exams (had a PAP done at 6 weeks in the comfort of my own bed, since I hadn’t had one in many years). After a Cesarean hospital birth the first time around, at an award-winning, highly regarded hospital-based birthing center, I can say with certainty that the care and followup I received at home was stellar and so much more thorough and supportive than what I received in the hospital post-surgery. My mother, who was present for my home birth, asked at one point how much we were paying for our midwives’ services, and was horrified, not by the $$, but that “they weren’t getting paid enough” for the care and time provided (I have to agree; home birth midwives are grossly underpaid compared to hospital providers).
      For those considering a home birth, this is a good reminder to find out as much as you can about your provider beforehand. The same holds true for a hospital or birth center birth. I do hope that for future births, you are provided with better postpartum support, no matter where you give birth.

    • Tinyfaeri

      It’s worth mentioning that it’s not as black and white as a lot of these posts make it out to be, it doesn’t have to be a doctor-or-surgeon-at-a-hospital birth or a lay-midwife-at-home birth. Those are just the opposite ends of the spectrum. Depending on where you live, there can be several possible combinations: midwife at home (I’d still try for a certified nurse midwife), CNM in a birth center (usually with contracts with nearby hospital(s) for emergent or special cases), CNM in a hospital-attached birth center, CNM in a hospital, OB/Gyn in a hospital-attached birth center, OB/Gyn in a hospital, surgeon in a hospital, or a combination of two or more options if the need arises. A midwife-run birth center (CNMs with RNs assisting) with a hospital backup can be the best of both worlds: a medically trained and certified midwife with medical equipment readily available and a nearby hospital in case of a problem.
      I am sorry the author had so many problems, and it’s horrific what happened to her, but it’s not all midwives. There are some really great CNMs out there (just as there are some great doctors) that do a wonderful job for both mother and child. I saw midwives at a birth center for my daughter’s birth and we both received excellent care, before, during and after the birth, and for follow-up care we had a nurse visit to home 2 days later, check-ins over the phone, 6 week post partum followup, etc.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kristen.oganowski Kristen Oganowski

      Oh my goodness, I am so sorry (and even a bit angered) to hear that you had this sort of experience. I had two midwives (and an apprentice midwife) with me hroughout my labor and for three whole hours postpartum. I never went anywhere without at least one of them with me-including simply spotting me when I stood up for the first time. They also visited and stayed at least an hour on days 1 and 3 and then had appointments in their offices at 2, 4, and 6 weeks. With that being said, I can see why you would choose a hospital birth! And truly, with the right setting and care provider, hospital births can be wonderful. (I say this as a doula and as someone who had a FABULOUS hospital birth with my second child.). Good luck!

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      Most people don’t realize that lay midwives are not real midwives. They are a second, inferior class of midwife that is not recognized by any other first world country. They lack the education and training required of ALL other midwives in the first world. Their credential, the CPM, is a designation they made up and awarded to themselves.

      Your midwife was both incompetent and irresponsible and you have suffered as a result. Fortunately, your baby was fine, but no thanks to your midwife. Any baby that perks up like yours did was never in any serious difficulty to begin with.

      American homebirth midwives have terrible death rates, so terrible, in fact that their national organization (Midwives Alliance of North America) refuses to disclose the death rates of the 27,000 homebirths in their database. According to the CDC, PLANNED homebirth with a non-nurse midwife has a neonatal mortality rate 3-7 times higher than comparable risk hospital birth.

      Canada has abolished the CPM credential on the grounds that CPMs have indequate education and training. The US should do the same, otherwise ever growing numbers of babies and mothers will be harmed by this poorly trained pretend midwives.

      • StephKay

        It’s funny you mentioned Canada. As a Canadian using a midwifery group for my second pregnancy this kind of article blows my mind. I have two primary midwives, paid for by the government. Both of them are on call to me at all times, and I’ve been told I can call at 2 am if I have so much as a bad feeling, and this is true for the entirety of my pregnancy. Both of them have prescribing privileges, my hyperemesis is managed with medication through the midwives. I’ve had all the standard prenatal testing and ultrasounds, identical care to my OB with my first pregnancy with far more frequent and lengthy appointments. My daughter plays in a playroom on site during my appointments and is allowed to hold the stethoscope and Doppler to check on her brother. They’re fully regulated and held to the same health Canada standards as obstetricians. If a complication arises outside their scope of care the midwives will attend specialist appointments and delivery alongside the high risk OB to advocate for me. I can deliver wherever I want, and since I’m likely to have another quick delivery I’ve been told to page them at first sign of labor and they will come to my home, monitor me while I wait for a sitter and drive me to the hospital where they’ll stay with me for the entire labor and delivery and 6 hours after the birth, I’ll have access to any and all medication or procedures necessary, they have full hospital privileges. I can stay in hospital for anytime between 6 hours and 3 days depending on how we’re feeling. If I choose to leave early the midwife will come home with me and get me settled, then come back to my house daily for three days to care for me and baby. After the initial 3 days at home with me they will continue to come twice a week for the first two weeks, then weekly for the remainder of the first month. If I need any medication, a lactation consultant, whatever, they’ll bring it and I pay nothing aside from pharmacy fees. Oh, and all of that is optional. They made it clear that they get women from certain cultures with more lax pregnancy choices that call them to say “I need a woman present to catch the baby” and that’s exactly what they’ll do and no more. All of this is totally standard and regulated, basically all you need is to live in a big enough city to have midwives available.

        It’s so shocking to me that I live only a two hour drive from new York state, and the standard of care is so so different. I’m sure the midwife in the article is a great person, but unregulated health care is bound to come with massive fluctuations in quality of care. It just goes to show that midwifery can be a totally viable choice, and when a country is willing to treat choices in women’s health care with respect midwives can be a wonderful asset. It’s amazing to me that the states haven’t jumped at the opportunity to make the best use of this kind of healthcare option.

      • somethingobscure

        I am so jealous of your canadian citizenship.

      • StephKay

        Wait a minute, am I a totally creeper or did I just reply to one or your comments on xojane? If I’m remembering your username right, hi! Every time I see a familiar discus handle I have a little moment of joy knowing I’m not the only one hopping around satisfying my feminist and mommy reading lust.

        If I could share my awesome OHIP health coverage with all of you, I would. My kids’ father is a new Yorker, and from what his mother has told me it seems that the manhattan maternity center in 1984 left something to be desired, and it seems like midwifery in the states hasn’t changed tremendously over the years since.

      • Psych Student

        Me too! Want! :)

      • Psych Student

        Me too! Want! :)

      • sunny

        This isn’t Canada-wide, it’s specific to Ontario. I had the same fabulous midwife experience, but friends in other provinces often don’t.

      • StephKay

        Oh really? That actually makes perfect sense. This type of care often is provincially mandated. Shouldn’t have generalized. But hey, lucky us in Ontario! I’m sure those of us in Toronto or Ottawa in particular are incredibly lucky, there’s definitely a lot of work to go in smaller communities where health care funding and access to services is more sparse. But at the very least it’s reassuring to know that there is a successful model of options in reproductive medicine in north America.

      • http://www.handmadedresshaven.blogspot.com Kathy

        Great points Stephkay!! Amy is full of it. She is on an irrational vendetta against all out of hospital births. Ignore her.

      • mythsayer

        Ummmmmmmm…… StephKay was more or less saying that midwives in Canada are well qualified. And it’s NOT just Ontario. I’ve heard the same about Alberta. So I suspect it’s more or less the same in most of the provinces in Canada. No one who responded to Amy Tuteur said that CPM’s are good. They are not. And Dr. Amy (who IS a doctor, by the way… she is just retired… you don’t lose your credential when you retire… that’s for people like Dr. Biter, who actually DID give up his license) isn’t against home birth. She’s against home birth with unqualified midwives.

    • Junebug

      Wow. Your midwife abandoned you after birth. What if you would have had PPH? You could have DIED and she would have been too tired to get up from her nap. She should have came to see you much earlier than a week, especially because you told her you were having issues. She was also negligent as she obviously had scheduled a bunch of births close together and didn’t have a back-up midwife. You’re lucky that baby didn’t need anything beyond some stimulation, because you wouldn’t have had time to get to the hospital before baby would have suffered severe brain damage. You were SOOO lucky and I am relieved that you won’t be doing a home birth again.

    • Erin

      Why does the headline call this a “successful” home birth? This is not successful by any modern standard.

    • http://www.facebook.com/georgen.charnes Georgen Charnes

      I’ve never understood why women want homebirths or “natural” childbirth. It seems obvious to me that pain is something to be avoided, a call to GET HELP, not something to tough it out for. I have no puritan tendencies, thank you very much. I know that if I had a homebirth, I’d be the one to have to clean up the mess. It always seems like hospital births are represented as caricatures, not the reality. My hospital birth featured caring nurses, a small room, a special birthing bed, lactation specialist, visiting doctors, hand knitted baby blankets, massages, a private bathroom, food on a tray, and emergency services on tap. Why the assumption that a midwife is going to care less than someone who really worked to get more training?

      • Nonia Bizness

        Do some research, speak with other mothers or become a doula, you’ll totally understand why. You are giving bad advice to future mothers. The last birth I attended was in hospital about 6 months ago and I’m still experiencing trauma for the lack of care my client received from her medical team. She was lied to and I was told things I should have never been privy to by the doc and nurse. I know with certaintly they are just as unprepared, depending on the day you catch them. You had what looks like a luxury stay at your hospital. Good for you, but that just ain’t happening any more. Time to wake up.

      • Llll

        I also had a wonderful hospital birth experience. Actually, I had TWO wonderful hospital births that included everything listed above. Constant care, private rooms, lactation consultants….the list goes on an on. They even offered my husband a message because he said his back was sore from the bed they provided for him. I had a nurse call everyday for the first week I was home to check ony recovery too.

      • katydid0605

        same here, ive had three babies all in the hopsital and the care was outstanding. Two of the three were sent to NICU after birth (though one i feel should have gone sooner, but thats another story and the fault of a PA, not the OB’s and nurses attending) and I hate to think what could have happened to my babies if we werent in a hospital with the NICU near by and ready to care for them. My third child had unmature lungs, even though she was 37 weeks and techincally full term, if she had not gotten onto a ventilator in a short time after her birth she could have had far worse issues than the minor developmental delays she has now

      • suchende

        “become a doula”

        Do you even listen to/read the things coming out of your own computer/mouth? Like, really?

      • Justme

        I had a wonderful experience in the hospital with mostly wonderful nurses.

      • Psych Student

        Did you happen to be in Canda (just kidding)? It does seems the place to be for good care. :)

      • E’sMummy

        While I understand not everyone WANTS a natural birth or a homebirth in particular. However-this was how it was ALWAYS done until the last 100 years or so. My grandmother is 94 and her neighbours and so on all birthed at home! I’m sorry but I disagree that pain should be avoided. IF we were not supposed to experience pain in childbirth than why do we? it wouldn’t hurt if it wasn’t supposed to! When pain is blocked out by drugs, you interfere with the hormones of birth that are important to both mother and baby. Pain does not have to mean damage- it doesn’t not have to be associated with bad in the case of birth. Read some of the articles on this- on Sarah Buckley’s website look her up… Women in the Netherlands for example often have Midwives and homebirths and their statistics are amazing for natural birth, and lower c-section rates. I’m glad your hospital birth was what you wanted it to be, but more often than not for many women it is not. Most mammals need to feel secure, and comfortable in their surroundings in order for birth to go well. That includes us! For many hopsitals are cold, and just not comfortable enough for a really great birth experience. I’m sorry that the lady in the article was taken care of so poorly, she needed someone to take care of her not just her baby. I am also from Ontario- I had a homebirth- my midwives were amazing- I would never have known I gave birth on our bed, I never saw any of the mess, or blood afterwards, any more than you do in a hospital. They cleaned everything up… stayed with me for 3 hours afterwards, and were on call if I needed them again. Although I understand why a woman might want a hospital birth, unless I had a medical emergency I will never birth a baby in a hospital again. (my 1st was transfer to hospital from homebirth).

      • curiositykeeper

        ” IF we were not supposed to experience pain in childbirth than why do we? it wouldn’t hurt if it wasn’t supposed to!” What an odd idea. So we should experience pain because we can experience pain, so we are supposed to experience pain? That’s some logic. So we should get diseases and die, because it wouldn’t happen if it weren’t supposed to. As for hospitals being cold, I read this all the time from home birth advocates. And it’s just not true. The nurses at my hospital were warm and friendly. They were there to help, they made me feel protected and coddled. It was a joyous respite. They were with me for four days, day and night. If people want home birth, go for it, but stop condemning others with different wants.

      • E’sMummy

        I am NOT condemning anyone- you did in your first statement of you do not understand why a women would want a “natural” childbirth. I fully support women who want hospital births, drugs, and everything else- IF they are informed of the pros and cons of what they want to do I have no problems with what any women wants for HER birth. AGAIN- I stated I am happy you experienced a lovely hospital birth- but that is NOT the norm you are a lucky one. Actually yes- people are supposed to die and experience pain. That is life. Pain in Childbirth does NOT mean the pain is bad- it is bringing you your baby. Do you know the risks associated with using drugs and painkillers to you and your baby during birth? and do you know the risks associated with what it can do to most normal labours? Drugs and pain killers have their place when they are needed – for example in a 36 hour long labour when the mother just can’t do anymore. I strongly suggest reading visiting Sarah Buckley’s website (there are several others as well) but hers is very well written explaining WHY covering up the pain during childbirth is often not a good idea- because it blocks your body from making the hormones needed for the baby, for pushing for breastfeeding and so on. Take a read she has several articles on her site: http://www.sarahbuckley.com/

        I felt amazing after both of my non-medicated births- that I was able to not subject my children to serious drugs before they even came into the world. Some women might feel amazing from having used drugs and having their babies- that is a PERSONAL choice. I respect your choice of hospital birth and any other woman’s- but I would never do it unless It was needed. You are the one who posted you didn’t understand- so I simply responded to try and help you understand why women don’t want hospital births or why they don’t want drugs.

      • Carly

        E’sMummy:
        Physiologically…childbirth is NOT supposed to be painful. Saying that “if we weren’t supposed to be in pain…we wouldn’t be.” You must understand that the pain you are experiencing has absolutely NOTHING to do with the birthing process itself. It is the result of the fear-tension-pain cycle, and your mindset that childbirth is supposed to be painful. Our society and culture has taught us to expect pain in childbirth, and it has caused a never ending cycle of misconceptions turned into reality based on a fear-driven idea. Every natural process our body experiences does NOT involve pain. Why on earth would childbirth be the exception? If you have ever spent time in a tribal community, or Africa for example…you will notice the women there give birth with no issues whatsoever. You will see a woman move to a remote area, squat up against a tree, and her baby falling from the birth canal into a pile on leaves. Absolutely no pain involved. Also commenting that it is acceptable to endure excruciating pain during birth, because a child is the end result is not really a satisfying cup of tea. Especially since it is unnecessary.

        Try researching hypnobirthing. It specifies that our mindsets regarding childbirth are exactly what is influencing our experiences. When an individual changes their mind, their reality changes as well.

        I will give you an example: I used to have extremely painful, and dreadful periods. I was told during my younger years before I began puberty that having my period would be so painful, and that I would absolutely hate it. Nonetheless, my mind was convinced that this was the truth and that when I got my period, it would hurt…and it would my most miserable time of the month. Then when I came across the law of attraction, I realized that I accepted this idea, and therefore it became my reality. So I changed expectations, and expected that my next period would be comfortable, easy, light, and short. And what do you know….it was the first time I can actually say I was comfortable during my period. My cramps weren’t painful…they were just sensations of tightening. I was able to sleep throughout the night, and actually enjoy my period. So… You get what you expect.

        xoxo

      • MellyG

        Good for you except i was told my periods would be painful, and they weren’t. For years. Until i got older – now i can’t walk without pain killers. They are still investigating what is wrong. Sometimes it’s not ALL in people’s heads.

      • grateful

        Women in tribal communities in Africa have a very high rate of maternal morbidity and mortality, as do their babies. There are many reasons for this including poor nutrition, lack of adequate prenatal care, cultural/societal beliefs, norms and expectations during labour and delivery, and list goes on and on. The bottom line is that women in Africa DO NOT give birth without issues. The issues they have just go undiagnosed, untreated and/or unreported. The WHO has made it a priority and set goals to improve maternal and infant outcomes in pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum and neonatal period because women and babies in developing countries are so likely to encounter problems during these times. If a woman in Africa gives birth by herself into a pile of unsanitary leaves without making a sound, it is most likely because she has no other choice. Nobody will help her, she uses the leaves to absorb the blood and its odour to discourage wild animals from attacking, and she makes no noise for fear of being beaten for doing so. It seems to me that there is a misunderstanding of what natural birth is. Natural birth that has been occurring for thousands and millions of years means high rates of severe complications and death for both moms and babies because there were a lack of education, experience and most of all a lack of caring for women and their health issues. Although the issues surrounding women’s health are not perfect in this day and age, I count myself extremely lucky to live in a country where i know that I am able to have a SAFE childbirth experience. To me this means a hospital, whether with an OBGYN or a GP or CNM who have obstetrical back up. And I know that if these tribal women in Africa who gave birth alone and voiceless only knew how much people could care for them, I think they would like to have our version of natural childbirth too.

      • Hannah

        Birth was also the leading cause of death for women then, and remains so in third world nations. It was only in the 1930s that those statistics improved significantly in the US.

        Tooth extraction naturally hurts, would you do it without analgesia? I doubt it.

      • Carly

        That’s because they do not have the proper resources to be able to birth healthily. They don’t have clean water, food, and are ridden with diseases. And I can’t believe your comparing childbirth with a tooth extraction. Childbirth is a natural bodily function. Tooth extraction isn’t something our body naturally does. Our uterus is a muscle that contacts the same way our other muscles do. Our vaginas stretch to allow the baby to fit through. Just like how our anuses open to allow bile to be removed. The only reason women in developed countries feel pain in childbirth is because they are fearful of if, and expect it to be painful. When a women is fearful the blood rushes away from the uterus causing the muscle the inability to function properly. Because of this, a woman will tense we muscles and then the pain countiues to escalate until she begs for an epidural. Do your research.

      • Hannah

        How do you explain the fact that home birth is 2-7x more likely to result in a dead baby, based on MANA’s own figures?

        Talk about misogyny, telling women their pain is ‘all in their head’. Is my chronic period pain all in my head, too? Empowerment, my ass. I have done my research. I just don’t count nonsense from Ina May and her minions as valid sources, and neither should you.

      • Carly

        You take “all in their head” as some type of way to insult u and consider you as a mentally ill person. As someone who is studying psychology, it is proven that an individual’s belief system, and thoughts have a biological response. There are many many forms of evidence. If you don’t believe it, fine. Then your beliefs will continue to be what you experience. See a hypnotherapist for your period troubles. I did, and I have none now.

        Besides, ask yourself this question. Why would women suffer merely for being women? Why is it that the physical processes we go through that men do not experience are the ones that are painful? Would that be sensible? Seriously if we weren’t taught these age old lies throughout the generations, we wouldn’t be suffering. Regardless of what you say, everything is all in the mind. Plain and simple. Whether you want to believe it or not

      • Hannah

        You are an idiot. Plain and simple.

      • Carly

        You don’t have to insult based on my beliefs and what is proven. Go ahead and continue to believe and think what you do. And I’m not saying “men don’t experience pain” I’m speaking on terms of the bodily processes we experience that they do not that are considered painful. And I’m not making women feel like shit, you are taking things too personal. And I will continue to believe in hypnotherapy, because it works. It is apparent that it did not work for you because you lack the belief in it. Not my problem. Just shows how ignorant you are in terms of alternative methods and ideas. I’m not going to spend any more time arguing with you over “nonsense”. It’s only nonsense because you don’t understand it. You keep thinking I’m saying it’s all in your head like you’re crazy. When it is not at all what I’m saying. Look up the law of attraction, study the subconscious mind, etc.

        Ps: Nice way to debate with someone by calling them an idiot. Hahaha.

    • Sue

      All I can say here is DUH.

      • http://www.facebook.com/hannah.mana Hannah Mana

        how rude!

    • Cassy

      Great to hear this difference perspective. I’m so sorry you had to go through pain and the less pleasant aftermath of your home birth. From talking to moms who have had pretty much every type of birth (and having a very successful hospital birth myself), my conclusion is that every single situation is different.
      But now you probably have a better idea of what to expect, and what you want, than you had before. No matter what route you choose next time, I’d venture to guess you’ll look for someone who is committed to checking on you and caring for you immediately after the birth of the child and in the days after, and who knows what to do in case something’s off (as in your episiotimy situation).
      And, speaking from my own hospital birth experience (which I was happy with), it is possible to get OB/GYNs and nurses who are committed to giving you choices about your body and your birth while laboring in a hospital. For me, I would go ahead and have another hospital birth if I had a second child. But I can see the draw with midwives; you have one person who you know and who knows you very well looking after you the entire time.
      I’m sure that, should you have a second child, you’ll be able to strike the balance you’re looking for.

    • Alenushka

      Yes, it was a success because neither you not baby died as many had in other homebriths. Lay midwife is someone who is birth junkie and has no education. Where did she learn to do episiotomies? On like? And if your baby was in real trouble, then what? Please, go to a UroGynecologist for a consults ASAP before you have a fistula or anal fissure . It is always good to get second opinion. I hope next time you give birth in the hospital where you will be surrounded by caring professionals like I was.

    • Nonia Bizness

      You think doctors are distracted and sometimes tired? You have to examine your expectations and get real when deciding on the right place to have your baby. This article tells me you were unprepared. Period. And by the way, the support you needed is not available from midwives. You need to investigate in the role of a doula. Filling the tub during labor? C’mon!!! Blood everywhere? What did you think you were dealing with? If you went to a midwifery clinic, yes, they would have given you the big binder full of stuff you need to do to properly prepare for a home birth. Instead of planning to go UC next time, I’d suggest you aim for that perfect home birth by doing a little research, speaking with other mothers who have birthed at home successfully and start talking to those that delivered in hospitals. I became a doula just because of this lack of understanding and now educate expecting parents on their roles. You actually give a bad reputation to what I consider the most beautiful freedom we have.

      • Catherine

        Well, aren’t you just a walking advertisement for the importance of doulas? I’m not surprised you don’t use your real name. If you did, you’d never have another client. You homebirth zealots are unbelievable. Let’s look at what you just said from a different angle:

        “So you didn’t like your hospital birth? You really need to adjust your expectations and get real when deciding on the right place to have a baby. You were unprepared. Period. You wanted a bath tub for a water birth? You wanted to be allowed to labour for as long as it took, even if it took four days? What did you think you were dealing with? If you’d gone to the right antenatal classes, you’d have been told you wouldn’t be allowed to do these things, you’d have been given a big folder that told you all about the hospital policies, and you’d have been told to get a grip before you set foot in the place to have your baby. Instead of planning a homebirth next time, I’d suggest you aim for a tolerable hospital birth by lowering your expectations and having some common sense. You actually give a bad reputation to what I consider to be the best and safest medical system in the world”.

        Women who have traumatic hospital births and subsequently look into homebirth don’t like being spoken to like that. I’d lay odds that women who have traumatic homebirths and subsequently look into alternative birthing options don’t like being spoken to the way you just spoke to the author of this article. Actually, your pseudonym suits you. Because the choices that the author makes are really Nonia Bizness.

      • mythsayer

        Wooooow. So someone didn’t like her home birth experience and you suggest she have another one? I bet if someone didn’t like her hospital experience, you’d also be telling her to have a home birth. You guys are amazing. The right answer is clearly always home birth.

    • Helene

      I planned a midwife-attended home birth with my son, but it didn’t work out that way. The midwife we chose had attended the birth of my sister’s son (which I photographed) so I thought we’d get along. But she became increasingly unpredictable with prenatal appointments and eventually we decided to switch. By that time, we’d started doing a lot of research on UC and decided to do that, but to keep going to prenatal appointments with the new midwife.

      After our son was born, she was supposed to come out and check on him – weigh him, measure him, make sure everything was ok, and also check on me. She never came. My son was posterior with a nuchal hand and I experienced some tearing with no stitches. I don’t blame her for my physical pain and discomfort because our agreement was different and I should have gone to someone to be checked out, but I still wonder why she never arranged an appointment. It made me feel so uncomfortable and insecure as a first-time mom in a lot of pain who no longer felt like I could go to my midwife for advice or help.

      I feel very conflicted now about having another child. I’m wary of midwives, even more wary of hospitals and have first-hand experience with a very difficult UC.

      • Tress

        I’m very surprised even your “lay” midwife came to a birth with no help. Ive had both kinds of births and seen 15 births (of both kinds) and the 10 home births I’ve seen have always had not only a mid-wife (of both kinds) but a minimum of one assistant and usually two. you should have been able to crawl into your own bed, bonded with your husband and child and been doted on by the mid-wife. I hope others won’t judge from this article. i guess the answer is – either way you go, ask lots of questions and find out what to expect (within limits). Everyone who has a baby needs to be their own advocate. Thanks for sharing your story so others will learn.

    • Lisa from NY

      I’m glad you didn’t bleed to death. If your midwife were a doctor, she would have been sued.

    • Liana W.

      You poor thing! You had a midwife who did not do her job, which, I guess, is typical of a lay-midwife (but I hadn’t heard that term before). She clearly overbooked herself and couldn’t even take care of herself, let alone you and a newborn. We have a midwife for our current pregnancy, after having a good experience in the hospital with our first (yes, it’s possible!). All the midwives that we researched have a similar policy of 1) staying for at least 3 hours postpartum to make sure mom and baby are well, and 2) leaving the home cleaner than when they came. She will not only help me deliver our child, but will clean up the mess, feed me afterward, and finish the laundry from the labor and delivery. She will return the next day, then day 3, for checkups; then we will go to her office at 2 and 6 weeks for checkups.

      Regardless of what you choose for your next birth, I hope that you have the wonderful first moments with your baby that you and your husband missed out on.

    • Andrea

      I had a CPM, twice. In my state, two are required at every birth, so they partner up for safety of mom and baby. My midwife had many years of training and credentials. I reviewed her stats and read reviews from other parents. I was in trained, experienced, CAPABLE hands. My first birth transferred to the hospital for non emergent reasons and before a serious problem could occur. My second birth I bled a little more than I should’ve, but my midwives actively handled things and carried the needed drugs to prevent hemmorhage. I will choose a CPM again. This article is unfortunate. I feel for the Mama and wish her story could have been different. Best wishes for a good birth next time, wherever it is.

    • http://www.makingloveinthemicrowave.com/ Aja Jackson

      I always wondered with home births what happened during the “aftermath.” I had two hospital births, but after both I bled so much everywhere and through everything for the entire next day. Because I was in a hospital with care 24/7, there was always someone there to help clean up, bring me ice, food etc. I couldn’t imagine what that process would have been like if I were at home without a nurse to help me through it.

      • Brandi Royal

        a good midwife cleans it up…

    • http://www.facebook.com/samantha.ueno Samantha Ueno

      Sounds like you needed a doula, or a better midwife from a reputable practice. My midwife was an ND and worked with another midwife and 2 midwifes in training, who worked as assistants to births. I had a doula with me for 24 hours before the birth, my midwife came when I was in labor, my doula and the midwife’s assistant filled the pool and did the cleanup and all that while my midwife was the one who did the massages, stretching, checkup, etc. I was pushing for 5 hours before she finally did come out when I tried in a squatting position, and I was exhausted too. My doula held me up when I squatted and dragged me over to the bed as the midwife’s assistant held my newborn to my chest, I literally could not move after she was born. My midwife never rushed me or did interventions, she monitored the situation and made sure everything was safe and let things happen naturally. After the birth I was bleeding a lot, needed ice packs, etc. I managed with my husband and my midwife came to check on me the next day, and later that week. Most midwives include up to 6 weeks post-partum visits/well checks for baby. Was I frustrated pushing for 5 hours? Yes! But it was still much better than a hospital, where I guarantee I would have been shot with pitocin or even rushed into an OR after 3 hours of pushing. My baby had a gentle start into the world with everything she needed to start breastfeeding and bonding.

    • Jemm

      It sounds like the problem was your awful “midwife,” not the home birth itself! I’m sorry you went through that!

      • mythsayer

        So why then when someone has a bad experience at the hospital doesn’t anyone say “oh, it wasn’t the hospital birth… you probably just got a bad doctor”. Instead, it’s all “oh yeah, you should have had a homebirth! those are beautiful!”

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    • Tera

      All this homebirthing propaganda I am dubious of for one reason: I tried and failed and because if all my research and love of homebirthing and midwives, I still can’t shake off the failure. No emergency, no mama or baby in distress, 36 hours of labor with first baby girl and I was dilating avg. I became worried and list faith in myself and said okay transfer me. The midwife hoped pitocin would be given then I could sleep a bit and deliver vs finally but once there even though baby was crowning they cut me and removed her. So all the terrible things I read happen, happened. She did not enter peacefully and everyone says but she is healthy etc… That isn’t enough after you do all the homebirth dreaming I did. So I get depressed ad cry now when I hear of success just do jealous and angry with myself. Homebirths also seem sort of the trend and status symbol of sorts in some parts of the country. I am seeing a therapist to get over this but women and midwives need to consider the mother who wants so badly to homebirth and won’t be getting a 2nd chance no other baby planned and fails. Big fail. What can be said or done? I am not alone.

    • Tera

      Forgive my typos I iPhoned it.

    • Elizabeth McBride

      Your experience is why I would never recommend anyone have a lay midwife. The standard of care should be a licensed nurse midwife. Why were you short of breath? It could have been from blood loss. It could also have been from small blood clots to the lung. Your midwife napping is totally unacceptable as is ignoring you after the delivery.

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    • http://www.facebook.com/aeachoheartout Alice Jane

      I had a home birth with a lay midwife and it was perfect and beautiful and I felt completely supported. Your problem was not that you chose a lay midwife, but that she was not a good care provider and didn’t have the knowledge to make the correct medical decision. People need to extensively interview and research who they choose for care instead of just blaming all lay midwives. There are plenty of experienced professional lay midwives out there, just as there are bad doctors.

    • NWLiz

      I guess we were fortunate enough to have an actual doctor as our midwife for our homebirths. We were very picky about our midwife and her credentials. She is now the children’s pediatrician.
      We were not left to our own to clean up after. Our midwife, her assistant/apprentice and back up midwife cleaned our house, did our laundry, drained our pool and helped me shower afterwards. They made sure everything was set for us and that both baby and I were fine before they left.
      It sounds like your midwife was incompetent. Im sorry your experience was lousy.

    • Maria

      I had two wonderful home births, and am planning a third. But I would say this ‘lay-midwife’ did mess up….I have had wonderful experiences, and love being able to rest in the comfort of my own home; my (certified) midwife always has at least one assistant, sees to the cleanup afterwards, and makes sure I am doing well and don’t need her help anymore before leaving. I also know I can call her at any time with questions and concerns. By the way, I live in the USA.

      If you have a home birth, you do have to plan ahead a little bit – I always make sure I will have help for the first week so I don’t have to worry about meals, laundry, etc. I realize a home birth isn’t for everyone, just as a hospital birth isn’t for me. :-) If you feel more secure in a hospital or want to use pain relief, than the hospital may be the better option for you. I feel more secure in my own home and able to do things at my own pace with a competent midwife, so I wouldn’t want it any other way. Just my two cents….

    • Mariah Grove

      This is all the author’s fault. She clearly did not fully research her midwife before deciding to hire her. This woman is clearly not smart enough, or resourceful and informed enough, to have attempted a home birth. Intelligent people who do thorough research before selecting a CPM OR A CNM do not run into the problems this mother did. Any good midwife stays after the birth to help the new parents, and that always includes cleaning up any and all blood. Also, any midwife worth her salt does not resort to episiotomies. This article was just a train wreck, all of this could have been avoided if the author had bothered to hire a qualified midwife.

      • AnyMommy

        Wow. You’re an asshole.

    • mtmama

      Oh mama this sounds pretty terrible. It sounds like you had an under qualified midwife who didn’t bring any support with her. I had my baby with a nurse midwife who had another midwife with her and three nurses. Maybe next time a birth center will be able to provide you with more complete care. I have so much faith in natural birth and midwives but like any job there are plenty who are not qualified, unfortunately this job doesn’t have room for error. I think there should be a nationalized certification and licensing process for all midwives. This would also help build confidence in the midwifery model of care.

    • Brandi Royal

      sounds like you got a bad midwife! Most do all the cleaning up after labor and none would dare think of sleeping threw transition. If I ever had a homebirth it would be with a CNM!

      • Brandi Royal

        oh and Im in school to be a CNM :)

    • pkkelly

      To be honest sounds like you had a bad midwife. Trained midwives have to clean everything up and stick around and are usually back the next day or so. Some also have a team member with them such a another midwife or student to help with things so they can focus on the birth, mother and baby and to be able to have someone step in if they need a rest. I’m sorry you had these issues.