Monday, November 12, 2007

Home vs Hospital Birth

I have some questions for the midwife when we see her tomorrow afternoon. Mostly, I am still curious about settling the issue of home-vs-hospital birth.

I've read many, many birth stories and have often googled "home vs hospital birth" to read about people's opinions, experiences, and even scientific statistics. It's tricky to divide out all the factors, though, because in many areas midwives aren't allowed to attend hospital births; so if you want a midwife, you're birthing at home, and if you want a hospital birth, you're getting an OB-GYN. Here, I can have a midwife attend my hospital birth, which seems to be an entirely different third category. For example, the statistical increase in interventions with hospital births would not apply with a midwife-attended hospital birth.

In general, I have a hard time getting a full picture of what a midwife-attended hospital birth would be like.

I've read a lot of stories where the woman is admitted to hospital and then labour slows down, or where her water has broken and labour needs to progress (be induced?) but this isn't happening. So the woman and her partner are told, "Get some rest tonight, we'll [perform whatever intervention] in the morning." Then to facilitate a good night's sleep, they are interrupted every 10 minutes all night long by a nurse taking vital signs. (For a good example of this, see Riley's birth story.) That's the kind of nonsense I want to avoid. So the question for Lillian is: what kind of presence/responsibility do the nurses have when I am being attended by her, not a doctor?

My next question is to do with who is with me during labour and birth - and, just as importantly, who isn't. I want my husband, my midwife, and my doula, and that's it. I want to know if there is a limit on who will be allowed in the room (for example, the hospital may also be filling the room with nurses, so will there be room for those who are important to me?), and what allowances can be made to keep the rest of the world out.

(There's a whole can of worms there to do with the fact that my mom believes she is invited to the birth, whereas I have no memory of ever extending that invitation. That will need to be addressed, but I'm not up to it just yet. I'm sure there will be extensive future blogging on this issue.)

As soon as you let yourself in for a hospital birth, I believe, you let yourself in for your labour/birth or at the very least the early hours after birth to be a much more public experience than they would be at home. As Rhea put it, "Any idiot with a balloon bouquet can get into a hospital." So I have questions about visiting hours, and about how soon we could leave the hospital after birth assuming everything is normal. I've sort of picked up that because midwives visit mom and baby every day for the first week or so after birth, the typical hospital policy of keeping us both there for observation for a few days may not be necessary.

If I were to consider no one's feelings but mine, the birth would be at home and we would then cocoon into ourselves for a few days for a babymoon. After all, there will be a brand new person in our family and we will all need time to get to know one another. But at the same time, I don't feel I can ask loving grandparents to stay away for the first few days of their grandchild's life - after all, they will also be eager to meet and fall in love with the new member of their family. So Chris and I will have to discuss what our boundaries are, and how they fit into the differing environments of home/hospital birth.

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