Alternatives to Hospital Birth: Why We’re Scared

One of the most common rationalizations for the choice of couples wanting to give birth in the hospital is the number of emergency cesareans they hear about from all their friends who have recently had babies. Women will often say, “I’d like to stay at home or go to a birth center, but this is my first baby, and I just want to be in a hospital in case something goes wrong.” Eighty-five percent of birthing women in the United States are considered low-risk as they enter the hospital, but 100 percent of women receive at least one intervention in labor. The sad fact is that the majority of cesareans are the result of being in the hospital. Routine interventions used in hospital births produce a “cascade effect” which causes cesarean rates to climb. In out-of-hospital birth settings, the focus is on the mother, not the technology. Undisturbed birth leads to healthier babies and happier mothers.  Harper, Barbara, R.N.  Gentle Birth Choices.  Vermont: Healing Art Press, 2005.

All this to state that a cesarean section procedure is also a life-saving procedure for some birthing women and their babies.  The cesarean procedure certainly has it’s place and is more than redemptive, but the swing that the birth pendulum has taken the US to rates of over 1 in 3 births by cesarean has certainly swung far beyond only performing a cesarean as a life-saving measure.  Instances surrounding a birth that must lead to a c-section can only be known by doctors or midwives, but a simplified example of when a c-section must be performed is placenta previa or placental abruption.

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One Response to Alternatives to Hospital Birth: Why We’re Scared

  1. Wendi says:

    When my husband and I go pregnant, we went through the exactly the thing. We started of going to an OBGYN and planned on delivering at a hospital because we wanted to be completely prepared for anything that ‘might’ occur. We knew we wanted to attempt natural childbirth and I spent a lot of time reading books to prepare myself for pre-birth and birth. We hired a doula to help guide us during our birth but also help us make informed decisions. She helped us with our birth plan and when it was time to talk to my OB about it, our doula helped us come up with questions to ask and then helped us figure out what we were dealing with when it came time to decide whether to switch dr.s or not. In the end, we decided to switch to a birthing center and have our baby delivered by a midwife. There are many reasons we switched to a birthing center and got a doula. One reason was we wanted to have the opportunity to attempt natural childbirth without nurses and drs rushing our progress, offering medical interventions (epidurals etc), or telling me what to do. Another is I wanted to freedom to move around, use a birthing ball, deliver standing up (though I ended up not doing so), using a birthing tub, and opting out of a port and iv. Many hospitals won’t allow those things and if they do, they aren’t trained to support you while you attempt them, doulas are. Birthing centers allow moms and dads to have the birth they desire without the fear of losing control. Like the article stated, one medical intervention can lead to many more. For instance, say you ask for an epidural. The epidural provides pain relief but often times stalls out labor because the mom can no longer feel contractions. This leads to a pitocin drip to intensify contractions. Pitocin can lead to fetal heart beat irregularities because the contractions become stronger and longer (not giving the baby time to recover between contractions) which will lead to a c-section if the irregularities don’t subside. Natural child birth can be difficult in a hospital for that reason. That’s the main reason why we switched to a birthing center.

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