I grew up hearing the story of the doctor and the surgical procedure that saved my life and my mother’s (I was breech, delivered by cesarean section). I never considered that I might give birth outside of a hospital--until I got pregnant.
At that time I had been a nurse for five years and a nurse practitioner for three. Home birth wasn’t part of my culture and wasn’t something my training had directly ad- dressed. Prompted by a colleague’s experience, I started researching, asking questions, and considering my options in and out of the hospital. It was based on that research that I decided I wanted to pursue a home birth. As a low risk mom, it seemed I had the best chance of a safe and uncomplicated natural birth in my own home surrounded by people I knew and trusted. Some of my family and colleagues disagreed.
The decision wasn’t easy to talk about. It’s such an emotionally charged topic. Everyone has an opinion and a story to tell.
Since then I’ve met more health care providers, doctors, nurses, and midwives, who chose to give birth at home. These are not the women most Americans picture when they imagine a home birth mom. These professionals have direct and sometimes daily experience with the risks inherent in birth. Like all women, they wanted a safe birth, yet unlike 99% of women in the US, they chose to give birth at home. This is their story.
Too often polarization occurs on the topic of home birth. By focusing on hospital birth providers who choose home birth, I hope to bring a voice of moderation to the discussion. Together, we can move toward real improvements to maternity care in hospitals and at home.
What if the choice of where to give birth wasn’t limited by cost or insurance coverage, fear or misinformation? What would change if families had access to the care provider of their choice in the setting that best fits their unique needs and values? It’s worth at least asking, “Why not home?”