You’re expecting. And if one of the biggest life changes you’ll ever experience wasn’t enough to stress you out, you’ll probably soon get an earful of hospital horror stories courtesy of the world-wide web and even some close friends. You’ll hear about the perilous pressure to have unnecessary C-sections and epidurals that caused more pain than they relieved. Throughout all this you may start to question your options and what kind of delivery will work best for you. Many women are choosing to forego the traditional hospital delivery altogether in exchange for a home birth with the assistance of a midwife and/or doula. But should you doula or is this experience a delivery-don’t for you?
In her article, “Why You Should Have Your Baby at Home, and Not at a Hospital” writer Charing Ball broke down how the expensive cost of hospital births, women’s increasing lack of medical coverage and expectant mothers’ high dependency on Medicaid funds have all led to more women seeking out alternative birthing options. Many women, like me, though can’t picture having a baby anywhere but a hospital. While I’d like to imagine the often portrayed natural bliss of giving birth to a baby in a tub of water surrounded by loving friends and family in the comfort of my home, I’m still terrified at the thought of, “What if?” And while medical technology definitely has its faults and biases, why not take advantage of something that many women in third world countries wish they had access to? It’s true, women’s bodies are simply doing what they were made to do since the beginning of time before episiotomies and epidurals. In the U.S., however, midwives and doulas lost their status at the end of the 1800′s, and doctors took over the reins. With knowledge about hygiene and the latest medical procedures, doctors had a higher success rate of keeping both mom and baby alive than midwives did. Yet in this day and age, you truly have to question whether your doctor is doing what’s best for the health of you and your baby or what’s more convenient for his/her schedule. Don’t be quick to assume that because you’re in a hospital with medical staff who have years of schooling behind them that you will have a safer more “professional” experience. Your choice of a midwife or doula doesn’t mean you’ll have a barefoot yogi chanting with candles either. Although, homebirths are viewed as more “natural” you can choose to have the procedure be as laid back or structured as you want it to be.
If you’re considering having a home birth with the assistance of a midwife or a doula (Midwives oversee the medical parts of the birth, including the actual delivery, while doulas provide constant emotional and physical support and comfort to the mom-to-be.) For example, you could choose to have the assistance of a doula even if you opt for a hospital birth since they are mostly present for emotional support, but a midwife is necessary if you choose to have a home birth with no doctor present.
All births are different, even for individual women, so even if a home birth was a positive experience for your first-born you may not feel the same way about your next pregnancy. The following pros and cons might help you decide works best for you: