When I'm talking about choices in birth, I've found the subject consistently turns to risk. What are the risks of home birth? What are the risks of hospital birth? What is the safest possible way to have a baby?
The fact is that risk is an inherent part of life, and birth is no exception to that. There are situations in which being in a hospital is very desirable when you're giving birth. Isn't it wonderful that we have that option, and the benefits of all modern obstetrical technology, available to us when it's needed? On the other hand, the mainstream medical community doesn't seem eager to discuss the risks of giving birth in a hospital. It's painfully ironic to me that midwives are stereotyped as superstitious women who walk around the house burning herbs and chanting, when in fact many -- if not most -- of the procedures in your typical hospital maternity ward are based on fear, ritual, and lack of evidence.
We all have to choose the risks we're comfortable with. Personally, I'll take the risks of birthing at home, over the risks of birthing in a hospital. I feel I'm much more likely to experience the risks of unnecessary interventions in a hospital than I am to face a true emergency at home. I only wish for all women to have the option to make their own choices without bullying, superstition, or manipulation.
This lovely post from Rixa at The True Face of Birth provides a great summary of the risks of VBAC and elective repeat cesarean. What a breath of fresh air! We cannot keep disrespecting women and their babies by refusing to provide them with enough information to make the right decisions for them. If a woman has had a cesarean, her next delivery carries risks -- it's insane to pretend that repeat c-sections are risk-free.
Women are empowered when they can make their own choices, not be pushed into what ACOG would like them to do. If both choices carry risk, we need to make sure that women can choose the risks they're most comfortable with. Is that really so much to ask?
PS A more specific look at some of the risks of home vs hospital birth coming... someday. I promise!