As I understand it, comparing birth in the hospital (even natural birth) to birth at home is like comparing apples to orangutans. They’re entirely different beasts. So when my mom asked if I would be OK having my midwife’s backup OB attend my birth, I told her I’d be OK, but that it’s definitely not what I want.
So what do I want? (Warning: generalizations to follow.)
I want the caregiver I’ve spent hours with throughout my pregnancy to be present for the duration of my labor. This does not happen in a hospital. I want a human monitoring me, not a machine. This does not happen in a hospital. I want to be an active participant in the birth of my child, not a bedridden, powerless, sick seeming person waiting for the doctor to “deliver” my baby. This does not always happen in a hospital. If we so choose, I want photos and videos taken of the birth, not to be told it is not allowed (because those photos and videos could be used as evidence in a lawsuit, and thereby making parents unwittingly complicit in covering up potential malpractice against their family). This does not always happen in a hospital. I don’t want my body and my baby to be on put on a timeline. This does not happen in a hospital. I don’t want pitocin and/or c-section to be the solution for a “slow” labor; I want to be told to get up, move around, and push my baby out. This does not happen in a hospital. I don’t want anyone I haven’t invited, especially strangers, to come into my space while I labor. This does not happen in a hospital. If I so choose and it’s not a game day, I want the entire University of Georgia football cheerleading squad to be in attendance. This does not happen in a hospital. During labor I want to be able to eat crackers or filet mignon, depending on my mood. This does not happen in a hospital. I want to eat them in bed, the bathtub, the backyard, or wherever else I may choose. This does not happen in a hospital. I don’t want my baby taken from me, not even for one minute, if he or she is healthy. This does not happen in a hospital. I want my baby to be born peacefully into dim lighting, quiet voices, and gentle hands. This does not happen in a hospital.
But this is just what I want. Others may want the exact opposite. And that’s OK. I think where complications arise, though, is when mothers want exactly what I want, but they want it in a hospital, and as the Navelgazing Midwife has said, “if you buy the hospital ticket, you go for the hospital ride.”
(While that attitude keeps my head from exploding in anger at hospital practices that go against commonsense and even research, it also grants a level of acceptability to those practices. Is it not so different from saying it’s OK for a man to beat his wife because she chooses to stay with him?)
Apples and orangutans, folks. Apples and orangutans.