Wednesday, October 07, 2009

My defence of homebirth after cesarean

Today I heard back from the Cambridge Midwives. I called them last week hoping for a more positive response to my wish to give birth at home, even though I've had a previous cesarean. The Kitchener Midwives responded with "We don't recommend that but we review on a case-by-case basis." I didn't like the initial negative clause in the sentence. The Cambridge Midwives responded with "Our attitude is that we respect the mother's wishes as long as it is safe." Much better.

And so today I got the time for my first appointment with the Cambridge Midwives. I still have one hesitation and that is that we live a 10-minute walk from the Grand River hospital in Kitchener where the Cambridge Midwives don't have privileges. Their privileges are at the Cambridge Hopsital, a twenty minute drive away. However, I don't plan to step foot in a hospital so I think it won't be an issue.

I am aware of some people's attitudes to homebirth-after-cesarean (HBAC). This will be my second HBAC. Emily was born by cesarean after a 20-hour labour and little progress (but A LOT of pain). Hope was born at home in Ottawa - a very successful HBAC and the most empowering experience of my life so far. I plan to repeat it.

Before deciding to have Hope at home, about 30 weeks into my pregnancy, I did a lot of research into HBACs, the risks and the inaccurate statistics. I decided that the fears I had about my delivery of Hope had nothing to do with me or her but had to do with the stress of being in a hospital environment. When I removed that, my attitude about the birth completely changed and I started to look forward to it. Amazing, I know. I read as much as I could, joined an HBAC message group, and even compiled quotes about birth to inspire me and read it over often.

And it all worked out as I hoped it would.

And so I have a hard time responding well to people when they infer that it is irresponsible or dangerous to have an HBAC. I know what my body can do, I know what it was designed to do and I know that my midwives will not agree to do something that endangers me or the baby.

Of course, there is the stress of living in a house that has a separate apartment in the basement. Luckily I've become good friends with our neighbours down there and they are the type of people who will likely embrace a homebirth even if it is above their heads. At least, I hope so.

I didn't talk about my plans for a homebirth with Hope on the blog at all and in fact I kept it a secret from most people except for John's sister and my sister and one or two friends. I wasn't ready or interested in defending my choice. This time I most definitely am having been there before and come out the other side.

Just as a woman's heart knows how and when to pump, her lungs to inhale, and her hand to pull back from fire, so she knows when and how to give birth.
Virginia Di Orio


little b said...

Yay! I'm so excited for you. There are lots of new studies that show a homebirth has better or similar outcomes to hospital birth for routine pregnancies. (and most of them are). I thought about a home birth this time, but I love the birth centre. It's a nice in between option. And I have no plans to set foot in a hospital either. I never did with Kate, and don't plan to this time. I am neither sick nor injured, so hospitals shouldn't have anything to do with it.

Karen said...

Unfortunately, birth centres aren't legalized in Ontario since midwives became legislated. If that was an option here, I might choose it this time but home was definitely where I wanted to be last time. This time, being not in our own home, I might choose a birth centre. Maybe not though. I like not having to go anywhere after the birth. It's awesome.

Erika said...

Funny... I've spent the last 7 1/2 years working in hospitals, and at this point, if/when I get to have a child, I'm voting for the birthing center (c; You go, girls! ['course, the whole VBAC thing does make it a bit more tricky -- most women's uteruses haven't have a scalpelized back door created before all those muscle contractions, but STILL, what makes us think hospitals are so great if your baby and mama are both healthy!!!]

P.S. have you ever looked at the "word verification" you have to do to post? The words always feel like that word came Balderdash to me. I find myself coming up with meanings. Today's is "dequit" -- I think that's what happens when you decide to give up but keep going anyways)

Julie said...

I'm so glad you found a midwife collective that is open to the HBAC option. It's your body, your birth, especially since you have already done it before.

squeee (as Dani would say)

Anonymous said...

Hi Karen,

I do not know if you are receiving my e-mails and text-messages. I tried...
Anyway, I just want to say I am so happy about your news and looking forward to having you back in Ottawa so I can help with some diaper, etc...
Congratulations to all of you!

Pam said...

As a strong vocal supporter for a woman's right to chose how and where to give birth, I am glad to hear you so openly positive and ready to espouse the benefits of your HBAC decision. Hope's birth was an amazing for you and John. I still remember the euphoria the two of you had when I brought Emily home to meet her new sister. My homebirth's were so empowering. I LOVED having my two children in the comfort of my own home. Midwives are trained to recognize warning signs and know when to bring in extra help. I hope the midwives suit your needs. Happy thoughts to you!

Shan said...

I am in awe of those who go the homebirth route. It's not something I could do. Although my opinion is tainted by two sick babies and complications during delivery with both. I'm glad you found a place you're comfortable at.