March 16, 2011

Homebirth. The Future of Birth.

Women are Reclaiming their Power to Birth Their Babies with Conscious Presence.

I believe that one day every healthy woman will birth her baby at home into her own hands.

This is the way it used to be. It used to be that a birthing woman was surrounded by the women of her community and birthing in her own home. It used to be that Mama and baby were tucked into bed for several weeks following the birth and nurtured by the women of her community.

The present state of birth in our country has me concerned. Women who choose medically-trained obstetricians or medically-trained midwives to provide care during pregnancy and childbirth receive some of the lowest quality of care around the world. Appointments are rushed, nurturing is limited and women are often forced by their care providers in a state of fear around their growing baby and impending birth. Many women end up with unnecessary interventions beginning with induction and ending with cesarean surgery. If I were an obstetrician, I may very well have the same approach, for this is the training that obstetricians receive. Obstetricians are surgeons trained to actively manage the birth process by artificially controlling what would otherwise naturally unfold. Midwives trained by the medical model also tend to intervene from the beginning rather than allow the divine birth design to unfold.

Based upon my work with women and families around pregnancy and childbirth, this is what I notice. For their first pregnancy, many women choose to birth in the hospital. This is mainly where women who are pregnant for the first time feel comfortable giving birth. They feel comfortable knowing that medical tools are available to rescue them from the pain of childbirth. They feel comfortable knowing that if their body is somehow ill-designed, their surgeon can perform a cesarean surgery. They feel comfortable knowing that this is where most women go to birth their babies.

There is, however, so much that these women don’t know. They don’t know that a midwife trained in the ancient art of midwifery will spend about 45 -60 more minutes with them at each prenantal appointment. This time is spent educating parents about prenantal nutrition, exercise, reducing stress, creating a relationship and answering specific medical questions. They don’t know that the midwife will actually remember her name, her partner’s name, which drawer she keeps the bath towels in her home and which cupboard has the peanut butter. They don’t know that midwives use non-invasive and low risk techniques for addressing any and all issues around childbirth. They don’t know that midwives know and remember what comforts and nurtures each individual Mama, and that midwives know the intimate details of Mama’s fears and how to help her transcend those fears. They don’t know that midwives trust the natural birth design and the ancient wisdom of life and birth. They don’t know that the statistics for birthing at home with a midwife who has studied and trained in the ancient art of midwifery are far superior than birthing in a hospital. And finally, these women don’t know that their bodies are PERFECTLY designed to grow and birth a healthy baby!

When women in our society once again connect deeply with their bodies, intuition and feminine wisdom, they will once again trust their bodies and the divine birth design. Healthy women will choose to birth their first baby at home.

In the report, “Deadly Delivery-The Maternal Healthcare Crisis in the US” published by Amnesty International in 2010 one can read the following:

“The US health care system is failing women. For those who can afford it, the USA offers some of the best health care in the world. For many, however, that care is beyond reach. A high number of those without any form of health insurance are women of reproductive age. Women of color make up a disproportionate number of those women who do not have health insurance. Despite representing only 32 percent of women in the USA, women of color make up 51 percent of uninsured women.19 At the time of writing, reform of the health care system was a priority for the US administration and major changes were under consideration. However, under the existing system, the way in which the health care system in the USA is structured and financed is failing to ensure that all women have equal access to the health care they need. Although women in “active labor” cannot legally be turned away from a hospital regardless of their ability to pay, they may later be billed for thousands of dollars for medical care.20 Half of all births are covered by private insurance.21 However, policies that exclude coverage for maternal care are not uncommon and pregnant women may also find that they cannot get private health insurance because pregnancy is regarded as a “pre-existing condition”. Some 42 percent of births are covered by a government-funded program for limited categories of people on low incomes – Medicaid. However, complicated bureaucratic requirements mean that women eligible for public assistance often experience significant delays in receiving prenatal care.”

What can be done to ensure that women who choose to birth at home are supported financially, emotionally and by the larger society?

The Normalizing Homebirth Project (NHBP) has been created to support families with need-based financial support as well as emotional and social support. Homebirth Circles are being established across the country. A Homebirth Circle is a free social gathering in which families who are considering to homebirth, families who are planning to homebirth and families who have homebirthed can come together and create positive dialogue around homebirth and support one another in a social setting. The Normalizing Homebirth Project will also award need-based financial assistance to families who could not otherwise afford to birth at home. Any woman who is planning a homebirth can apply to receive a free mentor through the One-to-One mentoring program, in which a mother-to-be is matched with a mother who has homebirthed. This is an opportunity to receive emotional support around birthing at home.

However, the NHBP needs your help! Would you like to “sponsor” a homebirth? From the website (www.thenormalizinghomebirthproject.org) potential donors can personally select to whom they would like to make a financial contribution. Potential donors can read the story of a woman who desires in heart to make the best choice for her family and her baby by birthing at home. This woman needs your support! Please consider making a donation for the future of our children and families.

Let us together, each of us, make a commitment to fully support women who choose to birth at home. Let us recognize that surgeons do serve a role in childbirth – for a very small sample of the population. It is only through our collective energy and consciousness that we will bring about the much needed change in childbirth in our country and celebrate childbirth with honor and love!

Learn more about the Normalizing Homebirth Project by visiting www.contacttalkradio.com at Noon MST on Thursday March 17th. Click “LISTEN NOW.”

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