Thursday, November 12, 2009

Reflection on Stand and Deliver: A shock

In early March, I drew attention to a recently published article co-authored by blogger Rixa Freeze. The abstract of "Staying Home to Give Birth: Why Women in the United States Choose Home Birth" is available online. Rixa was kind enough to email me a copy, and I am finally getting around to reading the article. On page 120, the authors state:
"Given that women choosing home birth in the United States are a minority population, and that their choice to birth at home is not well supported, the aim of our study was to describe the reasons why women choose home birth."
So that's where we are going... why are women making an unpopular and relatively unsupported choice?

Some initial things that stood out, and I'm sure I'll have more because I have not finished the article yet, but I wanted to bring this one up now--
  • Less than one percent of the US population delivers their baby at home.
I knew that the percentage was small, but I had no idea it was that small, especially considering the number of women I personally know (more than 1% of my female friends) who have birthed at home. Certainly my lifestyle lends itself to friend-ing a certain type of woman, but it was a shocking statistic to me. One of the most disturbing things is that home birth is as safe as hospital births, yet due to the culture of fear perpetuated by many and logistical hurdles, many women do not or are unable to choose a home birth. For reference, the article mentions "In 1940, 40% of births to white women and 73% to nonwhite women in the United States occurred at home." (p.119) In spite of this, our births are not getting safer. No shock there.

I am looking forward to finishing the article. I know why many of my friends chose to birth at home, not at home, etc, but to see a more holistic view on why women (and their partners) do chose home birth is fascinating and exciting to me.

What do you think? Do you know anyone who birthed at home? Intended to birth at home? Did you birth at home? What are your thoughts?


Melodie said...

I live in Canada but I did a homebirth with a midwife for my second child. I would have for both births but the first birth didn't end up that way.
That is a shockingly low number. I too surround myself with likeminded women who homebirth. It's hard to see outside your personal sphere. But now that my daughter is in kindergarden I am discovering all the other types of women I only heard about in books and newspapers - the majority mainstream, birth in hospitals with doctors kind of women. And I see now for the first tiem ever that it is I who is NOT the norm.

Rebecca said...

As you know, I've had one home birth and am planning another. I do know of other women who have had home births, but I know all through my doula work. None of my girlfriends have had home births, and I think many of them think I'm a freak. It's always refreshing to read your birth posts. You make me feel normal.

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