Thursday, January 17, 2008

Homebirth is a Safe Option, But is it Safer?

Numerous studies have shown home births to be a very safe option for low-risk women. Studies also show that, two groups of women in opposite settings, one in a planned home birth setting and one in a hospital setting show two very different outcomes.


Neonatal Outcomes:
In the hospital, 3.7 times as many babies required resuscitation.
Infection rates of newborns were 4 times higher in the hospital.
There was 2.5 times as many cases of meconium aspiration pneumonia in the hospital group.
There were 6 cases of neonatal lungwater syndrome in the hospital and none at home.
There were 30 birth injuries (mostly due to forceps) in the hospital group, and none at home.
The incidence of respiratory distress among newborns was 17 times greater in the hospital than in the home.
While neonatal and perinatal death rates were statistically the same for both groups, Apgar scores (a measure of physical well being of the newborn) were significantly worse in the hospital.
Works cited:
Summary of Results of Matched Population Study Comparing Hospital Birth with Home Birth
Summary of epidemiologically controlled comparison of home and hospital birth. Original study, by Mehl LE et al. Outcomes of
elective home births: a series of 1.146 cases. J Reprod Med 1977;19(5):281-90.[web page lost to web entropy - please e-mail me if you come across this page anywhere on the web. Thanks.]
Mehl, L., Peterson, G., Shaw, N.S., Creavy, D. (1978) "Outcomes of 1146 elective home births: a series of 1146 cases." J Repro Med.
19:281-90
(data retrieved from Gentlebirth.org website)



The National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit concluded in Where To Be Born in 1994 that "no evidence exists to support the claim that a hospital is the safest place for women to have normal births." The World HealthOrganization (WHO) reports that "it has never been scientifically proven that the hospital is a safer place than home for a woman who has had an uncomplicated pregnancy to have her baby. Studies of planned home births in developed countries with women who have had uncomplicated pregnancies have shown sickness and death rates for mother and baby equal to or better than hospital birth statistics for women with uncomplicated pregnancies."

(data retrieved from Storknet.com, click on link to view the whole article by Lauri Smit, "Is Home Birth Safe?"


Lets put aside the number statistics and studies regarding the safety of birth whether it be in a hospital or home setting and look at the history of "time" or rather the beginning of the professionalization of childbirth.


In the 18th century, a division between surgeons and midwives arose, as medical men began to assert that their modern scientific processes were better for mothers and infants than the folk-medical midwives. Whether this was a valid claim or not can be seen in the entry for Justine Siegemund, a renowned seventeenth century German midwife, whose Court Midwife (1690) was the first female-authored German medical text.[citation needed]

At the outset of the 18th century in England, most babies were caught by a midwife, but by the onset of the 19th century, the majority of those babies born to persons of means had a surgeon involved. A number of excellent full length studies of this historical shift have been written.

(Information retrieved from Wikipedia)




How did we survive as people, if there was no "profession" of obstetrics prior to the 18th century? The claim that a hospital birth is safer than a home birth for low risk women is completely unsubstantiated by history itself. I will absolutely recognize the advancement of medicine and how it has saved and/or improved lives. In doing so, I must recognize the changes in attitudes by men, and women, towards their own bodies. Too much credit has been
given to the advancement of medicine, and none at all given to the Glorious creation of gestating/laboring body which has consistently populated the earth since the First Woman, Eve.

What has changed? Why do we now considerhospital births "normal" and birthing free from drugs, in the comfort of home"abnormal"? (Read any pregnancy related magazine and/or "guide") Have our gestating/labor bodies changed since Eve? Have we became "sicker"? I cannot tell you how many times people have called me "crazy" for choosing to give birth without drugs, out of a hospital setting. While I respond respectfully, I fully realize that what IS normal has become abnormal, what is abnormal has become the norm. The change lies in our attitudes and our hearts. As we become a more intellectual society, we move further away from the age old wisdom of God, thus, have little, if no trust in the gestating/laboring body that He specificallycreated for growing and birthing life.

Let's think about it, why would He declare, "be fruitful and multiply" and yet provide no natural/normal means, or resources to do just that? Do I need to list the promises he makes to His people and their children?

And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.

And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying,

And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you; -- Genesis 9:7-9


I especially hold those who profess belief/faith in the promises of God, to a higher level of "understanding" for what God has created in the gestating/laboring body. Yet, church is one place where hospital births are highly promoted. Worse yet, home births are widely discouraged. Check out this quote from Laura Shanley owner of BornFree in an interview with About.com:

"Good candidates for unassisted birth are people who believe in themselves. A belief in some sort of God or spiritual reality is helpful, but an overdependence upon organized religion can be a detriment. Church leaders are seldom supportive of independent birthing, and couples who are eager to get official sanction for their birthing choices, often feel a conflict. Because our bodies are so responsive to our thoughts - especially in labor - this conflict can make for a problematic birth. This same phenomenon can occur when couples are overly dependent upon family, government, or community support. Independence of thought is essential for those who choose to give birth without medical assistance."
Laura Shanley, as far as I know, is not a professed believer in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. She has birthed 4 children at home without any assistance. To view the complete interview click on About.com . To learn more about Laura Shanley click on the highlighted link.

In the same way, the modern church is like Abram and Sarai (before their name change):

"And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.

And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.

And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be." -- Genesis 15:3-5

"Now Sarai Abram's wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar.

"And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai." -- Genesis 16:1-2

To avoid any (popular) misconceptions, I want to make this statement. Let's NOT focus on the fact that Sarai is a woman, but the fact that Sarai is NOT God! Yet, Abram, "hearkened" unto her voice. In HER own fleshly wisdom, leaning upon HER own understanding as opposed to the spoken Word of God.

Whether you profess belief in the living God or not, we ALL cannot deny that the woman's body has carried us all throughout the history as time as we know it, without, I must add, our assistance.

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools," -- Romans 1:18-22

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