In the United States, childbirth usually happens in a hospital. But is that the safest place to have a baby? The medical establishment has a vested interest in discouraging homebirth and doing their best to make anyone advocating alternatives to hospital birth seem crazy or even dangerous. There have been numerous studies showing the advantages of homebirth, when undertaken by low-risk women. Low-risk women are those who do not have the criteria which would define them as high-risk. High risk factors in pregnancy are as follows: Alcohol abuse, smoking, being severely over or underweight, poor nutrition, and illegal drug use.
A woman could also be considered high risk if she has certain medical conditions requiring drug therapy and medical management. Other factors which could indicate high risk pregnancy are if, in previous pregnancies, the woman had difficulty conceiving, rhesus disease, a history of repeated miscarriage, premature birth, stillbirth, premature birth, severe vomiting, thrombosis, two or more caesarian sections, or severe vaginal bleeding. (www.ninemonths.com) The majority of women do not fall into these categories. Dr. Roger K. Freeman, author of Safe Delivery: Protecting Your Baby During High-Risk Pregnancy, estimates that 20 to 25 percent of all women are high-risk. For women who are high risk, a hospital is a safer place to be. But for women who are low-risk, a homebirth with certified midwives can be a safer choice.
The medical establishment has a very good reason for wanting to keep a monopoly on birth. Money. Hospital births, on average, cost at least twice as much as a home birth attended by certified professional midwives. And, if the doctor performs a caesarian section, he or she can triple or quadruple the figure. All while claiming that c-sections are more safe than vaginal birth. This is untrue. Caesarian section is major abdominal surgery. It increases the risk of maternal death, hemorrhage, and infection. It carries higher risks for the baby as well, such as respiratory distress syndrome, and lower APGAR scores for the baby. Not to mention the fact that in one to nine percent of cases, the baby is scarred or even maimed by the scalpel.
Doctors often schedule surgery rather than wait for a woman to go into labor, for their own or the mother's "convenience". Doctors also prefer surgical birth, because they are less likely to be sued for malpractice. (Supposedly, they did their best!)
Caesarian birth takes up less of the doctor's time. This also makes it more popular with the medical establishment.
The Center for Disease Control reported the caesarian section rate for 2004 as 29.1% of all births in this country. This is up 40% since 1996. In 1970 less than 5% of all births in the United States were caesarian section. The World Health Organization states that no region in the world is justified in having a c section rate higher than ten to fifteen percent.
Hospitals are places for sick people. It stands to reason that they are therefore, full of germs. This is not a logical place to put newborns. Nosocomial infections, those caused by hospitalization, are estimated to be present in over 10% of all hospital patients. (Stephen T. Abedon, Nosocomial Infections: Supplemental Lecture)
Interventions such as drugs, episiotomy, induction of labor, electronic fetal monitoring, use of an intravenous drip, and the use of forceps are all extremely common in hospital birth. They are, however, not necessary and often harmful to both mother and child.
Birth in a home, with trained midwives, can be a much better option. Home-based birth means there is a much lower rate of infection for the baby and the mother. There is zero chance of a baby going home with the wrong parents. There is no humiliating hospital gown, the mother does not have to be shaved, or cut, or separated from her baby. There are no restrictions on visitors. (Hospitals routinely put newborns in a nursery, away from their mothers.) Birth at home means a woman has agreed to give birth without drugs, which leads to better outcome for the mother, and the baby.