Birth facility

I went to a prenatal yoga class today. The first thirty minutes of class was spent in conversation, with the teacher telling the pregnant women things that we need to be sure to do to navigate the treacherous terrain that is a hospital birth. For instance:

"Be sure to make friends with the nurses. They're the ones who'll be with you the whole time. You won't even see the doctor until right at the end."

And, "Don't come in with a birth plan, because that makes the nurses angry, and you really need them to be on your side. One nurse actually told me that they figure if you have a birth plan, you're destined for a c-section."

And, "Give your husband a list of everything you want to have happen in the hospital, because he'll have to advocate for you. If you and your husband know what you want and it's clear that you're on the same page, the doctor is more likely to go along with you."

And, "You know that doctors are trained for the worst-case scenario, and they're going to want to treat your birth as if it is the worst-case scenario, even if it's not, so see if you can get the nurses not to call the doctor in at all until you're crowning."

I found this all quite validating (if a little annoying--didn't I pay to come in and do yoga?), because here is the outstanding facility where Biffle and I plan to have our baby:

I am very happy to announce that just last week my medical records made their way to the hands of Dr. Moore, who is willing to sign off on me giving birth at home (in SC a doctor has to sign off on every home birth or the midwife will lose her license). I will have a midwife who will be there throughout the labor, not just at the end. Biffle and I are not going to have to trick her in order for her to respect our wishes--she knows what we want and she's ideologically on board with us. She's trained to treat birth as a normal, healthy process, not a crisis waiting to happen. I'll be able to walk around, I won't be strapped to any machines, I can eat or drink throughout my labor, and I'll be in a space that feels incredibly comfortable and safe to me. And the animals will all be here.

It's funny--several people have commented on how "brave" I am for planning a homebirth for my first child. It seems a little odd to me--if we all know how fucked-up a standard hospital birth can be, then why is my choice so "brave"? It really just seems like common sense.

(For those of you who are concerned about safety, let me point you to the excellent summary of homebirth safety studies on Nashville Midwife's website.)

(Oh, and one more parenthetical comment: for those of you who don't live in Charleston and are wondering what I look like at 19 weeks pregnant, here you go. I'm in my yoga clothes, which I think makes it pretty evident that something's going on.)


Anonymous said...

I totally support your home-birth choice, and understand where the teacher is coming from with her broad generalizations, but let me chime in a moment to say that the advice given is NOT at all my experience with my last two hospital births.

At both, the nurses were supportive of MY choices. One even spent a long time trying to talk me out of an epidural (did that for birth #2; it was enough for me) and into managing it naturally. The birthing center where I went had lovely murals on the walls, whirlbaths, and was a caring and supportive environment (No, I wouldn't say the same about birth in a research hospital). My OB practice has a really low C-section and episeotomy rate and is adding a midwife to the practice, so it's a good practice, too.

All that to say--humane medical practices can exist in a hospital environment, too. It may not be the norm or the generalization, but it's certainly not impossible.

Again, not a comment about your choice--more a defense of mine. It worked beautifully for me and was, all things considered, a restful and supportive environment in which to bring my babies into the world.


Alison said...


Thanks for your comment. You're not the only person I know who's had a positive experience (in your case more than one) with a hospital birth. I have other friends who've had even more medically-intensive/involved births than yours and have been very happy with the process.

I'm glad you mentioned defending your choice--I do feel like that's what I'm often doing, both on this blog and in conversations. I don't mean to imply that my choice is the only right choice, but I think I can start to come across that way (even in my own head). Your comment reminds me to recognize that there are many humane and supportive ways to bring somebody into the world.

Syd said...

It always amazes me that other people seem to know what's best for me. If having a home birth is what you want, then that's your decision. I can't imagine having to defend such a personal decision to anyone. It's none of their business.

Carol McCullough said...

Hey Guys,
I got a lot of the same stuff from people about hospital births and was told I would really have to fight to advocate for my choices.

When I decided to stray from my birth plan (yes, I had one), my doctor (who was there early, not last minute) really discussed it with me to be sure that was the choice that I wanted. Everyone was supportive and I enjoyed my experience quite a lot. I think hospitals (at least some of them) have responded to the criticism and tried to reform some of their less palatable practices.

All that said, I think it is great you are doing a home birth. That way, Baxter gets to be there!

Oh, and hey, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Walter!

Hazel Ketchum said...

My grandma had 5 children all born at home. The big deal was that for the 5th one the doctor came to the house in a car and not a horse and cart! My dad "little Elmer" was born 4 pounds and his only life support was his grandmother who simply held him until he was bigger. If things get tough you and Walter can take a walk down the road to the big hospital if you need too! When the baby is coming it will be "all hands on deck" no matter where you are. I just can't wait to hold a little baby again. I don't really care where you have it as long as I get to hold it when you're done!

Love Hazel

Curtis said...

Oh. My. God, Alison, you're going to have the baby on the FRONT PORCH? What are you thinking? As natural and wonderful and all that other hippie stuff babies and birth are, do you really think the neighbors need to see that? Go inside, for goodness sake!