Our country affords many freedoms, among them the right to birth where and with whom we choose. In a state like Michigan where there are currently no regulations or laws surrounding midwifery, that freedom is widely interpreted. But what about the rights of consumers to be "fully informed ", and what exactly does that mean? It seems that many home birth advocates tell mothers to "educate themselves", and defend their cause when things go awry with reprimands about the mother's responsibility to make an educated choice.
In a state with no defined scope of practice or licensing measures for out-of-hospital midwives, it's extremely difficult for consumers to access information that would allow them to fully educate or inform themselves before making the choice to have a home birth or birth center birth. Being fully informed means families are told about the good, the bad, and the ugly as they pertain to home birth. It means a woman is told by her care provider directly & honestly the benefits of home birth, and the inherent risks that come along with it.
All too often I meet mothers, usually those whose birth stories don't have happy endings, who were only told about the benefits of home birth. They feel duped, embarrassed, like they somehow were fooled by an illusion of promises that turned out to be anything but empowering. These mothers have not been informed, they have been misled.
There will also forever and always be those mothers who choose home birth despite the risks that come with it, and fully knowing what they are risking. And there are mothers who do not fully understand the choices, and more importantly the consequences that can be associated with making the home birth choice. I fully accept a woman's right to choose home birth, but the one caveat is that she deserves to know a few key facts. Then, if knowing these facts, she still makes the choice for home birth, then the choice and responsibility can truly be her own. The problem comes when mothers choose home birth with their heads full of misguided information and misleading propaganda...blinded by the woo as some might say.
And so with these mothers in mind, those who weren't fully informed about the important factors to consider before choosing home birth, here is a list of things to consider...
Facts You Should Know When Considering Home Birth
What Factors Contribute to the Best Outcomes for Out-of-Hospital Birth?
Other Important Thoughts
Any mother planning a home birth who goes around touting that it is safe or as safe as a hospital birth does not have, or fails to acknowledge the facts. A mother who claims her unlicensed midwife is safe, cannot really know without the data on her outcomes to back it up. A mother who tells you she is educating herself and choosing not to do any of the prenatal assessments because they are unnecessary or harmful has fallen hard for the fallacy of trusting birth. Whatever your choices may be surrounding birth, take time to understand the benefits, the risks, and their subsequent consequences before making the decision to have your baby at home.