I'm a little... okay, a lot... nervous to write this post. After talking with a friend this week, I decided to just write it. Because my brain is killing me and I have things I want to share and I just don't feel right about not sharing them. And because I was inspired by her courage to discuss this issue with others.
My friend (who was told she was the perfect pregnant woman... most in shape, best diet, etc) experienced a homebirth turned hospital transfer during a scary shoulder dystocia. The baby was safely delivered at the hospital and everyone was thankful, but my friend suffered some pain from it for quite awhile. The kicker: her midwife (who was also my midwife) tells people she had a shoulder dystocia because she was emotional. Yep... Meanwhile the doctors who actually delivered her baby said her shoulder dystocia was because her 9lbs+ baby was too big to fit through her pelvis without complication. Imagine that.
I feel for her. I was also told my shoulder dystocia happened because I didn't trust birth enough. Not by the midwife, but by some other "trust in nature and it will never fail you" sorts.
It never fails: when nature is proven to be fallible, blame the mother.
My coming around story:
Amazingly, it doesn't start with my son's homebirth injury (I'm stubborn and proud and lived in denial a lot longer than my above friend did). The following took place 2 years ago...
Around the time I started mildly waivering in my homebirth beliefs, a blogger by the name of Dr. Amy posted about a different woman I know who had a traumatic homebirth with my old midwife... her baby wasn't as blessed as my son. Her daughter was much, much, much worse off. I was mad at this blogger. I went on her site and she seemed harsh and she sounded mean, but I couldn't stop myself from going back to her blog over and over again. Some posts seemed harsh (I think it's for shock value and some of her opinion posts I do not agree with), but then she'd post about statistics and debunking homebirth propaganda and rates of brain injuries and this and that... I could not ignore these posts. They stewed in my brain for nights after I read them.
She challenged so much of what I had previously thought and believed... and she was right. I was so mad at her for this, at first. I began to realize that so much of what I previously believed and quoted time and time again had had omissions to it, had been twisted around. Sigh. And so many questions I had were finally answered. They weren't answered in the way I wanted. Believe me, I wanted to keep going with my support of homebirth for low-risk women... I truly wanted to. But after going through the real statistics and risk percentage comparisons... I just couldn't.
I was humbled. But it was real. And I was thankful to know these things.
-For instance: I didn't understand how the U.S. and other countries tallied infant mortality rates. They do it very differently. Homebirth books constantly quote infant mortality rates instead of the U.S.'s perinatal mortality rate, which is actually quite low. I had also not even thought about how different races are more at risk for premature babies that raise mortality rates and how that plays into it all. Interested? Homebirth Papers and Statistics
-When I read the recently collected homebirth data from Oregon and Arizona and Colorado recently, my heart sank. But truth hurts sometimes: Oregon's Homebirth Mortality Rates and Arizona's and Colorado's . Not to mention the bad rates with Dutch Midwives.
-The Risk Of Brain Injury Treatment was really eye opening as well.
-I didn't understand why MANA refuses to release their death rates (birth data is not even required by 48 state's MANA midwives). Apparently I'm not the only one concerned about that: MANA
- I had never thought about the lack of accountability homebirth midwives have. How they don't have to have new, up-to-date training every year or so like nurse-midwives and doctors and nurses do. How their skills don't have to be reassessed. About how they can take high risk patients on with no consequences... and they do. My old midwife delivers breech babies, vbacs, suspected GBS+ women, extremely overdue women, advanced maternal aged women, women with high blood pressure, women who are under 37 wks pregnant, and women who smoke. I don't know if she has ever tried to deliver twins or other high risk women categories, but I wouldn't doubt it (I only listed the ones I was positive in). Because she has no oversight and no one to answer to, she can "go with her gut" and take on whoever, at whatever risk and cost, unfortunately. And, unfortunately, she has had a number of tragic births under her belt.
There were other things I learned... things that made my stomach lurch. Such as this a day after I posted this post:
Edited to Add: Here is another take on the increase in death rates from another site: New MANA Study
Homebirth Death Rate 450% Higher than Hospital
And another take on it from a Midwife Who Entered Information into the MANA "Study" (hard to call if that when only 20-30 % of midwives entered their data) Naval-Gazing Midwife
I recently found a blog that I really like about a former homebirth fan who found that whenever she asked questions, they were brushed off. Whenever she'd post a "what if" on a homebirth website, the comments were immediately deleted (been there!). After experiencing homebirths, as a doula, she would be accused of spreading fear when wanting to talk about issues that had come up. The writer is more mellow in her writing than Dr. Amy and she has good things to say. I find her thoughts so similar to mine. Here is her link if you are curious: http://whatifsandfears.blogspot.com/
All this to say... I just can't support homebirth. I wish I could, but I can not. At all. (and yes, this is coming from a woman who once studied under Ina May Gaskin and her fellow midwives... aw, the humbling...).
Many of my friends choose to birth at home. That's why I was mostly scared to write this blog post (hurt feelings are the worst and totally NOT my intent). But I couldn't help but think that maybe they didn't know about the differences in statistic gathering or that they hadn't seen the recent reports from Oregon, Arizona, and Colorado (because so much is omitted in homebirth webstes) or maybe they never thought about some stuff I had not thought about previously, either. I hated saying to myself, "I didn't know." and I wanted to share because I don't want anyone to say that they didn't know or didn't understand because of my lack of courage.
SO if you are one of those dear friends of mine reading this: I love you! I worry and I pray for you whenever I think of you and we do not have to talk about this stuff unless you want to in real life.
Anyway, this is not meant to be a debate blog or anything like that. Especially seeing as how I've been on both sides... Just a former homebirth trauma mama who had something on her heart and mind that she had to share, so she can feel at peace with herself. Blessings, Raising Crops and Babies