Reasons to Consider Home Birth During a Pandemic
These pandemic days are a source of anxiety for everyone. No matter where your anxiety level started out, it’s higher than it was before the lockdowns started. For pregnant women, this anxiety now comes with considerations for your birth that you never imagined. Fear is a real issue, and many women are switching to home birth or unassisted birth. Whether it’s out of fear of the virus, fear of being alone*, or fear of losing autonomy, you deserve answers. You deserve options. You deserve humane, individualized, evidence-based care with a provider who can meet you right where you’re at.
Here are four strong reasons to consider switching to home birth care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. Support people of your choice.
As of right now, I am not limiting who you can invite into your home during your labor and birth. The primary reason for this is that you have a human right to a support person of your choice to be present. And I do not believe that I have the power to infringe on that right. Period.
Whether you are planning to have only your partner attend you, or you desire to have your entire family along with a doula and a photographer, or anything in between, I support your right to surround yourself with anyone you need. As your midwife, I trust you to set your own common-sense parameters for visitors that would apply regardless of any pandemic.
From there, it is my responsibility to maintain my own good health practices, including proper hygiene and disinfecting procedures. I will modify what I do in order to make sure your home remains a safe, healthy place to give birth. Switching to home birth doesn’t have to mean sacrificing health and safety.
Frankly, the hospital is where sick people congregate. Hospitals are the epicenters of the COVID-19 pandemic, as they should be. That is, after all, why we have hospitals — to treat the sick. If you are healthy and low-risk, it might be a better option for you to stay home to have your baby and minimize your chance of exposure to the virus (as well as other hospital-borne infections).
You and your family are already colonized to the germs present in your home, and it is much simpler to control the environment.
As a midwife, my job is to educate and inform you as fully as possible regarding all of the choices you need to make regarding your pregnancy, labor, birth, and in the days beyond. It is your job to make the decisions. After that, my role is to support you in every decision you make. This means that you are in the driver’s seat the entire time, and I am your navigator and guide.
Unlike many hospitals that have banned doulas, banned VBACs, or instituted other restrictive policies, I have no desire or right to decide for you what should or should not happen during your pregnancy, labor, and birth. It is my job to create a space in which you can make these choices for yourself, with my help and guidance. Sometimes, that help will involve transferring your care. If it comes to that, it’s a decision you and I make together, sharing the responsibility.
This can feel a little daunting at first, as you start to carry more of the responsibility that comes with true autonomy. However, you will find your confidence growing with every decision you make. There is nothing like it, and switching to home birth care enhances your power and autonomy.
Study after study continues to confirm that home birth is, indeed, a safe option for most women. One of the largest was a study conducted in 2009 in the Netherlands that looked at over 500,000 births. Its conclusion states that “…planning a home birth does not increase the risks of perinatal mortality and severe perinatal morbidity among low-risk women, provided the maternity care system facilitates this choice through the availability of well-trained midwives and through a good transportation and referral system.”
A new study conducted in 2019 by McMaster University concludes that “…low risk pregnant women who intend to give birth at home have no increased chance of the baby’s perinatal or neonatal death compared to other low risk women who intend to give birth in a hospital.”
Basically, this means that having your baby at home is just as safe as having your baby in the hospital, as long as a well-trained provider is in attendance, and you can quickly get to a hospital if the need arises. And even within those parameters, there is a lot of wiggle room. Talk to a midwife and find out if you would be a good candidate for home birth. After all, birth is designed to work if no one is there to help, but it’s a lot safer if someone is there who can help if it’s needed.
So, what now?
If you have been thinking about switching to home birth during this troubled time in our country, I encourage you to do your research, then call me. Contact me soon! My calendar for 2021 is filling quickly, and it’s important to begin care as soon as possible, especially if you are a little further along.
*Thankfully, this policy in NYC was rescinded, but women are still limited to only one support person during their labor, and many are forced to leave two hours after the birth instead of being able to stay overnight.