Dear Future Fathers,
So, you are going to be a dad. Congratulations!
I write this to you as someone who has witnessed birth in a hospital and at home. Please believe I can assure you, unabiasedly, that homebirth is MUCH better. Granted, it's easy for me to say as I'm not the one who did all that pushing and suffered so without the aid of drugs. However the long term effects of a hospital birth are profound for the whole family, particularly for the mother.
One in three women in Australia will end up with a ceasarian, forever complicating future births (emotionally rather than physically) and stealing those first precious moments where a life long bond begins. Baby is whisked away for tests and monitoring and in some cases, formula in a bottle. Mother is tired, drugged, and in shock. Dad gets to stand there like a stunned mullet, helpless and completely powerless over the entire situation.
As the partner of someone who reads studies on these things, I am reliably informed that most women who go to hospital plan to give birth intervention free. Which brings me to the crux of the problem with hospital birth, only 5% of women who go to hospital actually have a physiological, intervention free birth! They are rather lucky products of the system, who get to touch their baby fairly soon after birth. Only after the baby is wiped, the cord is prematurely clamped, vaccinations are given, the baby is weighed and measured, and given an arbitrary score out of ten. Then and only then is the baby given to its mother. That’s the wrong way around. All those other things can wait, but a mother and baby can not wait to meet each other.
With institutional birth everyone gets a cut (pun intended) from the anaesthetist to the obstetrician to the pediatrician. Birthing is an industry and it costs taxpayers roughly $10,000 a pop. There is a lot of money involved, hence why moves are afoot to make it so that midwives are unable to work independently, and be covered by insurance. It’s worth noting that insurance doesn’t keep babies alive, nor does it result in safe, peaceful birth. The federal government has passed a bill which, but for the most simple scenario, makes it near impossible for a woman to find a midwife to attend her home birth. There is a lot at stake and the most powerful union lobby group in the country, (Australian Medical Association), know this. They do not want women to birth at home because it will take money out of their pockets. Not because home birth is dangerous, but because it costs them money!
From experience, midwives are professional, capable people able to accommodate the needs of the woman no matter what the situation. As a father to one of the 0.3% of babies born at home, I can attest to the bravery and ability of birthing women. I was witness to the ancient inner strength and toughness of a woman’s psyche. I was lucky enough to share the process and experience the sheer gentleness and peace of a natural birth at it's conclusion. Instead of doctors snipping the cord and taking my baby away from me (like happened to my eldest son) I watched our baby suckle on mums breast, uninterrupted.
The smile on my partner’s face spoke a thousand words as she had achieved what she had innately known possible, after two ceasarians, she gave birth naturally, powerfully! No cesarian wound seeping for the next six months, opening up at every baby kick, no birth trauma or psychological scars form the belief that she may have failed, no depression or anger bubbling away just under the surface.
The biggest bonus, other than having a happy and healthy mother and child, is living in the knowledge that we gave our child the perfect, healthiest, uncorrupted beginning. I think the link between a dying planet, human cruelty and the over- medicalisation and subsequent problems created by interventionist birth is an obvious one. As someone who has seen first hand the profound differences in the way my children entered this world I feel entitled to express an opinion on this. So if your partner wants to stay home to give birth be grateful. Home birth is family birth. Home birth is REAL birth!