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May 04, 2012

Why we chose to avoid a hospital birth...

when we first decided to opt out of the normal hospital birth option, a lot of the responses we got were mostly questions? Why? What's wrong with you? Trying to be a martyr? and so on...One person even asked me "why don't you just want to do it the normal way?" and while i posted the reasons we were using a birth center early on (read that here), today I came across a post on titled "Candles not required" written by Jenna Hull (here's her blog) that instantly grabbed my attention.

"I am not the product of hippie parents and I don't consider myself righteous. I am not an atheist, a liberal, or a neofeminist. I am not crazy nor am I from Mars. Yet these are typical assumptions people make when I tell them that my child was born at home. Intentionally.

I did not have the baby in the dead of winter, in some remote locale, alone and stark naked. I did not light candles, play new age music, chant to a birth goddess, or have a séance. I did not have my baby while hugging a tree or squatting in a rice paddy (not that there is anything wrong with the those scenarios). I simply labored, delivered, and birthed at my home."

Just switch out the words "home" for "birth center" and I feel that i could have written those exact words.  I continued on to read her story and it was much like mine. I went from getting pregnant and reading "what to expect" to realizing how little that book teaches you and how there is a whole industry behind babies and birth. After doing my due diligence (which I encourage ALL mothers to do regardless of if you think you know how you want to birth), I realized that these norms about birthing today are just social norms of modern times but there was NOTHING normal about it.

Now don't get me wrong. I am not saying it is wrong to birth in a hospital. And there's nothing wrong with informed decisions to induce, get an epidural, or any other interventions. I make no judgments on someone else's  birth decisions in any way. I'm simply stating why WE chose to avoid a hospital birth.

Initially it was simply to avoid the snowball effect of interventions into an unnecessary c-section as highlighted in The Business of Being Born (the c-section rate in the DC metro area is pretty high).  Then after speaking with my own obstetrician at our 13 week appointment, i was left with a bad taste in my mouth (figuratively). When I asked about delayed cord clamping and was met with the response "I'll accommodate you within reason", I knew instantly that working with this practice would be an uphill battle in the state that I was in. And while these obstetricians were very skilled in their profession (I knew first hand after my hysteroscopic resection and laproscopic removal of dermoid cyst that went wonderfully well with these trained OB's), I knew that I shouldn't be seeing them in the current state I was in. They (Ob's) are professionals trained in obstetrical surgery and medical conditions. What state was I in? A low risk, healthy, and normal pregnancy that did not require surgery or medical procedures with the hopes that I would be able to birth in the same manner - low risk, healthy, and normal vaginal delivery.

So to make a long story short, we birthed at a birth center. I would have preferred birthing at home, but our 1 bedroom condo and my skittish pup kept me from doing so. It was the best decision of our lives. And now looking back, I can honestly say that all the reasons I listed in this post about why we chose a birth center were achieved by avoiding a hospital birth.  Could we have achieved these things in a hospital setting? Quite possibly. Was I 100% sure we could have? Nope, so we didn't take that chance... 

Annabelle was "born free" and we were both treated like two normal human beings going through a normal process of life and not medical patients. Even with the gestational diabetes and my water breaking, we were not poked and prodded like some science experiment because we had knowledgeable and experienced hands at our sides (BirthCare is awesome, as is our Doula Claudia - Birthing Hands of DC). 

Annabelle was never once taken out of my sight. 

We had immediate skin to skin contact. 

We delayed her cord clamping to ensure she received all that was due to her. 

We delayed all examinations, Vitamin K shot, and erythromycin ointment until after she breastfed for the first time... after I was able to smell her, lock eyes with her, touch her, and examine every little toe nail and every little finger nail on her body. 

We did not bathe her or excessively wipe off the vernix that protects and coats her, instead we let that moisturize and continue to protect her skin. 

We were not treated like patients with a disease but rather like humans who needed a little guidance and some suggestions to get through the process. Our input was always asked and we were always touched with very gentle hands. 

In essence, we chose to birth outside of the hospital to minimize any cause or need of separation between mother and child (by avoiding interventions) and to minimize any hoops we would have to jump through to get the things we wanted (i.e., immediate skin to skin, delayed cord clamping, examinations etc). If that makes me a martyr or a hero, a hippie or righteous, or whatever label you want to call me... that's fine.

As Jenna Hull said "For me, birth simply is what it is: a twisted, humbling, challenging, empowering path, which Mother Nature has designed and prepared me for perfectly." A statement I agree with wholeheartedly!

Read her whole article here!


  1. I think its awesome you were able to have the kind of birth you wanted. I never thought of NOT going to a hospital just because I really wanted an epidural (I don't do well with pain) and was terrified of something going wrong. Unfortunately I did need a Csection due to a high fever that they couldn't bring down. Had I been at home and developed the fever it could have potentially hurt my baby had we not been able to get him out soon. Unfortunately the Csection didn't go as planned which I'm still upset about but the main thing was getting him out safely. I'm also happy he was at the hospital since they discovered the next morning that he was having breathing issues, something we may not have noticed right away had we been somewhere else. So I am glad that we did the hospital birth for those two reasons. If I have another I will go to the hospital again mainly b/c I love my OB but I think I will try to avoid an induction if possible and definitely try for a VBAC.

    1. I definitely encourage you to try for a VBAC (and know you could totally do it) and think its great you liked your OB. Maybe if my OB seemed more encouraging I would have stayed with him but in the end, I'm glad I didn't. Keep in mind for your next one that epidurals can cause fevers (not to say this is what happened in your case) which happened to my friend and her daughter was whisked away to the nicu and they ran her full of antibiodics & observations for 48 hrs just in case.

      I know you said you don't do well with pain but you were such a trooper through the c-section and recovery that I think no matter what comes your way for your future births, you will do amazingly! You have an amazing strength and I think you proved that with Hunter's birth!

      PS. Just realizing this reply option and loving it!


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