Book on Homebirth

I just finished “The Home Birth Advantage” by Mayer Eisenstein, M.D.

I didn’t learn so many new things like with previous books, but there were some great facts and quotes from a doctor who has a home birth practice in Chicago.

“The readers of this book who feel they are respectful of nature but had hospital births are part of a growing third group I have not discussed, but a group I feel will appreciate this book.  They are a group of believers in nature’s ways whom obstetricians have scared into being technological thinkers by bombarding them with fear and guilt.  The obstetrician’s warming, ‘You should turn things over to a specialist just in case something goes wrong,’ can carry a lot of weight unless families are prepared to study the scientific facts of childbirth on their own.  I hope to present those facts to families who have some doubts about the thinking of the obstetrical establishment.”  (pg.35)

I consider myself a part of this group.  It took me 2 safe (but not as I planned) hospital births and a lot of reading to realize I shouldn’t have been there in the first place!

The first woman in Obstetrics was Dr. Beatrice Tucker.  She believed birth was safest when left to nature.

“As the director of the Chicago Maternity Center from 1932 until 1972, over 100,000 babies were delivered safely at home under Dr. Tucker’s direction.  These babies of Chicago’s indigent mothers were born into the city’s most humble homes with a safety record unsurpassed in the country.  At a time before blood banks and antibiotics, Dr. Tucker was able to have such a record due to her safe obstetrical practices.  Her high standards and positive philosophy made birth safe even in Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods.”  (pg. 37)

Why don’t doctors realize how private birth is?  Why do women agree to subject themselves to hospitals where any number of doctors, nurses, and students can come and go and check her at any point?  It’s no wonder so many women are “diagnosed” with Failure to Progress!

“Giving Birth requires privacy and intimacy, as does the sexuality between man and woman.  Birth is a very sexual and personal experience.  A warm and intimate environment allows us to function as we were intended to.  It is really a very basic instinct that we have lost touch with in the United States.”  (pg. 46)

“The home environment just doesn’t allow labor to progress in an abnormal fashion.  The mothers are surrounded by familiar sights, smells, and foods, and people who care about them.  No one has to worry about which unfamiliar people will be walking in or what they will be doing to them to alter the progress of labor.”  (pg. 49)

All the current studies prove that our rate of c-section is 2- to 3-times as high as what is deemed safe.  Why haven’t scientific facts and data been enough to lower the rate?  No matter what OBs are taught in school, they continue to do unnecessary sections and the rate continues to rise.  It’s looking like the only way to lower the rate is for insurance companies to step in and reward doctors for births that aren’t interfered with unless necessary.  No inductions except for a short list of medical reasons, no c-sections without trial of labor in most cases, etc…A sections costs an insurance company an average of 3 times as much as a vaginal birth.  If insurance companies split the difference and raise the pay on vaginal births and refused to compensate for non-emergency c-sections, the rate would surely drop.

“Honey, breech is just a slight variation of normal.”  -Dr. Tucker

Then there’s intervention in normal birth where it isn’t needed.  Why are women so scared of breech birth?  It isn’t nearly as risky as OBs would have them believe.  And twins!  There’s just no evidence that twins are safer being taken by scheduled section before mom goes into labor naturally.

“The myth that twins and breech babies must be delivered by surgery is a ridiculous notion also.  Doctors have been intervening in these types of births for so long that the skills necessary to deliver them have been lost.  It actually requires a five-year training program to teach doctors properly to deliver twins and breech babies.  However, a new doctor can learn to do a c-section in about 90 days.  Preference for the shorter training time has virtually eradicated all knowledge of natural deliver of these babies from U.S. hospitals.”  (pg. 84)

So many women don’t realize that the doctor isn’t always right.  They don’t always know what’s best.  A medical degree doesn’t make one God, and yet men and women alike hold them up to the standards of a do-no-wrong God.

“VBAC literature also tells couples not to return to the same doctor who did the first c-section.  Chances are excellent that he or she will be prejudging the VBAC woman based on her first delivery.

“…labor and delivery can vary immensely from a first delivery to a second or third or tenth.  There is seldom a reason to predict a woman’s next labor pattern based on her last delivery.  But doctors do try to make these predictions and some will even say that another c-section is inevitable.  For this reason…women should get the second opinion of a home birth doctor long before delivery.”  (pg. 88-89)

Dr. Eininstein’s Homefirst practice had a 90% VBAC success rate after delivering 1,000 HBAC babies through 1999.  You cannot find an OB practice that has success rates like that in hospitals.  So, is Homefirst performing magic?  Or are the rest of the OBs doing something naturally wrong?

Why do most people believe that OBs “deliver” babies?  The only time an OB does the delivering is when they interrupt the natural process and provide medical interventions.  Pulling the baby out with forceps or a vacuum and c-section are the only time the OB does the delivering.  Every other time the mother delivers the baby, the OB only catches.  But, if you ask most women who delivered their baby, the will tell you that their OB did.   For that matter, I can’t imagine you will find too many OBs who will tell you that they don’t deliver most babies!

“It is no longer well known that women are able to give birth.  The American obstetrical system has most of us believing that women cannot give birth without obstetricians.  They have told the public for too many years that women must be in the obstetricians’ sterile locations with they equipment, and within their time frames in order to give birth.  They tell us that if women do not follow their rules then, ‘something will go wrong'”.  (pg. 124)

SOOOOO many women are willing to believe that their bodies failed them and so they needed help from the OB instead of believing that their OB failed them and they needed no help, just more time.  Somehow or society has been brainwashed into thinking that this is just the way things are when it comes to birth.

Seriously?!  The section rate has TRIPPLED since the late 60’s and no more babies have survived, actually, the death rate has risen as well.  We are the only industrialized nation to see this trend.  So, do you suppose that women in the US have evolved differently in the last 40 years to a point that 1/3 can no longer give birth naturally?  Or can we assume that as birth became a medical event, the hospitals are the ones who evolved to prevent safe natural birth?

Home birth empowers women.  They can be confident that their bodies will be able to give birth at home.  Unlike their disappointed hospital counterparts, home birth mothers will tell you that it was the greatest experience of their lives.”  (pg. 124-125)

Isn’t it funny how humans can take a perfectly natural event and make a big deal out of it and actually ruin it?  Or maybe not so funny as sad…Even though the section and death rates continue to rise, most OBs will tell women that if it weren’t for their interventions, the baby and mother would have died 50 years ago.  And yet statistics prove the opposite is true!

Natural birth is such an amazing experience.  To prove that birth isn’t a medical event, to show other women that OBs don’t know everything, to convince yourself that you can do anything you set your mind to can cure any lack of self-esteem.  Most women are not ill when pregnant.  Most women need little or no help to give birth.  Hospitals are for sick people.  Not healthy women going through natural processes.  The Bradly Method of birthing teaches:

“…that you have to chose your own style of delivery before walking in the door if you are going to go to a hospital for labor and delivery.  You can’t let them set you up first with an IV line, then a hospital gown, then pitocin, then a fetal monitor.  When they set you up to be a patient then you are set up to accept more and more layers of intervention.  If you allow them to view your condition as a sickness then you need them to ‘cure’ you.  But if you don’t look at pregnancy as an illness then you don’t ever have to go to the hospital to be ‘cured’.”  (pg. 175-176)

For more info Dr. Eisenstein suggests:

“The Home Court Advantage” (film on home birth)

“Silent Knife” by Nancy Wainer Cohen and Lois J. Estner

“Confessions of a Medical Heretic” by Robert S. Mendelsohn, M.D.

“Safe Alternatives in Childbirth” by David Stewart


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