As you may have read in many blogs in the birth world, ACOG issued a press release this month opposing the choice of homebirth for women. One of the quotes towards the end of the release, “Choosing to deliver a baby at home, however, is to place the process of giving birth over the goal of having a healthy baby,” is a sentiment that I see expressed fairly frequently and I’d like to explore it a little. I do not think these two things are mutually exclusive by any means. I say, why not BOTH? A “good experience”/process of giving birth AND healthy baby–these two things can, should, and do go together. Many of the elements that make up a good experience are also things that are best for the baby–as I said, the two concepts are not mutually exclusive, instead they reinforce and contribute to each other! Most of the time, taking good care of a mother in birth (i.e. contributing to her “good birth experience”) is the very best thing you can do to take care of her baby. Babies do not need to be “rescued” from their mother’s bodies–healthy mothers help lead to healthy babies! Women and babies BOTH deserve a good birth experience.
I also question whether ANY mother actually considers this a choice, or makes this choice. Erica Lyon, quoted in the book Pushed, speaks eloquently on this topic:
“…The goal is to have a healthy baby. ‘This phrase is used over and over and over to shut down women’s requests,’ she [Erica Lyon] says. ‘The context needs to be that the goal is a healthy mom. Because mothers never make decisions without thinking about that healthy baby. And to suggest otherwise is insulting and degrading and disrespectful’…What’s best for women is best for babies. and what’s best for women and babies is minimally invasive births that are physically, emotionally, and socially supported. This is not the kind of experience that most women have. In the age of evidence based medicine, women need to know that standard American maternity care is not primarily driven by their health and well-being or by the health and well-being of their babies. Care is constrained and determined by liability and financial considerations, by a provider’s licensing regulations and malpractice insurer. The evidence often has nothing to do with it.” (emphasis mine)