Empowering Women: Hospital Birth and Homebirth, Part 2
Editor's note: Following are further responses to Zora's question about
hospital and homebirth in E-News Issue 2:52. Thank you for the many heartfelt
and thoughtful responses!
There is absolutely no comparison between a hospital and a homebirth
experience. Because each one of our ancestors successfully empowered herself
to birth her babies, each one of us is successfully here today. We live
in a fear-based society and allow the powers that be who have gained a
degree to take our God-given power from us. Our society has become wimpy.
Women are living in fear when in truth the process of birth is a normal,
natural, beautiful, worthy, godly experience. Our creator has not left
us alone to bear the future.
Women understand one another. We want to be mothered into birth whether
it be with our own mother or another woman who can share the experience
with us. We want to be nurtured and loved into birth. Ultimately the time
given by a midwife to a mom is much more than that mom would receive from
the hospital experience.
Yes, hospitals do have their place for those times when they are needed.
But it is not natural to administer epidurals, Pitocin, etc. in a normal
birth. We birthing mothers have innate abilities to have our babies if
given the time, patience, love, and quality prenatal care.
Our children depend on each one of us to make conscious choices that
will make the difference in their future as parents. Babies born with
drugs and forced to be born when they are not ready may result in drug
abuse in their future. Please realize what is at stake. Birth is the highlight
of a woman's life. Each life brought here is precious and worthy of the
- Robleigh, midwife
I am a doula who works in the local small-town hospital. I've had all
of my children at home, but I choose to work with women in the hospital
because that is where most women choose to give birth. It is also where
they feel the most powerless, so it seems that that is where I can offer
the most help.
I never feel as if I've done all I'd like to do. I have to walk a fine
line of cooperating with hospital staff and serving my clients. Frustration
is a constant companion. And if I pursue my goal of becoming a certified
nurse-midwife, I'll only be asking for more of the same. People like us
walk with feet in two worlds. We try to bridge the gap between our dreams
(all healthy women birthing at home) and reality (most give birth in a
hospital). We will always be uncomfortable because we are not wholly a
part of one world or the other. We dream, but we cannot escape reality.
The changes that we make seem small, but I believe their effect is no
less profound than that of our sisters who choose to birth at home. Our
influence will be found tucked in the hearts of women and their families
who have grown because of us. I was once a woman who would not speak up,
would not ask a question. But someone reached out to me and drew me out
of my narrow way of thinking. I've had six children in the wonderful comfort
of my own home. I was blessed because someone else chose to walk between
two worlds. You cannot repay anyone for such a kindness. You can only
pass it on.
I am an out-of-hospital childbirth educator (Bradley Method) whose clients
mostly use hospitals for birth with an OB or CNM in attendance, and want
natural childbirth in a state with the highest epidural rate in the country
(Utah-95%). I strive to remind women of the inherent power and knowledge
their bodies and their spirits have when it comes to giving birth. Perhaps
combining your efforts with a truly loving, empowering childbirth course
would help women have more confidence in dealing with "the system"
and the overall process of childbirth.
A good childbirth course combined with the caring and education a loving
midwife provides can help women remember their inborn brilliance and power
during the birth process. Whether it's a natural birth or if medical intervention
becomes necessary, as Pam England states, all women can learn to "Birth
- Adrianna Olnhausen, AAHCC
Salt Lake City, Utah
Yes, most homebirths are beautiful and statistically quite safe. Of course
we should be active in promoting midwifery and tearing down the legal
barriers. However, the reality of the situation is that we will always
need physicians at some point, and in order to work with them we should
proceed gently and instructively, not as an adversary, which only antagonizes
them and results in obstinence and anger. As far as doulas go, one must
review what their role is. It is not to promote one's own personal agenda,
but rather to act as an advocate for what the birthing woman wants. Most
instruction as to options, etc. should have occurred prior to labor. If
a woman has a healthy vaginal delivery after two previous c-sections,
then that indeed should be construed as a "success!" If one
cannot separate her personal opinions and feelings from those of her clients,
then she has no business being in a helping profession of any kind.
I am aspiring to become a midwife and have just begun my research and
education on the subject. I want to let Marla Lukes know that her comments
really touched me [Issue 3:1]. She wrote "Many women will know normal
birth for the first time because of you." When I read that, I cried
and was reaffirmed that being a midwife is my journey in life. If I could
make that true for one woman, all of the lifestyle changes and sacrifices
it takes to become a midwife would be worth it.
- Michelle Carroll
EACH ONE TEACH ONE has been Midwifery Today's
motto since Issue 1 of its print magazine. E-News readers, if you don't
already subscribe to Midwifery Today magazine and/or the Birthkit newsletter,
Each issue of E-News provides midwifery knowledge but because of space
limitations and because the Internet and email are much better suited
to short "sound bites" of information, E-News can't cover topics
as thoroughly as our paper publications can.
Midwifery Today MAGAZINE is the definitive magazine about midwifery, and every
three months, it provides an excellent addition to your birth library.
Each issue includes a wonderful balance of experiential and research-based
articles. From prenatal care to breastfeeding, from homebirth to hospital
birth, Midwifery Today covers such important issues as woman-centered
care, informed consent, birth politics, birth technologies, and much more.
Each issue fosters an ongoing dialog among those in the diverse community
of midwives, from CNMs to CPMs to lay and traditional midwives. It provides
information on current "hot topics" in birth and steppingstones
to other resources. Its advertisers provide products and services aimed
specifically at the birth community and ties to resources that are often
difficult to find any other way. And each issue includes a large section
called International Midwife, with articles from midwives around the world.
MIDWIFERY TODAY MAGAZINE is a must-have for every midwife, from the student
and apprentice levels to senior midwives and educators. Midwifery Today
inspires, teaches, and affirms your deep love of birth and birthing women.
Midwifery Today respects and values all midwives and the right of birthing
women to have informed choice and nurturing support during the childbearing
year. If you are not subscribing to it, you are missing out. If you work
with birthing women, you need this magazine.
YOU CAN SAVE US$5.00 on a one-year Midwifery Today subscription!
Just US$45, $55 Canada/Mexico, $70 all other countries, for all E-News
subscribers. Offer ends February 15, 2001.
Check It Out!
A Web Site Update for E-News Readers
ADVERTISE WITH US! Midwifery Today has numerous ways in which
you can reach thousands in the international birth community. We can tailor
our programs to your needs. Click here for all the information you'll need
MAKE ROOM AT THE TABLE, a compelling argument for strengthening ties
between all midwives, is now available on the Midwifery Today web site.
Click here to check it out
TABLE OF CONTENTS for Midwifery Today Issue 56.
If you're not already a subscriber, click here to have a look at what you're missing!
Midwifery Today's Online Forum
I am curious about people's experiences with Mother's Cordial in VBAC
moms. Some of the traditional herbs used in these preparations are considered
uterine stimulants, and my intuition tells me to use with caution in this
To share your thoughts and experience, go to Midwifery Today's Forums.
Question of the Week
I recently heard that doing perineum massage during pregnancy does not
change the outcome. Could you clarify this for me and give more information?
- Kim Johnson, doula, aspiring midwife
Send your responses to:
Coming E-News Themes
1. INTERNATIONAL MIDWIVES: Tell us about your practice, birth customs
and culture in your country, arts and techniques for the birthing year,
your struggles and triumphs!
2. PRECONCEPTION COUNSELING: What do you tell the aspiring parents who
ask you for preconception services/advice?
(Thanks to Sarah, an E-News subscriber, for this topic.)
3. CHARTING CAN BE AS UNIQUE AS EACH MIDWIFE'S CARE. Do you have charting
methods you would like to share with E-News readers?
4. SECURING AN APPRENTICESHIP: I am a midwife in training with an impressive
record as a childbirth educator, DONA-certified doula, certified infant
massage therapist, and a keen interest in normal birth. Four months ago
I moved to a new area with my family and began the process of trying to
make contacts. I am having a difficult time finding a midwife who is willing
to talk with me about the steps necessary to secure an apprenticeship.
Frankly, I feel a little like I'm crossing into a territory that belongs
to someone else. I have emailed a vita to many well-respected midwives
in my area asking for assistance, that they pass my name along, etc. I haven't had as much as a telephone call from anyone, even to say that
they couldn't help.
Is the society of midwives so closed and myopic that they have lost sight
of the idea behind traditional midwifery, that midwives teach parents
as well as other midwives, that they give the gift and pass along the
art? My grandmother learned from her mother, and she learned from her
aunt, etc. After all, wouldn't we all like to see more homebirths? This
can be accomplished with more midwives who are well trained. It is difficult
not to feel disheartened. What do I do? Do I need to know the secret handshake?
- Jackie McMillan
Send your responses to:
Know a strong woman? Helping empower one? If you haven't already done
so, please forward this issue of Midwifery Today E-News to one or two
of your friends or business associates. Thanks so much!
QUESTION OF THE QUARTER for Midwifery Today magazine
How can midwives best facilitate the bonding process of motherbaby in pregnancy, birth and postpartum?
Deadline: March 31, 2001
Send your response to:
More on Hashimoto's: I contacted a private obstetrician, who advised
regular thyroid function tests (TFT) during my client's pregnancy and
confirmed there was no danger to the baby being born at home. He cooperated
with the tests, billed to Medicare, and consulted with an endocrinologist.
Thyroxine supplement was recommended to the mother, dose to be changed
according to the results of blood tests. The dose remained low, and the
baby was born at home (unexpected breech). I was advised by a paediatrician
that the routine neonatal screening test for thyroid deficiency was sufficient
to check that the baby had enough thyroxine, and that further blood tests
were not necessary. Interestingly, this mother had Hashimoto's with her
first pregnancy, but it was not diagnosed. The baby was healthy.
Treatment is dependent on the different parameters of the TFT results,
so a doctor should interpret these for you. Although my client's disease
was diagnosed late in pregnancy, I was assured that she had enough thyroxine
to supply the baby in its early development stage, so don't worry if you
are already pregnant and haven't been taking thyroxine.
- Marianne Idle
More on lunar cycles:
In the 1980s I worked as a volunteer midwife in a remote, rural clinic
in Ghana, West Africa. Sometime in the second year of my stay, I collected
birth data for the previous 12 months (some 1,000 births) and plotted
these against the phases of the moon. I think I hoped for a dramatic increase
around the time of the full moon but I didn't get it. The births were
generally evenly spread throughout the month, with just a slight increase
as the moon waxed. I put this down to the lighter nights facilitating
travel over rough tracks. I must emphasise that this project was very
informal--no statistical tests or anything fancy. Just a large sheet of
graph paper, a sharp pencil, and plenty of time in the long, dark evenings.
- Hannah Hulme Hunter
A study was done with sheep who are similar hormonally to humans. It
was found that a statistically significant number went into labor in the
early morning hours before dawn. However I have not found similar results
in nursing research related to humans. A review of births/time/shifts/lunar
cycle at a couple of hospitals did not show any relationship even though
anecdotally the staff reported being "busier" at certain times
of the day and of the month. Stats did not bear this out.
I collect relevant information and links in the Midwife Archives at
- Ronnie Falcao, LM MS CHT
Go to www.hypnobirthing.com,
where there is lots of information about hypnobirthing, classes, practitioners
and certification seminars.
- Carol Gaudey, R.N., labor and delivery
Music during labour decreases pain by facilitating relaxation. It can
also be used to energize and support walking/dancing and hip swivels.
A variety of music is needed to meet different requirements at different
stages of labour. Earphones can be helpful when contractions are gaining
intensity as the impulse goes more directly to the auditory nerve. Some
women want the volume increased through earphones during a contraction
and the music played free-range between contractions. No music is better
or best for labour--beauty is in the ear of the beholder. And it is this
response to beauty that will release the body's natural pain killers.
Don't forget that we are also instruments. I tone, groan and sing with
women during labour.
I studied music therapy for several years. A couple of years later, when
I was pregnant with my first child and armed with all my information,
I made a tape of soothing, relaxing music to get me through my labor.
When labor came I had no interest whatsoever in listening to music. I
just wanted to tune out everything outside of myself and turn "in"
to focus on my body and the baby. In the next couple of weeks, however,
I played the tape over and over again as I snuggled my new baby. I've
become quite attached to it as I've snuggled and breastfed all of my newborns
to those songs.
I do not have access to the Internet and so cannot look up the info on
mortality statistics. If someone would email the information to me at firstname.lastname@example.org I would
certainly appreciate it.
In response to the Art of Midwifery column [Issue 3:1]: cabbage is known
to dry up a nursing mother's milk supply. One needs to be very careful
with cabbage application especially in the early days of a breastfeeding
relationship. A better remedy might be to squeeze a little colostrum/milk
on the nipples, gently massage it in and air dry. I would also check mother's
positioning of baby at the breast to be assured that you are not dealing
with a poor latch-on.
- Kathy Pennington RNC,CBE
From the author of a question about vertical incision c-section [Issue
2:51 and 52]:
I was in fact replying to a question about a woman whose transverse incision
for her first had been modified to a quasi-vertical "j" shape
for her second incision. She was wondering if she could go ahead and have
a VBAC. I was making two points:
1) That a vaginal birth is possible even after a vertical incision.
2) That in cases where the medical profession really doesn't have the
facts and figures, it is usually the case that they err on the side of
caution and decide that it is too risky. That is, we don't have a lot
of statistical information on vaginal births after vertical incisions,
but it seems risky so that is the convention.
On the other hand, many midwives are less cautious and trust more in anecdotal
evidence to confirm that what a client is trying to achieve may be possible.
Phil Watters wrote about VBAC after classical c-sec being just too risky
[Issue 2:52]. In July, at age 41, I gave birth to our VBAC son, my 10th
child who was born after two previous cesareans--a classical in 1997 for
placenta previa and a 28-week baby in a transverse lie who had Trisomy
18 and did not live, and in 1999, an elective cesarean which was lower
segment. You can imagine the reaction of our doctor when we suggested
VBAC for our next baby. The more we read and researched the more we felt
that many doctors really didn't have the full picture, and that their
assumptions are based more on fear than facts. Nancy Wainer Cohen's book
"Silent Knife" was like a breath of fresh air. Then via the
Internet we found some stories from parents who had experienced uterine
I have a deep concern for young mothers who are being fed so many fear
tactics that they approach birth just assuming they are going to need
some sort of medical help, when in reality that should be only for the
minority, not the majority. Our prayer is that couples will get back to
the place of understanding that labour and birth are not an illness, but
a very normal part of life, to expect it to be hard work and painful but
to know that the reward is their own son or daughter who has entered this
world without the effect of drugs.
- Debey Dreaver
Re: Virginia Birthing Freedom [Issue 3:1]: Don't all women already have
this right, inalienably? How can anyone legislate where a woman will give
birth? Or where a baby will decide to be born? Can I not choose to give
birth where I will, and can I not choose to have whom I want at my birth?
What about car births? Can a mother be considered in violation of law
if she doesn't make it to her chosen place of birth before her child appears?
What am I not understanding about this situation? It seems scary to me
to pass a law "giving" a woman a right that she already has
by nature. Can someone please help me understand why this is a need, or
what is the situation here that this would be considered a good thing?
Midwifery Today E-News is published electronically every Wednesday. We invite your questions, comments and submissions. We'd love to hear from you!
Write to us at:
Please send submissions in the body of your message and not as attachments.
Click here to subscribe to Midwifery Today E-News
For all other matters contact Midwifery Today:
PO Box 2672-940, Eugene OR 97402
Remember to share this newsletter
You may forward it to as many friends and colleagues as you wish--it's free!
Learn even more about birth!
Subscribe to our quarterly print publication, Midwifery Today. Mention code 940
U.S.: $50 1 year $95 2 years
Canada/Mexico: $60 1 year $113 2 years
All other countries: $75 1 year $143 2 years
E-mail email@example.com or call 800-743-0974 for information on how to order.
To order Midwifery Today products mentioned in this issue, send a check or money order to:
Midwifery Today, Inc.
PO Box 2672-940
Eugene OR 97402 USA
To pay by Visa or MasterCard, call: 1-800-743-0974 (orders only)
For other matters, you may call:
Or email us:
Editorial for E-News:
Editorial for print magazine:
For all other matters:
All questions and comments submitted to Midwifery Today E-News become the property of Midwifery Today, Inc. They may be used either in full or as an excerpt, and will be archived on the Midwifery Today web site.
This publication is presented by Midwifery Today, Inc., for the sole purpose of disseminating general health information for public benefit. The information contained in or provided through this publication is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be, and is not provided as, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Midwifery Today, Inc., does not assume liability for the use of this information in any jurisdiction or for the contents of any external Internet sites referenced, nor does it endorse any commercial product or service mentioned or advertised in this publication. Always seek the advice of your midwife, physician, nurse or other qualified health care provider before you undergo any treatment or for answers to any questions you may have regarding any medical condition.
The content of E-News is copyrighted by Midwifery Today, Inc., and, occasionally, other rights holders. You may forward E-News by e-mail an unlimited number of times, provided you do not alter the content in any way and that you include all applicable notices and disclaimers. You may print a single copy of each issue of E-News for your own personal, noncommercial use only, provided you include all applicable notices and disclaimers. Any other use of the content is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Midwifery Today, Inc., and any other applicable rights holders.
© 2001 Midwifery Today, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Midwifery Today: Each One Teach One!