Born in PA. Needed to get the hell out of there. Graduated University of Hawaii, moved to Japan, and then moved back to Hawaii to lay down our roots. Proud mom of 2 amazing hapa Japanese kids, professional Japanese speaker, and proud wife to a hard working Executive Chef....plus our rotating cast of roommates because limited income.
Life can be crazy but we are making it happen.
Why I chose a homebirth. 私はどうして家庭出産を選んだか。
If you watch any mainstream American TV show, whether it be a sitcom, drama, or reality show, most likely any birth scene will be a terrifying, painful event to watch with women being rushed down halls on wheelchairs or stretchers, screaming in pain while laying on their backs and being told to push.
I lived in Japan for a while, and natural birth is still favored by most, but "painless" American-style birth and unnecessary induction to fit around your doctor's golf schedule (or to prevent the baby from becoming "too big") is becoming more and more common there as well.
I used to think that the medicalized and "modern" American way was the best way, and that natural birth was outdated and old-fashioned. However as I grew older I found more and more reasons to doubt the American medical industry, and the Japanese one as well.
And when I got pregnant, of course I did get all the available tests to make sure I had a healthy baby. But after the tests results came back, something dawned on me. The baby and I were perfectly healthy. I had no known risk factors for disease or complications, genetic or otherwise. I practiced yoga for stress relief and exercise, and ate a healthy diet with plenty of vegetables and whole-grains, low in processed high-fat or high-sugar foods. Why in the world would I need to go to a hospital?
I started to do some research about hospital births and all of the medical interventions in births today. I watched videos of homebirths, and watched the documentary "The Business of Being Born." The women in those videos weren't screaming in fear and agony, or being told to push. Rather, they were relaxed, prepared, and supported, and trusted their bodies to tell them when to push. When the baby was born, there were no bright lights, no screaming, the baby was relaxed and brought into the world surrounded by love.
When I moved to Hawaii, I searched for a midwife and a doula. I found a wonderful doula who is bilingual in Japanese and English, perfect for supporting my husband and I through all stages of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. My midwife is a naturopathic doctor, and between the two of them they have experienced hundreds of births.
In the beginning I admit that I was a little apprehensive. I mean, I felt fine, but was everything really OK? I had grown up hearing so many people moan and groan and tell "horror stories" about pregnancy and birth. So many people have had this problem or that problem or this complication. I had a little nausea and fatigue during my first trimester which cleared up when I hit the second trimester, and absolutely none of the common "issues" that people talk about. My midwife and doula said that I was perfectly healthy and this is normal, like over 90% of women.
That's right, over 90% of pregnant women are capable of having a natural birth with no interventions, for one simple reason: Childbirth is something that is controlled by your body. Your body knows its limits, so unless it's a very rare case, you cannot make a baby too big to be birthed by your body, and your body will not cause more pain than you are capable of handling (also, the body produces natural endorphins and painkillers during labor.) A hospital is not a place for normal, healthy women and children to go.
A hospital is very rarely a calm, quiet, peaceful environment. The lights are bright, the rooms are sterile, and you have loads of people rushing up and down the halls, in and out of rooms, and lots of shouting and stressful situations around you. Stress, fear, and uncertainty can make any experience unpleasant and scary. Fear and anxiety has also been proven to make labor longer. Also, those interventions that make labor less painful and faster, actually have the opposite effect when compared to a natural birth. Pitocin intensifies contractions, which intensifies the pain as well to the point where the body cannot naturally cope with it anymore, leading to an epidural. The epidural then numbs the whole area, which is why women have to be told when to push; they cannot feel the natural urge. Also, having shots to the spine and IVs hooked up to her force a woman to be on her back and immobile, instead of assuming more natural positions that make it easier for the baby to come out. And C-sections are very rarely necessary when things are allowed to progress naturally. C-sections are often used as a copout when labor is too long and doctor wants to finish for the day, or if the doctor finds a tiny complication that he doesn't have the experience to deal with And if they do a C-section, then they did "all they could" and it's a good way to avoid a lawsuit.
After the baby is born, there is a slew of hospital procedures that are simply not good for mother and baby. Many hospitals clamp the cord almost immediately, stopping the flow of the precious blood to the baby. Recently mothers are encouraged to save the cord blood and bank it because of the minute possibility that it might help them or others fight a disease at some point later in life, but the baby needs the cord blood in their body. The lack of the cord blood leads to a chance of vitamin K deficiency, which means baby needs an injection. They also put drops in the baby's eyes, and bathe the baby to wash off the vernix and make him or her more "presentable" to mommy. However, simply leaving the vernix on the skin as long as possible nourishes and protects baby's skin against bacteria. Also, the baby finds mother's breasts by sense of smell--the amniotic fluid left on their body has the same scent as the breasts. In a homebirth, baby is simply placed on the mother's chest for as long as possible after being born. That is the most natural and best way for the baby to adjust to the outside world, by smelling and hearing the environment they were raised for 9 months in. But in a hospital, bonding time is short as the baby is soon moved to a separate room to cry for a few hours.
I am not choosing a homebirth to go against the grain, to show everyone how "brave" I am, or because it is how people birthed for thousands of years and the old way is the best way. I also do not believe hospital births are all bad, depending on the woman's situation a hospital birth might be a better choice for her. There are situations where medical intervention is necessary. But a home birth is a very safe option for many women, who unfortunately are never told that.
Maybe if people were able to choose between a homebirth or a hospital birth, and people took into consideration what other countries with lower infant mortality rates are doing, I wouldn't feel like I have to explain or justify my choice. But until homebirth becomes a normal, healthy option for normal, healthy pregnancies, there will have to be groups advocating it.
For more information, beautiful stories and pictures visit BirthWithoutFear.com and BringBirthHome.com. An interesting note, a lot of people seem to choose homebirth after a hospital birth for 2nd and 3rd children, but not many people choose a hospital birth after a homebirth. Something to think about.