DELIVERING OPTIONS: Mothers weigh in on home births

COLUMBIA CITY — Giving birth is not always a cut and dry process. There are many factors to consider before delivery and several choices to be made by pregnant women. One of those choices is where to deliver the baby. But the decision is not necessarily choosing a certain hospital over another. Many women are weighing the option of delivering at a hospital or at home.Despite medical advancements in the U.S., 40 other countries have a lower infant mortality rate, according to ABC news.As medical professionals continue to discuss why this is, increasing numbers of women are choosing to return to the home birth concept. There are many advantages to a hospital birth such as the convenience of medical help should a complication arise. But there are facets of a hospital delivery that some women view as negative. Hospital births can introduce chemicals into the body that could potentially bring side effects. An I.V. is often required by doctors, even as a precaution, while a home birth does not. Parkview Whitley Hospital nursing staff said the use of an I.V. is usually decided on by the doctor.Studies show home births reduce the pathogens infants are exposed to, and it gives the mother more control during the entire birthing process. Missy Dewitt, a Columbia City mother, said she preferred her home birth experience because “birth should be a time of celebration, when a woman can be confident about her body — not a time of fear.” Dewitt said she enjoyed the personal relationship she felt in having a midwife rather than the “rushed, mass-produced” feeling she received from the hospital with a previous birth. “Pregnancy is not an illness that requires medical intervention,” Dewitt said. “It is a natural, beautiful process that women have been undertaking for centuries.”As part of the home birth process, midwives go through a thorough check on each prospective home birth candidate to make sure the birth mother is safe. Certified midwives have extensive training and prepare for the possibility of a quick transfer to the hospital. Home births allow a natural release of bonding chemicals between mother and baby immediately following birth.In a hospital, mother and baby are separated while the baby is cleaned and braceleted for identification. A baby birthed at home is brought to life into its own mother’s or father’s arms. In a hospital, a baby is delivered into a nurse’s or doctor’s arms with bright light and in an unfamiliar environment.At home the mother is allowed to move around freely and birth in whatever position is most comfortable for her. Hospitals will allow a woman to labor how she wants, but for the actual delivery, she must lay on her back.“That position is only comfortable for the doctor,” said home birthing mom Katrina Stidd. “It’s actually much more difficult and painful for the mom because it defies gravity and your hips can’t adjust as well and move so the baby can come out.” Having had three children in a hospital and two at home, Stidd said her experiences at home were better than in the hospital. She credits this to her postpartum care being more relaxing, comfortable and feeling more in control.Home birth is not without its stigma. The hospital birth is the most common option. For those pregnant women who have not investigated a home birth, the process can seem strange, unsafe and frightening. Ultimately, birthing options should be researched and not rushed into. Some women are safer in hospitals, being closely monitored for complications, such as moms of breech babies or other medical concerns. Both Dewitt and Stidd said even though they would prefer a home birth again, they would choose a hospital if they felt home birth was not safe.