she has fallen and now she is awake

On homebirth

I’m a feminist, I support reproductive choice. Which means I support a shitload of choices I don’t personally make. Like homebirth. I totally support a woman’s right to make her own choices when it comes to reproduction.

I just don’t want to have a homebirth myself. I don’t have a sense of ‘home’ in the places I live and I have no desire at all to birth anywhere in any of the rented houses I’ve lived in. I am not more comfortable at home, and I don’t find it easier to rest at home (hence my blood pressure stabilising once I was on rest in the hospital because I just couldn’t rest properly at home). Towards the end, things started going wrong and even if I’d planned a homebirth, I probably would have transferred (simply for the induction).

So PLEASE stop asking me to base my submissions to government on “… hospital planned birth (and the reason you then chose homebirth!!…”* or my experience “interacting with obstetrics or the ‘system’.”* Or assume my hospital birth included an ob. who advocated “Tie a woman to a bed with a ctg monitor or recommend that every 2 to 4 hours a stranger puts their fingers in the vagina of the carrying mother to increase the risk of infection.**” Or that I was induced for social reasons, or so my doctor could go home, or because I was ‘duped’. Because my story doesn’t match what you want to portray. Because I do not want a homebirth. And that’s okay. It doesn’t stop me wanting to advocate for the rights of women to have a homebirth attended by a trained midwife. It doesn’t stop me thinking that reproductive freedom is vital.

It irks me when standards of care are used as reasons for homebirth. Every woman should be able to form a friendly relationship with whoever she has chosen to help her through the birthing process. She should be able to see them on a regular basis. She should be able to choose her labouring position, interventions, medications and surroundings. Access to these things are not restricted to birth attended by homebirthing midwives. Just as denial of access to these things is not restricted to hospital births.

Yes, birth and pregnancy are over-medicalised and pregnant women are infantilised and undermined by the system. Assuming that support of homebirth is restricted to those who either choose it for themselves or wish they had is not the way forward.

This fight isn’t about my choice. It’s about women’s choice.

*excerpted from a forwarded Homebirth Australia email.

**excerpted from Homebirth: Midwife Mutiny in South Australia


2 responses to “On homebirth

  1. Flo February 3, 2010 at 16:29

    I’m breathless from reading this post. You’ve pinned the issue down entirely. I support home births even though I chose not to have one.

    I was not pressured into choosing a hospital birth. I am not an idiot duped by the system for choosing to go to hospital. And I had a bloody great experience in hospital.

    I am so tired of being judged for this.

    You do rage very well in this blog (as in, you articulate it, while I’m often just left flailing and frothing). Thanks.

    • geekanachronism February 4, 2010 at 16:43

      Thank you! I find the sentiment is true for a lot of things – what you choose isn’t as important to the debate as having the choice. Too much of debate around birthing relies on demonising specific choices (or not-choices) without nuance or consideration.

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