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Home Birth Elitism

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I want to begin by saying that I am 100% supportive of and in favor of home birth. I think home birth midwives provide fabulous prenatal care, unbelievable labor support and amazing postpartum services. I believe home birth is safe and I absolutely think it should be legal everywhere.

BUT (you knew there was a "but"), I do not think that having a home birth makes you a superior human being. I also do not think that choosing to birth in a hospital means that you are fearful of the birth process, or that you have been duped by modern society into believing that pregnancy and birth are risky medical conditions, or that you are ignorantly (or willfully) putting your life and the life of your baby at risk by entering into a place where you will be drugged and cut against your will and will likely contract a MRSA infection in the process.

I recently had the privilege of hearing Ina May Gaskin speak to a group of parents and birth professionals about her work at The Farm and the history of obstetrics. She is an amazing speaker, midwife and woman, and it was a fascinating presentation. But what she failed to acknowledge in her talk, and what the audience seemed to fail to grasp, is that there are hospitals where women can receive the care and respect that they deserve through pregnancy and delivery.

We are incredibly fortunate in the Denver Metro area to have several woman- and baby-friendly hospitals. The Center for Midwifery at the University of Colorado Hospital offers skilled midwives who love natural child birth and know how to support women toward that end. You can also have a water birth in the hospital if you want! Also the Boulder Nurse Midwives, who have privileges at Boulder Community Hospital provide supportive, holistic, naturally minded care to women wishing to receive top quality care while birthing in a hospital.

In addition to the hospitals, women in the metro area can choose to birth at a free standing birth center. Mountain Midwifery Center strives to be a "maxi home" not a "mini hospital." Started by a former home birth midwife, the center provides yet another wonderful option for women birthing in Denver.

And, of course, Denver is blessed with a number of highly skilled home birth midwives with decades of experience in providing women with high quality prenatal care and amazing and safe home birth experiences.

The point is, in Denver, women have a lot of really good choices about where to go for prenatal care and the labor and delivery experience. And women have all kinds of reasons for making the choices they do about where to birth. We should celebrate a woman's right to choose the care that is best for her and her family, not subtly undermine or belittle women who choose differently than we do.

I am so happy, giddy even, for my friends who have had the amazing home birth of their dreams. When I got pregnant for the third time, I once again considered home birth as an option for myself. After a lot of soul searching I realized that I don't want to birth at home.

Before hearing Ina May speak I wondered if I would be thrown back into a crisis about the choice that I've made. But I wasn't. I'm excited about giving birth again. I can't wait for the experience! I was just a touch saddened by the tsk- tsk-ing, the sad head shaking, the judgement I perceived from the home birth advocates when I was one of 2 women who admitted to planning to birth in the hospital.

All women are different. And different women want different things. And as women, we should support and even celebrate each other in the positive choices we make. Even if we wouldn't make the same choice ourselves.

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