No one ever wants to take their baby to the hospital.
When my husband + I made the informed decision to bring our hours-old son, KJ, to the hospital shortly after our home birth, we were just as emotional as any other parents would be.
But we weren’t treated as any other parents.
We were judged from the minute we walked in.
And I’m the last person who wants to acknowledge that — more often than not — that’s the typical experience of the transferring home birthing parent today.
As someone who truly idolized the conventional medical world — and spent the majority of her life working to be a part of that world — I don’t want to make my own sweeping judgments that hospital staff are judgmental against home birthing families.
And so I won’t.
That’s not what this post is about.
Instead, I’m writing this post to sprinkle some seeds of knowledge around. Hopefully, some of them take root inside some quality conversations women are having about all kinds of birth choices with all kinds of birth professionals.
Maybe, together, we can encourage an open-minded conversation about intentional home births + what happens when nature might need assistance, so that all involved feel respected.
There’s a difference between intentional home births + unintentional out-of-hospital births.
An emergency room likely sees the majority of its “home birth transfers” related to accidental births, like a precipitous birth or when birth happens so fast there’s no time to get to the hospital as intended.
Emergency rooms often see those “I didn’t know I was pregnant” episodes play out on their floors, or the more dramatic “car births” on the side of the road that EMTs have to respond to.
None of those are the same as an intentional home birth.
Intentionally home birthing families choose this birth option in-advance.
We often do this with the help of experienced, qualified midwives who qualify the mother + baby for home birth safety long before labor onsets.
Our births don’t often manifest in those “oops!” moments or panicked overwhelm. We’ve prepared for birth + postpartum. We’ve even prepared for the possibility of a hospital transfer if our natural birth does need some unnatural interventions.
We didn’t just “wing it” or “not pay attention” + end up at your hospital as a result. We actually do everything possible to not have to transfer.
So, in the times that we do transfer, we’re ready to have open-minded, mature conversations with hospital staff about all of the choices available to us. We don’t arrive at your doors expecting to have choices made for us because of our presumed ignorance.
The majority of us are not anti-hospital.
Home birthing centers around the basic principle that birth is a normal physiological process, not a medical event.
A healthy mom + healthy baby can birth together as nature intended when uninterrupted by unnatural interventions.
For the times far and few between that may lead to a hospital transfer, the birthing parents are making an educated, intentional decision to bring their baby to the hospital for a medical event.
We identify the difference between the two + know there’s a place for both.
To me, there’s a definite place for advanced medicine. I went to school to become a doctor! And I am so grateful to the doctors + nurses + specialists who are available in the times where nature needs assistance. It’s not an all-or-nothing mentality here.
You can have a respectful co-working relationship that ebbs + flows, instead of hard lines with boundaries. And most of us home birthers are 100% open to that.
The majority of us are highly-educated.
I don’t necessarily mean socioeconomic status. I mean that home birthers are often smart, evidence-based researchers.
We took the time to seek out diverse information that wasn’t always sponsored by persuasive big businesses.
That should count for something, no?
The majority of us qualified to birth at home.
We took the time to understand our personal individualized health and evaluate our unique risk factors + treat them, if any.
We interviewed with our prospective midwives to see if they wanted to take us on as clients from a health risk perspective.
And then, throughout the pregnancy, we all continued to confirm that we were a healthy mom + baby ready for a healthy, normal physiologic birth.
When I bring my baby into the hospital for further evaluation, that does not equate to me being a negligent or unhealthy mother. And it doesn’t mean I need to be admitted for evaluation at the same time as my baby.
To me, I couldn’t have been further from any of those things.
I want hospital staff to know that if a home birthing mom walks her baby into the hospital shortly after birth (with or without her midwife or partner) + she says she’s fine, believe her. Apart from her baby being at the hospital, she really is FINE + just wants you to evaluate her baby.
Presume healthy until proven unhealthy.
We believe in beginnings.
From the second a baby is born, it’s a person with physical + emotional feelings.
We treat babies as little adults: talk them through procedures, ask permission to touch their bodies, use gentle touch + voice, etc.
We make the first experiences — especially the first 24-hours — simple + calm. Consider that you are always respectful in a way that you would want to be respected as a real person — because babies are real people, too.
There’s no difference in respect due to a little human vs. a big human.
Please allow us to continue that approach at baby’s bedside. Encourage skin-to-skin + breastfeeding. Invite parents to hold baby on their body for exams + procedures before they have to muster up the courage to ask.
I want hospital staff to know that we shouldn’t have to ask to be near our babies as much as humanly possible.
And I want hospital staff to keep that strategy forefront for all children.
Respectful body communication shouldn’t be an a la carte option. It should be a main course.
What would you add to this list?
I’m going to keep adding to this list as I decompress our experience postpartum, but I’d love to know. What am I missing?
Drop a note in the comments to help me grow this list!