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Morgan Britton English 1103-029

3-Sided Argument: Should women have their babies at home? Home birthing has both been a thing of the past and the present. Women used to only have their babies at home long ago, but with hospitals becoming more and more of a dominant force in society, delivering a baby at home has become the alternative route that most women tend to avoid (despite a recent surge in homebirth popularity). The obvious place for labor to unfold is a hospital, but is that the best place to have a child? Is the natural way (in the most comfortable place – your home) really the way to go? Three differing viewpoints on this subject include women who have had natural births at home, statisticians who study at home births, and nurses/midwives. The first viewpoint on this topic comes from women who have had natural births at home. These are women who have gone through the entire experience of midwifery. This includes researching, finding a midwife and having her assistance throughout the entire pregnancy process (from pre-natal care to the actual delivery of the baby). These women have experienced, first-hand, what it is like to have a midwife and to have their assistance in birthing a child in a home setting. Though opinions from this viewpoint are based highly off of the women’s pregnancy experiences (good or bad) and vary case to case, the research has found that, for the most part, the women who have had natural births at home would say that it is definitely the best way to have a baby. Two main resources were used to formulate this viewpoint. One was a New York Times article titled, “The Midwife as Status Symbol,” and one was a personal interview with Brittany Valigore, a woman who had both of her girls through natural, at-home deliveries. Both sources’ viewpoints are simple; they agree with the idea of having a baby at home in the most natural way

Britton 2 possible. The article, though showing differing opinions as well, mainly focused on the fact that having a midwife and doing things as simply as possible was the way things were intended. Births weren’t meant, they believe, to be so complicated; “Pregnancy is not a disease, it’s a condition…” as the article says (“The Midwife”). These women also believe that the home is the most private place and that birthing is so exposed that it needs to be in a comfortable, secluded area (“The Midwife”). In terms of Brittany Valigore, she focused more on the idea that hospitals are too impersonal. Upon finding her personal midwife, her regular visits with the woman became more friendly and less uptight; creating that relationship was what drew her in (Valigore). Also, Brittany believed that her experience was everything, and she wanted to have it in a place and with a person that was close to her and not so impersonal (Valigore). Through research and intimate connection, these sources believe that natural homebirths are the best way to have a child (at least for their situations). They have these viewpoints due to the simple fact that they have been through the pregnancy at home and know that it was the best fit for them. Another viewpoint to discuss, however, is that of the statisticians who study homebirths. This group of people can be defined as those who look at the statistics of having babies at home. It also can be defined as those who look at things like the effects that this method of labor have on the child and the woman, how this method of labor is different depending on social status, race and also geographic location, etc. These people simply take a deeper look into the studies and data collected on home birth trends; their viewpoint is based mostly on fact rather than opinion or personal belief. These statisticians are showing many things. Through the data collected, it is shown that (in 2009), the region with the most homebirths was that of the Northwest region, with anywhere

Britton 3 from 1.50%-2.59% of all births taking place at home (MacDorman). As said in the beginning of this paper (and stated in the statisticians’ research), most births used to take place at home; around 1900, most all of births took place outside of hospitals, most in homes (MacDorman). “However, this proportion fell to 44% by 1940, and to 1% by 1969, where it remained through the 1980s” (MacDorman). In terms of the specifics behind whether or not a woman should have their child at home, there are no facts to support and/or disapprove of this – there are only facts about the results of the births. “Home births have a lower risk profile than hospital births,” and this is proving that midwives are only allowing women with lower-risk pregnancies to use their services (MacDorman). Also, the results of a study done in British Colombia on women over a five year term showed that babies born at home (per 1000 births) experienced perinatal death only 0.35% of the time whereas the babies born in a hospital (per 1000 births) experienced it 0.57-0.67% of the time (Shoo). All of these facts tend to lean more towards the idea that home births are fine alternatives to hospital births, but it’s still a very objective viewpoint that is based solely off of facts and nothing else. The final group of people who are discussing the idea of homebirths is the nurses and midwives. These are (mostly) women who are brought in to help the pregnant woman give birth. They are in charge of nursing the woman through the process and bringing the baby into the world in the safest and less painful way possible. These women’s viewpoints, from the study that was researched, shows that they believe homebirths are natural and create woman empowerment, they are for this idea as a whole, even if they may never have birthed a child in a home setting before. The midwife survey used to research this group showed that 79% of the participating midwives felt the homebirth process was an empowering one, and 83% felt it created a stronger

Britton 4 mother-baby bond (Laura). Although of these 1809 survey participants, 74% had never assisted with a birth at a home, they tended to show a general liking of the idea (Laura). This viewpoint is stemmed from the fact that they are around women and their newborns often and are therefore more than likely advocates for anything which can provide a mother more intimacy with her child.