Why hospital birthers should care about homebirth

In Georgia, midwives are unable to be licensed to attend homebirths.  This means that Medicaid and insurance companies typically will not reimburse for homebirths, so couples must pay out of pocket.  It also means that every time a midwife attends a homebirth, she risks being prosecuted for practicing medicine without a license, and that midwives often have a hard time establishing a really smooth transfer protocol to an obstetrician at a hospital, for those instances where a mother needs to go into the hospital during the course of labor.  This can make transfers stressful for midwives and families.

The studies on homebirth all say the same thing: homebirth is just as safe as hospital birth for both mothers and babies, with much, much lower rates of every intervention you can think of.  Outcomes are as good or better (when you consider morbidity as well as mortality), and women and babies are treated with the utmost respect, and labor intervened with only when truly necessary.  When safety is not an issue, why should the government be involved in telling women where to give birth?

If you are a hospital birther, you may be asking yourself what this has to do with you.  You have no interest in homebirth for yourself.  But think for just moment about what it means for the government to restrict ANY birth choice.  What if, instead, the government determined that since nearly one third of women who give birth in the hospital are put through surgery to do it, that hospital birth is clearly riskier than homebirth?  What if they said that even if you want a hospital birth, you must give birth at home?  What if they decide that since epidurals can result in paralysis or death, they are unsafe and you’re not allowed to have one?

If this were to happen, homebirth advocates would be just as vocal against it as we are about fully legalizing homebirth.  We support a woman’s absolute right to make the choices for her birth that she feels the most comfortable with.  You would have us on your side, because we believe that if you want an epidural, it is 100% within your rights to get one.  We would never dream of trying to force someone to give birth at home, and we would be outraged by a government pronouncement to that effect.

The only way we will see the licensing of homebirth midwives is if our politicians start to hear about homebirth from large numbers of people.  Only 1% of American women choose to give birth at home, and no matter how loud we are, the politicians just don’t care about 1%.  We need your help for our cause.  This is not just about homebirth; it’s about protecting the birth autonomy of ALL women.  Please contact your government representatives and let them know that this issue matters to more than just 1%.  We would do it for you.

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