The Birth of Rowan Declan: An anglo-catholic priest’s reflection on his families first home-birth.
In my first post [here] I basically just told our family’s birth story from my perspective. Now I want to simply offer some reflections on home births in general from this experience.
The first thing that comes to my mind when I reflect on our home birth is how little “medical” intervention there was in this birth. The majority of the time Que labored was done quietly alone in our room. There were times people made sure she was doing well. There were things like blood pressure that needed to be monitored. But there were no machines needing to be hooked up, consequently no bloody beeping noises. No intravenous therapy. No forced fasts. To be honest it was rather uneventful compared to our other births. Up until the actual pushing there really was no need for anyone to be around Que unless she wanted them to be there.
Of course this was also reflected in the price tag for our birth. I have seen the bills for our previous births and all three of them, though paid by medicaid, were over $10,000.00. The average price for a home birth is $3500.00, but even an “expensive” home birth is a lot cheaper than going to a hospital. It is rather intuitive I think. Just compare a local doctor visit to an emergency room visit. The price is extraordinarily different. And with all of the current debates about healthcare reform and discussions about the rising cost of medical care, here at least seems to be a very pragmatic option to offer mothers which could save them a lot of unneeded medical intervention and a lot of wasted money. So the question at least in the state of Georgia is not whether the state will be paying for births, which is completely covered for everyone through medicaid, but whether the state might consider another option for mothers which would be beneficial for everyone including taxpayers. This of course would include re-writing laws to make midwifery a more viable option within this state as well as providing legal protection for intentional home births. If women can give births in cars and hospitals (which seem to be the only acceptable places for women to give birth), I think the traditional home should be an option as well.
Another thing that stood out to me was how “normal” this birth seemed to be. There was no rushing to find baby sitters. There was no need to prepare bags for nights away from our home. We did not have to worry about our dog. To be honest with the exception of Que sequestering herself in our room most of the time, the day Rowan was born was like any other day. I woke up fed the kids, made sure they had their naps, and by the evening we were all resting in our home with our new addition. Don’t get me wrong Que and I were tired, but least we were able to sleep in our own beds instead of uncomfortable hospital gurneys.
A great thing for us was the ability to have our religion play a big part in the delivery. There were icons placed around our room. A statute of our Lady was present. We had our relics, rosaries, and pray beads with us. Not to mention our small home altar, which is right now in our room, and little Rowan was blessed in front of it right after he umbilical cord was cut . Those things are with us throughout other events in our lives, it seems like those things ought to be there at the birth of one of our children. Likewise, if I was not a priest, a priest could have easily been called to the home latter that day for the blessings of the Church without having to worry about visitor hours and how many people were in the room. All of those things made this delivery seem not only normal, but sacred, as participating in the creation of life ought to be.
Finally on the positive side, this was a family affair. We did have a lot of people in our home, but our children were able to be there and able to see their new sibling almost immediately. They were not cranky and tired tucked away in a waiting room for an undetermined amount of time. No one needed a call to bring them up to the hospital. There were no hospital regulations to keep some of them out. It was a beautiful thing to have our family around and everyone seemed to benefit from it. Now of course I am not the one to make the final decision there are a lot of factors to take into consideration with home births, but when (God-willing) we have other children I would love to have them in our home. It just seems to make sense. Of course, there was the matter of “clean up” after the birth which was not the most pleasant thing. But the mid-wives took care of most of it. I only had to drain the pool and discard the pool “cover.” The positives clearly outweigh the negatives. The question left then is what would we have done about emergencies? And the answer to that question is we would have rushed to the hospital, like any emergency. Hospitals are not horrible. They are a necessary part of healthcare system. But that would be in the case of an emergencies and pregnancy in and of itself is not an emergency. With all things considered this was a great experience and I can only hope that other families will have this option in the future.