Based on the fact that I'm a pre-natal yoga teacher with a passion for birth it would be easy to presume that I choose to deliver my babies at home. For the record, I don't (or to be more precise, I don't intend to). When I wrote about packing my hospital bag I was surprised by the number of people who questioned why I wasn't birthing at home. Sure, it's easy to presume that I fit the stereotypical home birthing mould but that's the thing about presumptions; they're often wildly incorrect. To be honest, I don't have any desire or emotional attachment to birthing at home. I suppose the best reason I can give is that I don't feel that my past birth experiences could have been improved if I had of stayed at home. In both Che and Poet's pregnancies I chose to be looked after by hospital midwives and in both circumstances I was offered nurturing guidance, endless support and exemplary back rubs and encouragement. My pre and post-natal care as well as my birth experiences were positive and memorable; I wouldn't have changed a thing. Of course, the financial cost of a home birth is also a big deciding factor. Whilst there are public hospitals in Australia that offer a free homebirth option, they are few and far between. Hiring a private midwife is a significant financial investment, most of which isn't covered by medicare or your health fund. Why? The insurance costs are exorbitant because unlike the governments of countries like New Zealand and The Netherlands, ours isn't overly supportive of the homebirthing movement. It's a contentious issue and, without doubt, a highly political one.
My own birthing preferences aside, I honestly believe that they choices we make in regards to how and where we birth our babies are deeply personal ones. Only the birthing mother needs to feel content with her decision to choose a private hospital over a birth centre, a VBAC over a planned cesarean, an on-the-bed hospital birth over a home water birth.
It's also refreshing to come back to the fact that while some of us seek an empowering and enriching birth experience, others aren't attached to those words or their consequences.
Perhaps the most profound (and humbling) lesson I have learned from working with pregnant women, is that positive, memorable birth experiences can happen in theatre, on the hospital ward, in the birth centre, in the car (!) or at home. And regardless of our plans and intentions, at the end of the day, the place where we birth our babies is, to some degree, beyond our control.
And apt lesson as we journey into motherhood, don't you think?
Caitlin just published an insightful post about her own home birth. It's a wonderful account of the practicalities and the experience.