What is the difference between going to have your baby at a labor- and delivery unit of a hospital versus having a birth center or homebirth?
In a hospital setting women are being delivered by a medical system that views birth as a medical problem, which needs to be treated. The healthy mother automatically becomes a patient and the obstetrician takes charge of the process. At a birth center or at home, midwives who trust the process of labor and working on their own terms try not to guide births along a path determined by unnecessary medical interventions but wait patiently, nurture, support and allow a woman to give birth, the way her body was meant to, successfully keeping medical interventions to a minimum.
Women in America are told these days that having your baby in a hospital is the safest way to give birth. Statistics show that this is profoundly untrue. Japan, Sweden, Denmark and Holland, countries who’s healthcare systems are not profit driven, have the lowest infant- and maternal mortality rates of all industrialized nations in the world and support the midwifery model of care either in a hospital setting or at home. It is estimated that 75 % of all healthy low-risk mothers could safely give birth at a birthing center or at home. The US, where most women have their babies in a high tech hospital setting, ranks 21st on this list, showing us that all the precautions, safety procedures and medical interventions do not lower these numbers.Anna H Verwaal, RN, CLE, is a maternal-child health nurse, certified lactation educator and doula. She received her nursing degree in her native Holland in 1984. For many years she worked as a labor and delivery, post-partum and newborn nursery nurse at a hospital in Los Angeles. She now works as a birth consultant helping pregnant couples make informed decisions about the journey of labor and birth. She can be reached by phone at 310-455-0108 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org