Monday, April 13, 2009

A Good Birth

I was writing a future post about birth when I realised I had written the phrase "good birth" several times, as if it actually meant something. So what is a "good birth"? For some it may be a healthy baby and no more. For others it may be an elective Cesaerean. Some demand to experience "ecstatic birth". For the pregnant me, a "good birth" would have been one in which I would have a healthy baby, could be present and aware for the whole process, and would feel relaxed and happy. My post-birth view is still pretty much the same though the healthy baby bit has assumed a much greater importance in my mind - somehow, the pregnant me could not quite comprehend the fact that I would actually be having a baby.

A few weeks ago I spoke to a woman who was about to have her first baby and had planned a home birth with an independent midwife. She had experienced nothing but negativity from her friends and family, one of whom even asserted that she was being selfish to wish for such a birth. Is it selfish to wish for a good birth experience for yourself as well as your baby? Was I selfish to have a home birth?

I have no categorical answer but I instinctively feel that a woman's postpartum mental health is extremely important for her baby's well being, and a happy birth can surely have a great impact on this. Traumatic birth can certainly contribute to postnatal depression. And there is of course a weight of evidence to indicate that home birth does not pose any additional risk to a baby's or mother's health. So no, I do not think it is selfish to wish for your version of "good birth" and whether that takes place at home or in a hospital should be up to the mother and her family. If only society would value "good birth" like mothers do.

If you doubt the safety of home birth, there is a wonderful website here that should put your mind at rest.


Joxy said...

Hear hear!

The Awakened Heart said...

I agree. I planned a home waterbirth and was met with a few raised eyebrows from my family and my husbands. I am lucky to be surrounded by very supportive women and, though it was not to be, I never regretted that as my intention. If I decide to add to our little family, I will try it again I think. There is no evidence to suggest that babies are any more at risk at home than in a hospital, unless there is something wrong with the mother or child initially. Ultimately, a good birth is one in which mother and baby are healthy and happy - however they get there.

Cave Mother said...

Healthy and happy is exactly it. I am sorry that you did not have the experience you wanted - it must be difficult to come to terms with, and most people are not sympathetic to a woman who has not had a happy birth, seeing the healthy baby as the only objective.

Anonymous said...