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Former makeup enthusiast and bookworm. Currently adopting a minimalist lifestyle. Contact me at phylliciarobert@gmail.com for inquiries.
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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Things That I Never Knew Before: Birthing Options.

Hi there,

2 days ago I watched a documentary on Youtube entitled The Business Of Being Born. It is a discussion about hospital births vs home births (with a midwife) and it really struck a chord in me because I learned about things that I never knew before and it really opened my eyes about the act of giving birth and all that comes with it.

Before this I thought (and I'm sure most of you though this too) that giving birth in a hospital, whether Government or private, is the only way to go. If I was asked if I wanted to give birth at home with a midwife as apposed to having a baby at the hospital I would have said,"No" because somehow it conjures an image in my head of an old lady using outdated methods on me.

The documentary is based on what is happening in the USA so I can't really say too much if it reflects fully on the birthing 'situation' in hospital here in Malaysia. However, based on some of the stories that I've heard from friends over the years about their birthing experience in hospitals, it is almost always a horror story anyway.

Now let me give a list on why (based on the documentary) hospital births are not favorable to women:

Too much intervention
Women who are admitted into the hospital for more than a few hours would be induced with Pitocin. Contractions from inducement hurt way worse than naturally occurring ones so Epidural is given to numb the pain. After that, another shot of Pitocin is given. Inducement can cause death in babies.

Doctors get knife happy
Doctors sometimes suggest C-section just to speed things along and not always out of necessity. C-section is a major surgery and carries high  risk. Mothers sometimes die on the operating bed or from bacterial infection of the wound after the surgery. Again, this is a USA based documentary.

Wrong position
A woman lying down on her back with legs raised in stirrups is not the best position for birth as it makes the pelvis 'smaller' thus making it harder for baby to come out. In turn this hurts the mother more.

Impersonal attention
Most women said that the doctors are not with them most of the time because they have to attend to other patients too. A close friend of mine told me that during her experience, the baby's head had already come out before she was rushed into delivery and a doctor showed up and attended to her.

Now lets go on to the reasons why home births with midwives are favorable to women:

Personalized attention
When an expecting mother experiences contractions, the midwife would come to the patient's house even if it's in the middle of the night and she will stay as long as needed to see if it's a false alarm or the real deal. The midwife is also with the patient 100% along the way, guiding put never forceful.

No drugs
This might seem like a disadvantage but drugs actually hamper the birthing experience. When a woman gives birth, especially a natural vaginal birth, a cocktail of 'love hormones' are released in her body and makes the mother feel very, very protective and loving towards her baby.

Now it doesn't mean that those who were induced or had epidural in the hospital don't love their baby. It's just that drugs can dull the mother's senses for a bit and she may not be able to experience the full extend of the 'love hormones'.

Optimum position
Midwives favor a squatting position as it makes the pelvis wider and easier for the baby to come out. Water births are also an option that a midwife can provide for her patient.

Comfort zone
Obviously with home births you will be giving birth in your home in an environment that you are familiar with, more privacy and you can actually created the environment that you want. For example you can put on soothing music, control your lighting (some women prefer to have a dimmer atmosphere in the room they choose to give birth as it feels soothing for them). As for the mess, don't worry, the midwives would do the clean up after the birthing is over.

It's cheaper
In the USA hospitals charge up to USD12,000 per birth and for the birth alone. Mid wives only charge USD4,000-USD5,000 for everything including postnatal care. In Malaysia too, I'm sure a midwife would charge less than what it would cost if  one were to go to a private hospital or medical center.

Note: Not to be prejudiced but Government hospitals do seem like the House of Horrors based on the stories of my friend who gave birth there. Most said that they would rather save up and go to private hospitals than go through the experience at a Government hospital again. So, jangan marah ha doctors and nurses.

Educated and Experienced
Contrary to popular beliefs, including mine, midwives are not just old ladies who are going to use medieval, barbaric methods on you. Far from it, they are actually educated with modern medicine and one has to be experienced before being able to be a certified midwife. So if complications do arise, they would have the knowledge to know if you need to be sent to the nearest hospital, etc.

Obviously there are pros to giving birth in a hospital such as having advanced medical equipment and doctors to attend to any medical complications. There are also  downsides to doing home births. However, do keep in mind that when a certified midwife meets you for the first time, she would first do an assessment of your medical history and the condition of your pregnancy to determine if you are a good candidate for home birthing. Obviously if you are a high risk patient, the midwife would recommend you to give birth in a hospital.

In Malaysia I am not sure if there are still any midwives (also known as Bidan in Malay) out there let alone certified ones. If you are a considering a home birth, try referring to your elders in case they know someone who still practices midwifery. Also, silly as it might seem, try referring to Family Planning clinics if they know any midwives. I personally think it's worth a shot.

To watch the documentary, click here.

Yes, a very out of the ordinary topic for me but when I watched this documentary I just felt so much more empowered and I want to share it with other women out there.

This is all for now. Cheers and wassalam..


Lizeewong said...

Hi Phoebe

Part of the reasons why I went to a private clinic to deliver my 1st baby was because of the horror stories I heard about government hospitals - inexperienced doctors, unfriendly nurses, misdiagnosed cases etc. Exactly like what you friend has pictured.

I think home-birthing is not that popular in our place cos there aren't many certified midwives out there. Plus, most women wouldn't want to stand the risk of giving birth at home without proper medical facilities.

My second baby was born in Christchurch and I do remember my midwife asking me whether I wanted a home delivery. I could choose to have either a home delivery, vaginal birth/elective C-sec at the hospital and OR water birth. Haha! Wouldn't that be interesting :) I opted for a hospital birth of course. I knew I had pregnancy induced hypertension so the chances of me getting a C-sec was high. Memang last2 C-sec juga :)

Very interesting topic! (maklumlah mummy kan) Sorry for clogging your comment box ^__^

Phoebe said...

Hi Lizee,
Your comments and feedback are most welcome dear. Did you watch the documentary? The opening was women saying that they preferred a hospital birth compared to a home birth. It's normal I think for women to do that because they feel more secure.. :)

Yes, there are not a lot of certified midwives here. It's quite unfortunate I think. Huhu... I wish water birth is available here.

Ngam la you opt for hosp birth for your 2nd child because high risk pregnancy kan.. :)

Are you still in New Zealand?

Lizeewong said...

Yes I'm still here. Hope to return next year. Can't wait ^__^

Phoebe said...

That's great! Still, it must be a good experience living in NZ. I've never really heard much complaints from friends or relatives who migrated there.. Macam mana pun tmpt sendiri juga yg best bah kan.. Hehehe...