I Am An Unapologetic Homebirther

Over the past week, I have been writing posts signaling that while I think more parents should seriously consider homeschooling, I am sympathetic to the parents who are passionate about traditional schooling and find private or public school to be a good fit for their family. If you ask me, I think the 80/20 rule would work well for education, with 80% of families choosing traditional schooling, and 20% choosing homeschooling, compared to 3% currently. (For comparison, currently about 11% of students in the U.S. attend private or parochial schools.)

Homebirth, on the other hand....

I wonder if it's because I have seen both sides of birth that I am unapologetically pro-homebirth, to the point where I think the 80/20 rule should mean 80% of births are at home and 20% are at hospitals, compared to 99% currently. I experienced first-hand the serious, even life-threatening, complications resulting from big hospital births and unnecessary inductions with my first two babies. I finally realized with my third baby that I HAD to have a natural, non-interventive birth if I wanted to have a safe delivery, and the only way I felt certain of having a completely natural birth was to have one at home.

In my third trimester of my third pregnancy, I went for a tour of the smaller hospital's labor and delivery (L&D) ward, the hospital where I was considering giving birth with a midwife instead of the big hospital with the OB that I had experienced previously. This smaller, regional hospital had a good reputation for valuing natural childbirth, but almost as soon as the L&D tour began, I knew I couldn't have a baby there. The clincher for me was the big, red, digital timer clock on the wall of the delivery room. When I asked the tour guide the purpose of the big timer, she downplayed its importance, saying that it may be used once a laboring woman's water broke or once she started pushing. To me, it was like the overtime stop-clock for a Celtics-Lakers game, measuring my every move against a hospital's policies and expectations. At that moment, I knew I couldn't have a hospital birth. On the ride home from the hospital tour, I called my homebirth midwife to sign on for what would become a defining, life-changing experience.

So this homebirth experience leads me to wonder: would I be more relentlessly, unabashedly pro-homeschooling if I had a poor traditional schooling experience? I am relentlessly, unabashedly pro-homebirthing because I honestly and with full conviction believe that most babies should be born naturally, at home, with trusted midwives. But I have seen the other side. I have seen first-hand--TWICE--the clear and present dangers of hospital births, and I believe, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that for most women birth belongs at home.

But homeschooling? I had a decent K-12 public school experience, though I feel that much of it was a waste of time. I liked school, participated in many rewarding extra-curricular activities, got accepted to top colleges. But still, I want more, better for my children. My reasons for advocating homeschooling and homebirthing are different. Both are ideologic and personal, but with homebirthing, I have witnessed first-hand the other side, the dangers of an OB-orchestrated, institutionalized birth.

The passion I feel for homebirth, then, may be similar to the passion friends of mine feel about homeschooling, friends who have "seen the other side," whose children have been betrayed by a large, traditional government-school system that operates under its own rules of efficiency and self-protection just like hospitals.

So the bottom line is that while I am passionate about both homeschooling and homebirthing, for me, the latter is much more of a rejection of currently accepted practices while the former is an acceptance of a particular family lifestyle and child-rearing approach.

What about you? Are you accepting something for what it promises, or rejecting something for what it fails at?