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Home Birth Rights for Women

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August 10, 2012

Women’s health issues are always on the forefront of political campaigning towards women. Whether you are Pro-choice or Pro-Life supporters, women’s health always makes its way into campaign promises. However, there is one glaring area of women’s rights that is slowly being stripped from our society without much of an outcry from neither Pro-Choice or Pro-Life supporters: Home Birth Rights.

Pro-choice and Pro-life movements tend to focus on a women’s rights to birth control and abortions. However, there is much more to women’s health rights and birth than this. From a Pro-Choice standpoint, the stripping away of home birth rights should cause an uproar. Pro-Choice means that women should have the right to choose when, where, and how they birth their babies. From insurance companies, hospital policy, and full-blown governmental policies, it is becoming harder and harder for women to gain access to quality home birth care if they even have home birth as an option.

From a Pro-Life standpoint, home birth rights should also be on the radar. As a Pro-Life supporter, the idea is that the unborn child has rights as well as the mother to proper care. Part of proper care for an unborn baby is ensuring the best possible outcome for birth. Medical interventions that put stress on the baby should then be seen as a hammer grinding away at Pro-Choice initiatives.

Many women have never even considered a home birth because of the fear of the unknown or lack of knowledge on the subject. I will point out that I have not had any of my children at home. However, I believe that a woman has the right to birth in the way that makes sense for her. Whether that is having access to a natural birth center, hospital midwife care, hospital OB care, or midwife assisted home birth, I believe a woman should be able to choose where and how she births her baby.

Some statistics on homebirth to consider:

Interventions Planned Home Birth Hospital Birth
Induction of labor 2.1% 21.0%
Stimulation of labor (medical) 2.7% 18.9%
Electronic fetal monitoring 9.6% 84.3%
Episiotomy 2.1% 33.0%
Vacuum Extraction 0.6% 5.5%
Cesarean Section 3.7% 19.0%

When looking at statistics for home birth vs. hospital birth you MUST look at PLANNED home birth statistics. Hospitals like to throw out statistics on home birth that make it look frightening; however, you will notice the studies include emergency at home births that were not assisted. Having medical assistance through a midwife at birth makes birthing at home a non-risk as you can see from the statistics above. Many other countries birth at home as the norm. One such country is Sweden. Sweden has one of the highest rates of home birth in the world and also has the lowest rate of infant mortality and lowest rates of maternal death.

Many agree that the main deciding factor in the outcome of birth comes from having a qualified medical assistant at your side. Therefore, why are so many insurance companies and new government policies making it incredibly hard for a midwife to become certified for care to receive coverage? There are a number of things you can do to help voice your opinion on this matter.

First, write letters to your legislators. Let them know that you care about this issue and that it will be a deciding factor in your voting. Second, join a local advocacy group. Many midwife clinics and birthing centers do community advocacy and would love your support. Lastly, help squash the birthing myths associated with home births. Many companies, namely hospitals and insurance companies, will try to paint home birth as unsafe. The truth is that the studies and statistics show that home birth is just as safe, and dare I say MORE safe, than hospital births as a whole. The problem is statistics that include pre-term, emergency, and unassisted births that are not a true representation of assisted home birth.

What are your thoughts? Do you support a woman’s right to choose a home birth versus mainstream care?

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