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"If I were at home, I would have died" — The trouble with extrapolating hospital birth events to homebirth

A midwife in North Carolina was recently charged with practicing midwifery without a license because her state does not offer licensure for  Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) and other direct entry midwives.  There was some local news coverage of the arrest and the ongoing efforts of North Carolina families to legalize CPMs.  One of the local news stories included a mother’s birth story from the “If I were at home, I would have died” perspective.

When I hear statements like this I cringe on the inside.  Being a midwife, I hear it a lot.  Women love to talk about their birth stories, as they should;  Storytelling is a natural and beautiful part of our collective journey as women and mothers.  In the park, at mom’s groups, among new friends, anywhere women gather there are stories of births and babies being told.  When I hear a story being told from the “I would have died at home” perspective, I do my best to nod with genuine empathy.  I want to support each woman’s telling of her own story. It does, however, feel like a double bind…

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An obstetrician speaks up for VBAC after the birth of her 5th baby

An OB candidly shares her remarkable journey though three inductions, two cesareans,  two vacuum assisted births, and one unplanned VBAC. Now a VBAC advocate, she shared her story on her blog:

My Surprise VBAC

“Needless to say, like most OB residents, my experience with normal, low-risk physiological birth was minimal……..Reflecting back over my journey, I see how much the field of obstetrics has managed to contribute and sometimes outright cause complications, all the while assuming they are just keeping everyone safer.  And I see how much fear has overtaken the natural birthing process.  I’ve said before that shows like Deliver Me, A Baby Story, and Birth Day should be renamed “Fear Factor” because they play on a woman’s often natural concerns about the birth by portraying the whole process as highly dramatic, with a woman strapped down and hooked up…..”