I’ve been doing a lot of research. On crazy things. Like the history of diapers. 

Did you know they used to wrap kids into “swaddling clothes” and leave them unchanged for days? When cloth rags began to be used in the same way as modern diapers, they were changed maybe once a day, shaken out, hung to dry and used again–without washing.

Ewww! 

No wonder so many kiddos died in infancy! Lack of hygiene and normal childhood diseases, resulted in many tragic deaths. Deaths so rare now days we hardly think of them.

I am so thankful to live in this time.

I love walking through old cemeteries, reading the names and dates and the often creative epitaphs. Every one of those headstones begs to tell a story and I long to know what it was.

It hurts my mother’s heart to see so many newborns and young women among those stones.

I am so thankful I live in this time.

Being an OB nurse and married to an obstetrician, I periodically get approached by a young woman with questions about home deliveries. I understand where they come from. Home is more comfortable, less invasive, more family friendly. But vivid in my mind are those headstones. 

We’ve come so far. Why would I want to go back?

Yes, our health and our training are so much better than in previous centuries. That at least is to our advantage. 

When approached by these young ladies, my response is always the same. “I’m an OB nurse, my husband is an obstetrician. I wouldn’t dream of a home delivery unless I had no other option.” This, even after several quick and easy labors.

Not everyone likes my opinion. That’s fine. We each have to evaluate what we want and decide for ourselves. I also know there are exceptions–like living in a third world country where the hospital is a greater danger than the home.

My experience in labor and delivery is that a perfectly normal labor can go dangerous in minutes. Everything is beautiful, until it isn’t. Emergencies are not likelyto happen, but if they do, I want the equipment and medication available to deal with it. My child’s life is more important than my comfort.

When in California I worked with a pediatrician who ran a Cerebral Palsy clinic. His comment one day only reinforced my opinion.

“Most of my patients were home deliveries,” he said.

Yes, that was thirty years ago. Still…

It’s not just the babies I worry about. Remember those tombstones I mentioned earlier? Many were young women. How many died in childbirth or shortly after? I realize that the lack of cleanliness was a huge factor, but not all.

This past week, my daughter-in-law delivered the most gorgeous baby girl. (No bias–she really is the most gorgeous!) Her labor was normal for a first timer, she delivered without a problem. 

And then, she hemorrhaged.

Without the various meds and equipment available it could have been life threatening. In twelve minutes, she lost 1500cc of blood. Without what was available at the hospital, she would have lost much more. She is recovering well, bonding and caring for her precious bundle.

I am so thankful for modern medicine and modern technology. I’m rejoicing that my daughter-in-law and her baby are healthy.

If the home-style experience is important to you, talk to different doctors in your area and find one who is willing to help you have a similar experience within the safety of the hospital. They are out there. Talk with them about your concerns and wishes. 

No hospital is going to be totally hands off, but you can get intermittent monitoring instead of nonstop, you can get an IV access without being hooked up to an IV. You can have minimal exams during labor. You can have your family around you. If the baby shows signs of distress, all of that will change. But wouldn’t you want it that way? Wouldn’t you want more monitoring if your baby is in trouble? Oxygen if your baby isn’t getting enough? IV fluid if it helps? In the long run, even a C-Section if it saves your child’s life? 

As old timey cemeteries prove, there are much worse things than a C-Section.

If you really, really want a delivery at home, make sure you have a properly trained mid-wife with you who has at least the basics of emergency supplies. Try to be very close to a hospital. If you are hemorrhaging, you may not have thirty minutes to make the trip.

Researching history is a lot of fun, and often astonishing. Knowledge continues to grow. I wonder what things we do that will bring gasps of horror to those living a hundred years from now. At no point in history is knowledge perfect, yet I am so thankful for the time I live in.

Addition: After writing this, a friend brought to my awareness I left out something! Midwives within a hospital setting! This is a wonderful option for giving that “at home” experience within a hospital setting, often with that extra touch of personal, more one on one care that midwives are known for. But, like doctors, make sure they know what you are looking for!

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