Home Birth vs. Hospital Birth


adapted from an article by Martina Benson, CPM-TN

“Homebirth? I didn’t know they still do that!”
“Is it legal to have your baby at home?”
“Isn’t that dangerous?”
“Oh my, I don’t think I could handle the pain...”
“What kinds of people still have their baby at home?”

To answer the last question first, ALL KINDS of people have their babies at home. They range in ethnicity, culture and religion. Amongst their differences, they have these things in common:

  • They believe that pregnancy and childbirth are normal, natural states of mind and body.
  • They hire midwives to guide them through and monitor their pregnancies.
  • They are responsible people, willing to seek medical attention, if deemed necessary.
  • Yet first and foremost, they trust their bodies and their ability to give birth naturally.

Naturally? “Yes,” some women say, “I gave birth naturally. I had a vaginal delivery in the hospital!”

My questions to these women would be:

  • Were you able to roam around freely or were you stuck in a hospital bed?
  • Were you confined to a bed by continuous monitors strapped around your belly and by an IV stuck in your arm?
  • Were you denied anything to eat or drink - anything except ice chips, “JUST IN CASE” there was a problem? “JUST IN CASE” you had to have a Cesarean, “JUST IN CASE” you would aspirate; even though you would be medicated against possible aspiration...
  • Were you unable to feel your surges to push because of an epidural?
  • Did you choose your birthing positions or were your legs put up in stirrups?
  • Did the doctor cut your perineum?
  • Were you able to hold and bond with your baby right after delivery, or was your precious one carried away first for all kinds of procedures?
  • And, maybe most of all: Do you feel like you could have NEVER done it without “them and their technology?”

If these questions strike a nerve with you, or you feel your last birthing experience could have been different, you might want to find out more about Homebirth.

Homebirth is for low-risk pregnant women. Midwives define a low-risk woman as a healthy mother without previously existing medical conditions, who doesn’t smoke or drink alcohol and who consumes a balanced diet of fresh and wholefoods. Homebirth mothers generally hae a good support system and feel positive about their pregnancy and impending new motherhood. In our practice, mothers should be pregnant with only one baby, which should be in a favorable birthing presentation (head down) by the time labor nears. It is crucial that their partners feel good about having a homebirth and are supportive of breastfeeding.

Having a baby at home is very individualized for each mother - it is HER birth in HER home - and the midwife respects that, making sure that everybody involved is safe. Midwives DO NOT carry pain medication. Labor contractions are dealt with totally differently at home, where mothers are free to roam, and eat and drink as they please. Massage and Hydrotherapy are available as effective comfort measures. Laboring in her own environment, with non-invasive labor tools, makes the surges of contractions much easier to cope with and handle. Women rarely transfer from home to hospital because they “can’t handle the pain anymore.”

What if there is a problem?

Every woman planning to have a homebirth should have a collaborative care doctor available, who can be called upon for consultation or referral. Numerous studies prove that, for low-risk mothers, planned homebirth is as safe or safer than hospital delivery. In few instances, however, midwives need more medical help than there is available at home during a labor, birth, or postpartum. In this situation the midwife transports the mother to the hospital, most often into a physician’s care. Midwives support medical technology, when used wisely on an individual basis.

Homebirth is legal in Tennessee, as it is in almost all other states of the US. Certified Professional Midwives (CPM’s) are licensed by the State of Tennessee (CPM-TN).

Martina Benson, CPM-TN, is a homebirth midwife who presently lives in Germany with her family.

Back Home • Next
All content and graphics are copyrighted to either Chosen Births or Polka Dot Pixels unless otherwise noted.
© Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.