The Homebirth Debate: I Ate Statistics Stew and I’m Still Hungry | Indie Birth

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The Homebirth Debate: I Ate Statistics Stew and I’m Still Hungry

September 7, 2008

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“Opponents” (as if this is a battle) of homebirth almost always quote statistics (in the favor of their argument, of course) to question the safety of homebirth.

I am by no means a statistician, but I don’t think one has to be to realize that there is statistical evidence out there to support just about every angle of every debate.

Plus, if I let statistics run my life, I probably wouldn’t bother setting foot outside my home… not to mention actually getting into a car.

People can get hurt doing such risky things.

There are studies that shine a positive light on homebirth. And there are studies that shine a negative light on it as well.

You can argue about those 24/7 (some people try)…

But just how helpful is arguing about “statistics stew” if you really are interested in making the right decision for you?

Frankly, it leaves me hungry for some meat…

Take my decision not to vaccinate my children.

I came to that conclusion the same way I came to my decision that homebirth is the right choice for me.

I did a ton of research. I read a lot of “studies.” And I went round and round in circles… through the maze of completely conflicting information.

Every “study” trying to ram its own (human skewed) conclusions into my head.

In the end, I didn’t make those decisions with my head alone, I made those decisions with my gut.

And I own those decisions. They are mine. What is created because of them is the responsibility I’ve accepted for being a free thinking woman.

Although my important decisions may be informed by “evidence” fed into my brain, they can’t be made solely with that part of my body.

And so it is with birth…

Birth is too big to confine it simply to your mind. And it’s far too important.

That’s why I feel like “opponents” (why does anyone care so much about the way I choose to birth my child anyway) of homebirth who focus primarily on an endless stream of studies and statistics really are focusing on 1% of the real issue.

The real issue has more to do with the idea that many of us were not raised to claim our own power, to accept responsibility for our choices and to think for ourselves.

Instead, we were raised to listen to others, to accept authority, to be fearful of that which we do not know or understand, and to seek out the advice and counsel of “professionals” with alphabet soup letters after their names.

(I’ll very soon have some of that alphabet soup after my name. But I’ll never expect that the professional license that supports those letters should provide an excuse for those under my care to stop thinking for themselves. That, in my book, is truly unsafe.)

Spouting statistics about homebirth and expecting to persuade anyone of anything about homebirth is a bit ridiculous. Because it’s pretty much ignoring the only thing that matters:

The pregnant mother and the decision she makes for how to bring her child into the world.

I am not prepared (or interested) to dispute studies for the rest of my life. I could… but it would be an extreme waste of time when I can actually help women instead of scare them.

Plus, I think most of these studies have little to no relevance in really helping a woman decide whether or not a homebirth is the right choice for them.

We talk of not wanting to “medicalize” birth, but by paying attention to anything but our intuition, our bodies, our wisdom and knowledge of the process, we are (in a sense) subscribing to how the medical world makes decisions.

The miracle of birth is a whole lot bigger than how science chooses to measure and quantify it.

Birth is a natural life event, and as a healthy woman I know there is no unusual risk to me.

Nothing I can read, unfortunately, can predict my future, my baby’s future or the outcome of my labor and birth. I know, instinctively and intuitively that I am made to birth, but also that birth is not perfect and that I can ultimately accept and handle whatever the outcome is.

There isn’t a study in the world, positive or negative towards homebirth, that would make me feel any other way.

I trust, I believe, I respect birth and I am holding myself responsible for the choices I make and will accept the way the universe flows. I feel like women looking for studies to support their choice, whatever that is, are totally missing the mark.

Let the studies provoke your thinking. Then let yourself live in that moment where you ARE the statistic. Go to that place that can be scary and deal with what it is that you are really scared of.

Let the information you get propel you into a self-reflection, a self-investigation. Sift through what your real feelings are, separate them from what you have been told or what baggage you have held onto, regarding safety, and life and death.

Realize, truly realize, how much control ANY of us have over a normal life process.

I am not suggesting that studies and research should be disregarded. As a midwife, they all play an important part in understanding and communicating the risks that we do, as pregnant women, take on.

But whether we ultimately accept these risks should be a function of our hearts and souls, not our brains.

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  1. Aaroni says:

    Statistics is not just about reading what someone says in their study. You would do well to take at least an introductory course in statistics so that you can critically analyze the information presented in the studies that you read. The source of the study, who funded it, sampling methods used, type of study, how they define “significance”.

    There are many studies out there showing support for both sides of any particular argument. They were not all done at the same time, and they likely were not all done in the same way. One study is not necessarily equal to another.

    Statistics cannot tell YOU what YOU should do, but it is a very powerful tool to tell us how likely something is in a population or specific grouping of people (pregnant women in this case).

    You would do very well to change your attitude regarding studies “There isn’t a study in the world, positive or negative towards homebirth, that would make me feel any other way.”.

    If through a well designed study information came to light regarding a near certainty (either positive or negative), according to your above quoted statement you would reject it out of hand because it does not fit with your personal belief.

    I think there is a great flaw in that thinking that you are potentially passing along to those who visit your site.

    If you are interested in further discussion on this topic, please email me!

    -Aaron

  2. Aaroni says:

    Statistics is not just about reading what someone says in their study. You would do well to take at least an introductory course in statistics so that you can critically analyze the information presented in the studies that you read. The source of the study, who funded it, sampling methods used, type of study, how they define “significance”.

    There are many studies out there showing support for both sides of any particular argument. They were not all done at the same time, and they likely were not all done in the same way. One study is not necessarily equal to another.

    Statistics cannot tell YOU what YOU should do, but it is a very powerful tool to tell us how likely something is in a population or specific grouping of people (pregnant women in this case).

    You would do very well to change your attitude regarding studies “There isn’t a study in the world, positive or negative towards homebirth, that would make me feel any other way.”.

    If through a well designed study information came to light regarding a near certainty (either positive or negative), according to your above quoted statement you would reject it out of hand because it does not fit with your personal belief.

    I think there is a great flaw in that thinking that you are potentially passing along to those who visit your site.

    If you are interested in further discussion on this topic, please email me!

    -Aaron

  3. Thanks for your comment Aaron. The reason I wrote the article is simply because, as a mother to be, the ONLY thing I care about is what I should do in MY situation.

    That’s really the point.

    It’s about ONE mother, ONE baby.

  4. Thanks for your comment Aaron. The reason I wrote the article is simply because, as a mother to be, the ONLY thing I care about is what I should do in MY situation.

    That’s really the point.

    It’s about ONE mother, ONE baby.

  5. Love it! Love it! Love i! All of it, just brilliantly logical and heart centred!

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