Home birth was never something that was on the table for me. This goes without saying but labor is painful and I’m a fan of mitigating physical pain whenever I can. I have nothing against home birth. It may be an option for mothers depending on their medical history and their current pregnancy, but it was just not an option I was interested in.
Peace of mind was very important to me during both deliveries and for my peace of mind I wanted to be in a labor and delivery room with medical professionals and technology (and pain medication). My version of peace of mind wasn’t the same for several of the women in my family. My mother-in-law had all five of her children naturally in a hospital and my sister-in-law had her baby at home while living abroad in Europe. Everyone was perfectly happy and healthy.
Perhaps it’s because my father is a physician, my motto with my pregnancies was to be surrounded by as much medicine as circumstances would allow.
No one ever talked to me about home birth, but on paper I might have seemed like a good candidate with my second. I had my first baby in my late 20s, he was an uncomplicated vaginal delivery in a hospital with an epidural (thank god!)
Just like my first, my second pregnancy was unremarkable. I was healthy, but exhausted from working full time and parenting a small child. Throughout my pregnancy my baby was healthy, but when labor started everything changed. Her heart rate was all over the place. It would race and then suddenly drop even in the early stages of labor. Having been through this once before I knew something was wrong. My memory of what happened next is hazy, in part because I was not fully conscious but also because it happened so quickly.
My uterus had ruptured. A uterine rupture is exactly what it sounds like, it’s when your uterus tears open, most often during labor. There are varying degrees of rupture, but all are emergency situations. There is internal bleeding that needs to immediately be stopped and in the most severe cases, the baby can leave the uterus through the tear and migrate to another part of the abdominal cavity. Regardless it is a life and death situation for both mother and baby, where seconds count. Uterine ruptures are usually associated with women that have had previous c-sections, but I’d never had one.
I remember only bits and pieces of my daughter’s birth, but I remember knowing that something was very wrong and I was terrified. I was rushed for a c-section and once they got in, they couldn’t get my daughter out of me. She was stuck. As I understand it several members of the surgical team had to assist to remove her. I know my uterus had ruptured in multiple locations and something I am still unclear about is whether or there was an initial rupture before delivery and her extraction caused the additional ruptures or if all of the tears were caused during labor.
I spent an extended amount of time in the OR with the doctor repairing my uterus. After it was all over my doctor told me that neither myself nor my daughter would have survived if we’d been anywhere besides down the hall from a fully staffed and equipped OR.
While home birth was never something I’d considered, but having experienced an uncomplicated delivery that suddenly became very complicated makes me nervous whenever I talk to someone who is considering it. If you’re considering home birth, I think you need to make the decision after extensive consultation with medical professionals and with true informed consent. That means accepting that if an unexpected complication arises where seconds matter, that help may be delayed.