I am selfish. I admit it.
I am selfish because I want a birth experience that leaves me feeling fulfilled as a mother, that gives me confidence and joy.
I am selfish for giving birth at home, because I want to minimize the chances that my newborn will acquire an infection. Infection rates of newborns are many times higher in hospitals than at home. (1)
I am selfish because I want to avoid an unnecessary cesarean section; healthy women birthing at home have average cesarean rates of 1 to 4%, compared to around 20% in healthy women birthing in hospitals.
I am selfish because I do not want my vagina cut open by scissors (the nationwide episiotomy rate is STILL around 30%) or my belly cut open by knives. I have a 60% chance of acquiring a surgical wound if I give birth in a hospital.
I am selfish because I would prefer not to have to go into labor, pack my bags, get in the car, drive to the hospital, check in, sign consent forms, refuse the standard hospital procedures, and fight for what I want—all while giving birth to a baby.
I am selfish because I do not want to be separated from my baby. I want to hold my baby as soon as she is born. I do not want her to be taken from my arms to be weighed and measured, injected and bathed. I am selfish because I want to nurse her freely, without interruption.
I am selfish because I want to be washed in a “cocktail of love hormones,” to borrow a phrase from the French obstetrician Michel Odent. These hormones—endorphins, oxytocin, and prolactin—are released in full force only to women birthing without medications, in safe and private environments. Narcotics, anesthesia, surgery, and even high levels of stress and adrenaline inhibit the release of these hormones.
I am selfish because I want my baby to be born into her parents’ hands and to know only the safety and warmth of our arms. I want her be born in an atmosphere of love and ecstasy.
I am selfish because I want to avoid postpartum depression. Women who birth at home have much lower rates of postpartum depression. (2, 3)
Sometimes we need to be selfish.
(1) Mehl, L., Peterson, G.,
(2) Jones, Carl. Alternative Birth.
(3) Kitzinger, Sheila. Home Birth.