Of the many decisions you have to make once you discover you're pregnant, one of the earliest ones is how you're planning to give birth. For example, do you want to have a traditional hospital birth or have you been considering going an alternative route? Recently, a survey conducted by researchers from the Columbia University School of Nursing found that women who describe themselves as active participants in the delivery of their first child and want to collaborate with their healthcare providers are more likely to consider a home birth with the help of a midwife than those who do not see themselves that way.
Alternatively, women who reported that they see the mother's role in the birthing process as being more passive tended to be more afraid of the idea of delivery and preferred the idea of giving birth in a hospital.
It's your choice
To come to their conclusions, researchers examined women of child-bearing age who had not yet had children. They asked the women if they viewed the mother's role during pregnancy as active or passive, the provider's role as dominant or collaborative, and whether they viewed the delivery experience as fearful and painful or a positive occurrence.
"We found that women who perceived their role in the birth of their first child as an active one, the provider's role as collaborative and the delivery of the child as a positive experience, were more likely to prefer midwifery care, birth at home, a vaginal delivery and the avoidance of pain medication," said researcher Adriana Arcia, Ph.D., RN.
Furthermore, the number of passive mothers was far greater than the active ones, and these mothers preferred the idea of giving birth in a hospital. Also, the more afraid of delivery the women were, the more likely they were to want a Caesarean delivery. This is important, since doctors are often searching for answers to what encourages women to choose a C-section over a traditional birth.
"As women become more aware of their options and wish to place the locus of control closer to them, more women will regard midwifery care and planned home birth as an attractive option," added Arcia.
What's best for you?
According to a 2009 article published in Time magazine, 99 percent of all births in the U.S. take place in hospitals. Furthermore, the American Medical Association states that the safest setting for labor and delivery is a hospital. However, the news source added that midwives argue that home births monitored by a professional midwife are just as safe as a hospital birth, and studies have shown that healthy women can give birth safely in their own homes.
The important thing is for you to do plenty of research. This means consulting with both a doctor and a midwife who can provide you with the facts you need to make this decision, and also look up statistics and information on your own so you can know what's best for you and your baby.
No matter what you decide, it's important for you to feel confident that you're going to get through labor and delivery just fine. Although it may be scary, it's important to do your best to stay calm. Ultimately, thousands of women do it every day, and women have been doing it since the dawn of time - so there's no reason you can't too!
Did you choose to have a home birth with a midwife? What was that experience like? Would you recommend it to others? Discuss why or why not here!