After birthing two children in the hospital, having a home birth wasn’t on Shola’s to-do list for her third child, but that was what happened.
When her labour started, she thought she would have the time to go all the way to the Island from her Mainland home, to the hospital she was using. But her labour this time around was a lot faster. Before she knew it, she was feeling the head of the baby. Trying to stay calm, after all, she had had two other children before, she failed and screamed for her husband’s elder sister, who was just feet away, but who had no inkling of what was happening to her brother’s wife.
Shola’s third child, slipped out, just as her sister-in-law stepped into their living room, where she was. Bodily fluids were everywhere. Thank God, her sister-in-law knew what to do, as she cut the cord and helped her Shola to deliver the placenta.
It was a major surprise birth and for a long time, everyone looked at her with awe in their eyes. Shola became the super woman, who birthed her child almost by herself.
The fact that her bags were packed, made everything simpler, as soon after the childbirth, mother, child and their bags were bundled into a car, and off to the hospital they went.
Before getting to the hospital, Shola thought she and the baby were going to be admitted, but no, after the doctors checked both of them and they were considered healthy, and sent back home.
So, her husband left his pregnant wife and two children back home, but came home to three children.
This happened over 20 years ago, and that child, who was born at home, is now married and when her mom shared the experience, she would make that God-forbid sign over her head and declare that she would only have hospital births. Amen to her prayer, because I really can’t imagine going through that delicate experience at home and not with a hovering doctor nearby. What if something went wrong? I can’t help but think it.
Interestingly, there are quite a lot of women who still give birth at home. Some would even say, “God forbid that I give birth in the hospital.” And sadly, some are unable to give birth in the hospital, due to lack of funds, which is why the monies which the Canadian government released towards women and children healthcare in Nigeria is very much welcome.
Recently, a fourth time mom, Bosola, resorted to giving birth at home and it was really in a bid to cut cost, and she felt she could handle the whole experience alone. She had her sister, who was a nurse, commit to helping her when it was time.
When she started feeling the labour pains, she called her sister and what they thought was going to be a jolly good ride turned into a nightmare, as her labour wasn’t progressing. Two hours turned to 10 hours, and she was only 4cm dilated. When the next day dawned, her sister suggested that she go to the hospital. She refused, but her husband insisted, saying, “You will not put me in trouble.”
Off to the hospital they went, and a scan revealed that baby was breech and that there was no way, it was going to come out vaginally.
It wasn’t the kind of news Bosola wanted to hear. Through her contractions, she was arguing with the doctor about how she had birthed three children vaginally, how come this one had to be by C-section? Story for the gods.
After some back and forth, it was agreed that the c-section would be done, and that was how God saved Bosola and her baby from her own hands. If that procedure had not been done, only God knows what the story would have been today.
And it was as though the baby came with many blessings, as the same week she was born, her father got another job, a better-paying one for that matter, and that was how they were able to offset some of the debts they had incurred.
Until the advent of modern medicine, home birth was the de facto method of childbirth. It was a no brainer. The local midwives, who possibly came by that title as a result of having attended many births, rather than training, and the women folks ruled whenever a woman fell into labour.
Home births have long been acknowledged to be safe for mothers, who are carrying low risk pregnancies.
And it is often low risk when statistically compared with hospital delivery, as home births are associated with fewer maternal interventions and a shorter recovery time. Women are less likely to haemorrhage, or to experience lacerations or infections.
However there are medical experts who maintain that home births are dangerous and irresponsible. Some believe the practice is so reckless, it amounts to child abuse. Infact, according to a UNICEF report on maternal mortality, Nigeria is the second highest contributor to the index, as a saddening 145 women lose their lives daily, after childbirth.
Mind you, all of these women use the hospital, that’s why their data can be captured in the first place, now think of the thousands, if not millions, of women, who don’t have access to health care and hospital, and just imagine the number of women who are truly losing their lives to home births.
Even with this dire report, there are still women opting for home births. More often than not, they are outside the shores of this country. Those women have only one particular advantage: They’re more likely to give birth vaginally, and without medications …but permit me to use our local slang, who vaginal and non-medicated childbirth epp?
Anyways, here are the risks of a home birth:
It has been discovered that there is a small but statistically significant increase in risk for adverse baby outcomes, specifically perinatal mortality [stillbirth or early death] and neonatal seizures.
I know someone whose baby, who had been born at home, died within the first week of birth, due to an infection he got at the site of birth. The baby was not taken to the hospital upon birth, as he looked healthy. It was only when he developed the symptoms that they rushed him there, but his immunity was already compromised.
Other risks include:
- Needing labour induction
- A delivery requiring the use of forceps or vacuum extraction
- Severe bleeding requiring a blood transfusion
- Severe vaginal tears
And if you have a high-risk pregnancy, then a home birth might not be the way to go…at all.
Also, according to the AmericanPregnancy.org, home birth is not for you, if you fit any of the description below:
- You are diabetic
- You have chronic high blood pressure, or toxemia (also known as preeclampsia)
- You have experienced preterm labour in the past, or are at risk for preterm labour now
- Your partner does not fully support your decision to give birth at home.
These risks are real and they may trump home births, but it is really a personal choice. Also having a trained midwife can reduce some of these risks.
And while you’re planning your home birth, please plan for plan B (read: hospital).
Your baby might just have other plans, and I’m pretty sure, having a healthy baby and being alive is more important than the process by which it is achieved.
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