Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Baby Catcher - Peggy Vincent

I have had two high-risk pregnancies.  Before, during, and after, I never would have considered a home-birth and thought that anyone who did was crazy and really asking for trouble.  But, reading this book definitely changed my mind.  Sort of.  I delivered my children at Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley, California - the same hospital where the author of this book worked before becoming a licensed midwife. At Alta Bates, women labor (and usually deliver) in individual rooms.  Only when there is an issue, or a need for a c-section, is the woman moved to a more sterile operating room.  I was moved both times - the first because they thought I might need a c-section, and the second because I was delivering twins (which by protocol are always delivered in the OR).  But, each time, before I was moved, I appreciated being able to labor in a room with my friends and family, where I could watch TV or listen to music, have my blankets from home, and generally try to be as comfortable as possible.  So, given that during this process I wanted to have all my creature comforts, why wouldn't it make sense to labor and deliver in my actual home, where I am the most comfortable?  Vincent's memoir chronicles the birth of many many women - most go smoothly and seem much less difficult than I felt my birth was - but perhaps it was the attitude of these women that helped it go more smoothly?  Or perhaps it is self-selective in that the women who can afford to deliver at home (not financially, but logistically) are the ones who have not suffered any difficulties in their pregnancies.  Of course there were times when Vincent did have to take her patients to the hospital when complications arose - and I felt she laid out the interesting and ever-changing dynamics between the doctors and the midwives well.  This book definitely opened my eyes to the beauty of the home delivery - and in working with a midwife (or doula or other such person).  There is so much that is very personal about pregnancy and delivery - the choices that one wants to have, a birth plan, and contingencies - in this area I feel like there is a lot of pressure to be "all natural" and that women are often made to feel "less than" when medical conditions or unforeseen complications necessitate the use of drugs or a c-section.  It is unfortunate because every birth, no matter how it comes about, is an amazing, difficult, and treasured experience.  I think Vincent did a good job in her book of not being judgmental, but of presenting an option for women, and one I would certainly consider if I ever had another kid and my medical conditions allowed for it.

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