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Home Birthing Mothers and Their Helpers

by Jane Wangersky | March 13th, 2013 | Pregnancy

kitchen windowAs I mentioned last time, I thought about home birth during my first pregnancy,but gave up the idea due to the technicality that it was then illegal. By the time my second baby was on the way, home births had the government’s stamp of approval — but I was over 35, and I was sure no qualified birthing attendant would agree to deliver a baby to such a high-risk mother anywhere but at the hospital. So, once again, I didn’t seriously pursue the idea. (And I ended up having the baby at the hospital without any doctor, but these things happen.)

So I was surprised to read, while researching my first article on home births, that 20% of babies born at home are born to mothers over 35, compared to 14% of hospital births. Now, I’m not surprised that older moms prefer to stay home for delivery, especially when you consider that about half of home-birthing moms already have two or more children. What surprises me is that they can find anyone who’s not afraid to help them with a home birth, given that most pregnant women over 35 are treated very cautiously by health care providers.

Then again, about 33% of home births are attended by an “other” — someone who’s not a doctor, nurse, or midwife. Many of these may be EMTs called in an emergency, like a premature labor or a natural disaster that keeps the mother from getting to the hospital. As for the rest — since 84% of home birthing mothers are married, I suspect lots of them get their husbands to do the job.

Reading between the lines of the statistics, we get a picture of the older home birthing mother as an experienced mom who’s confident about getting through labor and delivery, who has a strong preference for her own surroundings and way of doing things, and is able to persuade a birthing attendant to help her in delivery — even if she has to ask her husband.

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