The gentlebirth.org website is provided courtesy of
Ronnie Falcao, LM MS, a homebirth midwife in Mountain View, CA
An interactive resource for moms on easy steps they can take to reduce exposure to chemical toxins during pregnancy.
Other excellent resources about avoiding toxins during pregnancy
These are easy to read and understand and are beautifully presented.
I had to do a lot of research on the safety issue before overcoming my personal bias revering technology. It took me a while to acknowledge that machines are all very good and well for many things, but that they are best used sparingly, if at all, in such a human activity as giving birth.
The best place to start in learning about homebirth is probably the book, "Homebirth" by Sheila Kitzinger. This is the book that tends to convince my techno-oriented friends. She discusses the studies on comparative safety that show that homebirth is safer than hospital birth for all levels of risk, and discusses the things that can go wrong and how they are handled at home, sometimes by transporting to the nearest hospital.
Rahima Baldwin's book, "Special Delivery", is also very helpful, as it's written from the point of view of couples who are planning for a homebirth delivery without necessarily having any professional help at hand. It's even more specific about the variations on normal that could become dangerous and what to do about them.
Since the key to safety for a baby during labor is a relaxed mom who is breathing slowly and deeply to help the baby recover between contractions, I think the safest place for the birth is wherever the mom feels safest. For some women, this is actually the hospital.
However, there are many women who are frightened by their first trip to the hospital, usually on the "hospital tour", where they see the narrow beds, the machines and the generally sanitized environment. There also are women who become frightened that they will become a pawn in the labor and delivery assembly line, driven as it is by protocol. These are rarely issues in homebirth, where the woman and her family have ultimate control over who comes and goes, and what happens where. They are supported at home by the implicit belief that they can do it, that they can do it without mind-altering drugs, and that they will birth vaginally in whatever manner their body directs them.
If you believe that a healthy woman giving birth is a biologically normal
activity, designed to happen without medical intervention, then you are
probably a good candidate for homebirth.
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