When I read the title of the new birth documentary, “Why Not Home? The Surprising Birth Choices of Doctors and Nurses” my interest was piqued. Why would medical professionals choose to birth at home? Wasn’t it in their nature to give birth within the system that they trained for, worked in and inherently promoted?
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So, of course, when the opportunity arose to attend a screening of this new film, I planned the most romantic date night I could think of. Dinner at a brewery and a movie all about birth—how could my husband say no?
The screening and the panel that followed were hosted by a practice of midwives. The whole experience was a merging of minds—of experts and moms—and I’m sure it was everything the filmmaker, Jessicca Moore, could have dreamed of.
“Why Not Home?” was birthed by Moore, a nurse practitioner who never considered giving birth outside of the hospital until she got pregnant. She now has had two home births.
What moved me to choose home birth is its simplicity and its power.
Moore was first inspired by a coworker of hers, a fellow mother working in the medical field who also birthed at home, and started researching and asking questions. They, and the other women Moore interviewed throughout the documentary, work and serve in medicine. These women have a full scope of knowledge when it comes to birth, understand their options at the hospital and have weighed the risks of home birth. But in their personal experiences, contrary to what people may think, they end up choosing home birth as the more fitting and safer option for their families.
"What moved me to choose home birth is its simplicity and its power," Moore writes. "At home, families experience birth as a part of life, rather than something that interrupts life, or happens outside. As a clinician, I looked at the evidence on birth outcomes at home and in the hospital. I considered my values and risks, and felt like I had the best chance of having both a positive experience and a healthy birth for me and my baby at home. Not everyone will make that same decision."
The film reviews studies and statistics, stating that 85 percent of American pregnancies would be medically cleared for home birth if the mother chose. And yet, only 1 percent of births happen at home.
But it’s one thing to watch a documentary and hear the statistics. It’s quite another to hear an OB-GYN, Dr. David Benson, and a midwife discuss the current birth climate in your city. I loved listening to their unified goal during the panel: healthy moms and healthy babies, no matter the location. They truly aim to be partners that facilitate home birth while providing an open door for transfers when the need arises.
It was most interesting to hear Dr. Benson say that he often has to talk women out of interventions and tell them the medical procedure they’re requesting, whether it be induction, epidural or cesarean, is not necessary for a safe delivery. He and the midwives agreed that birth has significantly changed over the last 60 years, swaying from all at-home births, regardless of safety, to almost all within the walls of a hospital … also regardless of if it's the safest option or not.
It’s time for the pendulum to swing once again and for moms, with the guidance of their care providers, to assess where they can have the safest birth.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Jessicca Moore and her team shared well-backed studies from industrialized countries who have thriving home birth communities, glimpses of their personal births and insight from nurses, OBs, and family practice doctors who have all said, “Why not home?” in light of their own medical backgrounds.
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If you’re expecting or think you might be in the future, I can’t recommend this film enough. Catch a screening near you or rent the documentary to watch in the comfort of your own home.