Black women are shying away from traditional hospital births and are opting for home water births as an alternative because it’s not only a less expensive option but it makes childbirth more of an experience and not just a process. With infant and maternity mortality rates soaring for Black women, they are choosing natural childbirth at home.
Why Home Births?
Some places outlaw midwifery. “Many of the states characterized by poor health outcomes and hostility to midwives also have large African-American populations, raising the possibility that greater use of midwives could reduce racial disparities in maternity care. African-American mothers are three to four times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than their white counterparts; black babies are 49 percent more likely to be born prematurely and twice as likely to perish before their first birthdays,” according to NPR.
Cost of Home Births
Home water births cost about $2k-$4k, which includes all of your routine checkups. Latoya Norwood, of Atlanta, had two home births. “The scary statistics about Black women in childbirth, helped me to make my decision to birth my babies at home,” said Norwood. “The medical field’s idea of profit over patients made me feel that they only want what’s best for their pockets, and not what’s best for the patient or baby.”
Who Can Do A Home Birth?
Home birth is not for those who have high-risk pregnancies; however, Norwood’s second birth was set to be breech when she made the decision to have a doctor attempt to turn the baby before birth, even though her specific midwife was an expert in breech births. The doctor was successful and the baby was turned head-down, which is called the cephalic presentation.
Norwood said she was inspired to have her home birth because of a Ricky Lake documentary called, The Business of Being Born. “I just feel that birth is a natural process and should have minimum intervention,” said Norwood, “Hospitals are for the sick and there are dead bodies there. Pregnancy is not an illness.” According to the documentary, hospitals will push Caesareans and will often use scare tactics to get the mother to give her consent.
What To Expect
Hospitals are known for being sterile and not very personalized unless you have the money to personalize your room or wing. Home water births are relaxed. You can stay in your own bed and walk around until it is time for delivery. You can play spa music, light scented candles, and eat regular food, unlike at hospitals where you are only allowed to eat ice chips. Then you enter a warm pool of water that relaxes your entire body, helping to ease tense muscles of childbirth. There is also a misconception that the water gets gross but that’s not the case. There is often some blood but it’s not as messy as some people think.
Black History of Midwifery
Midwives go as far back as Africa. It was our elders that delivered our babies or the one older woman in the Black community who was trusted. We were the experts. “As a new mom, I’d say trust your own body. You can birth your own baby without any intervention. Women have been doing it for eons and only recently, in the 1950s, has birth become institutionalized, “ said Norwood, “ Ask the elders since it’s how they did it and all was well.”
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