When we first got married, my wife and I were just like most other Americans: we went to the doctor for everything, and just trusted that hospitals knew what was best. Over time, we had some experiences with doctors that made us realize that there had to be a better way.
For one thing, we looked at how much money it cost people to have a hospital birth! Money was being put into unnecessarily fancy rooms for pregnant women, and the care itself was atrocious. They talked frequently about my wife getting rest, but they were constantly coming in and poking, prodding, or otherwise "checking in" on her. How could she rest? When the nurses were gone, I sat there and quietly held my wife's hand, but these were unfortunately short periods.
Another thing was how little (if any) thought goes into husbands or other support people being able to be at the mother's side. While my wife was in the hospital, I either spent the night sitting up in a chair, curled up in my car, or driving home late at night and coming back early in the morning. Once I was lucky enough to be allowed to sleep in an empty bed in my wife's room, only to be woken up in the wee hours and sent out to sleep in the car.
There were many other reasons, but suffice to say that after three hospital births, we became open to other options. Then, one day I was listening to a politics-related podcast, and one of the hosts dedicated an episode, along with his wife, to sharing his own experience with unassisted homebirth. They had had a wonderful experience–the kind I was looking for-but I was nervous and filled with questions! Was it legal? Was it safe? I discussed what I had heard with my wife. Her reaction was the same.
The more we discussed it, however, the more we began to realize that people have been giving birth at home for thousands of years. We both have pioneer ancestors who gave birth out on the plains, and my own Native American ancestors would go out and give birth alone, returning only when they had a child in their arms! We realized that society has gradually begun to turn responsibility for their bodies and children over to other people, and, in the process, given up many of the most beautiful experiences that help bind them to their children.
With child number four, we opted for a homebirth, but we used a midwife. She and her assistants were so amazing, it is hard to overstate. We tried using a birthing tub with this birth, but after the baby was born, my wife turned around in the tub, which caused her to hemorrhage. The bleeding was pretty bad, but everything was handled quickly and mommy was well.
We were lent Polly's Birth Book by a friend who is a doula, and it has definitely changed our lives! For one thing, we now swear by the Polly-Jean Formula. The hemorrhaging mentioned above was quite worrisome for us, once we started considering unassisted homebirth, but we have seen little or no bleeding since that time, and know that it is due to this powerful herbal combination. The other claim is that the Polly-Jean Formula will make contractions stronger and more productive. In our experience, this has been true. The first birth with the Polly-Jean Formula, our son was born so quickly that I didn't even have time to put on gloves!
We now have eight children, and the last four have been born at home, without the assistance of any midwife, doula, or doctor. Each time we give birth unassisted, we read Polly's Birth Book from cover to cover. The first time, we also read medical books on birthing that were lent to us by our doula friend. We did not find that information useful, and ended up exclusively guided by the wisdom and experience of Polly Block.
Our experience has taught us that it is okay for a woman to trust her body, and to allow babies to be born according to their own needs and timetable, and not a doctor's (who want to schedule things because more births = more money). We found that every birth is different, and that although hospitals treat every birth according to the lowest common denominator, the vast majority of procedures undergone there are completely unnecessary for the vast majority of babies and moms!
Many who read this will likely ask themselves if homebirth is right for them. My answer? Midwives will tell you, as Polly Block does, that somewhere around 99% of births require no intervention. However, the early chapters of Polly's Birth Book address this question, including many questions a mother must ask herself in order to make this determination, and of course, which a midwife must ask before agreeing to take on a client. For ourselves, we considered the questions and then prayed for guidance. When we had our answer, we put our trust in God, even when everyone around us tried to cast doubts.
It is our hope that others will have the courage to choose homebirth, assisted or unassisted. We know that it will bless the moms, babies, and families involved, and help to mend the rampant societal disconnect that is driving so many children to gangs, drugs, and other negative behaviors.