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    Is Homebirth for You?

    6 Myths About Childbirth Exposed

    Editor: Janet Tipton
    originally published by Friends of Homebirth
    © 1990 by Friends of Homebirth,*
    103 North Pearl Street, Big Sandy, Tx 75755*.
    All rights reserved
    *The copyright address and phone number above are no longer valid, since Friends of Homebirth is no longer operational.
    Paper copies of this booklet are still available

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    By David Stewart, Ph.D., 
    Executive Director, National Association 
    of Parents and Professionals for Safe 
    Alternatives in Childbirth 
    (NAPSAC) International

    This brief booklet may change your life. It could be the most important few pages you have read yet in guiding you to choose the safest alternatives in childbirth for you and your baby.

    Most of American obstetric practice in hospitals is not based on science but on myth. What obstetricians do may be the utmost in high-tech, but it is not true science. What you don't know about modern medicine can hurt you and your baby, perhaps permanently.

    The authors of this excellent little publication have thoroughly researched what they say here. You can trust what they have written. It is factually and scientifically correct.

    The choices you make in childbirth for your baby home vs. hospital. midwife vs. doctor, natural vs. medicated birth will impact the rest of your child's life, and yours, too. It can be for good or for ill. The choice is yours.

Normal Household Germs Do Not Affect Mother or Baby

Myth #4 A hospital is a more sanitary place to have a baby than at home.

Childbed fever killed thousands of women in the 19th century about the time physicians, who also cared for the ill and dying, began to attend births in clinics. As hospitals became the places to go for birth and death, infections became a plague upon childbearing women and other hospital patients.

About 100 years ago, in Austria, a doctor named Ignaz Semmelweis attempted to lower the number of maternal deaths from infections as high as 40 percent of those delivering at the Vienna maternity hospital.[1] Semmelweis discovered that simply by washing their hands between performing autopsies and attending births, the rate of infections caused by doctors dropped dramatically. Semmelweis was ridiculed by his colleagues, and it wasn't until five years after his death that his findings began to gain acceptance. With the advent of aseptic technique in the late 1800s and the development of antibiotics in the 1940s, gradual improvement was seen. [Ed. As antibiotic-resistant bacteria have evolved so that they are unaffected by antibiotics, it can be expected that this trend will be reversed, and we can expect to see an increase in deaths from hospital-acquired infections.]

In the 1930s, studies in New York City and Memphis, Tennessee, show that fewer women died from infections and hemorrhage during homebirths than died from the same complications in the hospital.[2]

Strict and expensive infection control procedures have still not eliminated hospital-caused infections.

Today, strict and expensive infection control procedures have still not eliminated nosocomial, or hospital-caused infections from common and dangerous organisms, like resistant strains of staphylococcus.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the nation's hospital-regulating agency, The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations, is failing to enforce infection control standards compromising the health of hospital patients: "The Joint Commission allows dangers to health and safety to go uncorrected for weeks, months and even years. Sloppy, irresponsible hospitals have little to fear from the Commission: punishment in recent years has been nearly nonexistent."[3]

Each family becomes accustomed to its own household germs and develops a resistance to them. Since fewer strangers are likely to be present at a homebirth than at a hospital birth, the chances of acquiring foreign germs are less likely in a homebirth situation.

Every effort is made to provide a clean environment at homebirths. Midwives and homebirth doctors wear sterile gloves and use sterilized instruments for cutting the umbilical cord.

Homebirth research studies indicate much lower rates of infection in the mother and the baby than is likely in the hospital. In a 10-year study (1970-1980) of 1,200 births at the Farm in Summertown, Tennessee, 39 mothers suffered postpartum infections, and only one baby developed septicemia.[4]

Calling the hospital nursery a cradle of germs, Dr. Marsden Wagner, European Director of the World Health Organization, warned doctors at an international medical conference in Jerusalem in the spring of 1989 that hospital births endanger mothers and babies primarily because of impersonal procedures and overuse of technology and drugs.[5]

  1. The Birth Gazette, Fall, 1987, review of The Cry and The Covenant, p. 32-33.
  2. The Five Standards of Safe Childbearing, 1981, Stewart, p. 240-241.
  3. The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 12, 1988.
  4. The Five Standards of Safe Childbearing, 1981, Stewart, p. 127.
  5. Mothering, Oct/Nov/Dec, 1989.

    Resource Guide

    [Ed. Many of these publications are available from Cascade Birth and Life Bookstore at (800) 443-9942.] *Childbirth At Its Best, by Nial Ettinghausen, is out of print but available from Jerry Gentry at the address listed below.

Paper Copies of This Booklet Are Still Available

Remaining copies of the paper version of this booklet are available in bulk, minimum 50 copies, for $50 plus $5 shipping. Please send check and order information to:
Jerry Gentry
Rt 2 Box 198
Big Sandy, TX 75755

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