Domicilary Obstetrics

Here in the US, homebirth midwives normally seek to remove and distinguish themselves from the term “obstetrics”. It conjurs images of sterile green hospital walls, episiotomies, paternalistic care, and the dreaded bed and stirrups of 2nd stage.

I recently came across the term used in a most delightful way at the Homebirth Australia site.. It’s definition most creativily defining what homebirth midwives do:

However, domiciliary obstetrics is the ‘art of invisibility’ and without complications a woman gives birth herself, supported and aided by her midwife. -Jan Pilgrim

I would love to have turned that phrase. “The art of invisibility”. Yes! A watchful eye, careful watching, gentle hands. THIS is the art of the midwife.


is sickening and distasteful to me, in whatever form it takes. Many make arguments that “their prejudice is founded” like, “Chinese are always good in math.” or “African American women have big butts.” or “Women are too emotional to be in politics.” and recently, “You don’t know what you’re talking about because you’ve never had a homebirth.” or “You’re going to be a medically minded midwife because that’s all you know. Medical births.”

Ok. So I’ve never given birth at home. And that experience is just that: and EXPERIENCE. I admit fully that I do not have that personal experience. Does that make me a “junior” in all things homebirth? I don’t think so. Admittedly I don’t have the personal experience of having birthed at home, yet. But I take offense at the notion that I cannot understand how to “trust birth” because I’ve never had to. Bull. Here’s my “trust birth” story.

I layed in a hospital bed with my first child, who was posterior, for 31 hours after my water broke. The last 8 were Pitocin augmented. Hard contractions. No support. My husband went for a haircut, brought Hardee’s for his breakfast back to my room while I starved, and watched television. I had no pain relief. I wouldn’t take it. I pushed for 4 hours. Almost 5 until they wheeled me into the operating room for an “emergency cesarean” for CPD. No one told me until weeks later that he had been brow presenting. The forceps wouldn’t budge him, the vaccum extractor didn’t budge him. I couldn’t budge him. ( I know this was all the fault of my OB and the attending nurses for a meriad of reasons. That’s not the point of the story.)

I BELIEVED I could birth my baby. I TRUSTED my body to do what it needed to. All the way to the OR I believed we were making a mistake. Too tired to fight anymore I gave up and gave in. But I “trusted birth” while hindered, drugged, scared, manipulated and assaulted and betrayed by my former husband and caregivers. I TRUSTED BIRTH in the most trying of circumstances.

Again when my youngest had sticky shoulders and (again on my back because the OB refused to catch if I didn’t lay down). She was prepping the OR while I did the McRoberts maneuver on myself and popped him out.

For those mamas who have had the priviledge of never birthing in a hospital or at least it was a one-time experience of which they have happily erased many of the memories, I find it appalling that my thoughts, desires and opinions as a student midwife would be called into question simply because I have not had that same priviledge. Some of the comments haven’t been blatant about it, but in a patronizing, pat on the head sortof way I have heard the message, “You just don’t understand.”

I TRUST BIRTH. You can’t say you really do until you’ve had to. I’ve had to. I do. I will.

In the interest of contradiction…

This is so frustrating for me – to be sitting here with so much to say – and to be constrained within the bars of “propriety” and “graceful woman” and “Christian” and even “feminism”. PROPRIETY does not allow me to say “F–K you. All of you. This is my body. My baby. My life. Piss off.”  CHRISTIANITY does not allow me to say that I ***hate*** doctors that perform surgery on normal, healthy women and babies (because a cesarean is performed on the baby too – let’s not forget that) in the name of liability and scheduling and “long hours” and ignorance. FEMINISM does not allow me to say that I want someone to rescue me from the dungeon of hospital birth.  I want a guardian when I cannot express my wishes, and if/when I do/can they are routinely ignored.  I want the person closest to me (a man) to protect me. GASP. “I am woman, hear me whimper.”

Yeah, I know. A bit of contradiction there huh? I know. Get over it. I’m pissed off today. While giving birth unassisted sound LOVELY when I think of laboring and delivering my baby without ANYONE there but me, VBAC status (and my recent dive into the statistics of uterine rupture) leave me a bit shy of doing so. I can’t have a vaginal birth (no matter how managed they would make it) at the local hospitals. If I hire a midwife – she takes an incredible risk to care for me and emergency back-up is non-existant. I must hope and pray there are no complications.

Yet there are the likes of certain “Dr. Amieees” in the world (and I know I mispelled it. I don’t want her to get any more google tags than she already does) who would say, “Life is hard. Have the section. They are recommending it for a reason. You’re not a doctor. You can trust them.” There are SO many nay-sayers, I find it increasingly in my best interests to not tell anyone of this pregnancy, or my plans to birth at home, and G_d-forbid I mention we won’t circumsize or do routine immunizations! UGH.

Can you hear me screaming?????????

So now for the fine print: I am a Christian. I do not use language like this in real life (can’t say NEVER, but I can say rarely). I am not generally an angry, tantrum-throwing person. But if this scenario, and knowing that hundreds of Missouri women find themselves in just such a predicament, does not bristle YOUR neck hairs too… Well, then you’re reading the wrong blog.