Water Birth? Births at Home? Hospitals Births ? Hear from a Nurse Who’s Seen it All

Giving life to the next generations of humanity, who grow up nestled under our hearts, is a dear subject to me.  While I grew up in a family with all females giving births in hospitals, having done my homework and followed my heart I had chosen home birth, and even more… water birth! :). Last year, after giving birth to Sprout, I blogged about WHY I CHOSE HOME WATER BIRTH in detail.  Shortly after delivering Sprout I had many questions (as well as some unhappy comments 🙁 ) coming from Vegalicious readers, answers to which I did not have.  Fortunately, I know someone (a nurse) who works in the maternity ward and has seen about everything there is to see about the BUSINESS OF BEING BORN IN AMERICA.  I asked this wonderful person to tell Vegalicious readers more about what the rest of us might now ever find out otherwise.  So, grab a chair, a cup of tea, and get ready to become a fly on the wall of an American Maternity Ward!

(Since the person I am interviewing would like to keep his job, I will keep the real name out of this article. We will call this person Nurse X :).)

water birth

After you read this interview, make sure to also watch THE BUSINESS OF BEING BORN video!  It is eye opening and helped Hubby and I in our decision making process.

Water Birth? Births at Home? Births at Hospitals? Truth Behind the Secrecy

(emphasis added by Elena)

I have been a labor and delivery nurse for 6 years. I love my job. Helping deliver babies is the most wonderful sight, next to seeing your own bundle making an entrance into this world. I hope that however you decide to deliver your baby, you do what is in the best interest of you and your child’s health in mind.

Most days at my job are enjoyable. Other days are pure, well, you know… I, and some of my friends, see doctors that we shake our heads at. Some will let a woman labor too long only to do a Cesarean hours later, because that poor woman needed relief. Others will push for one so they can go home for dinner. The two biggest things you will here in these cases are: “The baby’s heart rate is too low”, or: “You aren’t progressing like you should”. My favorite is: “Your cervix is swelling”. When we hear that, we roll our eyes and think: “Yeah, right!” As nurses, we have no choice but follow doctors’ orders. I’m not saying that all of them are unnecessary, because some truly are lifesaving.

Many women do not realize that a Cesarean section is a major surgery. In rare instances after having one, women bleed too much and have to go back into surgery for a D and C*. If that doesn’t work, they are bound for a hysterectomy. Sadly, I’ve even seen patients die from such complications. There were instances when we had pastoral services not only come in for the family, but for us also.

I commend anyone that can to do a home birth. At home, you aren’t rushed into having the baby. Your body does what it should and when it should. And if it doesn’t, you have a midwife that will get you the medical attention you need. You are allowed to change positions, walk, be in a tub, etc., in the comfort of your own home. You may be able to only do a few positions in the hospital, as long as you are on a monitor, or until you are numb from an epidural.

Birthing plans at most hospitals are accepted within reason, but believe me, most of the staff members roll their eyes at them behind patients’ backs. In our department and across the nation, doctors have almost an unwritten policy about birth plans too—if a woman has one, she usually ends up with a C-section. When a patient comes in with one, more often than not, one of the first questions several staff members ask out of earshot is: “When is her section?” I think most of them feel they are being told what to do, and they don’t like it. Some things are reasonable, but due to hospital policy, some are not an option, like keeping your baby and/or significant other in recovery after surgery, should it be necessary. We had a patient once who came in with a 20-page birth plan! Mostly the plan was plain demands. She was the most unpleasant patient we ever had and, believe me, we still cringe when we think of her. And… she did get a C-section, which was a medical necessity.

While a lot of women can, there are some women who should not attempt a home birth for a various number of reasons. If any of you have not seen The Business of Being Born, I suggest you do. A very eye opening documentary! My firm belief is, if you are healthy and want a home birth—do it. However, discuss your plans with your doctor. If he or she doesn’t support it, find another doctor who will. Many don’t for fear of liability. That and most insurance companies won’t pay them if they let a patient do home birth. I suspect is has something to do with liability also.

Midwives are highly qualified. You have to have a Master’s degree in nursing to be one. And home or hospital birth, your nurse is the greatest asset you have. She is your champion and stands up for you in the times of crisis. Unfortunately there are some who are there for the paycheck and that’s it.

*D and C: Dilation and curettage (D&C) is a surgical procedure in which the cervix is dilated and a special instrument is used to scrape the uterine lining.

water birth video

Vegalicious Readers Wanted to Know

Jennifer: I would like to know more about water birth and why it’s discouraged by doctors. Why the upswing in C-section births, and more about their feelings/insight on natural birth!

Nurse X: Doctors don’t do water births due to sanitary reasons (not my words, theirs); and for legal—if something were to go wrong, they can be sued=more liability. The increase in C-sections is due to doctors wanting to go home after a long day at work, or if patient is not progressing like they want. Increasing pitocin can cause heat-rate decelerations in baby and result in an emergency sections as well. I like the natural way best, because there isn’t the stress on the mom or the baby as in an induced or hospital birth.

AlisaM: I’m curious on his/her opinion on VBAC* and HBAC** and what kind of negative effects they’ve seen induction/ medical intervention do on mommas and, especially, babies (aside from the obvious—C-section).

Nurse X: VBAC and HBAC can be tricky. Depending on who you are also dictates if you can have a VBAC. Nurses working in delivery/mother unit have a greater chance than the general public. The negative effects of induction can be respiratory distress in infants, sometimes in having to be resuscitated. Very scary if you haven’t ever seen it. The mother can have excessive bleeding, or end up with a hysterectomy or even death. These are rare instances, but they do happen. I am not a fan of how the labor seems rushed. On the flipside, doctors in residency can and do let women stay in labor up to 48 hours.

* Vaginal Birth After Caesarean

** Home Birth After Cesarean

Joanie: I would love to hear an opinion on HBAC. I recently had an emergency C-section after laboring at home for 36+ hours; next time I would like to try a home birth again.

Nurse X: What was the reason for the emergency section? There are so many factors before I can say for sure. However, if a person has had a section, I would feel more at ease if they were at a birthing center rather than home. I live in a rural area and I know it can take emergency responders more time to get to her. Time is precious. Each time the uterus is cut into it becomes thinner. I’ve seen women after 3 surgical deliveries have such a thin uterus you could see inside. We saw the baby’s ear and hair before the incision!

water birth at home

Kimmie: Why do they encourage formula and tell new mothers their babies aren’t getting enough from breast milk, so they have to supplement? Just curious because I have heard a handful of people tell me this but my lactation consultant said it’s impossible for babies to not get enough from breast milk.

Nurse X: I’ve not heard that about supplementing with formula at our hospital. We encourage breastfeeding and especially skin to skin contact at birth. As long as the mother is eating properly, baby should be getting the right nutrition. Formula stinks going in, and it certainly stinks coming out. My motto is: “Forget the rest. Breast is best!”

April: I would love to know the difference in *process* of a water birth with a midwife at a hospital versus at home. The hospital here has the option of water births, but I would imagine there is still a difference in process.

Nurse X: Since we don’t do water births, I can’t comment on first-hand knowledge on doing it at home or a hospital. Home would be more comforting, it would seem to me. But if you did it at the hospital, you don’t have the expense of renting the tub or having to clean it.

In Conclusion

I love being a part of birthing babies. It’s the rush, rush, rush of getting them out that I don’t care for. Kudos to those who are able to do water births and use a midwife. I advocate for the patient their wishes. Any patient under my care I will laugh with, cry with, and pray with. Every live baby I wish a happy birthday and pray they have a happy life. It is a joy to work with the moms. It’s the staff that has become numb and listens to what the medical establishment dictates what we do.

I have so much more to discuss, but my fingers are sore from typing. If you have questions, please post the under this post and I will do my best to answer them.

Sprout | Birth Story from Leslie + Dane on Vimeo.


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