“Treating normal labors as though they were complicated can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.” – Rooks
At the beginning of January, the Illinois Home Birth Safety Act (SB3712) was debated and voted on in the Illinois State House.
It was defeated, but proponents of home birth are not. They continue the quest to see home birth in Illinois become legal, safe, and available to pregnant women and their partners.
For those who may not know, home birth in Illinois is essentially “illegal” for professionals who specialize in home birth, such as CPMs (certified professional midwives). Therefore, home birth is considered “underground” — it exists, but is closely guarded, due to the legal ax hanging over womens’ heads.
As a doula, I have been asked how I feel about the home birth movement.
Honesty moment No. 1: I really only became fully aware of it due to my original partner in Tree of Life. She had all five of her babies at home, so she had a vested interest in the movement.
Over the years, I have become more knowledgable about the “state of the state”, and I have sympathy for those women who seek to have a home birth. I feel it is one of those “choice” issues — a woman should be able to birth where she feels most comfortable with qualified attendants that don’t have to worry about being “caught” or professionally unsupported.
Not “legalizing” home birth is not only a violation of personal choice, it also forces people into situations that are dangerous. By not allowing safe, reasonable guidelines for home birth in our state, laboring moms do not have a pool of qualified professionals in which to choose from to assist them.
Why would any certified professional midwife put their professional and personal lives on the line if they could possibly face prosecution? So where does that leave moms? Either giving birth in the “back alley,” or possibly even unassisted.
Honesty moment No. 2: I have been asked, “Would you have a home birth?”
Personally, I probably would not. I gave birth to my last child 15 years ago, and I’ve come a long way since then. Thus, the choice I have made for my career.
And even though I had good birth experiences with my obstetrician, if I were to have a baby now, I would love to try a midwife, and I would attempt a birthing center if one were available.
The point is, it is my choice. Again, I feel every woman should have the right to safely birth where she wants, and with a qualified professional, whether that be a hospital, birthing center, or home.
She should have the legal choice, and the personal responsibility, to own her decision.
Hopefully it won’t take another 30 years for Illinois legislators to come to that very human decision.
Married for 24 years and the mother of two boys ages 18 and 14 (first born by unplanned cesarean; the second was a VBAC), Trish was a child and family therapist for 15 years before becoming a doula in 2001. She started Tree of Life Doula Services and Birth Resources in 2005 and has attended more than 250 births, including cesareans. She is a certified doula through Doulas of North America, as well as licensed clinical social worker for the state of Illinois.