New moms have always had to contend with a massive amount of guilt-tripping when it comes to the “right” way to raise a child (See: whether or not to breast feed, what kinds of diapers to use, when to start potty-training, every other decision ever.)
Now comes the latest high-profile debate about being a good vs.awful mother: to birth at home or not to birth at home?
Though long a relatively fringe practice, midwifery has become much more mainstreamed in recent years. Numbers are reaching all-time highs and in California, midwives were recently given the legal right to perform some abortions. With this ascent has come an understandable increase in research examining the safety of assisted home birthing, with different studies, both positive and negative—as well as expert input—painting a nuanced picture.
Sadly though, as is often the case with motherhood, this otherwise healthy discussion has been tinged with a distinct strain of mama-shaming. On her Skeptical OB site, Dr. Amy Tuter decries women who choose home birth as “ignorant” and “selfish,” and features items such as Homebirth Bingo, which condescendingly turns the decision into a game with squares such as “I did MONTHS of research” and “Trust your intuition.”
There are also plenty of scare-tactic articles that focus on extreme unassisted home births, represented in stories like this one, featuring a would-be mom chilling in a kiddie pool (implicit message: If you choose home birth, you’re a pool-dwelling idiot).
It’s pretty clear from the evidence that, at the very least, midwife-assisted home birthing is far from an outright irresponsible decision. Can’t we trust moms to do the research and come to the right conclusion for them? That way they'll have more time to focus on the "right" way to do everything else.