Homebirth in the Hospital

Homebirth in the Hospital

Integrating Natural Childbirth With Modern Medicine

Book - 2008
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The personalised and empowering experience of a home birth can also occur in a hospital setting. This book presents fifteen powerful testimonies about this kind of emotionally satisfying birth. The stories show that expectant mothers can minimise fear and put technology where it belongs. Dr Kerr focuses on the Five C's: Choice, Communication, Continuity, Confidence, and Control of protocols. Prospective parents will learn what questions to ask when searching for a provider and how to make their hospital birth the fulfilling experience they desire.
Publisher: Boulder, Colo. : Sentient Publications, c2008.
ISBN: 9781591810773
Branch Call Number: 618. 4 KER
Characteristics: ix, 211 p. : ill.


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ClobberGirl Sep 30, 2012

This book contains an introduction, a chapter offering guidance for achieving "homebirth" in a hospital setting, a closing chapter geared towards helping physicians create these "homebirth" experiences, and fifteen essays giving accounts of sixteen childbirths in considerable detail. These essays are largely written by Dr. Kerr's former patients, though a few are written by her friends and one is Dr. Kerr's account of her own first childbirth.

The introduction and opening chapter had me excited. I thought we were off to a good start. I appreciated the author's explanation for why she chose to practice family medicine in spite of her admiration for homebirths and the work of midwives. Dr. Kerr seems matronly, pragmatic, and sweet. I'm not wild about her pluralistic approach to religion and spirituality (which she often refers back to as the book progresses), but overall, she seems like the kind of person I wouldn't mind having as my own doctor.

It was the stories themselves that let me down. Arguably only four of these stories describes a true "homebirth" in a hospital setting---and by that I mean, every other one of them involves a medical intervention of some kind, save for Dr. Kerr's own personal essay, which was intervention-free, but took place in a birthing center, not a hospital. One was a miscarriage at 23 weeks (I didn't think this story should have been included). Of the other ten childbirths chronicled, four mothers asked for and received Nubain or fentanyl (pain medication), one took another form of pain relief (injections of sterile water in the lower back), three utilized Pitocin, one needed a vacuum suction cup delivery (for a 10 lb. 14 oz baby, so I guess we can cut them some slack), one received a completely unnecessary episiotomy (not cut by Dr. Kerr though), two took epidurals (another mom was begging for an epidural, but didn't get it in time), and two needed C-sections. I'm not even counting stories that involved breaking the membranes to induce labor, and there were a few of those as well. Some of these were high-risk pregnancies (gestational diabetes, broken leg, twins, cervical cancer) which never would have been good candidates for homebirths to begin with. Some of the women never had a strong commitment to natural childbirth, and to my disappointment, I only saw one story where a professional doula was used.

Overall, the book left me feeling like the best one could hope for in a hospital delivery was minimal intervention rather than a natural childbirth. Certainly Dr. Kerr deserves praise for practicing informed consent with her patients. Certainly the stories and photographs that accompany them are often sweet and touching, and have other valuable lessons to teach about childbirth. But they aren't providing what the title advertises, "homebirth in the hospital." Having seen *The Business of Being Born* documentary, I'm kind of surprised Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein endorsed this book.

Sep 12, 2012

This book's author speaks with a forked tongue. I was really hopeful when I picked it out, especially as it was commended by Ina May Gaskin. However, it is full of her ego, contains very little evidence based findings, disrespects women, and only succeeds in taking the usual middle road that favors a leaning toward fully medicalized birth.

Nearly all the births "require" some sort of medical intervention, which automatically disqualifies them from being considered "natural" births, let alone "homebirths".

Hospitals and doctors need to be honest about their chosen role in maternity care, and it really should begin with Stacey Kerr renaming her book. There is no such thing as "homebirth in the hospital", and this book pretty much proves that.

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