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    Questions? Ask Henci!

    Find out what other moms-to-be are asking. Join in the discussion with Henci Goer, whose expertise is determining what the research tells us best promotes safe, healthy birth. If you would like to contact Henci outside of the Ask Henci forum, send an email to

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    Archived User
    I was reading in The Thinking Woman's Guide and the paragraph on Unassisted Homebirth really hit me. It wasn't very detailed, and so I just wanted to get a little more information or opinion on it. If that is what I feel is truely the best option for me, what can I do to prepare myself and what signs can I watch for to know if an emergency situation should come up?
    I really loved the book by the way. I have a hard time explaining to my family why I would like to not go to the hospital to have babies. I refered one of my sisters to this book to help explain my reasoning to her.
    Henci Goer

    Here is where I stand personally on the issue of unassisted home birth:


    The research unequivocally establishes that planned home birth in a woman at low-risk of complications attended by a qualified home birth practitioner produces equally good or better outcomes compared with low-risk women planning hospital births. Change any of those parameters, and all bets are off, and the research shows that too. You can see why that would be so, but turning specifically to the "qualified home birth practitioner" element, there are things that can go wrong even in a low-risk woman that can be caught early and allow for transfer to the hospital, or, if they occur at the time of birth, they can either be put right or stabilized until hospital resources can be accessed by someone who knows what she is doing and carries the appropriate equipment and medications.


    On the other hand, I put the paragraph on unassisted home birth in my book because women may find themselves in situations where no qualified home birth attendant can be found. Conventional obsetric management in hospitals poses considerable hazards, as Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth makes clear. A woman may weigh the benefits versus harms of hospital versus unassisted home birth and decide that unassisted home birth is the less risky option. I respect a woman’s right to do that. I firmly believe that women have the right to make informed decisions about what, in their minds, constitutes the best and safest care and that no one has the right to override their decision. I stress the word “informed” because all too many decisions about maternity care are made on the basis of incomplete, incorrect, or no information, or are driven by factors such as fear that do not permit making a free choice.


    So that’s my stance. I cannot, however, advise you on how to prepare for an unassisted home birth or what to watch out for during one.


    -- Henci



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