New Documentary asks, Why Not Home?
I’m not getting any younger, so, of course, I am thinking more about my future & when (& how) I would like to have a baby. I know some things I don’t want for myself or child, & some things I would consider. A home birth is definitely something I would. So, when I saw a post on Pathways to Family Wellness’ Facebook page about Why Not Home? I was intrigued to learn more about this exciting, eye-opening documentary that is being conceived by a group of parents & medical experts. Jessicca Moore is one of the master minds behind this project & I am thrilled to have interviewed her regarding home births & her project…..
Mary: What sparked your interest in a documentary about home births?
Jessicca: I am a family nurse practitioner and I had both of my children at home. Looking around, I wasn’t satisfied with the media portrayal of home birth moms. Cast as fringe or overly concerned with their own experience above the health and safety their children, this depiction didn’t resonate with me. It certainly didn’t describe the clinicians and mothers I knew who had chosen to give birth at home. I wanted to tell another story, to show people what home birth looks like from an angle they might not expect.
M: I think some immediately assume you must be holistic & “hippie” like to consider a home birth, what are some other mis-conceptions you’ve encountered surrounding a home birth?
J: There are lots of them. One is that the midwife arrives with candles and hot towels and is otherwise unprepared for complications that might arise. As far as misconceptions about mom’s who choose home birth, another is that they must have a high pain tolerance or be really tough or brave. There’s a certain amount of strength that any woman who is going to give birth must have, but I haven’t found home birth mom’s to be any more tough or brave than other moms. They do tend to be knowledgeable about the process of birth and trust their bodies and their own intuition about the support they will need at the time of birth.
M: I was amazed when I learned awhile back how medically educated a Mid-Wife is & how safe having your child at home is. Can you explain a bit what a Mid-Wife is?
J: In the US there are basically two kinds of midwives. Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) are Registered Nurses who have additional training, typically a master’s degree, in Midwifery. Their training is hospital-based and the majority of them attend birth in the hospital, though some attend birth at home. Most home birth midwives are Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs). CPMs are accredited through the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM). Their training is in out of hospital birth either through apprenticeship with a practicing midwife or through a school of midwifery. Both types of midwives must take a certification exam and both have requirements for continuing education.
M: While I am very interested in pursuing a home birth when the time comes, I do have some auto-immune issues. What’s your advice to those concerned with not being at a hospital? Also, what happens if your newborn needs immediate medical care?
J: There are many reasons a woman may feel more comfortable in the hospital, and based on her health and the health of her pregnancy there may be good medical reasons for her to deliver in a hospital. My advice is to explore your options, look at your personal set of risks and choose the setting that minimizes that risk and where you feel most comfortable.
There are always two midwives at a birth. Your primary midwife will be with you throughout your labor, but at the end a back-up midwife will come to be responsible for the baby. This is a safety precaution so that if there were complications for either mother or baby there would be enough hands to handle both. If a newborn needs immediate medical care, midwives are trained in neonatal resuscitation. They would transport to the nearest hospital if the newborn was not responding to initial efforts at resuscitation.
M: What do you hope people take away from seeing Why Not Home?
J: I have lots of hope for this film. I hope that it moves us away from the fear that is so pervasive in our culture around birth. It is this fear, at least in part, that has led us to medicalize and institutionalize birth in America. There is risk inherent in birth regardless of where it takes place, however, I think if women and families had accurate information by which to assess their risk they could make choices best suited to their specific situation. I hope this film spurs activism and changes to our healthcare system. Changes that would integrate homebirth as an option. I hope that women feel empowered by the information and stories we share to claim this rite of passage and the intense experience it is, whether at home or at the hospital. I hope that it takes away some of the judgment and polarization on the topic of out of hospital birth.
Jessicca Moore is a family nurse practitioner and filmmaker in Petaluma, CA where she lives with her husband, two children, and two sheep. She is currently in production on her first feature-length documentary, “Why Not Home?” The film follows hospital birth providers who chose to give birth at home. You can watch a trailer and get more information here: www.whynothome.com and please support the project on Kickstarter at bit.ly/whynothome through October 10th.
You can follow Why Not Home? on Twitter, Instagram (@whynothome) & like on facebook at www.facebook.com/whynothome. xo