After our last eventful, uncomplicated birth, and expecting a baby on the island here, my soul started searching. And last week, we got our answer.
If I tell someone here why I am doing this, they look at me like I am from outer space. It is so foreign to many native Puerto Ricans. I have one neighbor that tried to scare me with the "what ifs" and "think of your family". Yes, thank you I have. Another neighbor said it was fantastic. I have a few friends that think it is amazing and others that think I should go back to the mainland to have the baby. I know it is intense. I have done this four times before. It is a process during which my mind focuses on the job that has to get done. It is normal, intense, and awesome when you look back.
Birth here is treated like a disease. Birth is treated like a disease most places. But here, exceptionally so. After research, I discovered several things that are not okay with hospital births here.
No. 1: C-section rate. I read 60 percent in a research paper. The midwife we saw last week said 50%. Either way, it is way too much. It's not the rate for first time moms. Its the overall rate. So, if I had another birth like my third, which was uncomplicated, it was just slow due to her positioning, I could guarantee a c-section. No. No. No. I am not opposed to lifesaving c-section, but the likelihood of a complicated birth, with ZERO drugs/interventions on a 5th baby, is very small.
No. 2: Your baby pretty much goes MIA for 9 hours after birth to the nursery. If you want to see them, feed them, you go to them. No.
No. 3: Some doctors here do not let you go past 39 weeks. I have always gone past 39 weeks and go as long as 41 weeks.
No. 4: General practice here is a lot of testing and telling patients what they will do, even if it isn't necessary. The mother can even fight it or balk. Ultrasounds at every visit, multiple overall labs done three to four times a pregnancy (it's done ONCE in the mainland). I am not making this up. I went to my "back up doctor" visit - I am not a fan of him, but we want a plan B - and he sent me away with another order for general overall labs and another ultrasound. He even told me, "This is how they do it in the states." To which I kindly said, "I've had four babies there and they don't. I have only ever had one set done in the beginning. Ever." He had the gall to argue with me. I knew I would be in a losing battle, so I shut my mouth and started my prayers for a smooth, healthy home birth because I really didn't want to see this man in labor. I later asked my midwife, "Do I have to do these things?" She shook her head, no. So I am sure I will have a doctor super thrilled with me next visit. We are not flying back to the US to have a baby. And I am not changing my mind.
No. 5: Fathers do not stay at the hospital with you. You share a room and children are not allowed to see the new baby in the hospital. Seriously?
No. 6. This is does not have an effect on our choice, but epidurals are not common here. That was my main reason for having my first three in the hospital...so take that off the books.
No. 7. Research has found that women that have had a previous, uncomplicated vaginal birth are actually safer to birth at home.
No. 8. It is safer for the baby to be born at home vs hospital because of bacteria. My Dad, who I thought would be a tough critic, was my surprising ally. He is an RN and said that the baby already has immunities to the bacteria in the home, whereas the baby and mother do not have those same immunities to things in the hospital. Jim Gaffigan, while hysterical talking about it, is spot on.