Homebirth envisions a gentle introduction to a baby's first moments of life. But some see a hospital as the only safe place to have a baby.
Complications can arise, in a hospital or at home. No one can predict the outcome of labor.
The scales lean in favor of intimacy, then tilt away toward safety. Is it possible to achieve that perfect balance?
Homebirth is frequently the preference in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. And it's gaining favor in North America.
Kassy Fatooh of Bishop, California, and Snezana Cook of Hobart, Tasmania, are mothers in different parts of the globe who have each had two babies at home.
Fatooh was impressed by her sister's experience with homebirth. Later, she became as knowledgeable and as healthy as possible, preparing for her own, complete with midwives and obstetricians.
Her first delivery was easy, requiring only a few stitches. Her second was another story.
The baby was in a posterior position for ten days of intermittent labor. Kassy said, "On the eleventh day, using a combination of postures, acupressure, moxibustion and homeopathics, we got that baby turned."
She said, "The midwives provided hot compresses and olive oil rubs, I leaned my back against my husband and pushed my feet against my sister's counterpushing hands, and gave birth at last to my ten pound, two ounce baby. With no tearing, no stitches required. Then I rested and cuddled at home, in my own bed."
In a hospital, Fatooh figures intervention would have begun when labor stopped. Her baby's size would have meant a Cesarean section.
"Sure, I'm glad there were obstetricians and hospitals available in case I needed them, but I will forever be grateful to the midwives whose knowledge and skill brought my babies safely into the world without unnecessary interventions."
Cook was interested in natural childbirth from her teens. She said, "I read heaps on the subject."
During her first pregnancy, Cook attended prenatal classes and appointments with her midwife. "It was important that I took care of myself and ate well so that I still fell within the 'low risk' category.