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The following Letter to the Editor was submitted to the Buffalo News in response to the article “Hospitals urge moms to use maternity units, not home births, despite virus fears.”

While home birth isn’t for everyone, pregnant people have a right to choose where and how they will give birth. The article written by Thomas J. Prohaska describes home birth and hospital birth as if they are isolated systems when, in fact, home birth midwives, hospital midwives, obstetricians and other physicians, birth centers, and hospitals should, first and foremost, work together for client health and safety.

The decision to choose home birth or hospital birth does not occur at the onset of labor as the article suggests. In reality, a pregnant person desiring home birth engages with a licensed home birth midwife during the prenatal period at which time careful screening of risk factors that would exclude a person from home birth occurs. Additionally, the pregnant person and their support people are fully informed about the benefits and risks of hospital and home birth.If a condition changes during the pregnancy or birth that is beyond the scope of midwifery care, including suspected or actual infection with COVID-19, transfer to a WNY hospital will be made.

Home birth is a conscious, intelligent commitment, an option for a birthing person who desires intimacy, privacy, and absolute autonomy. A decision to give birth at home involves responsibility but may spare a birthing person disruptions to physiologic birth that often occur in the hospital setting including a car ride to the hospital, the intake procedure, and care from strangers who are also treating other patients. In a hospital, any number of patients, professionals, staff, and visitors may be on the premises at any time. At home, a licensed midwife and nurse provide highly individualized, evidence based care and stay with the mother throughout the entire labor, birth, and early postpartum period, including assessment and care of the newborn.

A pregnant person is perfectly capable of deciding if home birth is right for them, and, in partnership with a home birth midwife, can determine if complications arise that require a  a hospital transfer..

Consistent with our new normal of social distancing, birth in one’s own home away from the unpredictability of staff, other hospitalized patients, and policies that may not fit individual circumstances is a reasonable choice.