Midwifery finally legal in Indiana...

Mary Lee and I are very pleased that using a midwife is now legal in the state of Indiana. Birth is no sickness and mothers should be able to labor in the comfort and security of their own home. Mary Lee gave birth to three of our five at home and those three are better-adjusted than their siblings born in the hospital. Which is to say the three born at home are girls and the two in the hospital, boys.

Mary Lee serves the women in our church as a doula. We don't try to talk anyone into using a midwife, but we support mothers who don't have a high-risk pregnancy and choose a home birth. Home births are safe, they save a scadgoogleplex of money, and they put mothers and women back at the center of childbirth.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and fifteen grandchildren.


This line is one of the funniest I've read in a long time: The new law "only allows low-risk pregnancies to take place in the home."

Oh, bother!

And who, I wonder, gets to decide if this or that pregnancy is "low-risk" or not?

Or, will the state sweep down on mothers birthing at home when something goes awry and issue them a citation?


As problematic as the new law might be—and it does sound like it has problems—the part I found funny was the report that only low-risk pregnancies will be allowed in the home.

What are all the women with higher-risk pregnancies supposed to do if they aren't allowed in the home anymore? Pitch tents in the back yard? Rent motel rooms? Move into the statehouse for 9 months? :)

I vote for filling the legislative chambers with women beset with high-risk pregnancies.  Room, board, TV, chocolates, foot massages, the works!

Rep. Charlie Brown?

Is he the she referred to in the quote following his introduction in the article?

Interesting how democrats always want everything legalized and regulated for "safety's" sake, since the people are all going to do it anyway.

Idea: Since everyone speeds anyway, lets legalize racing on indiana's freeways. We could have Nascar drivers pre-certify those who may participate.

(glad for this legislation btw)

It's our experience that home birthed babies are better adjusted, too.

Our first born will be the first one to tell you how weird he is and he's the only one born in a hospital. The next 2 boys were born in a Japanese birthing clinic (similar to an American birthing center, only much much better. A chef prepares the meals that are served on china and there is hair dresser to wash my hair, too!) By far, our easiest babies are the next 6 born at home. 

Six of our seven children were born at home. We had a fairly good experience with our hospital birth, but we enjoyed birthing at home with a skilled midwife. The best part is crawling into my own bed after the birth. The baby is in the bassinet next to the bed. We can both get some rest after a long day!

Just curious -- Does this also mean that certified midwives will also be able to supervise low-risk deliveries in free-standing birthing centers or hospitals? 

Perhaps Mary Lee could point me toward some information on home birth from a Christisn perspective. Everything I've seen has been influenced by feminism, evolutionary biology, or noble-savage-ism. I would particularly be interested in how pro-life parents think about the additional risk they place their children in by choosing home birth.

Yes Elsa, those three things figured quite heavily in the little bit of material I've read about childbirth. But it wasn't even about home-birth. It seems that everybody is sure they have the "right" way to give birth, and they'll defend it to the death. 


I think I remember hearing that the infant mortality rate in the USA is notably higher than most of Europe. This includes Britain, where supposedly homebirths are the norm. But I'm not sure I'm even remembering right, and even if I am, I don't know whether it was true or not...


* Joseph

The UK infant mortality rate (4.6 per 1,000 live births) is measurably below that of the USA (5.9 per 1,000 live births), but that is very unlikely to be about home-births. This BBC news item has more:


Also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Home_birth

According to the article, the home-birth rate in the Netherlands is much higher than for the UK (20% v 3% for the UK v 0.6% for the USA). Make of that what you will!

Elsa, I am not a home-birth person (though I am supportive of those who are), but my understanding is that the pro-life people who advocate home birth rely on statistics that say an uncomplicated birth is statistically safer than a hospital birth, not vice versa. Trained midwives are generally very careful about recommending that the birth take place in the hospital if they foresee any problems, or calling 911 quickly if unforeseen problems develop.

Whether those statistics accurately reflect the whole story, I'm not in a position to judge, but the reason pro-life people believe in home birth is not because they haven't considered the "risk," but because they are convinced it actually lowers the risk.

As far as how Christians reconcile it with its somewhat pagan-influenced background, I think you will find a lot of people believe that the highly technologized hospital approach also carries its own brand of more modern paganism, and they don't automatically assume that the hospital approach is more nearly compatible with a Christian approach. Therefore they're left to weigh things after doing their best to discount the ungodly influences on <i>both</i> sides.

Jane and Elsa,

the thing most pro-hospital birth folks forget is, well two things.  The first is that *every* intervention done in a hospital carries risks with it. And the mere fact that you are in a hospital surrounded by people biased toward intervention (for a variety of reasons, not least of which is fear of liability issues), means that there will be more interventions.  The second is that hospitals themselves pose varying dangers, increasingly the biggest danger is serious infection with a bug that is antibiotic resistant. 

I will add that the U.S. is currently at 33 % of all births ending in c-sections. That is only second in the world to Brazil. As a doula, I'm certainly not against hospital births, but as Kamilla pointed out, many people forget that hospitals carry their own risks. Anyway, I'm very glad to hear about this victory for midwives in IN! 

Glad for Indiana, even if there are (Joseph's comment) some points of weirdness about it. 

One thing of note about infant mortality (and maternal for that matter) is that it's driven by premature birth, not the quality of care.  That is linked to race (blacks have higher rates of premature birth for reasons no one really knows), and I suspect that it's also related to how fat we are.  Less room in the abdomen for the baby might make things interesting for any number of reasons.

A guess is the latter.  Would welcome other comment on that, especially if it's more informed than mine.

About home birth from a Christian perspective: unless you seek out a Christian midwife you may easily end up with a new-age midwife.

We sought to find a Christian midwife who was knowledgable, skilled and godly. Our midwife's view was that God created women to give birth and to work with His design.  She will not attend home births where the woman's pregnancy is high-risk since she thinks a baby in that situation should be delivered in the hospital. 

One thing about the new age midwives -- I lived in New York and Pennsylvania all through my child-bearing years, where professional midwives have been legal for decades. In places where midwives have gone "mainstream," midwifery as a profession is less heavily new age influenced because it is seen as just another mainstream option. Of course a Christian practitioner of any kind is to be preferred (and I was thankful to have one for one of my hospital births), but it's not as clear-cut a distinction in that situation as "if you don't have an overtly Christian midwife, you probably have a new ager" anymore. In places where midwifery is relatively "young," I can see that it would be.

 It's scary to think about, but there's really no "safe" way to have a baby. Or cross the street I suppose. I have a sweet child who would be dead if she were born at home. I have a friend with a sweet little baby who contracted meningitis in the hospital. Every time we have a baby, it's brave. 

Perhaps the philosopher Tom Petty said it best when he said "Hey, baby. There ain't no easy way out." 

"When [Finns] were moving, the first thing they did was build a sauna. You could live in it, make food in the stove, take care of your personal hygiene, and, most importantly, give birth in an almost sterile environment."


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