“What if something goes wrong?”

“What if something goes wrong?”

That has got to be the most common question I get asked. The rest of my interviews with potential clients are often sprinkled with questions like, “How much does it cost?” “How long have you been doing this?” “Do you do episiotomies?”

But by far the most common question I get asked is, “What if something goes wrong?”

I don’t just get asked this by potential clients – if someone on the street finds out I’m a homebirth midwife there is one of two distinct reactions: either a huge smile and “Awesome! (myself or someone I know) gave birth at home!”….or a look of horror mixed with fear (or is that repulsion) followed by the dreaded, “What if something goes wrong?”

If I’m feeling frisky I will often ask, “Like what? What are you afraid of going wrong?” Usually they have to admit that they don’t know what could go wrong…just that society has told them that this whole birthing thing is a dangerous and very risky event!!

Most of the time I try to be gentle and just answer them straight: If something goes wrong, we either fix it or we go to the hospital.

Where did people get this idea that choosing a homebirth means that hospitals are no longer an option? Do they think that the hospital is going to chain and lock their doors? That they are going to say ‘Oh no, you chose a homebirth so you can’t come here if you’re having problems!’

Problems don’t just occur during birth! They occur during pregnancy as well, but we don’t live in a hospital for the duration of pregnancy. If you are pregnant and start to have complications you either go to your doctor to have him/her fix it, or you head to the hospital! Not being IN a hospital doesn’t mean you can’t go TO a hospital to fix a problem! If complications arise in your care with us, we either fix it or send you to someone who can…it may be disappointing to have to do that, but other than that it’s not a big deal to seek help.

Pregnancy and birth is no different than any other aspect of our lives. You don’t have to live in a hospital in order to be seen with a broken leg, you don’t have to be there BEFORE you get sick in order to be seen if you fall violently ill, you don’t have to be in the hospital when you have a heart attack in order to get treatment….if these complications in life occur, you head to the hospital.

“What if something goes wrong?”

That’s why I have a job. Not to put too fine a point on it, but obviously I know things can go wrong in pregnancy and birth or else there would be no reason for me to be there. I watch, monitor, make sure that things are ‘normal’…..and make gentle suggestions when things START to become not “normal”. If things are getting worse rather than better, we identify that and calmly prepare to drive in to a hospital that’s nearby.

“What if something goes wrong?”

So since I’ve answered this question, let me ask you one in return: What if everything goes right? If I were a gambler, I’d definitely put my money on everything going right. We’ve kept an eye on things through the pregnancy, you realize that you are responsible for your health and have eaten right through your pregnancy and you have been keeping yourself healthy. The chances of things going wrong are slight…so what if everything goes right?

Where is that likely to occur? And where would you like to be if everything goes right?


  1. Trena wrote:

    Very interesting ending paragraph! We tend to focus on the negative, and/or make decisions based on that. If we simply turned our focus on the positive, and made decisions based on that…WOW, totally different result. Thanks for pointing that out. If someone told me I had a 99% chance of winning the lotto, damn right I would buy a ticket. But why is it that if we say someone has a 99% chance of a good outcome with a homebirth, they still shy away from it? Weird!

    Friday, January 28, 2011 at 7:44 pm | Permalink
  2. Jessie Spalding wrote:

    I just had someone ask me this question the other day when I told them this baby was going to be born at home. It’s funny because even my OB (with 1st baby) told me to labor at home as long as possible before coming to the hospital. If “something” had gone wrong then I would have been alone and much less likely to spot any signs of upcoming problems. But having a fabulous midwife who I feel comfortable calling from the start of labor allows me to actually be even more protected from things going wrong, really.

    Friday, January 28, 2011 at 10:02 pm | Permalink
  3. Susan Alexander wrote:

    Jessie, that is EXACTLY why I’d feel SAFER having a homebirth. I did the full labor at home with my VBAC and arrived at the hospital at 10 CM. How exactly was I safer than if I had been planning to birth at home and a midwife had been with me throughout my labor?!!

    Sigh, I only wish more insurance companies would cover homebirth. It’s cheaper for them, so WHY?!!! I’m happy to sign some sort of stupid form for them releasing them of liability!

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011 at 7:26 pm | Permalink
  4. elfanie wrote:

    I am licensed by my state….so I can get paid by insurance. If you live in a state that regulates or licenses midwives, and if you have a PPO….they should cover the midwife as well.

    Here’s the trick that makes most people stumble – no insurance will cover a “homebirth” because it doesn’t cost to be at your home….they aren’t going to pay your mortgage for the month, for example. there’s no COST to having a HOMEBIRTH. The only thing you have to pay for is your OBSTETRICAL CARE! I am covered under most PPO’s as an out of network provider…and MOST of my clients get reimbursed.

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Permalink
  5. Tori wrote:

    Today’s world is fear based. Unfortunate, but true. Insurance (of all sorts) is just another offshoot of that truth.

    I know, for me, homebirth has been safer simply because I have been more comfortable and at peace. In the hospital there were all these strangers going in and out of my room – especially during transition – and the only thing that did was cause my body to tense up every time the energy in the room changed as a result of someone entering my space! Yuck!

    Friday, February 4, 2011 at 11:39 am | Permalink
  6. Amrita wrote:

    i love this blog! 🙂

    Sunday, February 6, 2011 at 1:47 am | Permalink

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