Israel home birth crackdown: Why we ended up in hospital instead of at home

It’s amazing how many people have asked about this. Why I gave birth at a hospital, which I assume they are assuming based on photos. Here’s the background to my next update, about the birth itself. I didn’t want to downplay or fill with negativity the telling of the birth of my newest daughter. So here is the hospital vs home background.

Though I didn’t write about it much before, the fact is I spent quite a few months of my third pregnancy concerned, angry, nervous and resentful. I didn’t discuss it publicly because I get a strong sense it’s not something most people I’m around understand or empathize with, which is ok.

In the time between my last birth – 3 years ago – and now, some rules were changed concerning home births in Israel. As any local home birth midwife will tell you, they are really squeezing the opportunities for having a safe, secure, normal home birth here.

Two rules I’m aware of that came into effect: 1. you must now move to hospital if 12 hours have passed since water broke, and 2. no midwife (or medical professional, apparently) can insert an IV outside a hospital. That means that if you need antibiotics during labor, you will have to go to a hospital to get the dose.

I was angry because the second rule is ridiculous, and why it even came into effect has nothing to do with home births. It’s dangerous because many girls are ignoring the tests or ignoring the treatment. But there I was, faced with the fact that I could not have my baby quietly at home this time, and I would have to accept the distraction and intrusion that is transferring to hospital mid-labor.

In the end, I did not receive the timely dose of antibiotics required; the labor was too quick and by the time they got the IV in, I was pushing her out minutes later. So the irony here is my preferred home birth with administered IV an hour or more before would have been safer for baby and calmer for both of us than what ended up happening after taking time deliberating when to leave and then transferring to the hospital.

Ok, enough venting. We eventually accepted the fact we had to do it (though maybe I never really did, for a few minutes at the beginning of the way down to Hadassah Ein Kerem I was staring at the clock seething that I had to be there, and I’m still a little shitty about it).

Fast forward to the fun part.

Where was your daughter born?

So while initially, after giving birth to my daughter, I was asked very often ‘where did you give birth?’ that question has definitely waned in the last 15 months. It just becomes the sort of question doctors ask you at initial check ups, I guess.

And so, oddly, despite everything, I kinda forgot where my daughter was born.

And then today, I was in Hadassah for a pediatric ultrasound (for… daughter, not me). The receptionist asked a bunch of questions for the computer.

What’s her name?

Your name?

Father’s name?

(You kept your last name?)

Your phone numbers.

Address?

And where was she born?

I puzzled at the question. I must have looked ridiculous. Are you her mother, ma’am? You don’t even have the same last name and now you don’t know where she was born?

And yet. The answer… I dug in there… no, it wasn’t at Hadassah, like her brother. It was…

“.בבית”

And as I said it… I felt compelled to look down… brace for impact… supplement it with a “in Tzur Hadassah,” as if having Hadassah in the answer might make it more acceptable to this woman.

But actually, she was pleasantly encouraging. Good for you! That must have been great! Was it a positive experience? Did you have a midwife?

Huh. So it’s all coming back to me now. That’s where my daughter was born.

Birthing in Jerusalem hospitals.

As my third trimester quickly approaches, I’ve been getting serious about touring and registering at hospitals, considering alternative birthing options and doing the doula dance.

Yep, this is the ‘bureaucratic’ and technical aspect of being pregnant.

In the last month we’ve done hospital tours in two popular Jerusalem hospitals: Hadassah Ein Karem and Shaarei Tzedek. Truth is, all Jerusalem hospitals are popular; all four (including Hadassah Mount Scopus and Bikur Holim) are busy and at times over-populated. It’s just how it seems to be in Jerusalem, a crowded and baby-happy city.

Unfortunately, there are no longer any proper birthing centers in the immediate Jerusalem area, as Misgav Ledach shut down years ago. If you don’t want to birth in a hospital and you don’t want to travel, it seems your options are limited to home birth.

Here are my impressions of Hadassah Ein Kerem and Shaarei Tzedek after getting the inside view; I keep in mind that both tours were done on relatively quiet days.