Home Birth – Home Death
Posted on Monday 20th September 2010 by Louise Carron Harris
I was reading the latest update on the Palliative care blog – Dying at Home Is Better For Cancer Patients and Their Families
It got me thinking about birth and death – such ends of the spectrum, yet both as important to plan for. Both in Birth and in Death, it’s our choice to choose the care we want, with or without the aid of doctors, hospitals and bureaucracy… isn’t it?
In Birth, women are advised to write a ‘birth plan’ as a general guideline for the midwives and doctors to ensure a labouring mother gets the care she wishes. It contains info such as: home or hospital birth, drugs or not etc.
In Death some people have a living will, often very simple documents stating personal preferences on resuscitation and the administration of life prolonging drugs., However these days you can find more comprehensive documents outlining your options. Fantastic Funerals and our sister company Sentiment Farewells both offer a more detailed Living Will section in their pre-planning documents, thus opening the door to discussing more details about death wishes, including desires to be at home or in hospital.
Home choices can often be limited due to care options, scaremongering and trends. However in the case of births, The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) support home births for women stating “There is ample evidence showing that labouring at home increases a woman’s likelihood of a birth that is both satisfying and safe, with implications for her health and that of her baby” .
And it seems this is the same in death as it is for birth: A new study confirms what hospice professionals have known for years: dying at home is better –both for the cancer patient and his/her family. The study, reported in the September 13th issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, found that cancer patients who die in the hospital have worse quality of life than those who die at home. The study also found that caregivers of patients who die in the ICU are at an increased risk for developing psychiatric illnesses during the bereavement process, like PTSD.
At present more than 80 per cent of people express a wish to die in the comfort of their own home. But 60 per cent end up dying in hospital.
*With both of my babies, I requested a home birth because it felt the safest and most natural choice for me, as it turns out medically this was not possible, but I always felt empowered that I had that option. In death I feel the same , that we should all be aware of our options and of our rights to die at home… If we so choose.