They don't call her a supermodel for nothing.
Gisele Bundchen has again stepped into the controversial territory of home births with the latest blog post on her personal web site – which she also tweeted out on Monday – titled “Birth Without Violence.”
Her web site’s post, written by Equipe Übersite referencing physician Frederick Leboyer’s 1975 book “Birth Without Violence,” noted that “childbirth surrounded by interventions and ‘violence’ is so ingrained in our society, that a humanized birth without unnecessary interventions, at home, in water or squatting is seen as an alternative birth, for hippies or something for Indians.”
“Most people are unaware what a birth without violence is like and its benefits to mother, baby, family and society,” the post continued. “Many hospitals are like a mass production of babies, where routines are followed and the baby must be born as soon as possible.”
Bundchen’s espousal of linking a hospital birth with violence has alarmed some who view the practice as dangerous and irresponsible.
“There is nothing intriguing to me at all about home birth. My girlfriends and I delivered in hospitals and we all talked about our great experience. The care for my child was so wonderful in every way that I could not have asked for more and am grateful to the outstanding medical know-how,” leading model manager Nadja Atwal, who gave birth to her first child last December, told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. “But this is not about how romantic and cozy we would like our birth to be, but how safe it should be! And when complications arise and you don’t have top medical care within reach, it becomes a gamble with the life of an unborn child.”
Dr. Shilpi Agarwal says that to call in -hospital birth “violent” is extreme, considering “that there are many provisions that can be made to have an in-hospital birth be both a calm and safe environment without interventions that are not medically necessary.” And Marcelle Pick, NP, OBGYN added that “home births have risks associated with them and if there are complications it can be very difficult to get the intervention that you need.”
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Bundchen, who is married to New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, is currently pregnant with her second child and gave birth to her first son -- naturally -- in 2009 at their home in Boston after meditating throughout her eight-hour labor. And her birth beliefs have sparked criticism before, particularly after she declared in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar in early 2010 that breast feeding should be a “worldwide law” and that moms breast feed their newborns for “at least six months.”
But the world’s highest paid supermodel is not the only celeb to be touting home births. Ricki Lake, Demi Moore, Pamela Anderson, Jennifer Connelly, Mayim Bialik, Thandi Newton, Alyson Hannigan, Evangeline Lilly, Maria Bello and Nelly Furtado apparently also went through the birthing process in the comforts of her their own homes.
“Gisele is entitled to her own opinion, and her opinion about ‘violent’ birth applies to the over-medicalized hospital births over 20 years ago,” explained Dr. Sara Gottfried, OBGYN and author of the forthcoming book “The Hormone Cure.” “Here’s a more responsible approach: create a birth plan, demand patient-centered care, and recreate a sacred, non-violent birth in a hospital. The leading cause of death among reproductive-aged women used to be childbirth, and people like me and other next-generation obstetricians are fully committed to supporting women’s choices about childbirth.”
According to the latest statistics issued by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), approximately one out of every 140 births in the United States in 2009 happened at home, the highest level since data on the practice began to be collected in 1989. The CDC also found that the percentage of U.S. home births increased by 29 percent from 2004 to 2009, and that home births are more common among women who are over the age of 35 and those who have several children.
While no hard data has been found on home birth mortality rates, the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology has stated that investigations likely underestimate the risks associated with planned home birth, as up to nine percent of women who have given birth before and 37 percent of women have never given birth require intrapartum (during delivery) transfer to hospital – thus “adverse outcomes among the latter deliveries are attributed to hospital births.”
On the flipside, others in health industry agree wholeheartedly with Bundchen’s birthing preferences and the growing trend of bringing a child into the world for the comforts of one’s own home.
“There is less likelihood of infection. Hospitals are filled with viruses and bacteria, and very toxic cleaning agents. Also the environment (of home) is calming for baby and mother. No cold rooms, no bright lights, no loud noise – beside mom yelling – and the bonding is allowed to happen at home,” explained Heather Lounsbury, founder of the Los Angeles-based practice Live Natural Live Well. “The post on Gisele’s site is definitely raising good points. Using the term ‘violent’ is going to make a lot of people mad, instead of listening to the valid argument. I’m not sure a model should be giving medical advice, but she does have a platform for raising awareness about the benefits of home birth.”
A rep for Bundchen said that although Gisele supports natural childbirth, "the strong words were used by Ms. Calvetti," and she was expressing her own thoughts, not Bundchen's.
"The text was posted by the website team and was never previously seen by Gisele," the rep added.