While the trend of giving birth at home is inching up in Canada, parents planning a home birth face all kinds of queries around their choice: Is it safe? What if there's a problem? What about the mess?
But one Quebec mother is dealing with another peril of going off the grid: Proving that the daughter she gave birth to is, in fact, her daughter.
Heather Mattingsley says she has been made to "jump through hoops" to get her daughter's birth registered, according to a story on the online news site OpenFile.
"They say we're not showing them enough evidence that I gave birth to this baby," Ms. Mattingsley told OpenFile. Five-month-old Sunshine Rose still doesn't have a birth certificate.
One problem appears to be the fact that no accredited health professional attended the March birth – or cared for her during her pregnancy. Ms. Mattingsley gave birth to Sunshine Rose at home with an "underground" midwife who was not certified, according to the piece.
Still, all the requested paperwork seemed in order: Ms. Mattingsley had " a letter from a doctor stating he saw her with a newborn whose age corresponded with the day she says she gave birth (this is required of mothers who did not deliver a child under the care of a registered midwife or doctor – for example, by choice or in the back of a cab), a copy of an ultrasound report from her pregnancy, and the Attestation of Birth which was signed by a friend who acted as a witness," the site reports.
Ms. Mattingsley was then asked for more: a letter from the doctor who followed her during her pregnancy, but she didn't have one because her midwife provided care while she was pregnant. They also wanted results from a physical exam to prove she had given birth, "except she was told by two doctors that at that point, there was no physical exam that could be done to prove she gave birth to her daughter because too much time had passed."
The agency involved says the rules are necessary to prevent fraud.
Many observers are sharing their similarly bureaucratic experiences. One OpenFile reader wrote: "I know some moms that fought for nearly a year before finally getting their children registered and even then they had to jump through so many hoops and lived in stress for that whole time."
And OpenFile cites a group called Groupe Maman, which is gathering testimonials to take on this issue.
Would cases like Ms. Mattingsley's give you pause before choosing to have a home birth?