Cost, comfort and other factors influence where an Amish family decides to have its babies.
But many Amish mothers in fact do what most English families do, and welcome their new bundles of joy in conventional hospitals.
This Hillsdale Daily News article was written, in part, to report on the first birth of 2015 at the Hillsdale Community Health Center (HCHC) in Hillsdale, Michigan.
But I found it more of interest for the comments from parents James and Ida Eicher, who happen to be Amish.
Ida Eicher complements the facility: “We like coming here since all the staff is so friendly and helpful.” This being her eighth child, you’d assume Mrs. Eicher knows something about the process.
She also gives a glimpse into the mothering customs in her community:
As for other conveniences, using disposable diapers is considered a norm in most Amish families.
“It’s probably about half and half,” Ida Eicher said. “Some still like to use the cloth diapers, but most like the convenience of the Pampers.”
Formula was something that wouldn’t be used unless absolutely necessary. Breast feeding is the best way to go for a lot of reasons, she said.
“For some, it’s not possible, but for us, it’s the best choice,” she added.
Amish births up at HCHC
According to HCHC nursing assistant Rachel Dow, Amish deliveries at the hospital have increased, given the significant Amish population in Hillsdale County. Ida Eicher shaes that her brother’s wife recently had a baby in another nearby hospital.
There were 4 Amish communities either fully or partially located in Hillsdale County as of 2013, with a total of 11 church districts. James and Ida Eicher are said to be from Quincy, location of a Swiss Amish settlement.
In recognition of their first-of-2015 birth, the Eichers were given a gift basket full of items from local retailers.
It sounds like they appreciated it, with Ida Eicher describing the items, including bibs, a rattle, and a diaper bag as “very usable.”
They did, however, leave behind the plug-in baby monitor and free movie tickets.
As mentioned above, Amish often opt for less-conventional or “old-fashioned” birth settings – for instance, at home, which offers comfort and closeness to family, not to mention a lower cost.
Or, a local birthing center, which may be more attuned to Amish culture than a hospital, and able to provide doctor-assisted midwife care.
Safety is a concern for birth in non-hospital settings, though screening out higher-risk cases and having emergency access to doctors and conventional facilities can reduce the danger.
A question for the parents (and future parents) out there: Anyone have experience with unconventional birth settings?
Would you consider home birth or other alternatives?
Image credit: Peter Broster/flickr