It’s been three years since I gave birth to my son in my bedroom, in the water, in a horse trough…despite nay sayers (pun intended)! Seriously though, I’ll always be grateful for the opportunity to birth naturally in the comfort of my own home, because I know not everyone has the resources available to do so.
Especially since my sons birth was a VBAC, I am extremely lucky that I had the support to do this.
Since then, I have yet to actually meet another home birther. What I do meet is many women who are entertained by the idea, yet do not think they they are strong enough to do it. Also, there is a lot of fear surrounding the safety of home birthing (thanks a lot television!), and so, women humbly (or hell, sometimes run!) to the hospital. They fork over their right to birth, many times because the resources aren’t available or they do not have their family and friends backing a home birth decision.
Sometimes having a child in the hospital goes well, and sometimes it doesn’t.
I’ve had experiences with both, and I’ve heard a variety of stories that range from extremely happy to extremely heartbreaking.
One thing’s for sure though: there’s way too much poking, prodding, and guilting women when it comes to birth in a hospital. The hospital, after all, is a business, and things need to flow quickly and efficiently (no waiting around for hours to dilate). Women are told what to do, and not asked. Birth plans get thrown in the garbage. And America’s C-section rate is outrageous.
So, if you’re anything like me, you don’t want to get strong armed into decisions about your baby that don’t align with your soul. What woman doesn’t want an easy, beautiful, and *quick* birth…right?
I’m thankful for hospitals, don’t get me wrong, but I think they have a long way to go in terms of respect for mothers and the process of natural birth.
For me, when I started thinking about the bright lights, the nosy nurses, the denied food, the IV’s, and the complete LACK of privacy on so many levels- home birthing started sounding pretty good. I didn’t want to be rushed, and I didn’t want people making decisions for me. In fact, I wanted the opposite of all of the above: low lighting, a quiet room, privacy, food whenever I wanted, and to be able to birth in the water and HOLD my son for as long as I wanted following his birth.
Questions to Ask Yourself
If you’re thinking about kickin’ it oldschool at home, here are some things to consider…
- Where is the closest hospital and how long (exact time!) will it take you to transport in case of an emergency? This is the number one question you will get from “concerned” friends and family (or the bagger at the grocery store)- know it.
- In case of transport, what are your concerns for after the birth? I know, you don’t even want to talk about it, but we have to. Talk to your midwife and partner about worst case scenario, what you will and won’t do in a hospital, and write it up. Know what vaccinations/procedures you are and are not comfortable with giving your baby post birth. And then, don’t worry about it. It’s there if you need it, but otherwise, there’s no reason to stress yourself out about the “what if’s?”.
- Is this a VBAC? What is the policy in your state? Where I live, I would not have been granted natural birthing rights if I went to the nearest hospital- I believe there was only one or two doctors that would “allow” it, and they were considerably far away. So, home birth really was the best option for me, but I also had to find a midwife that was comfortable taking me on as a client.
- What do you want out of your birth? Seriously, what are things you want out of birth- is it freedom to move around, change positions, eat when you’d like, privacy? These are all important questions when deciding where and how you want to deliver your baby.
- Will you have 100% support from your partner and any family members whom you expect to be there? A joint meeting with your midwife and spouse/family who will participate in your birth can be a great way to gain support, because you won’t have to relay information from your midwife. Family can ask questions and get the answers they need.
- Do you have a room you can birth in *private*, and place dark curtains up if necessary? Bedrooms are the best, honestly. When I first thought about what room I’d be in, I considered the living room. However, luckily my birth supporters talked me out of it. We hung up blackout drapes which really helped me during my birthing time- I think when you see the sunrise you can get discouraged lol. Darkness is welcome.
- How are you prepared to deal with discomfort? I HIGHLY recommend Hypnobabies (not to be confused with hypno birthing). If you are having a home birth (or hell, just birth in general), I cannot stress this enough, take birth classes!!! It will empower you and give you the education you need to be successful.
- If you have other children, will they be present or will you have a sitter? Some people want their other children involved. My girls were old enough that they could watch a movie in the other room (they were only awake for a couple hours of the birth), but I had people I could call if I needed.
- Will there be pictures? Who will take them? Pictures are often an afterthought, but if you’re a picture freak like me, this is a valid question. Ask someone prior to your birthing time if they would mind being the photographer, or hire a professional (your midwife may have some recommendations!).
- What is protocol for post birth with your midwife? Will she respect your right to hold your baby for as long as you want afterwards (deal breaker for me!). What is on her check-up list?
- Will someone make food/drinks for you during (and after!) your birthing time? Someone needs to be in the kitchen, and it ain’t gonna be you! Ask a family member to volunteer or for friends to bring a dish!
- Will you have a doula? Doulas, in my opinion, are very valuable in any case of birthing. The midwife is your professional healthcare practitioner, and the doula is your professional birth coach. I know your mom/sister/friend thinks she can do it, but TRUST me- doulas have continuing experience and are excellent at helping a mom work through her discomfort. Friends and family can certainly help, but a doula is a smart investment.
- Are you going to encapsulate your placenta? Yes, this is for reals. I am so happy I did with mine! You can read more about my experience by clicking here. (In case of transport, remember to inform the doctor right away that you want to keep the placenta, so you can follow the proper procedure to obtain it.)
- What is your midwife’s thoughts on cord cutting? What are yours? There is a growing opinion that most doctors cut the cord too soon. Talk to your midwife about prolonging the cord cutting and what her experience is with it.
- How will you pay for it? Home births cost LESS than hospital births. Midwives can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000, where hospital births can be around $10,000 (more for c-sections!). See if you can set up a payment plan with your midwife, or save up to have your baby (this is what we did!).
Bottom line, YOU have to be an advocate for your own birth. Being the first person to hold my son was honestly one of THE BEST moments in my life ( I didn’t get to hold my daughters when they were first born). I birthed naturally, without drugs, in a place I felt safe and supported. And afterwards? I got to cuddle with my little one in my own bed and eat my own food and watch a movie, without intrusion. It was glorious!
Did I miss something? What is your concern if you have never had a home birth?
Please let me know below!