Our Reasons for A Home Birth

O U R  R E A S O N S

*Disclaimer: Home births are not for everyone! I have come to believe that a natural, home childbirth is for healthy, pregnant women with no prior conditions or obvious complications that will need medical attention immediately. I have a dear friend whose family has a history of stillborn births & a rare type of blood disorder so while she wanted a home birth, she knew it wasn’t a good idea and that she wasn’t a good candidate.

Some excellent reasons not to have a home birth are:
1. Epilepsy, diabetes, high blood pressure, significant heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, alcoholism, or significant mental illness.
2. Women who use drugs or do not take responsibility for their health
3. Women with major medical or obstetrical problems that are considered high-risk.

When my husband and I found out I was pregnant back in May, we immediately went to the local OB for our HMO insurance and just assumed he would be who was delivering our child. He took labs, did a vaginal ultrasound at 8 weeks and that was it- the office visit lasted 10 minutes and he was out as quickly as he came in.

We announced to our friends and family that we were expecting and got lots of “congratulations!”, of course. But a very dear friend offered both congratulations and a very respectful “have you ever considered…”. She sent me the link to The Business of Being Born and my interest and fascination with the birthing experience just took off from there. My husband and I were absolutely astounded at how little we knew about our choices when it came to the prenatal care and birth of our baby. No one at the hospital or OB told us about this… There were no pamphlets mixed in with the blood chord banking wall of information! Why had we never heard of this!?

The research began and although we’ve made our choice to have a homebirth with a midwife, the subject continues to interest me and I learn new things about it daily. An article I’d found from Midwifery Today really summed up and answered all of our questions and the search began for the midwife. The idea of a homebirth was much more compelling to us from the very mention, simply because neither of us are fans of invasive western medical methods as a first resort. When we get sick, we assess the severity of the symptoms and usually just let our bodies fight it off naturally with the help of some homeopathic teas or supplements. This works 99% of the time, but should we need medical attention, we won’t fight it. I was very grateful to the emergency room back in 2008 when I came down with walking pneumonia. Although I’ve always been very fearful of hypodermic needles, I was happy to bend over and get those steroid shots when I needed them! We just don’t want to take antibiotics for everything and know that our bodies just need time and rest most of the time.

So, the first question was whether or not I was a good candidate for a home birth. I am a big girl, considered obese, but I eat pretty well, don’t drink sodas or consume a bunch of sugar or processed foods and I exercise three times a week pretty intensely (roller derby). I was a smoker before I got pregnant but quit the moment I found out about the baby and haven’t had one since. My family has no history of birth defects or birth complications. My blood pressure is good, I don’t have diabetes and haven’t ever had a seizure or any diseases. I was immediately screened for STD’s and everything checked out negative. I think, the most important criteria is the deep desire for the mother to want to give birth at home, naturally.

Families that choose homebirth may be confronted by family members and friends who, conditioned by a society afraid of out-of-hospital births, challenge their decision, feeling it is both unwise and unsafe. Again, a strong inner commitment is required to stand up for the right to birth as the family chooses. Showing family members the evidence is sometimes helpful.

Ultimately, these are our reasons for having a natural, home childbirth:

1. Home birth dramatically decreases risk for unnecessary obstetric and/or medical interventions, which increases safety and quality of birth.
2. Choosing my own care provider for your home birth means interviewing several midwives and deciding on someone who meets my emotional and physical needs.
3. After we give birth at home we can enjoy a home cooked meal prepared by a loved one.
4. When I give birth at home, I decide who attends her birth. There are familiar faces of family and friends…and even our pet!
5. If we want to we can take the clocks off the walls & let go of time altogether and allow my body to move at it’s own speed.
6. The floors in our home are wood or carpet, not linoleum. The lights can be dim, (candles!) rather than glaring or florescent.
7. I will experience no interruptions at a home birth. We can all turn off the cell phones! There is only the sound of my voice, my husband’s voice, soft music and the hushed voices of my birth team.
8. After I give birth in our home, I will see the location where I gave birth to our child and can tell her the story when she is older.
9. I can feel the freedom of nakedness at home; not just physically but emotionally as well.
10. During our home birth, I am the boss. Who comes, who stays, what position I give birth in and where, how many times you get in and out of the tub, and who catches my baby.
11. EMPOWERMENT. I truly believe that there is an incredible sense of accomplishment that comes with simply attempting to do what your body was made to do. Birthing my baby should belong to me, not some doctor who shows up at the last minute. My journey doesn’t start in the delivery room, it started the moment I found out she was growing inside of me. It’s been a series of joyful, stressful, intense feelings from the very beginning and I want to give myself the opportunity to finish this- on my own. A lot of people will disagree with me. Many say that it’s just like any other day & that is their opinion. I look at it as one of the most important moments of mine and my husband’s life and we want to own it, heart and soul.

No, I am not a masochist. I don’t get off on pain or anything like that. I’m not looking forward to what some women call, the worst pain they’ve ever felt in their lives. I am looking forward to experiencing each moment soberly with intention. The only mothers who talk about the joys in labor (yes, they do exist) are the ones who were fully present. Without pain there is no pleasure and so it is with childbirth. The moment she is here is going to be so raw and vivid to a level that I couldn’t have accomplished in a hospital with bright lights, strangers, medical intervention etc.

Now, some of you may ask, “what if something goes wrong?”. Then obviously it’s straight to the hospital and on to plan B. But I’ll know that I tried my best and I’ll know that I took back my body and my experience. I can always be proud and empowered by that knowledge.Steps We’ve Taken To Prepare (I’m not going into this blindly, people):

8 Weeks of Bradley Method Classes wherein my husband learns how to coach me through pain and fear.
A strong knowledge of what’s going to happen to me physically during the birth to rule out the unknown.
Researching and interviewing people to find a midwife who fits our needs.
Putting together a birthing room with a blackout curtain, little white xmas lights, candles, calm meditation music from Pandora, my birthing ball, a warm tub, a stool and lots of fresh linens.
My Mom has put together lots of dishes including a chicken casserole, macaroni & cheese and lasagna- it’s ready in the freezer so I can eat throughout my labor and afterwards! No hospital food for this picky eater!
Having a plan B! Including a packed hospital bag, installed car seat, and a file with all medical history/info/birth plan ready to grab and run out the door.
With some luck we have an excellent resource on labor and birth to answer any questions you may have before the birth- Jeannie Casey has been truly heaven-sent.
Support! Oh, support. The people who understand what we’re doing and why have been an incredible source of strength! Get informed before you put down someone’s birthing preference.

I hope your birth is nothing less than exactly how you want it. I hope you found this informative, our reasons are our own just like yours should be.

– M