This afternoon, I had a great conversation with a friend who is considering homebirth if and when she and her husband decide to have another baby. We talked about midwives, doulas, cost, practicality and so on, and ever since I hung up the phone, I've been reminiscing about Max's fantastic homebirth, and the other homebirths I've been privileged to attend as a doula.
There are a lot of people who think I'm completely insane for birthing babies at home. And I confess, I used to be one of them. But now that I've birthed a baby at home, I know that barring an emergency or huge complication, I could never go back to the hospital for a birth. (I spend way to much time in them as it is!)
There are plenty of studies that affirm the safety of homebirth when compared with hospital birth. Plenty of outspoken critics on both sides of the debate. But for me, and many other homebirthers, its not about statistics. Sure we're glad to know that homebirth is generall as safe or even more safe than birthing in the hospital, but there are lots of other reasons we choose to have our babies at home.
1- No rushing around to get to the hospital. No fear of having a baby in the car (I did that) or at the admitting station. You don't have to have the interruption of moving to a different place with unfamiliar smells, sights, sounds, or unfamiliar PEOPLE when you're in the most active and vulnerable part of labor.
2- No being bugged after the birth. You get to hold your baby for as long as you want, and no one will take them away from you until you're ready. The baby is alwasy treated gently, and everything is done in front of you. No hard hospital beds. No monitors. No nurses waking you up at 6 am to check your blood pressure, draw blood, or give you pain meds. There is nothing in the world like being tucked into your own bed with your brand new baby after birth. It was one of the sweetest moments of my life.
3- You get to manage your own labor however you choose. I had a start and stop labor that lasted over a week. We went for a walk at 2am to get contractions moving again. I walked stairs. I slept. No one pressured me that "we need to get things moving faster" or talked about pitocin. I ate and drank freely, and felt completely comfortable being stark naked. I felt completely spoiled and cared for.
4- You choose your own birth team. I can't imagine having someone who is a virtual stranger (a nurse, an ob etc) being there for one of the most intimate experiences of my life. The women who attended me were loving, caring, and treated me with complete caring and respect.
5- If there is a need for something medical at the birth, midwives have the equipment and training to deal with it. Max was born blue and floppy, and we had to do a full ressucitation. But, he never left my arms and things resolved quickly.
6- People talk about the mess, but we never saw any of it. My midwife and doula cleaned everything up and then some. You never would have known there was a baby born there. They even left homemade food in my fridge.
7- No packing you and your baby up hours or days after your birth to go home. Midwives will come to you for postpartum visits, and I was encouraged to spend the first week after he was born in bed. It was a wonderful time to be nurtured and get to know my new baby.
8- My older girls were there for the birth and it was an amazing experience that they still talk about. They woke up as he was about to be born, and they were so excited to watch! It truly made it a family affair, and I hope planted a seed in my girls' minds that birth is normal, not something to be afraid of.
So what about you? Are you a homebirther? Natural birther? Do you think homebirthers are crazy?