Thursday, May 20, 2010

What's so great about homebirth anyway?

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?


  1. I will be honest. I don't think that homebirthers are crazy. I just don't think it's for me. I have no problems sharing the experience of birth with a stranger (the nurses), who probably chose delivering babies as their career because they love being part of it. I have a low threshold for pain, and even though I learned how to relax during contractions, I never could (just my periods are terrible--I used to have to miss a day or two of school when I was a teenager the cramps were so bad), so I welcome the pain relief medication.

    But if someone else wants to do doesn't bother me in the slightest. I think it's a great way to welcome a baby into the world. In fact, I've thought about how awesome it would be to do what you do, Stacy, and be part of it.

  2. I think you know where I stand, Stacy. :) But I'm one of those crazies.

    I did want to add that even with our unassisted birth, the mess was really minimal. The pool contained all of it. Just dump the pool and you're pretty much done! McKay did wipe down the pool with peroxide in the end, though, just for extra precaution with sanitation.

  3. I'm just jealous that you got to have Jules attend your birth. :) I wanted her--had even started seeing her--but the insurance/payment situation was complicated and we ended up switching to someone who could bill the insurance directly. I had a positive enough experience, but I still sometimes miss that I never got to be attended by Jules. :(

    So, I'm pretty hardcore natural birther, and prefer homebirthing where practical. :)

  4. I have gone from one end to the other. Thought people who homebirthed were NUTSO, to having my last as a UC. I am all about respecting and giving a woman the right to choose. I always find it interesting when someone finds out that I had a homebirth and they precede to tell my why they couldn't. Just because I did doesn't me that I think you should. To each their own!

  5. I'm just too scared that something would go wrong.
    And since two of my four kids have been posterior, I wouldn't risk being without an epidural around for one of those. *shudder*
    But hey! More power to ya!

  6. I love the idea of it, and plan to look into it if we ever have another, but I have big reservations, and would probably choose a birthing center over it if I had the option. My two hospital births were actually positive, despite the reputation military hospitals have. The Naval hospital were I gave birth was very anti-interventionist, and would let you go two weeks past your due date before they would consider an induction (barring complications). I didn't feel pressured to have meds or felt a lot of power to choose. I know, though, that not everyone has this in a hospital birth and it worries me. I also dislike that my second birth was attended by a doctor I had never met before, unlike my first, where I knew and liked both doctors that attended (one was a resident).

    I think the biggest issues I have with homebirth are that it's very tough to get our insurance to cover it (and impossible in some states), plus I have no desire to have my kids there with me. It sounds like it went well for you, but it would stress me out to have them there worrying about me. If we do it, we'd have to send them somewhere until their sibling made his or her appearance.

    Thanks for sharing, though! I am very intrigued by this, if not completely convinced it's for me. And yeah, I have thought about the mess! I produce a LOT of fluid when pregnant! Cuz you wanted to know that, haha.

  7. Here from MMB:) A-natur-al was the way to go for me. SO awesome that you did it at home! However, I never had the opportunity or desire for a home birth-- and now I realize why... because my kiddos ended up in the NICU. I actually wrote about here:

    Cute blog!

  8. I was just talking with a friend in my ward last night. She didn't know I had twins, nor did she know I home birthed each & every one of my children! I was a little shocked, but then realized, I don't introduce myself anymore with the tagline, "We home birth." Maybe I should resurrect it?!

    PS: She asked me about "the mess" at a home birth. I told her it's not even an issue. If she comes over to the "home birthing" side, that will make 3 home birthers in our ward, including me. Not a lot, but better than none!!

    :) Great post!

  9. I never would have considered a homebirth when we first started having children. The first three were hospital/pitocin/epidural. With the fourth I really wanted to try a midwife/birth center. So amazingly different and wonderful. After that, I tell my husband all the time that I can totally see why people homebirth. And would if we had another child and if our insurance would cover it (which they don't).


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