4 years ago, I could never imagine myself having a home birth. Growing up, for me, the normality was birth happens in the hospital (and in rare cases on the way there). My mother had given birth to all three of her children in a hospital, my sister gave birth to all of her three in the hospital… I didn’t know anything different. In fact, I thought if you had a midwife deliver your baby, you
1- lived somewhere in Mid-America,
2- were a hippy that ate placentas (read my thoughts on placenta eating here)
3- practiced witchcraft.
I didn’t think midwives existed here in NY.
It wasn’t until I started seeing friends of mine have beautiful, natural home births that I started researching the topic and thinking I would want one. When I had a successful VBAC in 2013, I knew that our next child would be at home.
Like many of our decisions, home birth was a shock to family and friends. My family pleaded with me to change my mind and just be ‘normal’… Just go to the hospital. My 2nd biggest advocate, my dad, said one day, ‘how long have you known Jenn? Has she ever changed her mind after it’s been made up? How about we just support her?’ And he was right, there was no changing my mind. After a traumatic experience with my first birth, I feared the hospital. Fear+labor=disaster.
So why did we decide to have a home birth?
1. Having a hospital birth opens up a plethora of possible interventions. In my opinion, these interventions are not necessary and do a good job fooling with Mother Nature. I believe that we are meant to birth and introducing medicine to the process screws up your body’s natural cocktail of pain relief. For example, when mom is in labor, she releases a hormone called ‘oxytocin’, better known as the love hormone. This gives mom natural pain relief. If oxytocin’s evil sister, pitocin, is introduced, oxytocin takes a step back, like, whoa, guess I’m not needed here. You lose out on one of the best things that happens during natural birth! If you introduce pitocin, you also change those waves of contractions into peaks and mountains of unnatural stabs of pain, sometimes double peaking. It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature, pitocin.
2. I had a book full of ways to relax from my Bradley classes but I wanted the soothing relaxation of a birth tub. I spent hours watching peaceful water births. Unfortunately, we don’t have many options here on Long Island for births in the water in a hospital setting. I rented a birth pool and we had it set up in the baby’s room…. Boy, was I right about the relaxation that comes with water! It was instant relief for the waves of contractions coming over me.
3. So many people told me, ‘you don’t have to be a hero’ and ‘you’re just trying to prove something’. I was trying to prove something. I wanted to prove that birth is mostly a normal, natural, beautiful thing. I wanted my daughters to remember that their brother was born at home and that is was a sweet, cozy night where we all cuddled in bed together. I wanted to ‘normalize’ birth so they would not be afraid of it. I hope that when they have their own babies that they choose home. I want to clarify that I wanted this home birth more than anything. Do not choose a birth at home if you are just doing so to impress others or because someone else is pushing you into it. It’s a personal decision that only you can make. Is your partner not on board? That’s a tough one but again, it’s your birth and your body. Try meeting with a few home birth midwives with your partner and see if you can settle those fears that they may have.
4. Labor is hard work. I knew I could handle the pain involved with a natural birth and I knew I could not deal with the pain of a medicated labor.
The question is, Is birth really that bad? Is mama really suffering? I talk to so many people about birth being in my field and so many talk about labor as compared to a massacre or exorcism. Why must we bring out all of this fear in women? Maybe that is what is contributing to painful labor! When we introduce fear, we tense up and we experience pain. Eliminate the fear and find relaxation… And maybe you will see that birth is a beautiful occurrence. The interesting part is that when I talk to women about painful labors, they tell me that they had an epidural and it either didn’t work or they got it at too late; end of the labor. When I talk to mamas who have experienced a natural birth that they planned for ahead of time by taking a good birth class, their experience is almost always peaceful and spoken about as a miracle. Maybe what we are missing here is the training that women should go through prior to labor to learn the best way to relax, to release fear, and to embrace natural birth.
If you are thinking having your birth at your home, these are some thoughts you might want to jot down:
Is my home big enough?
Contrary to what many think, there is not a lot of space needed for a home birth. Actually, many mothers choose to put their birth pool outside in the warmer months. Keep in mind, the birth pool only needs to be up temporarily. You can put it right in your living room or kitchen!
What if something goes wrong?
For some reason, some people think things go wrong just because you are having your baby at home. The truth is your home birth midwife is very well trained to detect issues before they become dangerous and they will transfer you to the hospital if they feel something is not right.
My whole family thinks I’m crazy.
Your birth, your baby. However, if it truly matters to you that they are on board with your birth plans, try these:
- Have a birth meeting and invite your family and your home birth midwife. Allow them to write down questions they have and talk about concerns and scenarios.
- Have a Mother Blessing in your home. Read about mine here.
- Look up some peaceful home birth videos and show your family.
- Suggest that they read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth.
- Look up some home birth support groups online. There are also some areas that meet up once a month.
I don’t have enough money to buy a birth pool.
Buy an inflatable kiddie pool! They work just the same. You can also look around for a birth pool rental and buy a plastic liner, easy peasy. Also, check in with your insurance because the supplies you purchase for your birth could be covered by a flexible spending account.
Is my home birth covered by insurance?
All home birth midwives are different but they are almost always able to work something out with your insurance carrier. Newsflash: they are not in it for the money. They are in it to bring peace back to birth and bring birth back to home.
Check out my birth story here.
Do you have others concerns? Comment below! If you have had a home birth and want to offer some insight, comment. ❤️