Editor’s Note: This is the second in a multi-part series asking families why they chose home birth. Today, we start with voices of the birthing mothers. Part 1 can be found here.
“Life was happening all around me…”
Why did we choose home birth? The impetus for me was my OB telling me that she’d grudgingly allow me a trial of labor with my 2nd child, but didn’t feel that I’d be able to deliver since I couldn’t birth a 6 lb 6 oz baby vaginally. After that I searched for a different way, I wanted a VBAC. Hospital just wasn’t an option in Nevada, and no hospital midwife could take me. That left a clinic or home birth. I started researching and ended up meeting with a midwife for an interview. She allayed much of my fears. I wanted to have a more natural birth for my child and for myself – one without doctors forcing drugs, inductions, interventions, monitors, c-sections. I wanted it to be peaceful, I wanted my first child there. I wanted to hold my baby right away, nurse her, not have her taken from me to be weighed and goop stuck in her eyes. I wanted the option of what would happen with my placenta and the cord blood, the doctor cheated me of that in the hospital opting not to take cord blood even though we had made it clear we wanted it. So many reasons to choose home birth, many more that I haven’t written.
My dream for my home births…..well, I didn’t have it all planned out in my head. I didn’t want to. My plan was healthy baby delivered at home safely. That was it really except that I did want a water birth, which never did happen! I’d say that plan succeeded, all 3 times. It was immensely better for us as a family – to be home, lower stress, be together, have the new baby fold gently into our lives, our children being right there the process not hidden from them. I remember very distinctly during my first home birth, my oldest running around playing near me as I laid draped over the birth ball inching toward transition. She ran giggling past me once and the soft breeze of her movement fanned my cheek and tousled my hair. I don’t know why that moment sticks with me so much, but it does. I was beautiful. Life was happening all around me…our normal family life and our new baby’s birth folded in.
“…both positive and negative for my family.”
I chose a home birth because I thought I would have more control over the circumstances of my son’s birth and the situation than if I were in a hospital. I discovered that although I had more ability to make my own choices I couldn’t really control my labor and how it unfolded – it still turned out different than I envisioned. In choosing to take more responsibility for the birthing process I found that it was a lot scarier than I thought when I was actually beginning labor. I was deciding how I wanted to proceed rather than having someone tell me “you’ve been having contractions for days you need to go to the hospital,”or “you need to have a cesarean.” While it was scary when I was in that in-between time between pregnancy and full labor, I also experienced the opposite end of the spectrum. I felt all throughout my pregnancy that everything was as it should be, pregnancy and birth was a natural process that doesn’t need a lot of intervention (in most circumstances), and that I could have a relaxed experience as a pregnant woman. I really enjoyed my pregnancy for the most part because of meeting with my midwives out of a clinic setting and developing a relationship with my caregivers.
The decision to have a home birth was both positive and negative for my family. It was positive for my older son because he was able to be a little more involved in the pregnancy and also was not disrupted in his routine after the baby was born because we were all at home. My husband was supportive about my decision to have a home birth but would have preferred a hospital birth. Our home birth experience ended up having a few unexpected and not necessarily pleasant surprises and really caused my husband to wish we hadn’t had a home birth after the fact. It all turned out fine though and in my mind I would have had the same issues in a hospital but I would have felt forced to take actions that I did not necessarily want to take. It’s like anything in life that has an unexpected twist, you never know if you had made a different choice how different the outcome or process would have been.
“I knew there was another way”
We chose a home birth because we researched it thoroughly and decided that it would be a safer option for us. I visualized my birth experience to be fast, private and calm and in the middle of the night and that’s exactly how it happened! We had candles lit during a dark February night. I was in the warm birthing tub and it felt so cavelike and private which I felt really helped to keep me “open”. I attribute that to my very fast labor and birth. My husband was my birth coach. We felt like we welcomed our little one into our family as a team which is a great way to begin!
The support that the midwifery team gave us was exactly what we were looking for – they were genuinely warm, encouraging and caring which was the exact opposite of the experience I had for the first few months of my prenatal care at a big practice in downtown Minneapolis. When I was with the large OB practice, I realized quickly that they lacked optimism and confidence in me and I began to internalize their frenzied doubt. I knew there was another way so I stopped going and transitioned my care to home birth midwifery care – it was a great decision for me and my family!
Steph and Jon
Check back tomorrow for part 3!