Editor’s Note: This is part 7 in a multi-part series asking families to tell us in their own words why they chose home births.
“I wanted to know that I could relax, let my body do its job, and be surrounded by caregivers that wouldn’t step in unless they had to.”
When deciding which route to go for my birth, we looked into a couple options. The main ones that we investigated were birthing at either HCMC or St Joe’s with the midwives or doing a home birth with the same midwifes who had assisted my partner birth three years earlier. There were a number of reasons that we finally decided to choose a home birth, but the main one was my trust in the home birth model and the trust I had in my midwife team. I heard from a number of folks that had lovely hospital births, but they all mentioned that they were very strong in their convictions and “effectively advocated” for themselves during their birthing time. I didn’t want to go into my labor knowing that I was going to have to “advocate” for myself throughout the process; I wanted to know that I could relax, let my body do its job, and be surrounded by caregivers that wouldn’t step in unless they had to. I also wanted to trust that my caregivers’ advice/methods would default to something that I was comfortable with and that I wouldn’t have to be constantly questioning my care providers motives.
Other considerations that came into play for us were the model of prenatal and postpartum care. Including our three year old son Arlo in every prenatal visit helped with him welcoming his new baby brother into our family. The postpartum care that we received was excellent. We knew it would be because we knew the level of care our team provides, home visits, immediate access to our team and quick acton for the unexpected.
All in all, I’d say that having a home birth was actually better than I had anticipated. The feelings that I have around Emil’s journey into this world are so peaceful and this experience has had a huge impact on my life. I couldn’t have imagined a better experience. It truly was amazing.
“…research assured me that choosing home birth would be a safe option for me and my baby.”
I chose home birth for my second and third babies. My first birth, a hospital birth, went extremely fast, and I expected the next birth to be faster, with little to no time to get to the hospital. I wanted to be sure I could use comfort measures to deal with the anticipated fast second birth, and my image of “comfort” included minimal disruption with driving or triaging at the hospital during late labor and maximum time using water as a comfort measure. I figured the drive and intake process at the hospital would mean I would spend the most difficult part of my labor driving, in hospital triage, and waiting for a water birth tub to be ready. As a result, I looked in to home birth, where I knew my birth team would come to me while I labored in the comfort of my own home with a birth tub ready for me.
I am also the kind of person who relies on objective data and make evidence-based decisions. While I initially wondered whether home birth was indeed safe, my research assured me that choosing home birth would be a safe option for me and my baby.
That first home birth exceeded my expectations. I appreciated the personal, in-depth care that I received from my midwife. The birth was not as expected since it was longer than my first birth. Turns out I would have had plenty of time to get to the hospital, through triage, and into a tub! What I found, though, is that I really valued the comfort of my home during my birth with the security of having a good care provider looking out for my baby and me. That experience drove me to choose a home birth for my third baby, as well. With that next pregnancy and birth, I appreciated that my midwives educated me on options for care decisions that needed to be made along the way. They informed me and helped me make choices, but left the decision to me rather than telling me what to do. I again felt well cared for, safe, comfortable, and blissful giving birth with my husband and older children surrounding me in the comfort of my home.
One thing that I remember and describe to others is opening the windows during labor and feeling the sunshine, smelling the fresh air, and feeling a summer breeze on my skin. People comment on how lovely that sounds – so very different from a sterile, cold, isolated-from-the-world feeling at a hospital. I got to have all that comfort while still receiving quality clinical care and monitoring from my midwives!
“I wanted to welcome my baby into the world in the calmest, most loving setting available.”
I chose home birth because I trust my body and nature; because I honor women’s traditional ways of knowing as exemplified by my wise and skillful midwives; and most of all because I wanted to welcome my baby into the world in the calmest, most loving setting available.
I had visions of our home birth taking place peacefully in the living room: sunlight streaming through the windows, peaceful music playing in the background, close family and friends playing quiet games with my 3-year-old, and me being surrounded by love and affection as I moved in and out of the birthing tub. The reality looked much different. My water broke at 2:30 am, but I didn’t feel like I was in active labor until about 4:00 am. My husband filled up the tub, making it very hot so it would be the right temperature by the time the baby was ready. My midwife arrived at about 5:30 am and my daughter woke up at 6 am, scared and concerned about the noises I was making. My husband took her outside to calm her down, and slowly started calling our birth team. I was alone in our house with my midwife when I suddenly felt the baby crowning! The tub was still too hot to get into and I was in shock that this baby was coming already. I made it as far as the dining room, where I slowly pushed while friends and family streamed in. My 3-year-old had rejoined us all by this time, somewhat happy to see the baby emerging. My second daughter was born joyfully, albeit awkwardly on the dining room floor. She had a bit of a delay at the shoulders, but came out smoothly with the help of the next contraction and some skilled maneuvering.
It took me awhile to grieve the loss of the peaceful home birth I had pictured. I also felt sad that my older daughter didn’t enjoy the experience as I’d hoped. But I still trust in woman’s natural design, and I am impressed now more than ever with the knowledge, skills, and resources of my midwives.
“Was the birth of my son how I imagined it would be? No. Do I have any regrets? Not a single one.”
My husband and I chose home birth because we believed that my body was built to go through the birthing process on its own, without medical intervention and we wanted to be in the quiet, relaxing comfort of our own home when our baby arrived. We interviewed many midwives and found the right fit and knew they we the perfect women to help us through this amazing process.
Things certainly did not go as planned. After laboring at home for 24 hours and not having slept in 38 hours, I made the decision to go to the hospital for an epidural and some sleep. Our son, Waylon, finally arrived after 41 hours of labor! Six hours after his arrival, our family packed up and headed home from the hospital. Was the birth of my son how I imagined it would be? No. Do I have any regrets? Not a single one. Was it all still an amazing, life-changing experience? YES! Would I choose home birth again? I so badly want to say YES but, in all honesty, 41 hours of labor continues to pop into my mind!!! In the end, I think I will give it another chance because I still believe my body is built for giving birth.
As a doula, my training and experience taught me that an undisturbed birth would be safest for me and my baby. That’s why I chose to birth at home. But I also got phenomenal care from my midwife throughout my childbearing year.
“…the best way to facilitate the peaceful entry into the world for our baby.”
We initially chose to welcome our third child at home simply for practical reasons: our second child was in such a hurry to arrive that we barely made it to the hospital in time! However, as we thought about it more, we realized that birthing at home was the best way to facilitate the peaceful entry into the world for our baby that we had been seeking…and we didn’t need to write a “birth plan” with a long list of medical interventions that we hoped to avoid in a hospital setting. The simplicity and serenity of laboring and birthing in the comfort of my own bedroom turned out to be better than I ever dreamed possible, and the relationships we developed with the members of our care team were much deeper than we had during either of our prior pregnancies.
Emily J. Pike, M.D.
I chose home birth because I didn’t want any interventions. I wanted my body to do what it was designed to do on its own. I don’t see birth as a ‘medical procedure’
I chose home birth because it was a pretty good guarantee we could get to have a vaginal birth after my two previous cesarean sections. I would argue it was the safest and most healing for me. Went from being told, “You can’t push your babies out. You just make them too big,” to doing just that naturally at home in 3 1/2 hours.
I chose home birth because I was born at home and hearing my birth story was and still is my favorite story. I always wanted that experience for my babies and dreamed of the day I could tell them their birth stories.
Libby Rose Kline
Please check back tomorrow for part 8!