Laboring in our bedroom
It’s kind of hard for me to believe that when I gave birth to Blair at home that I entered a very small minority of women who have had a home birth. I don’t feel like some radical, crazy, or super-woman. I also don’t feel like we made some totally unconventional decision, and having a home birth really felt so natural to me.
But the reality is that even though home births are on the rise in the US, still only around one percent of women choose to give birth at home. I sometimes wonder if the prevalence of home birth among the “natural living” blogosphere makes it feel like there are more women giving birth at home, for those of us who read lots of natural living blogs, and if that has had any effect on the increase in popularity of home birthing?
I know for me, reading other’s home birth stories – women who I read about their lives and families on a regular basis and feel like I kind of “know” them – made me feel much more comfortable with the concept and gave me a stronger belief in myself that I could have my baby at home.
But, if you would have told me 5 years ago when I was pregnant with our first child that I would have a home birth with my third baby, I probably would have looked at you like you’d grown a third eye. I would have told you you were crazy.
It’s funny how life
sometimes often takes us in a direction that we had no idea that we’d be going, isn’t it?!
So, I wanted to share a little bit about how we came to decision to have a home birth this time around. It really wasn’t some long drawn-out process. It was actually a pretty easy decision that just seemed like the natural and right thing for us.
Our Beliefs About Birth
I think first of all, and most importantly, our beliefs about how a healthy pregnancy and birth should be handled have changed over the years. I had watched The Business of Being Born after my first daughter was born, and was appalled at the way that most births are managed in the hospital, with time limits and all of the interventions, and just the overall sense that a mother’s body doesn’t really know how to give birth to a baby.
I was so thankful that I had managed to have the natural birth experience that I wanted in the hospital, but the seeds of home birth had been planted in my mind and heart.
I truly believe that for a normal and healthy pregnancy, that a woman’s body is able to give birth without needing much, if any, outside interventions, beyond the continuous support of her husband and a qualified labor team who monitors her and the baby during labor. Reading Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth during this pregnancy really confirmed this for me as well, and I even got Jer to read parts of the book before I went into labor!
Birth is a natural and normal process, and a laboring woman should be treated with respect and care, not pushed through a system that is trying to make things as easy as possible for the doctors and hospital staff.
Blair was born in our bedroom, right next to our bed.
I’d Already Tried the Other Options
When I was pregnant with Brenden, Jer was still not on board with the idea of a home birth, and I wasn’t completely sure I was either. I switched from an OB to a midwife that did hospital births, and thought that would give me the best of both worlds – a natural birth with a midwife, but in a hospital just in case anything should happen.
After Bren’s birth, I just kind of felt like I could’ve stayed home and that things could’ve gone a little more smoothly. To make a long story short, we had a good experience with our midwife, but my labor seemed to stall once we arrived at the hospital making things a little more difficult.
I won’t go into all the details, but we also had a pretty bad experience with the doctor my midwife worked with, who was on-call over the weekend that I was in the hospital. And honestly, I didn’t want to risk that my midwife would be out of town and that I would have to deliver with that doctor the next time.
When I got pregnant again, I knew I didn’t want to go back to the same midwife, but there were really no other options for midwives who practiced at the hospital in our area, and I definitely didn’t want to go back to a regular OB. There is a birth center in a town about 45 minutes away, but I didn’t think driving that far in the middle of labor sounded like a very fun idea.
Jer agreed with me, and had warmed up to the idea of a home birth, which I had decided I really wanted to try this time. He had seen me give birth naturally twice and had more trust in the process of birth, and more understanding that a safe birth doesn’t have to occur in a hospital.
I contacted two midwives who do home births in our area and met with each of them, and then chose the one who I felt the most comfortable with, and that was that – we were planning to have this baby at home.
And finally, the cost was definitely a determining factor for us in choosing a home birth. Even with insurance, when you have a hospital birth you have to pay for all of your prenatal care, and then also pay for your, and the baby’s, hospital birth and care.
Although our insurance did not cover home birth at all, our midwife charged one fee for all of my prenatal and postnatal care, and the birth itself. So, it was cheaper for us to pay out of pocket for the home birth than to pay our co-pay and deductibles for a hospital birth. (I don’t want to get into the whole insurance thing, but really, if insurance companies want to cut their costs, they should support home births, instead of refusing to cover them all together!)
The Right Choice for Us
I really wasn’t trying to buck the system. But I have also lost a lot of faith in our conventional system of hospital birth. I hadn’t had bad hospital birth experiences, but I thought I could have an even better experience at home.
I really wanted to be able to relax and be comfortable at my own house during my whole labor. I wanted to get into my own bed after my baby was born, and spend the first night together as a family with my hubs and our new baby, unlike at the hospital where the husband has to sleep on one of those uncomfortable chair/bed things. In fact, my hubs didn’t even sleep in the hospital with me after Brenden was born, he went back to our house to help take care of our daughter.
I admit that part of me thought that having a home birth would mean that labor would be smoother, quicker, and less painful. Although I do think it went really smoothly, it was definitely NOT quicker or less painful! But that’s okay, because I was still at home, which was exactly where I wanted to be.
Overall, we feel like we made the best decision for ourselves, for our new baby, and for our family, and if I were to get pregnant again, we would definitely plan to have another home birth, as long as everything was healthy and normal during my pregnancy, of course.
Have you had, or have you considered having a home birth? What were your deciding factors, or do you have any questions that have been holding you back that I can try to answer for you?
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