Guest Post: Why I Chose A Home Birth
Hey, guys! Just a quick message from me before we get into this post.
I want to give a huge thank you to my friend Heather Westropp from “I Do… Now What?” I am really looking forward to sharing your blog post here and hope someone can find some comfort and inspiration from your story!
I hope you all enjoy this post; And make sure to go check out Heather’s blog!
When I became pregnant with my son, I planned a natural birth at a birth center. However, as my pregnancy progressed, I became aware of the subtle but very real differences between a birth center birth, and a home birth. These differences led me to change my plans and choose to plan a home birth, instead.
My goal was to have a natural birth. This was important to me, because I had already learned about the pitfalls of a medicalized birth, and I knew I wanted to enjoy my baby’s birth rather than suffer through it. Some people may think I have it backwards, there!
A natural birth, to many people, equals a painful birth. But for me, I believed in my body’s ability to birth in relative comfort and safety. I planned to use childbirth hypnosis to eliminate pain. I also believed my faith would allow me to experience a supernatural childbirth, safe and free from pain.
For me, choosing a natural birth with minimal interventions seemed to be the best path towards experiencing the birth I wanted.
Still, the voices of naysayers all around me got into my head just the tiniest bit. That is why I originally chose a birth-center birth. I know many people who have chosen to give birth in a freestanding birthing center, or in a hospital birth center, as a compromise between a traditional hospital birth and a natural home birth. They believe that birth centers offer the best of both worlds, allowing for medical intervention in the case of an emergency, but otherwise respecting the natural process of birth.
Unfortunately, I quickly learned that it wasn’t quite that simple. While birth centers do offer something of a middle ground, they are still medical facilities—if they are part of a hospital, or if they employ Certified Nurse Midwives, that is. Freestanding birth centers with Certified Midwives or Licensed Midwives, on the other hand, are absolutely no different than a home birth environment. A home birth midwife will bring all of the same equipment to the home as they would have in the birth center. So in reality, there is not much of a middle ground here.
Why does it matter? At a hospital birth center or CNM birth center, pregnancy and birth are treated with more respect than they would be in the L&D wing of a hospital. But they are still often treated in a very medical fashion. I learned this the hard way at my first choice birth place, a freestanding birth center with Certified Nurse Midwives.
At first, everything seemed great! The midwives were friendly and reassuring, and the facility was beautiful and relaxing. But soon, I was presented with interventions that were not necessary, and not even presented as optional! I was told I would be given a vaginal exam, at one appointment. (Did you know that vaginal exams during pregnancy and birth are completely unnecessary, and can even lead to further interventions?)
At another appointment, I was told it was time to schedule my test for gestational diabetes. I made an informed decision not to be tested, as I had zero (literally, zero) risk factors, other than being pregnant. Shortly after that, I was informed that it was not optional. I pushed back, and was finally told that I could not have my baby at the birth center unless I agreed to the test. I said that I would be finding a different caregiver! They backpedaled, and tried to come up with a compromise, but I had heard enough.
The problem, you see, is that CNMs are trained in medical protocols. They are not very flexible when it comes to individual needs, or even evidence-based practices. They seek to do what their training has taught them to do, and any deviation is cause for alarm. Unfortunately, this is exactly the problem with OBGYNs, when it comes to birth! I realized that I was getting a “doctor in a skirt,” not a truly respectful and thoughtful midwife.
That was when I realized that a home birth was perfectly safe, and that my reasons for choosing a birth center were actually fear-based. I finally went fully to the “natural birth side,” and I started planning my home birth!
Studies have shown that planned home births for low-risk pregnancies are just as safe as hospital births, and they decrease the likelihood of having unnecessary interventions.
Home births also have other wonderful benefits!
Birthing in the comfort of one’s own home allows a deeper sense of security and relaxation, which helps make birthing easier and more comfortable.
Since there are no doctors or nurses around to offer interventions, women are less likely to feel like they want or need them. Moms can experience their birth without begin given vaginal exams under bright lights, without having an IV placed in their arm, and without being told to lay flat on their back and place their legs in stirrups to push.
Good midwives know how to encourage birthing mothers, rather than discourage them. They also know how to watch carefully for signs of a problem, so that they can seek medical intervention only when truly necessary—and the vast majority of the time, it isn’t necessary.
With a home birth, mothers aren’t on a clock. Hospitals like to see births completed within 24 hours, but for many moms, especially first-timers, birthing can take longer than that. Home birth respects a mother’s natural timetable for birthing her baby. She won’t be told that she needs Pitocin to speed up her birth, just because she hasn’t dilated 1 centimeter an hour like some kind of birth-robot!
Home births have an extremely peaceful post-partum period. There’s no hospital stay, nurses and doctors coming in and out, or discharge process. You just settle in and start your new life together, in the comfort of your own home. The midwife comes to you to take care of post-partum care for mom and newborn checkups for the first six weeks. Lactation consultants can also come to your home to help with the breastfeeding learning curve.
Overall, home birth is a very peaceful way to bring a baby into the world. Not only that, but it is incredibly empowering to know that you didn’t need a doctor to save you from birth. You did it on your own, because your body was made incredibly able to do it!
I didn’t end up having a home birth for my son, because of an unusual (but not dangerous) complication. I had a very positive and enjoyable hospital birth experience with him. But for my daughter, born after him, I was finally able to have my home birth. And it was magical! I am planning to have another home birth for any future babies I may carry.
Truth be told, I have found childbirth to be the most incredible experience in all of life. There are no words to describe it! And home birth really allows it to be the best that it can be, naturally.