Planning for a homebirth

By now you may have gathered that instead of choosing to have an OB-attended hospital birth this time around, we are planning to have a midwife-attended homebirth. There are a number of varied factors that have led me down such a different path with this baby and I’d like to share some of them here.

I have to first admit that I’ve been a little reticent to post about this, not because I’m not excited about it, but because homebirth in our culture is not seen as a safe or wise choice (though in reality it is as safe or safer than hospital births in most cases – there are a number of studies that indicate as such). I am open to questions about why I’ve made this decision or things specific to homebirths, but I don’t wish to be attacked for my choice. I have no desire to get into a debate over which is better – hospital or home. Rest assured I’ve done a lot of soul searching and research to come to the conclusion that planning a homebirth is right for me. In the event that a condition arises during my pregnancy or labor that indicates that a homebirth is no longer a safe, responsible choice, I have no qualms about going back to my OB (whom I like and respect) or being transferred to a hospital (which is literally less than five minutes from our house) if necessary.
OK, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s dive in, shall we? πŸ™‚

First of all, I believe that – in the majority of cases – birth is a normal, natural and healthy process. I believe in a woman’s (and my own) ability to give birth naturally, normally, without intervention, as women have been doing for thousands of years.

I am drawn to the midwifery model of care because it feels normal and natural. I like that a typical midwife prenatal visit lasts 60 minutes (as opposed to the typical 6 minute OB prenatal visit) and does not feel rushed. I like that I am getting to know the woman who will be there for my labor and birth and that she will gain my trust so that I feel comfortable with her while laboring and birthing. I like that my midwife is interested in my nutrition and in suggesting preventative measures (such as acupuncture) to help ensure that I have a healthy birth.

My midwife in particular has a 15 year background as an EMT (emergency medical technician). I feel her experience in that capacity has helped her develop critical thinking skills and the ability to think quickly on her feet. After all, how can you be an EMT without that ability? So I feel very comfortable that if a situation should arise that is beyond her comfort level, she will know what steps to take (i.e. a hospital transfer). Because of my history of complications with Ava, this was very important for us. Both Jody and I feel very confident in her experience and abilities.

I love the idea of birthing at my own home, where I am comfortable and able to relax without worrying about who’s going to be walking in the door next (nurse shift changes, etc.), where Ava can play or sleep or do whatever she needs to (in a safe environment) and still be in close proximity to me and Jody. (My sister will be her primary caregiver while I am in labor.) And when the baby is born, Ava can chose whether or not she wants to be present. (Yes, we will be preparing her with regard to what to expect when mommy is in labor, etc. We actually watched a birth video – “Giving Birth: Challenges and Choices” by Suzanne Arms – this week.) I’d like her to be there, but I’m not going to force her. If she is meant to be there, she will be. After seeing her interest in watching the birth video though, I am pretty certain she’ll want to see baby brother join us.

I also love the idea of being able to sleep in my own bed after the birth. That was one of the hardest things for me in the hospital, not being able to sleep. I eventually had to ask for sleeping pills because it’d been something like three days since I’d slept for more than a few minutes at a time, and having hallucinations while trying to care for a newborn is no fun. Having my own bed will be heavenly. And I’m sure Jody would agree as well after sleeping on a flimsy mattress on the cold, hard hospital floor for 5 days after Ava’s birth.

Another compelling reason for me to have a homebirth is I’d like to labor and possibly birth in water and my midwife has a birthing pool that we can set up right in our house.

Because of all of this and more, I feel planning for a homebirth makes sense for us.
The following information was taken from The Homebirth Choice by Jill Cohen and Marti Dorsey and further illustrates why I’ve decided a homebirth is the right choice for me and my family. I cut and pasted some things that I feel are particularly important to me.

“Midwife means “with woman.” Traditionally, women have attended and assisted other women during labor and birth. As modern medicine emerged in the West, birth fell into the realm of the medical. Since women were barred from attending medical schools, men became the birth practitioners. Having never had a baby themselves, they were unable to approach women and childbirth with the inner knowledge and experience of a woman. Childbirth became viewed as pathological rather than natural; unnecessary, and often dangerous or unproven, medical techniques and interventions became commonplace.

During the 1960s and 1970s, along with the women’s movement and renewed interest in homebirth, the midwifery movement rekindled. It has been growing steadily ever since. Midwives are becoming more and more involved with birthing families and have been instrumental in redefining birth as a natural event in women’s lives.

Midwifery empowers women and their families with the experience of birth.”


“Prenatal visits may take place at the midwife’s home or clinic or at the family’s home. Prenatal visits are a time for the midwife to get to know the family and friends, neighbors, or other children who plan to be present at the birth.

Prenatal care for the pregnant woman includes discussion of nutrition, exercise and overall physical and emotional well-being, as well as overseeing the healthy development of the fetus.

Midwives include the family during prenatal care, inviting them to ask questions and to listen to the baby’s heartbeat. Intimate involvement of the family throughout the pregnancy allows for early bonding of the newly emerging family unit.

The midwife and family will often discuss the mechanics of birth. The more people know what’s going to happen, the more comfortable they may be while awaiting the birth.”

“In the safety and security of her own home, the mom is likely to be less inhibited about trying different labor positions and locations. She can sit on the toilet or go for a walk outside. She can eat or drink whatever she wants. She writes her own script. When it’s time to deliver, she can often try whatever position she wants: on her side, squatting, sitting or kneeling.”

“Homebirth allows for full participation of family members. Under the guidance and assistance of the midwife, the opportunity is available for husbands or partners to “catch” their child as it is born. These moments can be very powerful and transformational in the lives of the new parents.

At homebirths, babies are usually immediately placed on the mom’s stomach or breast, providing security, warmth and immediate bonding between mom and baby. This contact provides security for both mom and baby.

In the rare case when the baby has difficulty breathing on its own, midwives are fully trained in infant CPR. Usually, putting the baby right to the breast and having mom talk to her baby will encourage it to take those first breaths.

Putting the baby immediately to the breast helps reduce any bleeding the mom may have. The sucking action stimulates the uterus and causes it to contract. This closes off blood vessels and reduces bleeding.

Some members of the medical community have recently acknowledged that having a homebirth decreases the mother’s and baby’s chances of contracting an infection. The mother is used to the bacteria in her own environment and has built up immunities to it. This is passed on to the baby through the colostrum. Even when women are segregated in maternity wards, infections are much more commonplace after hospital births than homebirths.”

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34 thoughts on “Planning for a homebirth”

  1. Not surprised, and good for you! You certainly have all the facts and the insight and that women’s intuition that this is the right thing for you, Amy.

    Can’t wait to see how this all goes for you…

  2. I’m very excited for you Amy! I have 2 sons, both hospital births and I didn’t have any say in any part of it.(One c-section, doctor’s choice) Of course that was 12 yrs ago too. I’m so glad more women are standing up for themselves now and demanding that their births go as THEY plan them. (As much as possible – you know those babies always have a say too and make that very much known!! lol)
    If I am ever lucky enough to have another child, I plan on a home birth being an option for me now.
    I look forward to following you through this journey. Thanks for sharing it with us!

  3. I’m not surprised at your decision either, Amy, and find that you are a responsible, loving parent who wants the best for her family. I think most women who choose home birth are well researched about it. Nobody wants complications or emergencies and it’s a good back up plan that your hospital is only 5 minutes away. I also love the caring, connecting, almost primal feminine bonding that happens with a midwife, from your prenatal appointments, to the actual birth and post birth mother and baby care. You get so much more support with breastfeeding too.

    Will your sister be attending the birth? How do your family and Jody’s family feel about your decision? Ultimately it only matters what you and your husband decide, but I’m just curious if you have familial support.

  4. I applaud your decision, if this is what is right for you then do it… I know I don’t really get the tandem or extended breastfeeding thing but I do wholeheartedly embrace natural and home births. In the group of people I run with it is weird to not consider home birthing. My mom was born on a couch in a garage with nobody around to help and she was healthy as can be. You have made an admirable decision… hospitals are freaky anyway.

  5. Amy, I think that is a great choice for you! I wish I were ‘brave’ enough to do it myself. I think probably fear of something going wrong (needing an emergency c-section w/ my daughter) is what frightens me the most about ahome birth..well that and no possibility of an epidural if I can’t take the pain! LOL! πŸ™‚ Probably goes along with my current hesitations to feed Amelia a vegan diet which I am striving for. I am just so afraid I am going to do something ‘wrong’ and damage my precious girl. Anyways, sorry for the long post. Yay for you, I say!!

  6. my daughter was born at home! my son was an attempted home birth, but we ended up transferring to the hosp. at the last minute.. still a drug free birth!

    my daughter’s homebirth was the very best day of my life to date πŸ™‚

    my son was 2 yrs old, and he attended the birth (with a support person, and he was free to come and go as he pleased, he was also free to leave the house entirely if he didn’t like it)

    HAPPY HOMEBIRTHING! can’t wait to hear how it all went!

  7. Homebirth is the most amazing, empowering, peaceful experience. I pine for natural labor again, the endorphins, the adrenaline, the excitement, the energy…
    You are wise to trust your body. Perhaps our bodies are the one thing we can really trust, they are our means for survival and love.

  8. Hooray! You know I’m very happy to hear this – I think it’ll be so wonderful for you and the family – and the baby too of course! There is so much freedom with a homebirth. Congratulations on your wonderful decision.

  9. I say, more power to you! I firmly believe in a woman following her instincts and taking an active part in managing her labor and birth experience whether in a hospital or in her home. It’s about YOU, your baby and both your well-being. Should be, anyway.

    I hope your homebirth is everything you wish it to be and more!

  10. Kleo – Thx for your encouragment. πŸ™‚

    HM Tonja – I agree with you that it is time for women to reclaim their right to have healthy and safe births. It’s unfortunate that women were robbed of this for so many years when all women were strapped flat on their backs, drugged (to the point of unconsciousness) and had their babies literaly extracted from their birth canals, only to wake up and find their babies stuck in a nursery for observation for 24 (or whatever) hours. It really saddens me to think that that was standard procedure and not too many years ago.
    Thanks for your support. πŸ™‚

    Amy – Thank you. My sister will be here for the birth. She was here for Ava’s as well. πŸ™‚
    Ya know, our families haven’t said a whole lot about our decision. I know that they love and respect us though. It might not be something they’d choose for themselves, but I think they will support us since it’s what we want to do (though I’m sure there will be some concern-just cuz that’s what being a parent is all about, right?).

    Suzy – Thanks. πŸ™‚ I honestly think the more you research and learn about homebirths, the less need for fear there is (at least that’s been my experience). As I continue on this journey, I find the more I learn about hospitals and standard procedures and doctors’ timeframes, etc., the more I think women who elect to birth in a hospital are “brave” rather than the women who do so in their own homes. πŸ˜‰ But I do understand what you are saying. And I know what you mean about not wanting to “damage” your precious girl. Good luck w/ the vegan eating. I know a handful of vegans (with kids who are vegan) in the blogging world and would be happy to give you some links if you want to check them out. πŸ™‚

    michelle – thank you for sharing your stories with me and your encouragement. πŸ™‚

    leigh – welcome to my blog. i’m glad you found your way over here too. πŸ™‚ thx for your support. i look fwd to learning more about you on your blog.

    miriam – so good to hear from you. πŸ™‚ yes, i know what you mean about so much freedom w/ a homebirth and that’s something i am looking fwd to. btw, your birth story was an inspiration to me. thank you.

    ninotchka – thank you so much. πŸ™‚ i think you hit the nail on the head.

  11. Amy,
    Wow! I didn’t know you were headed down that path. I wholeheartedly applaude you for standing up for you birth and making the decision to labor and birth where you feel is right. That takes strength and self confidence. What aweosme attributes to pass to your children.

  12. Sonja – Yeah, I hadn’t really been talking about it much so I don’t think all of our friends knew/know. While I’d been thinking about it for a while, the real decision only came in the last month or so.
    Thank you for your kind words and support. πŸ™‚

  13. YAY!! All positive comments! The more positive energy you create in the universe the better πŸ™‚ Here’s more kudos for your decision, I have never been so brave, but admire those that are!

  14. Beckie – Thank you! I’m very happy with all of the positive feedback too. You never know what to expect when you put yourself “out there” on your blog, but I’m glad everyone has been respectful.

  15. I’ve wanted to comment on this post since you wrote it, but I’ve been so swamped! I’ve been online long enough to just do the stuff that needs to be done, like blogging in wee hours of the night. πŸ˜‰

    Anyway, I will be sending you all my love and positive thoughts for you on your birth. You will have a wonderful home birth, I just know it. I wanted to homebirth Seren, but we had Kaiser, and I didn’t know I could just do it on my own. I was a bit naive. Then for the surrogacy, I suggested it, but they would not go for it. I swear I will have a homebirth one of these days. I would even love to attend one. I love the whole idea that surrounds birth, even if I can’t seem to do it the way I want. All this to say, good thoughts to you. I know you will have the strength to do it!

  16. It will probably be many years yet before I have children, but I’ve thought very seriously about home birth and drug free birth for a number of years now. It is a little scary to think about, but at the same time I am very interested in the intimacy provided by birthing at home, and although there will obviously be pain, I am keen to make sure that my rememberances of the esxperience are not dulled by drugs.

    My mom is a nurse, and though she has said she isn’t comfortable being the only person present at a home birth, I would very much like her to be integral to the whole process. She would gladly assist a midwife.

    I hope you enjoy your birth experience. I think it’s a lovely choice.

  17. Good luck, try to enjoy yourself. (Is that possible during labor?) I guess I’m not a real big fan of home births, but that might be because I’ve never had a kid, and I plan on going to nursing school so I tend to side with the more traditional western medicine. But really, the decision should be whatever Mom wants and whatever she decides is best, so in that respect, I wish you all the best.

    I did see a special on DiscoveryHealth about a woman who gave birth at home in a birthing pool…she let her 10 year old catch the baby, which I personally think could be a little traumatic. After all, the kid’s still a kid, and a vagina’s still a vagina, and…I don’t know, it just seemed really weird to me.

    I personally would NOT want to ever see my own mother’s vagina, nor would she care much to show it to me, but that’s our family dynamics and like I said before, if you want to do that, fine, it’s your birth, your life, your kids, you could have the baby while swinging from the monkey bars and as long as you thought that was the right thing for you and you weren’t going to be killed in the process, then I’d be cool with it. Good luck with everything.

  18. Tiffiny – Thanks so much for your show of love and support. It means a lot. I hope you get to have or attend a homebirth someday yourself. πŸ™‚

    Bianca – Welcome to my blog. πŸ™‚ I think it’s awesome that even though having children may be a ways off for you, you are already thinking about what you’d like your birth experience to be like. It sounds like you have a great relationship with your mom and having her involved in some capacity would be lovely. I also noticed you are in OK. I lived there (OKC) for a few years before I had kids, but never thought of it as a very AP/natural parenting-friendly sort of place. Then again, that may be just because I didn’t have kids and didn’t seek out that kind of support/people.
    Anyway, thanks for your encouragement. πŸ™‚

    Caroline – Welcome to my blog and thanks for sharing your thoughts on homebirth with me. I agree that different things are right for different people, and I admire that you respect that about me.
    I think some of the uncomfortableness about nudity and breastfeeding as well in our culture comes from it being a puritanical society. While I don’t intend for Ava to catch the baby, I have no problem with her seeing him being born. I think birth is a beautiful, amazing thing and I believe it would be a wonderful experience to share with her (if she chooses to be there for it). πŸ™‚

  19. Just found your blog, and reading through pold posts. Sending positive home birth thoughts your way. While my 3 were hospital births, all were midwife attended, and 2 were totally medication free. I delivered my daughter in water. What an amazing experience. Good for you for doing your research, and having a good “just in case’ plan.

  20. Amanda – Welcome to my blog. Thanks for your positive thoughts. πŸ™‚ I bet having your daughter in water was just incredible. I hope to experience that myself.

  21. Way to go Amy! I admire your choice. Honestly, if I had the guts I’d do the same. Having said that, I’m lucky that I’ll be delivering in a small local hospital with a midwife, and the OB won’t appear unless there is a problem so the situation here is a bit different. The hospital has everything available, but I do get to choose what I use and how I labour. Maybe if this birth goes well, and we decide to have another baby I’ll do the homebirth thing. πŸ˜‰

  22. Penny – Thank you. You are lucky to have that option. πŸ™‚ I think I’d be happy doing something similar – birthing at a birthing center with a midwife if only we had something like that available here. But unfortunately, it’s not an option.

  23. interesting article.. i am currently weighing up my options as a disabled woman ( i have ME and fibro ) and my ob consultant has told my that my baby will probably come early and due to health probs they want me to have a caesarean. i do not feel in my gut that this is necessarily so, and stumbled across your blog whilst researching. Thank you and will subscribe to your blog

    sam x

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