In the most peaceful, natural way possible, we came to a conclusion about the birth of our baby: we will be welcoming our baby into this world within the walls of our own home. Shortly after learning about Baby, we had started talking about the options we had when it came to the labor & birth. In Portland, we have an amazing birth community, which means we had a ton of options: hospital, birth center within a hospital, free-standing birth center, or a home birth. With any of those options, we knew that we wanted to work with a group of midwives. For you skeptics, yes, even hospitals in Portland have staffs of midwives (full trained medical professionals). The midwifery model of care was very appealing to us, and in the end, this is our baby and our birth. We wanted professionals there in case we needed them, but otherwise, we want to deliver our own baby. This eventually led to the decision that we would plan for a home birth. I’ve decided that I don’t want to take the defensive on this topic … I don’t need to defend our decision at all, because it was made with our baby as our first priority. Labor & birth are not illnesses. They are completely natural processes that the female body was designed to perform. I didn’t want to choose a hospital birth because of fear … and I am so happy that we’ve taken the reins of our healthcare, and will be starting our family in the way that works for us.
After seeing a ton of births (I’m a birth photographer) in both the home and hospital setting, I have a really nice perspective on what I could expect from both places. For us, the home birth atmosphere is best:
- I love the idea of going into labor naturally. Even if we had a hospital birth, we would not be using labor augmentation (pitocin, etc.), or pain medication (narcotics or an epidural).
- Once labor has started, I really didn’t want to have to transfer from our home to the hospital. After learning about many horror stories of women going to the hospital too early (thus starting a waterfall of interventions), we would choose to labor at home as long as possible, and traveling in a car during transition would not be fun. At all.
- I love the flexibility of laboring/birthing at home. I’ll have the option of standing, walking, kneeling, squatting … laboring on the toilet, laboring in our bed, or a pool, or on the floor.
- Our midwives will bring medical equipment and tools needed for a healthy birth at home. This includes items to aid in: suturing a tear, stopping hemorrhaging, oxygen masks for me and baby, tinctures & solutions for pre and post partum care, and many more situations.
- Our midwife group is very hands-off. Unless there’s a reason, I won’t have internal checks during labor. All fetal monitoring will be done via a handheld doppler (meaning I won’t be strapped to a bed with wires & cords). While they are monitoring my progress and the health of the baby the entire time, it’s very unobtrusive, and done in a kind/gentle way.
- If pushing isn’t effective, my midwives will monitor the baby, and if all is well, we’ll try different positions to make my body & baby work perfectly in sync.
- I’ll be encouraged to drink lots of water, eat honey, and anything else to keep my hydration & energy levels up.
- Jimmy and I will work together to deliver our baby. If all goes to plan, he’ll be the first one to ‘catch’ the baby and tell me whether s/he is a little boy or girl.
- Once the baby is born, I’ll get skin to skin contact immediately while waiting for her/his cord to stop pulsing. All newborn exams/apgar will be performed on my chest or on our bed.
- A few hours after the birth, our midwives will have cleaned up our home, taken out the trash, started laundry, and tucked us in for a nice rest.
This is our plan, and some of the motivations behind it. Obviously, there are a lot of things that could keep us from a home birth. Our midwives are very conservative, and if anything along this journey indicated something other than a ‘normal pregnancy’, I would be required to give birth in a hospital (with midwives). Part of the care model (on our end) is to trust that my body will work with Baby the entire time. By eating a balanced diet, I will avoid gestational diabetes or other issues like that. By exercising, I will keep my body strong. By believing I am made for this, I will progress during labor. I can’t dwell on things like the baby being breech, or the possibility of meconium, etc. I have to know about these things, but we have to trust that they won’t happen. Another part is avoiding listening to or reading stories from others about negative thoughts regarding home birth. We’ve made our choice, and all we can do is ask for support.
A few things that made this decision easier for us:
- My amazing husband!! Seriously, I think that birth is pretty scary for guys. Most of them haven’t seen it before, and it’s craziness. Jimmy was open to watching documentaries, attending my appointments, reading books, and learning all about our options. His encouragement means the world, and he’s totally a home birth advocate now. I love it!
- Seeing so many births in person really helped give me insight.
- Watching documentaries, and reading many books …
For anyone who is curious about home birth, I really encourage you to watch The Business of Being Born. It’s not my favorite home birth documentary (because it’s very heavily biased (not really in a bad way, it’s hard to explain)), but it’s free, and it definitely helped spark the conversation about home birth in America. I’ve embedded the video here, or you can click & bookmark the video for when you have an hour or so to watch. If you’re related to us (mom’s, dad’s, etc.), we would love for you to take some time to watch. You’ll see why we made our choice, and maybe have a better idea of what it’s all about. It’ll probably calm many of your fears as well.
I encourage conversation & positive comments. I’d love to share more, and part of that will be books I loved, movies that helped, the classes we’re taking, what it’s like to work with a midwife … and so many more topics. This is a complete birth experience (not just us crawling into a cave with no knowledge to deliver this baby), and I want to share our experience.