I was born in a hospital. Isn’t that the only place you can give birth? But my world was rocked when a trusted friend told me she was choosing homebirth. I had so many questions. Why would someone want to birth outside of a hospital? What about your doctor? Is it legal? Where does someone even start learning more about this topic?
I started by watching The Business of Being Born, a documentary by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein. This film shattered any preconceived notions I ever had about birth. There was so much I never knew! It unveiled the reality of what birth really looks like when left alone and void of unnecessary medical interventions.
I could list a hundred different reasons why homebirth is an incredible choice but let me share with you the top 7 reasons why I think you should consider homebirth too.
A birth team (and trusted friend) to depend on.
One of my favorite reasons for homebirth is having a licensed Certified Professional Midwife (CPM). No, this is not at all the same as a Nurse-Midwife (NM) you would use in a hospital (more on that another day). When you decide to have a homebirth, you selectively choose the best qualified CPM for you and your family. You will be amazed at how this midwife becomes a close and trusted friend. (Let’s be honest, Doc, you had to read my name on my file before greeting me). Your midwife is someone you can text in the middle of the night. Someone who schedules their vacations around your estimated due date. Someone who will be there for Game Day no matter what. And someone you cry about when you have that last postpartum appointment because you’re going to miss seeing them all the time. (homebirthing mama’s feel me, right?!)
How many women interview their NM or OB when choosing a medical professional for having a hospital birth? What’s the likelihood their NM or OB will make it to their birth? How can you feel fully supported and honored in birth when you’re looking at a new OB because yours isn’t on call the night you go into labor?
Unmatched Women-centered Holistic Care.
When you choose to homebirth, you will see your midwife for all your prenatal and postpartum appointments. These appointments are drastically different than an appointment you would have for a hospital birth with an OB. For starters, your appointment with a midwife will usually last about an hour (Yes! An hour!). This is because the midwife provides holistic support that cannot be achieved in a quick in and out take-my-blood-pressure-and-temperature-and-I’ll-be-on-my-way scenario. It’s here that the mother’s intuition is honored and evidence-based practices are common. These appointments are a staple to supporting mom (and the family as a whole) in her transition to motherhood, whether it’s her first or fifth baby.
Many people assume that a homebirth is exponentially dangerous. But similar to birthing in a hospital, when you are low-risk and using qualified and trained professionals, then it’s actually just as safe (if not safer!) to birth at home. The largest analysis of planned homebirths in the U.S. found that homebirths result in significantly lower intervention rates for mothers and babies (check out the peer-reviewed study published in the Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health here***)
I love homebirth for the reason that (as a low-risk pregnancy) I can actively avoid unnecessary interventions and put every measure between myself and an emergency cesarean section. The rate of c-sections in America is at an all-time high of one of every THREE births! This cannot be an accurate reflection of nature. There is a common scenario of once a hospital intervenes with the natural process of birth, there is a cascade of interventions and before you know it, mama is being rushed in for an emergency cesarean.
I trust my body. I trust my baby. And I trust birth. And if leaving birth alone means a significantly lower chance of resulting with a cesarean, than sign me up!
My house. My rules. My birth. My way.
The best part of being home is my bed, my security and comfort items, and the lock on the front door. When you birth at home, you can decorate and set up your entire birthing space to your liking. It’s a sacred space that a select few are invited in to… Which is where the lock on the front door comes in handy. Don’t want any visitors? Prefer to keep family members at bay? Just keep the front door locked.
Having a homebirth also allows for the presence of siblings that might otherwise not be allowed in a delivery room at a hospital. Many families love to include older siblings in the amazing process of welcoming the new baby into the world.
There are many benefits for both mom and baby to laboring or birthing in the water. The buoyancy helps relieve pain for the mother and allows for more oxygen for the baby. When the mother is immersed in the water, it often helps to lower high blood pressure caused by anxiety. Plus, what a wonderful way to transition baby from the warm water of the amniotic sac to the warm water of the tub!
You would have to check hospitals in your area, but it’s not always typical that these places have options for laboring or birthing in a tub. If you desire to have the option to do so, your best bet is a birthing center or at home.
Not a hospital & not a birthing center.
The idea of a birth center initially seemed like a happy-medium between hospital and home. A cozy atmosphere with the safety net of a near-by hospital and plenty of trained professionals on-hand. But birth centers associated with a hospital still have to adhere to the rules and practices of the hospital. For example, if you aren’t progressing “fast enough” by their definition, you could be transferred (birth is not a timed event, ya’ll and hospitals are on the clock). I also disliked that after birth you still need to bring the baby back for follow-up appointments. I wanted to be home and stay home with my baby without having to leave for any appointments after the birth.
Not having to leave home with a one-day old.
Ready for the best part? You get to stay home and in bed for your postpartum appointments because your midwife comes to you! Winning! Homebirth allows for critical bonding and resting period for mom and baby. The idea of packing everyone up to drive to a pediatrician’s office with a one- or three- day old blows my mind. NO WAY would I want to sit in a car when my nether regions have been torn apart. NO WAY would I want to take my new fresh healthy baby to a place where sick kids go. That goes against all common sense.
When you have a homebirth, holistic postpartum care continues for 5-6 weeks after your birth. The typical postpartum schedule includes home visits on day 1, day 3, day 5 or 7, and two weeks with the last visit at 5-6 weeks postpartum back at the office/clinic. These appointments are as much about the mom as they are the baby. Post-partum Depression is extremely common and often missed by OB’s. At home, you get a loving friend who can really see what’s been going on with you, offers breastfeeding support, new family guidance, lab tests as necessary, and birth control counseling.
Who wouldn’t want that?! Who?!
If you’re starting to say to yourself, “Yes! These reasons make so much sense to me!” I encourage you to keep learning more. Below are some of my favorite resources to help you on your journey:
The Business of Being Born
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Ina May Guide to Childbirth
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TEDx talk “Home or Hospital? Holding the Space for Human Birth” with Saraswathi Vedam https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5V723E9wvE
Did you homebirth? Do some of these reasons resonate for you too? I would love to hear your top reasons for choosing homebirth! Comment below!
- *** Cheyney M, Bovbjerg M, Everson C, Gordon W, Hannibal D, & Vedam S. Outcomes of care for 16,984 planned home births in the United States: The Midwives Alliance of North America Statistics Project, 2004-2009.