I didn’t start out on the more natural pathway into motherhood. As a pregnant teenager (twice) I wanted an epidural as soon as possible because I didn’t know how to prepare mentally for laboring naturally– nor did I have a desire to. After a harder recovery with my second hospital birth and an experience that left me wanting more out of my birthing time, not just a healthy baby but an empowering womanly moment, I decided to switch to a midwife at a birthing center. That was our stepping stone to a home birth for my fourth once I knew I could do it– and loved it.
Why did I make the switch and keep coming back for more?
I love my midwife. This being our fourth birth journey together, I can’t image anyone else being the one to guide me in this process. A friendship has been formed beyond client and provider. My kids adore her as well as they’ve attended every prenatal visit with me and my husband trusts her because he’s seen her skills first hand when situations have arrived in past births. Switching to a midwife years ago shifted my care from routine care to a evidence based philosphy of allowing our bodies to do what it is made to do and only intervening when needed.
I love water birth. Where I am, delivering in a tub isn’t hospital policy so at home or a birth center are the only options for using that tool. You can labor in it, but then have to get out for delivery. Let me tell you, being in water makes a big difference in the intensity of contractions and once you are in you often don’t want to get back out! Water birth is still being fully researched but it is a tool that I’ve found helpful in avoiding epesodimies like I had in my past hospital experiences and making for a gentle entrace for my babies into the world.
I can stay home. I still remember the agony of traveling to the birth center when I was in active labor. Even the 5-10 minute drive felt excruciating and the pressure felt like my baby was going to fall out in the car! No joke, my husband drove 90+ miles an hour on the highway one time trying to make sure we arrived before baby came. With a home birth I can stay at home all day long, laboring in my own comfortable space. I am able to lap circles within my house, climb stairs, or take a walk in my neighborhood. When I’m tired I can rest in my bed, or relax in my own garden tub. Everything surrounding has familiar sights, sounds, and smells, which I find benefical for helping labor to progress.
I can eat and move freely during labor. Not having any IV’s or monitors attached, I can move however my body leads. I usually spend my time laboring walking, draped over a birthing ball, or enjoying the warm birthing tub water. My midwife encourages me to eat a snack or meal when I’m hungry, and drink lots of water for energy and hydration. Laying down in the past, even for a few contractions, actually felt kind of torturous to me! I also am able to let my body decide the best position for pushing. Being on all fours was fantastic and so much easier last time!
I get to decide what happens after birth. My midwife opened my eyes to having a more gentle first hour for baby and myself, including no eye ointment, delayed cord clamping, skin to skin right away, encouraging nursing as soon as baby is ready, holding off of weighing the baby and doing the newborn exam until at least an hour. The goal is to encourage a strong bond and nursing relationship first. I know hospitals are starting to notice the benefits as well in this area, which is a great thing!
I can go to my bed and stay there. After birth there is nothing like taking a shower in your own bathroom, putting on clean PJ’s, climbing into bed, and not moving for days (ya know, except to go pee). There are no nurses coming in and out through the night, there is no need to get back in the car a few hours after delivery to leave the birth center, your partner doesn’t have to sleep on a pull out couch– you’re home and ready to start your baby moon bed rest right away.
I feel empowered. This truthfully is the top reason of my list, beyond the physical benefits I’ve experienced for my babies and I. Having a natural birth in my own home– which sometimes reveals some shock and awe from people I tell– gives me a sense of empowerment. Not just because I accomished it, but because I was given the power of my care within my own hands with my midwife’s guidance. Knowledge is empowering. I often tell people despite having two births prior, I didn’t feel like a woman until I had my first natural birth. It was like a right of passage for me.
Labor and pushing a baby out when you feel like you’re about to be ripped in half (you won’t!) is hard work, no doubt, and I understand why some may be hesitant to want to experience that intensity. However, right on the other side is instant relief and the eupohic oxytocin high of adding a new member to the family within the home he or she will grow up in. That’s pretty special. Of course, homebirths aren’t for everyone. Your health and baby’s should be a factor in your own decision. Midwives usually have strict legal requirements to determine that a pregnancy is low risk and a good candidate for a homebirth. However, for those who are low risk like myself, it is a beautiful option that is growing in trend and worth exploring.