My two sons were born at home.
Before kids, I thought only hippies had home births. And although I was definitely a bit counterculture myself, I was also pretty risk-averse. I knew I wanted a med-free childbirth, and I knew I would need a calming, homelike environment to accomplish that, but I wanted myself and my kid to get out of the whole thing alive, and I wasn’t sure if a home birth would cut it.
But then I did my research (pregnant moms do better research than the FBI!). I interviewed doctors and midwives, toured hospitals and birthing centers, and spoke to friends. After a few months of uncertainty, I met the midwives who would deliver my two sons, and everything changed. Not only did they make me feel at ease and listened to (our first appointment lasted an hour—can you beat that?), but I knew that my safety and the safety of my baby were in the hands of two highly skilled, well-educated kick-ass women who knew what they were doing.
Obviously, women should only have their babies at home if they feel entirely comfortable with it. But in the time since I had my first baby at home almost nine years ago, the number of mothers choosing home birth has increased significantly. Clearly, I’m not the only one who would rather push a human out of her vagina in the comfort of her own home.
Here are some other reasons I had my babies at home, and why it was the best option for me:
1. I wanted to decide who would be with me. This was big for me. Giving birth was perhaps the most intimate thing I was going to do, and I didn’t want a couple of 20-year-old interns milling in and out of the delivery room. Hell, I didn’t even want my mom there (sorry, Mom!). I got to be totally in charge of who was and wasn’t there. I mean, it was my home after all.
2. I didn’t want to have to go anywhere while I was in labor. I know I’m not alone in dreading the car ride to the hospital. I had nightmares of being stuck in traffic while my baby’s head was falling out of me. During home birth, your labor doesn’t have to be interrupted for anything, and I think that helped me get into a good labor groove.
3. I trusted my caregivers. I believed that they would care for me safely at home and transfer me to a hospital (which happened to be five minutes away) early enough to stop an emergency from happening. I was at low risk for complications and was monitored often during my pregnancy and labor, and my midwives made it very clear that if my risk went up, home birth would not be an option.
4. I educated myself on the safety of home birth and was convinced by the evidence. My husband and I did our research and knew not to rely on any cockamamie pseudoscience websites. We looked at research done by actual researchers and concluded that for low-risk women like me, a home birth under the care of a certified midwife with medical backup was as safe as a hospital birth.
5. I loved having prenatal visits in my living room. Need I say more? Not all midwives do their prenatal visits this way, but my midwives did and they made me feel like pregnant royalty. They did all the measuring, heartbeat-listening and testing while I lay on my couch. They had to send me out for the 20-week sonogram, but that was the only time I had to wait in a doctor’s waiting room during my pregnancies.
6. I wanted to birth in whatever position I wanted. Did you know that giving birth on your back is one of the hardest ways to push a baby out of your vagina? It certainly works for some, but most of us need the freedom to find a good position to give birth in, and many hospitals still don’t allow that. The only way I could get my second baby out was on all fours while howling like a wolf. Seriously.
7. I didn’t want to be in a hospital during my early postpartum period. I didn’t want my baby to be taken away from me after birth, pure and simple. My midwives did all the newborn exams while my baby lay in my arms. Can you beat that? It also allowed for a really seamless transition from birth to the “oh my god, I have to take care of this tiny human now” phase.
8. I wanted as few interventions as possible during my births. Yes, you can say you want a med-free labor, but there comes a point in labor when you would do anything to make the shit-show of hellish pain just go the fuck away. I had that moment too, and if someone had offered me an epidural I most likely would have said yes. At home, I didn’t have that option. So I just begged for mercy, moaned into my husband’s shoulder, vomited a few times and made it through to the pushing stage.
9. I knew I needed to give birth where I felt most safe and comfortable, and home was that for me. This is the biggest one, and it’s also the reason I don’t recommend home birth to everyone. If the idea of being in a hospital or birthing center puts your mind at ease, that is the best place for you to give birth. Period. Hospitals are awesome for some, but they stress me out, and I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to open up my cervix and vagina to spill out a baby in a place that makes me clench my teeth and hyperventilate.
It is absolutely true that the most important thing about birth is the outcome—a healthy baby and healthy mom. But there is more than one safe way to do that. If you have an inkling that home birth might be right for you, do your research, interview a couple of midwives, talk to your friends, and if it feels right, go for it. You won’t regret it.