Saturday, December 26, 2009

Thoughts on Home Birth

I'm 37 weeks and 3 days today. Lucy came the day after her due date and Julia was born at 37 weeks and 5 days, so we're just playing the waiting game now. Either way, baby will be here very soon! I'm mostly ready, there are just a few little projects around the house that I'm trying to finish up. My midwife did her home visit here the other day and we have the birth supplies all ready to go. If you read Story Number One and Story Number Two, you know that with my other two labors my water broke (and gushed out of me), so I'm of course wondering if and when that will happen. At the wedding shower I have to go to on Tuesday? At church? In the car? Of course this labor could be completely different...

So why on earth am I planning a home birth? The idea was completely foreign to me with my first pregnancy. By the second time through, even though I knew several people who had home births, I still wasn't even close to considering it. Of course I haven't actually had a home birth yet, but thought I would share some of my thoughts about it with you.

My second birth went a long way toward helping me see that birth is a natural event. Preparing for the birth with Bradley classes and succeeding in my goal of a drug free birth were both great confidence builders. With Julia's birth, we denied almost everything the hospital had to offer - no vitamin K, no eye ointment, no drugs or IVs, no vaccination for baby, waited to cut the cord, waited to bathe her until the next day, and kept her next to me in my bed the whole time. While I understand that each of these are personal choices, at some point it occurred to me to wonder why I went to the hospital just to deny everything. The hospital was great about respecting my wishes, but even so, I felt a bit on guard and Ross had strict instructions to watch Julia like a hawk any time a nurse entered the room just to be sure nothing was done to her that wasn't in our plan.

Around the time I was newly pregnant with Julia, I had a friend who had just given birth in a hospital. She picked up an infection and ended up very sick (diarrhea, etc) for almost three months while trying to care for her newborn baby and toddler. Hospital germs come from such a "clean" environment that they are often super bugs that are hard to get rid of. I'm not a germaphobe by any means, but having a baby at the same place sick people go started to seem a bit odd to me.

I used to say that my pregnancies were very normal and uncomplicated so that's why I birthed in a hospital. I realized that is the exact reason I should have my babies at home! Interventions can happen so quickly in a hospital, even with an otherwise healthy pregnancy - if you're in labor "too long" or otherwise hit hospital protocol you may be subject to a cascade of unnecessary procedures. Example: Your labor isn't progressing quickly enough, so they break your water. Once the water is broken the clock starts ticking again. If you're still not progressing fast enough you'll need Pitocin, which will require an IV and restrict you to bed. Once you have the IV you end up with an epidural, catheter, and maybe even suction assist to help the baby come out. It seems like these stories happen in one way or another all too often.

I'm not against hospital interventions when necessary, and am thankful that these things exist. It just seems that Pitocin, IVs, epidurals and more have simply become too routine and a doctor wouldn't think twice about using these even during a normal birth. I'm also not saying anything negative about women who choose to use pain relief measures in labor. I'm more talking about those who enter the hospital hoping for a natural birth and are pressured into this series of events because they somehow or another don't fit hospital protocol. In a normal birth, I don't want to end up pressured into anything and it seems like that can quickly happen. On the flip side, if I were in a situation where medical intervention seemed necessary, I would rather have someone who is natural minded helping me consider all of my options.

I learned that midwives are actually prepared to deal with emergency situations and can stabilize both mom and baby while transport is arranged to a hospital if the need arose. The midwife that I am seeing has been in practice for 28 years and has delivered close to 2,000 babies. In my prenatal visits with her she has focused on me and my pregnancy as an individual case. I feel like a normal healthy person, not a medical case to be helped. Yolanda (my midwife) explains what she is doing and why. From checking urine samples to explaining what blood pressure means and why good nutrition is important, I feel like I've learned quite a bit.

When Ross and I first met with Yolanda, I was still a bit nervous about a home birth and thought that Ross would have to be convinced. After we left that meeting I asked him what his reaction was and he simply said "It seems like what we want." I wasn't prepared for him to react like that and it took me a week or so before I actually called Yolanda and told her yes. I've worked through some nervousness along the way, but overall am confident that this is what we want. Ross is very supportive and at this point we are both excited about the home birth.

Some of the things I am looking forward to include:

- No rushing to the hospital while in labor, not having to be lay down and be monitored, no need to strip down and wear an ugly hospital gown, no packing a hospital bag and trying to bring everything along with me.

- Yolanda comes to my house, all I have to do is make the call and then I can hop into the shower or do whatever I want to. I can use my birth ball, stand, sit, use the tub for pain relief, and give birth in any position I choose.

- Having Yolanda there for the birth to guide me a bit rather than a doctor who rushes in just to catch the baby.

- Snuggling in bed with Ross and the baby after the birth. In the hospital, Ross always stayed with me, but he ended up across the room in an uncomfortable chair trying to sleep. I'm looking forward to having him next to me in our own bed.

- No interruptions with doctors and nurses coming in all night long to wake us up. (Although Yolanda does stay and make sure that mom and baby are stable and doing well before she leaves.)

- Not having to be on guard against nurses that might give a bottle or otherwise do something we aren't planning on.

- Welcoming the new baby right into our home rather than bringing it home from the hospital. On a similar note, I don't have to expose my girls to all of the hospital germs in order to visit the new baby. They can meet the baby in the comfort of our home.

Having friends share their home birth experiences with me helped me see that a home birth can be a normal, natural, safe event. I don't intend to say that everyone should have a home birth, but rather just enjoy sharing my experience and thoughts along the way. Hopefully very soon I will be able to share my home birth story with you as well. If anything, let it inspire you and encourage you towards believing that birth is a natural event. If you're interested in reading more about birthing naturally, one of my friends has a great website that includes her birth story and lots of articles she's written on the topic. Check it out here.

On a funny note, Ross' Grandma came over the other day and jokingly said "I thought you might be in the hospital by now." implying that I should be giving birth. The first thought that went through my head was "Hospital? I'm not sick." and then "Oh, yeah, that's where most people go to have babies." Funny how thoughts can change.


  1. Good luck with the Home Birth when the time comes... I actually have a friend that has planned for a home birth for the last 8 months, her water just broke a few hours ago:)

  2. I really wanted to do a home birth with my last baby. However, we live 45 minutes from the nearest hospital and there are no midwives around here. We decided that it really didn't seem like the responsible thing to do in that situation. I was sad, but fortunately our hospital was really good about {most} all of our wishes. Daddy even climbed in bed and all three of us slept together. :) I do hope that someday I will get to experience a home birth.
    Good luck with yours!

  3. Christy, I know you will do wonderfully and I am anxiously waiting to hear all about your experience. I love to hear birth stories because they are all so different and amazing new beginnings! My two little men were both delivered via emergency C-section, but I would have loved to do things naturally and at home. But, like you said in your blog, we can be thankful that there are hospitals for when things go differently than they should. I am so happy that your family will enjoy the new blessing in the comfort of your own home, I can't wait to meet the newbie!