Top 5 Myths About Having a Home Birth

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My Homebirth Baby
Whenever I'd tell someone I was having a home birth, their reaction would inevitably fall into one of  three buckets:

  1. "YAY! I wish I'd done that." (Or, "I have done that.")
  2. "How? What? Why?" A million questions.
  3. "Are you crazy? What if something bad happens?"

I understand the spectrum of responses because I've been there and there and there. Before I considered having a home birth, I thought it was a crazy idea for crazy people. Then I started learning more and became incredibly curious. And then finally, I had a home birth and now I want everyone else to have one too.

To get from three to one, I learned a lot and corrected a lot of my own misconceptions. Here's what I originally thought, then what I learned about home birth:

1. Home birth is risky for mom and baby.

Study after study have shown that a home birth is as safe (or safer) than a hospital birth for healthy women, with low risk pregnancies, using a certified professional midwife.

2. Home birth is messy.


Actually, birth is messy whether it happens at home or in a hospital. But, nurses, midwives, and doulas all know how to deal with the mess and whether you're at home or in a hospital, chances are you'll never see most of it. At my home birth, the midwife and doula kept things clean as we went and took a garbage bag with them when they left, leaving no signs behind to indicate that a birth had just taken place in our apartment.

3. If there's an emergency, you're screwed.  

Most births go smoothly and mother and baby are fine. But, sometimes bad things do happen, no matter where you're giving birth. Midwives are medical professionals who have been trained to deal with emergencies. My midwife came to my birth with an oxygen tank, drugs, and a doppler, not a bag of crystals and some herbs. We had a plan in place in case I needed to be transferred to the hospital. If I'd had meconium in my amniotic fluid, elevated blood pressure, or any other indicators of something going wrong, we would have transferred to the hospital immediately to be safe.

I suffered a postpartum hemorrhage, a dangerous complication, at my birth and the midwife acted quickly and professionally to stabilize me, then monitor me. It was scary for sure, but the experience showed me firsthand the extent of my midwife's emergency training.

4. Only hippies have home births.

I don't like granola, don't wear Birkenstocks, and don't own anything tie dyed. And amazingly, I was still allowed to have a home birth. Joking aside, home births are growing in popularity with a new crowd. I credit Ricki Lake's documentary, The Business of Being Born, with opening me up to the idea of home birth and making me realize it was something I could and should consider.

5. Insurance won't cover a home birth.

My insurance fully covered the home birth and all my prenatal care (my midwife did home visits - bonus!). All it took was a letter explaining that there were no home birth midwives in my plan and my insurance company was forced to cover my midwife as if she were part of the plan, per New York state law. Every state and every insurer are different, but it's worth looking into if you're interested in a home birth - you might be happily surprised.

delivery, homebirth

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ethan... ethans_momma06

It's sad that you get reaction 3 a lot more then reaction one. People have approached birth as if it were something to be frightend of almost, like a heart attack. I don't remember ANY mess from my first home-birth... if there was some, it was gone by the time I regained 'realization' of my surroundings, my insurance covered the first. And this time around I get to assure people that (god forbid) something DOES go wrong- there is a hospital a block from my house.

Funny thing (that was good to know) was at my last midwife appointment, she was getting ready to take a class to renew her infant ressucitation certification. It was such a relief to know that she really IS up to date on her stuff.

Cafe... Cafe Suzanne

My response is "Yay! I wish I'd done that," and then ... a million questions. I think it's wonderful -- and awful that in some states, it's against the law.

nonmember avatar Skeptical

Myth #1: Citing 2 studies, one which appears to be unpublished and not yet peer reviewed and the other an epidemiological study, should not lead to the [medical] conclusion that home births are safe(r) than hospital births. I am aware of the limited research suggesting that home births are safe...I am also aware of the biological research that suggests memory is able to be organically transffered (basically, if I eat someone, I gain all their memories). I urge women to truly educate themselves on the REAL research and the interpretation of research (in general) instead of trusting in the psuedoscientific ramblings of the internet. In sum, more longitudinal studies and meta-analyses are needed before any conclusion can be at all.

DreaK... DreaKevAiyana

My response is "Yay! I wish I'd done that," and then ... a million questions. I think it's wonderful -- and awful that in some states, it's against the law.
Cafe Suzanne , Mar 24, 2010 at 1:14 PM

Just remember - homebirth is not against the law in any state, just having an attendant (like a midwife, OB, or other trained professional) might be against the law.

Toddl... ToddlerBrain82

Thank you! I had a HBAC (home birth after c/section) 2 weeks ago and I couldn't be happier with our choice!

nonmember avatar anonymous

Great article. I'd suggest replacing the photo though- you can't see the baby and the position looks dangerous. Especially with all the sling recalls and such, is kind of at odds with the safety message of the article.

cafemama cafemama

Re: The photo - that's just how we weighed my son - he's 2 inches above the couch - no danger. I love this "old-fashioned" touch - so much nicer than placing the baby on a cold scale.

RanaA... RanaAurora

I'm a "I wish I'd done it!"
Good article. :)

Noahs... NoahsMomma418

I had both my children at home and we couldn't be happier with our choice. My State ( Wyoming) just changed our laws to allowed CPM home births! Great article however I think your next one should include research from Holland and the Netherlands since less then 30% of births there are in a hospital and the ONLY way you can get a hospital birth is to be super high risk OR pay a ton of money to have one! =)

Pishyah Pishyah

100% homebirth support right here! I was once skeptical and even made statements like, "well, I'm pro-choice on abortion so if they want to risk their babies and themselves it is up to them but I'm not touching it." Now, I'm completely against OBs (and their mEdwives) and feel for the women who REALLY need the lifesaving stuff that they once offered but now force/push in times where it isn't necessary.

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