Photo from Kaitlin RoseThe following is a guest post from Kaitlin Rose, founder of Bring Birth Home, a website dedicated to education and support for home births.
I didn't know birth could be so rewarding until I gave birth at home and became a part of a community of women who had also delivered their babies this way.
I realized the fear I held on to was one that had to do so much with where I'd be giving birth. All of my preconceived ideas about birth changed with the location. When I chose to birth at home, I was no longer afraid. Instead, I was excited!
When a child is born, they're not the only one being born. Each time a woman carries a child and gives birth, she's born again as a mother. Birth gives us an opportunity to learn new things about ourselves, our bodies, and our child.
The memory of a woman's labor and birth of her children will be remembered for a lifetime, for better or for worse. When discovering birth options, some women come to realize home as a more comfortable and relaxing place to give birth.
This one detail is often imperative to achieving a positive birth experience. Not being able to be calm or being interrupted from a state of relaxation can actually be detrimental, in some circumstances slowing down or halting labor all together.
Giving Birth Is Intimate, and Home Is an Intimate Environment
A woman will only give birth at home if she feels just as safe, if not safer, as she does in a hospital. If she doesn't, she shouldn't give birth at home. Other than maternal fatigue, one of the main reasons for home birth to hospital transfers take place by personal choice.
Many women who have experienced home births can't imagine birthing anywhere but home in the future. The emotional and physical benefits range from thorough and personalized prenatal care, actual labor at home, and extensive postpartum support.
In this article I'll examine the three core components of birthing at home, and will share the stories and opinions of each from women who have successfully given birth in their homes.
1. Choosing a Care Provider That Cares
When I began prenatal care at a local hospital, I was startled by the lack of personalized care I received.
In the woman's service program I attended, there were 17 midwives on staff. I could choose who I wanted to see for each visit if they were working. But when it came to the actual time of labor, whichever midwife was on call would be there for the birth.
This distressed me greatly. I expected to create and grow a relationship with a midwife and inevitably share in the grand and glorious moment of my child's birth with her. Realizing this wouldn't be the case was very disappointing.
It wasn't long before I began investigating other options, and after four months, I decided on home birth.
My fiancé and I interviewed a midwife, who drove to our home. I prepared tea and a fruit plate. She brought along several handouts and we asked a lot of questions. I had reading assignments and was asked to keep a food chart. After over an hour sitting around our kitchen table, we hired her.
The difference between prenatal care at the hospital and receiving care from our midwife was night and day.
While my hospital visits lasted roughly a half hour (including the waiting room), our home visits lasted over an hour. We talked and talked about my feelings, goals, and life in general. I loved our friendly, relaxed, and caring relationship.
2. The Home-Field Advantage
Everyone loves to feel empowered. Women are certainly no exception. It makes us feel strong.
"Everyone assumed I knew what to do. They let me labor how I chose without feeling it necessary to intervene with my natural instincts." -- Angelina
Making choices during pregnancy and labor, from choosing the location to birth, interviewing and selecting a midwife (or not, for those who birth unassisted), to choosing where and how to labor, makes the entire birth experience more "ours."
Of the dozens of women I've asked, a majority of them have cited laboring at home to be their favorite thing about home birth.
"It was wonderful to be at home throughout the whole process; being empowered to do what my body was designed to do in my own way and on my own time." -- Melanie
Laboring at home often means assuming the responsibility of letting yourself labor where and how you see fit. Several "stations" are already present inside your home to be utilized, such as a bathtub, stairs, couch, and even the floor.
If you want to, you may eat, drink, sleep, you can be naked, and if so inclined, you may yell at the top of your lungs. It's your turf. No inhibitions or system-wide rules or procedures to follow.
3. Go Back to Bed, Sleepy Head
"Staying at home -- going right back to sleep in our comfortable bed, all together." -- Molly
Birthing at home has so much to do with the actual labor part that after-birth can sometimes be overlooked.
But many tell you there's nothing more special than being able to spend the night in your very own bed on the day you give birth.
"Having my then 2 1/2-year-old run in when she heard her sister cry and kiss her on the head." -- Shanna
Several would also love to mention how great it is to eat a home-cooked meal just after a hard labor at home. And the scene after home births is gorgeous as happy families invite their children up onto the bed to meet the new addition.
"Being able to snuggle into my OWN bed with the baby right after she was born. And our son climbing into bed with us when he woke up the next morning to meet his new little sister." -- Alyson
Sometimes women looking into home birth, or a woman's partner, wonders who will be there to clean up the mess?
That's a great question. Cleaning up should be left to someone other than the mother and partner. In some cases the midwife will clean up, and other times it would be a good idea to hire a doula or a postpartum doula, or invite a family member or friend over to help.
When It Comes to Birth, There's No Place Like Home
For a mother birthing at home, memories of her birth-day are created in a familiar environment, from the smells and mood all the way down to the germs (which are better for baby than hospital germs).
Birthing at home isn't so much about not being at a hospital (although there are many reasons why women avoid hospitals for birth) as it's about being at home. The atmosphere during a home birth is one that the woman, her partner, and her birth team create, not the other way around.
At home, the experience of birthing can be wonderful.
"Our bodies know how to give birth. And we will give birth to our children how we see fit, with or without the help of experienced and trained professionals, in the comfort of our own homes." -- Katie
Are you considering a home birth?