Photo by cafemama
Tracy holding her firstborn, Spencer
Where and how a mama chooses to give birth is a highly personal decision, and I love hearing from women about how they made the choices they did.
I spoke to Tracy (cafemama) recently about the birth she's planning for baby #2. She surprised even herself by opting for a home birth. Here's how she arrived at her decision.
Tell me about yourself. Where do you live and how old is your first child?
We live in Brooklyn, New York, and my son Spence is 2 1/2.
When are you due? And do you know what you're expecting?
I'm due on June 10 and expecting another boy.
Making the Choice
So, you've decided on a home birth -- how did you make the decision? Was it always your plan for your second birth?
It definitely wasn't my plan from the start. In fact, it wasn't something I was even considering. I saw an OB-Gyn for my first trimester and planned to have this baby at the same hospital as my first.
My husband's philosophy was that things had gone well the first time, let's try to do everything exactly the same way. I agreed with him until I started to really think back to my first experience and there were some details I didn't want to repeat. I decided to start to explore other options and ended up deciding a home birth was the best option.
What was your first birth experience like? Was choosing a home birth a way to ensure you didn't repeat it?
I really can't complain. My labor from start to finish was 12 hours, which isn't bad for a first time labor. I labored at home with my husband and a doula for 8 hours before going to the hospital. I wanted to stay home as long as possible and managed to do that. I had a drug-free delivery at the hospital with no complications.
BUT, there were 2 things that really bothered me about the whole experience and that I decided I wanted to try to avoid the second time:
1. The drive to the hospital -- The problem with laboring at home for so long is that you have to drive to the hospital while having strong contractions. The car ride was really a nightmare for me -- I was having contractions every three minutes and in back labor. We had to drive from Brooklyn to Manhattan (which isn't the most relaxing drive even when you're not in labor). And to top things off, we got a flat tire. Like I said -- total nightmare -- and I'm scared to do it again.
2. Interference by the hospital staff -- I was in pain from the contractions, but I felt like I was doing OK managing them by using different positions, water pressure, and breathing. At the hospital, I found myself having to beg not to be strapped down to the bed, hooked up to the fetal monitor. I couldn't manage my pain from the bed and needed freedom of movement. Yet, the intern who was giving orders wanted me hooked up to the monitor in bed.
I had spoken to my doctor about intermittent monitoring, but my doctor wasn't there (and never came), so I found myself dealing with an unknown doctor who wasn't open to my birth plan. I feel like I spent a lot of energy advocating for my rights at a time when I should have been focused on my labor.
What factors really made you say, OK, a home birth is the experience I want to have?
I spoke to my doula from my first labor and expressed my concerns about the second birth and asked her for any suggestions. She told me I was a perfect candidate for a home birth. At first I was skeptical. I thought only a certain kind of person did home births and that I wasn't that kind of person. But, she made me consider the possibility.
I started reading and educating myself about home birth. (I'd recommend the documentary "The Business of Being Born" and the book Pushed: The Painful Truth about Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care. ) I found that my hospital experience wasn't uncommon and that home birth was a safe, alternative option.
Details of the Delivery
Who will you be delivering with, and how did you find the person?
I'm delivering with a midwife who only does home births. I found her through a local parenting website.
How does a home birth work with your insurance? Is anything out of pocket that would be included if you were delivering in a hospital?
My insurance is going to cover the home birth the same as it would a hospital birth. Since there are no in-network OB-Gyns or midwives who do home births in my area, they are treating my midwife as if she were in network. My only added expenses are buying a supply kit for the birth (around $50) and renting a birthing pool (which is optional).
Do you live in a house or an apartment? Will that setting affect your birth in any way (privacy, etc.), or present any special concerns?
We live in an apartment. I am a bit concerned about the noise and the neighbors hearing me. But, honestly, I think city dwellers are pretty used to hearing weird and wacky things coming from each others' apartments -- it's a part of city living.
Will anyone else be present besides you, your attendant, and your husband?
I'll also be using a doula -- the same one from my first labor.
Will you be filming it?
What Do the Hubbs and Mom Think?
How does your husband feel about the whole home birth thing? Was he for it, against it, "up to you, honey"?
At first he wasn't really on board, but agreed to do it if it's what I wanted. But, he's come around now that he's met the midwife and learned more about it.
What did your mom think?
She'd rather I had the baby in the hospital. She's worried about my safety and the baby's, which I can understand. But, I've done lots of research and wouldn't choose a birth plan that I felt put me or my baby in harm's way. At the end of the day, I know she grudgingly respects my decision and will support me.
Looking Forward to the Big Day
Are you nervous? What's your biggest concern?
I'm not nervous about the home birth in particular. My worries are ones I'd have no matter where I'm having the baby.
What will happen if there are complications?
If it's an emergency during labor or delivery, we'll head to the nearest hospital which is only five blocks away.
If a complication were to arise before I go into labor or early in my labor that would make us decide not to attempt the home birth, we'll head to a hospital farther away, but where my midwife has a relationship.
This is obviously not my first choice, but if it were to happen, I'd be 100% fine with it. I want a healthy baby and will listen to my midwife's advice on how we proceed.
I know you're really excited about your choice -- about what aspect of it are you most excited?
I'm looking forward to cuddling with my new extended family in my own bed just after the delivery.
To connect with other moms who are considering a home birth, or who have had one, check out these private groups:
Are you planning a home birth? What factors influenced your decision? If you've never considered one before, do you think you would?