5 Reasons Why I Chose Home Birth
I thought it would be fun to write a little series entitled "5 Reasons Why" explaining decisions I've made that are little off the beaten path. What better topic to start with than home birth. It was the first decision I made that resulted in a cascade of other decisions that just took me further and further "out there," as so many of my family and friends surely consider me! You can also read my home birth stories here and here.
There are many, many awesome reasons why women choose to birth at home. I actually have way more than 5 reasons, but to keep it from turning into a novel, I'm going to share with you my top 5 reasons for why I personally chose home birth. Here we go:
1. I wanted the midwifery model of care. -- I've always disliked the coldness of doctor's offices; the long waiting times, the sitting in the room half dressed and waiting forever for the doctor to finally make an appearance, the quick visit that never allows me to get all my questions asked because my provider has one hand on the door ready to leave. I just don't fit in there.
“To be pregnant is to be vitally alive, thoroughly woman, and undoubtedly inhabited.” ~Anne Buchanan
I needed more than that when I was pregnant. Pregnancy is such a magical time as well as an emotional roller coaster, and I wanted a provider who knew me and my baby. Visits with my midwife were like visiting a best friend; completely laid back and comfortable. I sat on a sofa in her office and she'd let me talk for an entire hour if I needed to, and she'd never let me leave without giving me a hug. She always wanted to know how I was doing emotionally as well as physically. She let me make the decisions when it came to my health care and she was always there to reassure me along the way. She believed in me and my body and constantly reminded me of that. I tear up when I think of just how special my midwife is to me.
2. I wanted to avoid interventions. -- Interventions are a common occurrence in the majority of hospital births. From the moment you walk in, most laboring women are hooked up to fetal monitoring systems and IV's. They are restricted from the beginning, which leads to more interventions down the line. With each intervention, birth gets less and less safe.
"Treating normal labors as though they were complicated can become a self-fulfilling prophecy." Rooks
"There is power that comes to women when they give birth. They don’t ask for it, it simply invades them. Accumulates like clouds on the horizon and passes through, carrying the child with it." Sheryl Feldman
I wanted to be able to move about freely and without constriction. I knew from research that mothers instinctively move in ways that bring their babies down. I didn't want any drug in my system that would speed up contractions or numb the pain because I knew these drugs would come with risks. I know it's possible to have a natural birth in a hospital, but I didn't just want "natural" as in "no epidural"; I wanted natural as in I allow my body to take over and birth my baby without anything hooked up to me or anyone telling me where or how I had to give birth. My body didn't need help.
3. I wanted to experience birth. -- From my first OB appointment (and only one), I felt under the impression that my pregnancy was being treated like a condition and was going to need to be "overseen" by people who knew more about it than me. I sensed it's how my birth would also go. I envisioned that I'd go into the hospital when I was in labor, hand myself over and let them call all the shots while having my eyes closed and hoping for the best. That's not an experience that I would recall fondly for the rest of my life.
In medicalizing childbirth and removing it from the home, in separating it from the family, our culture has made birth, like death, a fearful ordeal that can be dealt with only by trained experts, that is no longer part of our shared lives, and is out of woman's control.- Sheila Kitzinger
”When a woman births without drugs…she learns that she is strong and powerful…She learns to trust herself, even in the face of powerful authority figures. Once she realizes her own strength and power, she will have a different attitude for the rest of her life, about pain, illness, disease, fatigue, and difficult situations.” –Polly Perez
I wanted to follow my body's lead. I wanted to feel my contractions so I would know where I was at. I knew I could do it and it was extremely important to me that no one take that right from me.
4. I wanted to birth my baby safely. -- Like the interventions that can happen during labor, there are interventions that can happen while the baby is being born. Vacuum suctioning and the use of forceps are more common in hospital births than in home births. They rarely happen during home births due to the fact that mothers are usually epidural-free and can easily move around on their own as opposed to being bed-ridden (which causes more work for mom and baby and can lead to exhaustion and dropping heart rates), and mothers birthing at home are much more likely to be in birthing positions that utilize the force of gravity and help bring the baby down.
5. I wanted my baby to have a peaceful beginning. -- What I loved about my home births was that I was handed my babies immediately after they were born. While holding my baby, the midwife was able to check their heart tones and clear anything out of the nose and mouth without having to take them from me. And then Luis and I were left alone for a little while to just be with our baby and bond as a new family. Later, my midwife came back in and gently performed the newborn screen and measurements. Babies don't have to scream through those. Babies can be calm, warm, and possess a feeling of security because they know where their mother is and are being handled gently.
Home birth, from the beginning of pregnancy to the day the baby was born, was a very peaceful and respectful experience for me. I loved having my midwife as my guide while maintaining the experience as my own.
If you would like more information on home birth, I would recommend starting with the following resources:
And if you live in the Phoenix area and are in search of an amazing midwife, I highly recommend LifeSpring Midwifery.
“Childbirth is an experience in a woman’s life that holds the power to transform her forever. Passing through these powerful gates -- in her own way -- remembering all the generations of women who walk with her… She is never alone.” —Suzanne Arms