My Home Birth Experience – Sarah
“So which hospital are you giving birth?”
“None….I’m actually planning a home birth.”
Awkward silence including crickets ensues.
Since I felt that this quote by Jim Gaffigan must be whirling around in their heads: “Oh we were going to have a home birth but we wanted our baby to live”, I always filled these silences with as much information as I could about the positives of home birth.
Of course there are preconceived notions about home birth. Take a moment to examine the society that we’ve been raised in. Almost every woman we know has given birth in a hospital and it’s also the only imagery we see in TV and movies. Yet most people don’t realize that home birth is a safe and viable option.
The decision to have a home birth wasn’t one that I took lightly. Originally I wanted to go to a birthing center but the only one near me closed about a year before I was pregnant. I just didn’t like the idea of going to a hospital because of the mix of needs that are handled there (“That germ infested place where sick people go?” -Jim Gaffigan). So I started looking into home birth options. I learned that for a normal, healthy pregnancy, having your baby at home with a licensed midwife is just as safe as a hospital birth. Plus, a little perk for all my hard work was a good nights rest in my own bed, along with a vegan-friendly midnight snack from my kitchen!
My husband and I found the most wonderful midwife who became like family to us. We met with her monthly at her home for the first two trimesters, then every other week, and finally weekly for the last month until the birth of our son. She was able to do the blood tests, glucose tests, and baby check-ups right there. I felt listened to. My midwife cared more about our questions than questioning our decisions, which often went against mainstream opinions. She even made extra work for herself by using the old-fashioned fetal stethoscope to listen to the baby’s heartbeat.
As the date approached we talked about what we could expect in labor and birth. I decided to take advantage of the birth tub that our midwife provided which she called the “natural epidural”. I also decided that I only wanted my husband, our midwife, and her assistant there for the birth.
My water ended up breaking in the middle of the night. It was go-time! Under normal hospital birth circumstances, you’d be expected to come into the hospital right after your water broke, however, I got to spend the last day pre-baby at home relaxing and getting ready for their arrival (ahem watching Netflix), not to mention starting maternity leave earlier than planned!
Within 24 hours after my water breaking, I was in active labor. (My contractions actually started from laughing while watching a Jim Gaffigan special on Netflix. Have I mentioned him before?) My husband was timing my contractions and decided around 3 AM was time to call in our midwife. She came to our house, in the middle of a snow storm, and immediately went into action preparing for the birth of our baby. To be honest I don’t remember much after that. I seemed to go into some kind of a trance-like state (“labor-land”) which I’m sure was a coping mechanism for the pain. There are even some parts of my labor that I completely blacked-out and don’t remember at all. As I progressed further, I started to become more conscious again and was fully aware when my son entered the world.
Holding my newborn son in my arms while lying on my bed, in the comfort of my home, was a surreal experience. My midwife and her assistant got me good food to restore my energy (and not the hospital vegan option-salad), as well as prepared a natural healing tea for the peri bottle, and padsicles! My midwife came be back the next day, as well as multiple times throughout the rest of the six week recovery time to see how we were doing. She prepared all the birth documents, weights and measurements, and even was able to do my son’s footprints!
Throughout my pregnancy I was asked “but what if something goes wrong?” Our midwife and assistant are both fully licensed midwives in our state and are highly trained in these situations. If something did go wrong that they were not able to get under control, then we’d transfer by car or call an ambulance, just like in any other emergency situation.
It’s been almost a year since my son entered this world and looking back I am so happy with the decision I made to have a midwife and a home birth. I was blessed with a very healthy baby boy after a very healthy pregnancy, which I attribute to my vegan lifestyle. My midwife was patient and let me try many different positions to see what worked best instead of just flat on my back. She never questioned the decisions I made before the birth. She was a beacon of support and both my husband and I could not have done it without her.
I fully understand that home birth may not be for every one. But for the others, I hope my experience as at least shown that there are other options available and to do what feels most comfortable to you.
Tags: Baby, Birth, birthing center, home birth, homebirth, hospital, hospital birth, Midwife, natural nirth, water birth