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The Beauty of HOMEBIRTH: Including some great resources!

April 15, 2011

My youngest turns 1 next month, and the month after that, we move out of the only home my children have ever known, the home into which they were so miraculously born in our very bedroom… such precious moments in such a precious space,  soon to be more than 1700 miles away… As I reflect on my experiences birthing my two boys, I feel compelled to share with you all my preferred way to welcome a baby into the world, and it doesn’t include a hospital or an obstetrician…*gasp*

Let me first say that when Yeadon and I first talked about getting pregnant he said to me, “no child of mine is going to be born in a hospital unless it’s medically necessary!” I was completely taken aback and responded, “but isn’t that where babies are born, in hospitals?” Turns out Yeadon and his 3 siblings were all born at home, not at a hospital… So I told him I’d “investigate this crazy idea of his” and lo and behold, I completely loved what I found!

Both of our boys were born at home in our bedroom, the first, on the bed; and the second, in a birth pool! Both were wonderfully empowering experiences and beautiful, peaceful first moments and hours with our new baby. I’d post the beautifully videoed and edited home waterbirth video of our second-born here for the world to see, but my dad freaks out a bit at making such an intimate moment so public, so I’ll stick to sending you the link if you wish to see it…(seriously, you can’t really see anything private… the lower half of my body is underwater, and I’m wearing a sports bra! hahaha! it’s 6 minutes long and it’s video, not a just photo slide show! In case you’re interested in waterbirth, out-of-hospital birth… etc…let me know and I’ll be happy to send you the link)

If you want to know more about why I make such non-conventional choices in birthing my babies, or if you are weighing your options for your own future births…I’ll share some of my thoughts and advice…

Why I am comfortable risk-wise with being under the care of a midwife and giving birth outside a hospital:

Midwives offer all the same standard tests and prenatal monitoring that an OB offers. I have prenatal appts on the same schedule I would with an OB. There are all kinds of state guidelines as to the condition a mother and unborn child to be eligible for an out-of-hospital, midwife-attended birth.  If the client/mother develops any signs of a govt-defined high-risk pregnancy, the mother must be referred to an OB.  During labor, mother and child are carefully monitored and if anything happens outside certain safety parameters, or time deadlines, the midwife must transfer the mother’s care to a hospital/OB.  Licensed midwives are also trained in emergency procedures including CPR, neo-natal resuscitation, suturing, and pharmacology to deal with hemorrhages etc.  I feel like they are very competent and well-trained to monitor and make sure everything is progressing safely and to take action if needed.

I believe that pregnancy/childbirth is a process for which God designed our bodies, and is not in itself a state of sickness or emergency.  At the same time, I also understand that it is a sacred responsibility and it does place women at an increased risk for health problems/complications during pregnancy and birth.  I am grateful to have a healthcare provider who is trained to both teach me how to be responsible with my health and nutrition while pregnant, giving birth, and postpartum and also to monitor and recognize if a complication comes up so my care can be transferred to someone else.

Bottom line:  I am comfortable being in the care of a licensed midwife and having a birth outside the hospital as long as everything proceeding safely and normally.  Should any complications arise or during pregnancy or labor, I am grateful to have OB’s nearby and be 5 minutes away from the hospital.

Why I PREFER and love my midwife care and homebirth instead of an OB and hospital birth:

I totally love the midwives model of care…The Midwives Model of Care includes:

  • Monitoring the physical, psychological, and social well-being of the mother throughout the childbearing cycle
  • Providing the mother with individualized education, counseling, and prenatal care, continuous hands-on assistance during labor and delivery, and postpartum support
  • Minimizing technological interventions
  • Identifying and referring women who require obstetrical attention

At any rate, I feel so much more comfortable giving birth on my own turf, with someone I trust (this brings up the issue that if your OB is not on call, then whatever OB in their practice is on call will deliver you, not the OB you’ve been seeing for forever, which totally defeats the point of getting to know and trust your OB).  I would feel so out-of-place and pushed around in a typical hospital… now there are SOME hospitals that are starting to be drug-free childbirth friendly, and are actually listening to moms’ requests for birth plans and whatnot, but not many…

I love having my midwife come to my house for prenatal appts instead of having to go sit for an hour in a waiting room and then spend only 5 minutes with an OB. I love not having to drive anywhere in labor.  I love walking around my house during labor, only allowing people in with me that I am comfortable having in with me… I love not having nurses and techs coming in and out of my postpartum room at the hospital wanting to wake me and baby to do tests all day and night after I’ve just labored so long and hard!  I love not having to drive anywhere in the couple of days after delivery. I love curling up in my own bed with my baby and my hubby on our first night together as a family…

The only way I would choose birth center over homebirth would be if my home were too far from a hospital and a birth center was closer to the hospital… As it is now, I am 5-10 minutes from 3 different hospitals, so that makes life easy… If I were more than 20 mins from a hospital I would probably choose a birth center (if it were closer to the hospital than I was).

Out of Hospital Birth Center vs Homebirth:

A couple of thoughts and reasons why, if it were me, I’d choose homebirth over a birth center. At lots of centers, you are not cared for by 1 midwife throughout and then have her present at your birth, you are often cared for by different people throughout and then whoever is on call when you go into labor.  I prefer to build a personal relationship with 1 midwife throughout my prenatal care and have her present at my birth (she has a backup i meet beforehand in case there’s an emergency, but basically, if she accepts me as a client she commits to being at my birth.)  I also prefer to have prenatal appointments at my house rather than have to go somewhere and sit in a waiting room… And one last note: many birth center tubs look nice, but I really prefer a deeper pool (deeper water provides more support and relief) with a cushioned bottom (much easier on the knees if kneeling and much more comfortable to lean on).

My advice:  Look into both options.  Go to a birth center and meet the people.  Then, look into homebirth midwives in your area, ask about prenatal care (they come to you or you go to them?) and back-ups and stuff.  Talk to them about your questions about out-of-hospital birth… Then, after your research, make your decision based on what you visualize as being ideal and on which care provider you best connect with.

Only make $$$ an issue if it HAS to be an issue. I have found that, with birth, I don’t want to skimp.  If I can pay for it and it’s something that will help me, I do it.  I didn’t buy a quality birth pool the first time around because I didn’t want to go crazy spending $$$, but MAN it made such a huge difference when I “splurged” this time and got one.  There is a birthing center here where you can do prenatals, delivery, postpartum for under $1000, but I chose to pay $2400 out-of-pocket so I could birth on MY turf and have a personal relationship with midwife I love who comes to me for appts and who commits to be at my birth.  My philosophy is that if there’s anything in this world worth spending big bucks on, it’s the experience of bringing a child into the world!  Also I get regular massages and chiropractic adjustments during the last trimester!

Also just do a google search and read some homebirth and birth center birth stories… and I bet you will feel inspired!  I loved reading birth stories, especially the first time, cause I had no idea exactly what to expect labor and delivery to be like…

Websites:

Supplies:

http://www.yourwaterbirth.com/

I HIGHLY recommend the Birth Pool in a Box! It is AWESOME and waaaaay better than the $30 pool I used for my first birth.  I used it this time around and it was wonderful, so nice and deep, has handles to help you move around and also an inflated seat on one end…

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