Home birth is not for everyone. And yet, many women who choose to home birth do so many times. They love their experiences and they feel empowered and strengthened by it. And some do not. All births are sacred. What is important is that you know your options and make decisions that are right for you.
However, I also believe that most women don’t get enough information about home birth to know if it is a good option for them or not. In the United States, only about 1% of women choose home birth. I am one of them. I had my first birth via c-section in the hospital and my second birth in a labor tub in my bedroom.
Since then, I’ve become a doula and have spent a lot of time talking to all kinds of women about their home birth and hospital birth experiences.
Home birth is kinda like buying a red car. Before you do it, you don’t really notice all the other red cars on the road. But once you buy yours, you notice them all. They are everywhere. That is what home birth was like for me. When I first started exploring the idea, I felt like a lone woman, the only person I’d ever known to make that decision. And now, as a doula and labor tub provider, home births are a daily part of my life. They happen every day, all around the world.
Here Are 5 Things You Should Know About Home Birth
1. Home Births Are Incredibly Intimate And Have A Completely Different Feel Than Hospital Births.
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One mom I interviewed said this “I feel totally spoiled by my home births. You have no idea how much better birth can be when you’ve only been in the hospital.” What are some of the things she loved about being at home? Not being interrupted after her baby was born. Being monitored, but not intrusively. Being surrounded by people that believed in birth and believed in her. Being able to labor and birth in water. And being able to immediately bond with her baby and delay all the weighing and measuring until after they had time to be together.
2. Midwives Are Trained For Emergencies.
Most people don’t understand how equipped midwives are to handle emergencies at birth. The number one fear most people have around home birth is what if there is an emergency? Fortunately, quality home birth studies repeatedly show that births supported by a trained midwife have comparable or even better outcomes than hospital births.
In fact, the midwives in the pacific northwest where I live have won many awards for improving birth and even OBs get behind midwives and home birth and say they believe it is a good decision for the right women.
Home Birth Safety Studies
I want to share this study, published in the Lancet in 2019 with you:
“More women in well-resourced countries are choosing birth at home, but concerns have persisted about their safety,” said Eileen Hutton, professor emeritus of obstetrics and gynecology at McMaster, founding director of the McMaster Midwifery Research Centre and first author of the paper. “This research clearly demonstrates the risk is no different when the birth is intended to be at home or in hospital.”
This study was the FIRST systematic review to actually use published, peer-reviewed studies for its research. It compared 21 studies, from several countries and outcomes of over 500,000 intended home births compared to a similar number of hospital births intended to occur in the hospital. It is the most thorough and eye-opening study on home birth to date.
Another 2019 study of 11 Pacific Northwest Hospitals found that women who had a midwife attend their birth had fewer complications and 30% fewer c-sections!
Most midwives are prepared for complications such as hemorrhage, cord around the baby’s neck. They know how to resuscitate a baby and have tools to handle stuck shoulders. Of course, all birth does carry risk, both in the hospital and at home. Ask your midwife how she handles complications. This will help you feel safe where you are birthing.
Midwives carry pitocin, can stitch tears and are truly prepared to handle birth. They also know how to monitor you. The know what complications to watch for that would show that you might be safer at a hospital.
Most of the time, transfers are not emergency crisis situations because the midwife has been appropriately monitoring the birthing person and recommends that she goes to the hospital far before an emergency happens if something doesn’t appear right.
3. Home Birth And Hospital Births Are Challenging In Their Own Way.
Often when I am working with hospital birth moms, I hear them say after, “that was harder than I thought” or “I didn’t expect to feel so much with an epidural.” The truth is that birth is hard work. There is no escaping that. This is true for a home birth, hospital birth, births with epidurals and c-sections. Every birth has it’s own unique challenges and rewards.
However, one of the big differences between home birth and hospital birth is that moms who are planning for home birth know in advance that they need to prepare to do hard things. In learning, preparing and gaining confidence, they often feel that the pain of labor feels like hard work and they mentally stay out of the space of suffering. It’s important to know that any birth you are having will challenge you and prepare to work through and cope with the pain that you have to get through either way.
I highly recommend that ALL moms prepare for childbirth with a high-quality birth education class such as this one by Mama Natural.
4. Finding A Home Birth Midwife Isn’t As Hard As You Think.
If you would like to meet with a home birth midwife, you can find one in your area by looking fora local home birth Facebook group and asking for recommendations or by searching the Mothers Naturally midwife database here.
5. Midwives Often Work With Insurance.
Here is some good news. midwives can see you for your complete prenatal and postnatal care. This means you get to develop an intimate relationship with them over time. All of this will be billed through your insurance.
Depending on the specifics of your birth and your specific insurance plan, the actual birth of your baby may or may not be covered. (Even if it is not covered, you can use HSA to pay for it.)
If you do end up paying for your birth out of pocket, it will usually cost between $2,000-$3,000. Since I was doing a VBAC (vaginal birth after a cesarian) for my home birth, it was not covered by insurance and I paid $2500 for my midwife and $1000 for my doula. Which was still less than my $5,000 out of pocket deductible we would have had to pay at the hospital.
If you want to hear more about my home birth check out my interview on the Happy Homebirth podcast and read the 5 reasons I chose a home birth.
Home Birth From A Dad’s Perspective
I asked my husband how our hospital birth experience compared to our homebirth experience. He said that for him it was more comfortable and less stressful. He really liked being able to sleep in our own bed after as well.
In the end, he said the biggest thing was that is was easier for me and therefore easier for him. If we have another baby, we will definitely be doing another home birth.
I also wanted to share this video of a dad and therapist sharing his thoughts about handling birth anxiety during Covid.
Putting Home Birth In Perspective
Before I experienced home birth myself, I always had the impression that it was dangerous scary and irresponsible. However, after spending time researching and after actually experiencing it, I know that those are not facts at all. In truth, home birth can be a very smart decision for some moms.
If you want to birth without an epidural
or If you want to avoid being in a hopsital
or if you like the comfort of your own home
or if you want to birth as undisturbed as possible
Home birth might be the perfect option for you. Tell me, have you ever considered home birth?