Home birthers. Some people may view us as crazy, some may consider us brave, but the truth is we're moms just like you wanting the best for our child and seeking a positive experience on one of the most important days of our lives. Personally, after having two hospital births where I was induced near my due date, used an epidural among other pain relievers, and resulted in having an episiotomy with a hard recovery, I strongly felt a desire for a change before my third was even conceived. I wanted to do things differently, in a way that I could be empowered in my choices and with a provider who would support me in that. While my third birth was at a freestanding birth center which was a similar atmosphere to home birth, I did choose a homebirth for my fourth birth as well as my fifth (although we decided to use the birth center again at last minute). The result was a vastly different experience full of peace and beauty. I asked a few other home-birthing moms why they chose home birth as well, and collectively I've listed the top reasons why we did so.
I wanted use a midwife
After using an OB GYN for my first two births, I wanted a different approach to pregnancy and birth. I decided to seek out the care of a certified professional midwife who would practice evidence-based care instead of patient-centered care. Certified nurse midwives are options as well and may practice in a hospital, birth center, or at home depending on your state. My hospital births weren’t horrible, but I found myself wanting to be involved in my choices and be an active participant in my birth instead of waiting around for what the doctor told me to do next. I also really wanted the deep, personal relationship that comes with having one provider the entire pregnancy. She was who I talked to with any issues I had in between visits and was present for the entire birth as well as postnatal visits. My midwife became a close friend over the years of our time together. I mean, how cool is it that even a year after having my last baby I’m still getting to text her updates?
I'm in the comfort of my own home
This became a big deal to me when I sought out a natural birth knowing I would have to work through contractions this time around. It’s hard to fully relax in a sterile, cold-floored environment. I craved the comforts of my surroundings, having my own pillow, my kitchen counters to lean on and sway between food bites, and familiar view from my window. So peaceful.
It may cost less
Did you know a home birth including all pre- and postnatal care and supplies on average costs around $3,000 total? A hospital birth can range on average from $9,000 to $24,000 for the hospital portion alone, depending on the hospital, state, interventions used, and type of birth. The prenatal care alone can cost around $2,000 for an OB GYN. While insurance does cover much of that, home birth still can end up cheaper overall. Though often insurance doesn’t cover a home birth and will be paid out of your pocket upfront, it is possible to get insurance to reimburse you after birth. Many times I have been reimbursed 80 percent just as if it had been covered. Cha-ching!
Wear whatever I want
I don’t know about you, but I’m not a fan of the hospital gowns. The frumpy size swallows my 4 foot 11 frame, they typically have horrid flowers on them, and do nothing to make a new mom feel pretty on one of the most important days of her life in all the pictures taken. And, let’s not forget the complete lack of modesty with the opening in the back. Sure, there are some cute options you can purchase as an alternate, but I love that at home I can wear a tankini and a skirt (or, um, nothing) and no one bats an eye.
The choice of who I want to be at the birth
One thing that really upset me during my last hospital birth was that I didn’t get to include everyone that I wanted there because of hospital policy. My stepmom had to wait outside and listen for the sound of wee-cries after birth. At home? No rules. You can have a viewing party of 20 if that’s your style, or let it be simply you, your spouse, and your midwife. I like having a choice. As touched on above, I also like that I know who will be at my birth provider wise, typically my main midwife and her assistant. There are no strange nurses going in and out of shifts throughout the day and night and no new faces at my woo-ha when I’m pushing my baby into the world. That’s comforting.
My own birth plan without fighting for it
Again, making empowered and informed choices are huge for us home birthing moms. Some things that are important to us:
- To be able to move during labor
- Intermediate fetal monitoring
- No IV
- To eat and drink during labor
- Trust in a woman’s body and process, therefore no interventions unless truly needed
- Pushing in any position Mom is comfortable in
- A waterbirth if desired (These are not usually offered in hospital setting.)
- Skin to skin and breastfeeding right away
- Delayed cord clamping
Some of these options can be available in the hospital, too, but many times a doula or your spouse is needed to be your advocate.
I can go to straight to my bed
Right along with being able to labor and birth in my own environment, I can step out of my birthing tub and right into my bed after birth... and stay there! My midwife advises 2 weeks of bedrest after birth if possible for both physical healing, to prevent uterus prolapse, as well as emotional and mental health. In my bed I can get undisturbed rest (well, except between precious feedings) and begin my baby moon right away. And, what’s super cool is my midwife comes to me for the newborn screenings and to check on me days after delivery.
VBAC opportunity (vaginal birth after C-section)
One area I don’t have personal experience in myself, but is a common reason why a woman seeks a home birth, is a VBAC. Not every hospital or provider allows a VBAC, or there aren’t any close enough to safely drive to while in labor. Moms are wanting a provider who trusts their body and the process of labor for what it is. Liana R. says, “I chose home birth because, as a mother many times over (#8 on the way) and a midwife, I know it is, by far, the safest option for me and my babies.” Jennifer R. is preparing for a VBAC at home, “Initially, I was headed for a hospital VBAC but was told that once I reach the hospital, I'm under their rules and that I'd be essentially strapped to the bed for continuous monitoring (which we all know how that may end!). I wanted the ability to birth the way I wanted and not have people tell me what position I needed to be in or felt like I was under a clock like I would be in the hospital. I wanted to be able to welcome this baby in an environment where I’m comfortable.”
Some people know they labor quickly from previous experiences and wouldn't make it to the hospital otherwise. Being prepared for a birth at home especially makes sense in these cases.
Traumatic experiences prior and looking for emotional healing
This was the most common answer I received from other home birthing moms, that they had a traumatic experience with a previous hospital birth and wanted to seek a different option in subsequent pregnancies. Many moms felt forced, scared, and even abused into unnecessary interventions. Danielle R. shared her experience, “I chose home birth after a less than ideal non-medically needed induction resulted in a freak reaction to the sutures used for my episiotomy and a ten-month long recovery. I just couldn’t emotionally experience that again.” For Laura F. choosing a home birth was one of the best decisions in her life. “It was a beautiful healing experience after my first delivery. I was on a high for months after he was born!”
These points aren’t to say home birth is for everyone — it isn’t. If you are considered high risk certainly a hospital birth may be ideal. However, for normal pregnancies and low-risk mommas it is becoming an increasingly popular option. It isn’t just about the physical act for us home birthers, it is so much more. It is empowerment in our choices, providing a peaceful environment for both mom and the new life emerging. Can a positive experience be obtained in a hospital? It sure can! Only you can decide what your desires are and what is best for your situation.