Sunday, October 28, 2012

Why and How I Chose a Home Birth

I initially looked into home birth because I just plain hated being in the hospital with my first baby. The hospital birth itself was not terrible, but the 2 days of recovery were miserable: constantly being disturbed to have my vitals taken, trying in vain to sleep in an uncomfortable bed, and having all sorts of people walk into my room at any given time [you think it's just going to be doctors and nurses, but there are the people who deliver your food, administrators having you sign forms for the birth certificate, volunteers offering to refill your water (which is nice, but please just let me sleep)]. I was extremely anxious those first couple of days (which I'm sure was partly due to hormones) but being in an uncomfortable environment certainly didn't help. I also knew that having a baby at home would guarantee I'd be successful at having a natural birth! I panicked near the end and got the epidural last time, but later wished I had held out because I ended up with a really painful tear that took 6 months to heal as well as back pain at the injection site for weeks.

Now that I've had a homebirth, there are so many reasons I could add for wanting to do it this way again. 

It was just unbelievably peaceful

I never got that shaky, anxious feeling I had so badly during and after Libby's birth. 

I didn't have to endure a car ride to the hospital (sitting is absolutely the most uncomfortable position for me during contractions).

I felt super comfortable with my midwife.

I loved that the baby was never taken out of my arms. 

I had total control over what procedures were done to the baby (I declined the goopy eye medicine and the Heb B vaccine since both are for STDs and aren't necessary for our situation; I got to nurse the baby while she got her vitamin K shot since nursing dulls pain; she didn't get a bath because that would make her cold and wash away the naturally moisturizing vernix that protects her skin).

I didn't have to worry about Jared leaving me at night to go home to Libby; it was wonderful to all be together as a family.
Choosing to have a baby at home was not an overnight decision. I did a LOT of reading and research about home birth, natural birth, and birth in general. I read the classic "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth" by Ina May Gaskin, as well as her handbook for midwives, "Spiritual Midwifery" (which is really hippy and didn't offer much more than "Guide to Chidlbirth" did). I also found this website useful, especially the Research page (which has no direct link, just click on the Research tab on the left of the home page) and the What If page.  

Then there was the issue of finding out if it was even possible where I live. Illinois is not friendly to midwives and home births. There was a news story in 2010 about a couple in Illinois who had their baby at home, with a midwife, but later took the baby to the hospital when she was very fussy and found out that she had some temporary nerve damage in her arms from her positioning during the birth. The hospital called CPS, who took the baby out of the home for FIVE MONTHS, accusing the parents of medical neglect for choosing to birth the baby at home. 

Outside of Chicago, there are only a handful of midwives who will attend home births. I couldn't seem to find anyone in my area until I contacted a doula who lives nearby and she gave me the contact info for Bernice. I contacted Bernice and she said she wasn't really accepting more moms because she was already near her max with all the "return business" she gets. But, since I lived so close to her (20 minutes), she was willing to take me on because it was so convenient (she sees women in a 1.5 hour radius from her house). It was amazing how everything fell into place. Once I started seeing Bernice, and especially once I started my Hypnobabies course, home birth began to feel so natural to me, it was hard to imagine doing it any other way.

And can I just share one awesome thing that my midwife did? She gave me a handout she wrote called "Preparing for Labor" with advice about relaxation and Bible verses about strength and trust. Where would you ever find a doctor that would give you that gift? It was awesome and I studied those verses quite a bit the last few weeks. One of my favorite things she said was this:

"Know that the pain [in labor] is for a good purpose, and that you will be given the strength to deal with it and the means to keep it manageable. In the long run, you may look back and discover that pain in labor, like other difficult life experiences, may bring gifts besides the baby; gifts such as greater levels of faith, strength, trust, yielding, compassion, understanding, thankfulness, maturity, humility and self-respect."  

And in case you missed it, here is Piper's birth story


  1. I honestly hadn't given much thought about my upcoming delivery until I've recently read what you've had to say about a home birth. The positives you've listed do sound great. I'm glad you chose a delivery option that made you happy and gave you a better experience. Is it weird that I actually enjoyed my time in the hospital? Minus the bed... I think I got zero sleep, so uncomfortable! I'm a little unsure of how this delivery will go. I hope I have a great experience again, but it's at a different hospital, with a different doctor, both of which I didn't know much about. I guess we'll find out in under 2 months. :)

  2. I'm sorry you had such a bad tear with Libby! EEEEEEK. Six months is a long time to heal from anything, let alone that.

    For this recovery, I felt like the worst part was the bruise from my epidural. (I had no tearing this time, which is awesome.) My back was sore for a few days, and I definitely complained about that more than anything else besides the contractions while nursing (and while not nursing).

    I am totally with you on not really enjoying the hospital experience. Despite the uncomfortable bed, I did get an okay amount of rest, but I really was just anxious to go home. My doctor cleared me to go home the day after my delivery, but Felix's doctor recommended we stay because he had such a rough start. Maybe next time I can get out of there faster.

  3. I don't think I would choose to give birth at home, but thanks for the info. These things are good to know. Btw, was it your choice to give your baby a vitamin k shot?

    1. Yes, it my choice to give my baby a vitamin k shot. My midwife gave me some information on the shot as well as its alternatives (there are oral drops, too) and I did a lot of reading and research on my own. I was given the time and autonomy to choose for myself.