I remember the first time I was pregnant. I was 24, and while the idea of having an infant wasn't worrying to me, the idea of labor and delivery was fairly terrifying. The unknown was definitely looming large! When I finally went into labor, I remember being out in my neighborhood, walking the blocks because I didn't know what else to do. Anyone relate? If you're expecting your first baby, I'm willing to bet you know exactly what I am talking about.
Over the last 12 years, I've had 4 babies. I had two at home, one in a hospital, and one in a birthing center. I have experiences many different aspects and styles of giving birth. In this series, I am going to break down each experience, the pros and cons of each, and answer questions from moms like you about each.
Why Home Birth?
My first 2 babies were born at home. When I found out I was pregnant, I did some research to try to figure out what my options were. Since it was my first, I had ideas about what I wanted, but they were all theories. I thought I wanted a drug-free birth, in water, with the freedom to move around and do whatever felt comfortable for me.
I'm an introvert, and that definitely factored into my decision. I knew I didn't want a lot of people coming in and out while I was in labor or giving birth. I knew I wouldn't be able to control that at the hospital.
As it turned out, my first baby girl was delivered without pain meds, in a birthing pool set up in my living room... after 42 LONG hours of labor.
I am so glad I had her at home. During those 42 hours, I walked (inside and out), ate what I wanted, drank juice and water, showered, took a bath, watched TV... basically anything I wanted to do. I had periodic heartbeat checks (intermittent monitoring) and 2-3 cervix checks, but only when I requested them. The freedom of being at home was amazing.
And Here Comes Baby
I am so very glad I had a trained midwife there.
My baby girl was born with a complete throat blockage from thick mucus. The midwife was prepared for all types of emergencies, and quickly suctioned her throat with a tiny tube. She was without oxygen for less than a minute, though for me it was a very long minute!
As a result, I never recommend a home birth without a highly trained, well equipped midwife. We wouldn't have been able to clear the blockage without her specialized equipment. Even though home birth emergencies are rare, you need to have a trained professional available to assess the situation and decide if you need to transfer to a hospital.
I do recommend home birth! Overall, I loved my home birth experiences. I'd do it again if the right midwife was available.
Pros of Home Birth
- Freedom to move, eat, blast the music... anything that feels good or makes labor easier is an option.
- No transfers from one room to another
- No constant interruptions and checks all night long
- Sleeping in your own bed
- No exposure to viruses and bugs that may be floating around the hospital
Cons of Home Birth
- No access to pain relief (epidurals, etc.).
- Possibility of rushing to hospital if a rare emergency develops
- You will have to visit a pediatrician within 48 hours (in most states) for newborn screenings.