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There is no perfect birthing method. Each woman needs a different method. That is why I asked some blogging friends to write on their favorite methods for the Ways to Have a Natural Childbirth series. Today’s featured blogger is Trisha of Making It Home Check out her post on why she prefers birth centers below
Becoming a mother changed me. The moment I birthed our first daughter, I was completely transformed – in all of the usual ways, of course, but in a whole lot of ways that I just wasn’t expecting. But birth is beautiful because it is unpredictable in the most wonderful of ways.
Birth is the climax of your pregnancy story, where everything you’ve worked hard for (and napped through!) comes to a head and you finally meet the new life you’ve been growing for many months.
Lots of women don’t even think twice about the how or where of their birth story – naturally, it will be at a hospital, possibly with an epidural to help endure the pain, and they’ll get their iconic photo of them leaving the hospital with a brand new baby in tow.
Now, I don’t have an issue with this. Hospital births are wonderful for many people, and I know lots of women who had a great experience.
Where I take issue is that the option of a birth outside of a hospital isn’t even discussed, and birth without information and choice is frightening.
Many women don’t even know that home birth is even a choice these days. Birthing my daughter has encouraged me to spread the word that we, as women, deserve to know that there are other ways and we have choices!
Natural Childbirth at Home
I assure you, this was not my original plan. Seriously. I literally chose to have a homebirth four days prior to my daughter’s arrival, but more on that later.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Home Birth
There’s more to having your baby at home than just not going to the hospital. When you choose a homebirth, there are a few things you should consider:
Is my home conducive to birthing?
Is your home clean, peaceful, well-kept?
Is there room for you, your partner, midwives, doulas, etc., to move around comfortably?
Am I comfortable in my home?
Or does the pile of dishes stress you out? (Get your husband on those dishes, stat! You’re busy building a baby.)
Are you able to be completely relaxed in your home?
Who will attend my birth?
Are you one of the extraordinarily brave women who wants an unassisted birth? Or would you prefer help from a doula, midwife, your partner, a friend or family member (or some combination thereof)?
Is my pregnancy progressing normally?
Generally, homebirths are considered safe for low-risk pregnancies with healthy women. If you are high-risk for any number of reasons, you may struggle to find a midwife or birth attendant who will support your choice, and can be dangerous to go this route if there is something amiss with you or baby.
How will I pay for a home birth?
Birth isn’t cheap, but birthing in the hospital affords you the convenience of health insurance helping to offset the costs of having a baby, and many insurance providers will not cover a homebirth or midwife.
Regardless, a homebirth may still be cheaper, but you have to cough up the money before you pop out the baby, generally speaking. Midwifery fees generally cover prenatal and a period of post-partum care, as well.
What will I do if something goes awry?
No, this isn’t pleasant to think about, but it’s something that you absolutely have to consider. Any midwife worth her salt will have a general back-up plan, but think about where your nearest hospitals are in off-chance that you will need to be transferred. Your midwife and doula should have this discussion with you so that everyone is prepared.
Benefits of Home Birth (or Why it Might be Right for You)
I loved my home birth. Loved it. And I’ll be planning one (actually planning it this time) for our next children, God-willing.
There are so many reasons to choose a home birth, so I’m only going to discuss a few:
This was the big one for me. I was free to move about my home as I needed to while laboring. I was free of gizmos and gadgets keeping me strapped to the bed so the monitors could beep.
I was free of the frustration that can come with someone “just checking up on you” every thirty minutes while you’re trying to labor in a hospital. I was free to listen to music, have the lights on or off, and to birth and labor in the way that was right for me.
There’s just not a lot of privacy when you’ve got nurses and doctors at your hoo-ha waiting for baby’s head to slip out. My midwives helped catch the WeeSheBeast, helped me birth my placenta, then left to get some laundry started and eat some snacks while the Husbeast and I enjoyed our first hour as a family together. It was magical.
It is much harder to cave in and get an epidural after 16 grueling hours of labor if there isn’t one available unless you torture yourself with a car ride. You’ll also find that you’re allowed to labor for longer and just do as your body does without threats of a clock running out.
Not everyone will experience an easier recovery after a home birth, but many do. I did. I showered quickly while the midwives were weighing the baby and filling out paperwork. I could walk and move and be normal rather immediately.
You’ll hear this from all sorts of natural, unmedicated childbirth mamas. Being able to push through the pain of contractions, to be aware and feel every sensation as your baby leaves the protection of your womb and enters this world, and to birth your child successfully, on your own, is incredible.
It is empowering in a way that I simply cannot describe. The respect I (and my husband!) have for myself and for my body is ten-thousand times what it was before I had our daughter. This is something every woman should have the opportunity to feel, because there’s just nothing else like it.
Preparing for a Home Birth
So, you’ve decided that you are definitely going to plan for a home birth. Great! Now you need to don your Boy Scout hat and get prepared.
If you choose to have a midwife attend your birth, she will likely have a list of items that she wants you to complete and/or gather in preparation for your birth, and a quick Google search can give you an idea of what you’ll need. Here’s some more to add to that:
Have a pain management strategy
Or two. Or four. Read as much as you can about pain management during labor so that you can call on whatever knowledge helps you in the moment. Make sure your partner or doula can help you with this, too. Some ideas to get you started include: the Bradley method (the one I used!), hypnobabies, the Alexander method, hypnosis, and water birth.
Have everything you need well in advance of your estimated due date
Learn from my fail here, folks. I sent my husband out after my water broke to finish getting everything on the list. This is not preferable.
Get some good snacks
Birth is hard work. In the hospital, they don’t allow you to eat while you are laboring, but midwives don’t often impose this restriction on their laboring mamas. Make sure you have some quick, easy snacks to help keep your energy and blood sugar up during and after labor. Think honey, granola bars, Gatorade, frozen popsicles, canned fruits in juice, toast, and anything else that gives you quick, easy to digest energy (read: sugar).
Have a pile of clean towels and sheets
Dark ones, people. Post-partum bleeding is the pits. They’re also good to warm you in between contractions when you’re cold.
Get a heating pad
These are excellent for some relief during labor. They’re also fabulous for warming up some towels or receiving blankets for your fancy new squish.
Have tea tree oil and witch hazel
I didn’t actually use these during the birth, but they were lifesavers post-partum. I added a few drops of tea tree oil and a tablespoon of witch hazel to my peri-bottle to help heal up tearing and make it hurt less to pee.
Pack your hospital bag
No, not because you plan to go there, but because it’s important to be prepared in case you or your baby needs to be transferred to the nearest hospital.
My Birth Story
I labored with my daughter for a whole week. I was in and out of doctors appointments and hospitals as my contractions worsened and lessened, and I dilated, slowly but surely. By the fourth day, I had dilated to 6.5cm and was finally admitted to the hospital with contractions about 5 minutes apart.
Unfortunately, I’m not what my girlfriend would call a “show-birther.” I don’t, and didn’t, do well with the constant in-and-out of the nurses and obstetrician at the hospital. My labor slowed, and eventually regressed. I left in the wee hours of the morning with no contractions and no outside-baby.
That evening, I met with a midwife. I was incredibly lucky – this woman was willing to consider taking a laboring woman on as a client, happened to have the time open in her calendar to take me as a client, and we got along famously. During our appointment with her, a cervical check revealed my labor had regressed to only 3cm dilated.
On the seventh day, my waters broke. My contractions increased in intensity and came faster and faster from that point on. After nearly 6 hours of labor, and 29 minutes of pushing, our beautiful daughter came into the world, straight into her father’s hands.
She’s almost one, now, and I still marvel at her every day. She is forever the reminder to me that I am strong, I can do it, and I did do it. I beat the odds, and I proved everyone who said labor would be too painful and I would cave to anesthesia wrong. I am SheBeast, hear me roar!
Trisha is just your average semi-crunchy, home birthing, cloth-diapering, money-saving, crafty and domestically-inclined mama and proud US Army wife. Trisha blogs about all kinds of things – from crafting and cooking to parenting, budgeting, and going “green” – on her blog Making It Home.