Homebirth as an option? I certainly didn’t even consider it when I became pregnant with my first child. My oldest son was born via cesarean after an induced labor. When I was pregnant with my second child, I really wanted a Vaginal Birth after Cesarean (VBAC). I switched to a different OB/GYN who supported my choice. Unfortunately, I consented once again to being induced and after 14 hours of labor which included manual dilation, my daughter was born via cesarean. With both children, I broke out in hives after the epidural was inserted.
With two cesareans behind me, the odds of having a VBAC with my third weren’t great.
When I became pregnant with my third child, I read every book that I could about childbirth and VBAC. The more I read, the more I realized I wanted to have my child at home. I talked with several moms who had their children at home. A friend of mine lent me Sheila Kitzinger’s “Homebirth.” When I closed the last page of the book, I knew it for sure, I wanted a homebirth. My husband was initially a bit apprehensive, but he jumped on board after we went over the pros and cons.
Not everyone supported the idea of homebirth. We were living on the fringe with our decision, as every single one of our friends gave birth in the hospital. The whole concept of birthing at home was a foreign one. I invited my mom to the birth, but she was too scared to come. “I’m afraid something will happen or I won’t be able to handle the blood,” she said.
To prepare for the birth, I put together a birthing kit which included bed pads, a suction bulb, and gloves. Everything else was brought in by my midwives. Every practitioner is different–check with yours to determine what is needed. I prepared a crockpot with a stack of washcloths for warm compresses and covered the mattress with a shower curtain under the sheet.
I knew I wanted to labor in water and possibly have a water birth. Just a month before the birth, we came up with the brilliant (or so, we thought) idea of ripping out our bathtub and putting in a large soaking tub. There I was, hugely pregnant, taking a hammer to the wall tile. The bathroom looked like a war zone when I first stepped into the tub, but the water was incredibly soothing. However, my memories of “support” in the early stages of labor included my husband occasionally asking, “How ya doing now?” in between installing floor tile as I labored. Word to the wise–if you want a water birth, I highly recommend renting a tub instead.
While I took Lamaze for my first and Bradley for my second, I opted to go with hypnobirthing for my third. What an amazing difference. I welcomed every contraction using meditation, visualization, and deep relaxation. My husband captured the birth with a camera on a tripod, and there’s not a single peep out of me during the pushing stage. I highly recommend hypnobirthing!
One bit of advice, and I’m speaking from experience–if your homebirth practitioner suggests a chemical induction at home–RUN. Cytotec or a pharmaceutical induction has no place in a homebirth.
I asked some homebirthing moms for their advice to share and here’s what they had to say:
- EMBRACE the process. The only way to get out of labor is go through it.Embrace the parts that suck because that’s the only way it will end. YOU WILL feel like you cannot do it. You will feel exhausted and done when everyone’s telling you’re almost done. If you can push through that hump in your mind, it will go fast.” ~Chelsea Nelson
- “Interview as many midwives as you can so you can and select the one who best suits you overall.It’s such an intimate relationship compared to obstetrics that the intangibles are very important. Know your power and trust yourself!” ~Christina Pisani Sonas
- “Research midwives, interview, ask lots of questions; have a solid transport plan in place in the need of going to a hospital; meet the OB who serves as backup for the midwife – if the midwife doesn’t have a solid relationship with a local, reputable OB, move on.” ~Elizabeth Parish Bruffey
- “Research on homebirth is also important so you can tell the people who give you a hard time about it lots of information (there will always be people that think you’re crazy for having a homebirth.) Don’t be dead set against hospitals either. There is definitely a time and a place for them.” ~Brooke Fillin Olsen
- “Have a HUGE ( at least 4’x4′) old vinyl tablecloth, waterproof drop cloth or heavy plastic to protect your floor, and/or bed. And lots of towels!” ~Carole Cannon
- “Decide if you’d like a water birth and either get a kiddie pool with high sides…or I used a Rubbermaid “cow trough”, that was available to borrow from a home birthing “co-op”. It’s way sturdier than a blow up pool and the water can be filled up almost to your neck.” ~Denise Wyble
- “Utilize the shower/bathtub. Go outside and walk as much as possible. Have ice packs ready for after the birth (condoms filled with water make the best). Have complete confidence in the midwife, doctor or whoever is your practitioner or get another one.” ~Jackie Wellwood
- “My 4th was born at home. I’d say, choosing a good midwife is #1. Also, I think being relatively close to a hospital is actually a good thing in case you do happen to be the rare emergency. And discuss the logistics w/ the midwife to make sure you and she both have a plan for transport in the event that would be necessary.” Amy Starr Kwilinski
- “Follow your instincts. Listen to and trust your body. Don’t let fear get in the way.” ~Chelsea Evans Doak
- “You don’t need to convince any in-laws or family members that homebirth is safe, do it if you want to. Read the books, know the signs and symptoms, practice the breathing. And then remember that it all goes out the window.” ~Ruth Pauls