It was an amazing experience. I cannot imagine having given birth that first time in any other way. Todd also liked meeting our daughter for the first time in the comfort of the birth center.
Fast forward to little Owen's birth. As we began to think through his birth we knew we would want to do another out-of-hospital birth if possible. Not that we have anything against the hospital, and we know that for people and babies who need that sort of setting it is a great place to be. We are not anti-hospital. In fact both of our babies decided to take their time swimming head down and so as we approached our due date we took seriously the idea that we might be giving birth in a hospital. When I teach birth classes, I like to encourage couples to take seriously the mantra "Healthy Baby, Happy Birth" knowing that sometimes things don't always go the way we would like. But as long as we were in the safe and healthy zone, we wanted our babies to surf out into a tub of water surrounded by midwives and friends. I had given birth naturally before I knew I wanted to do that again.
We like the birth center, it was a fine choice for our second baby's welcome. However between the time of Marin's birth and Owen's birth they had changed ownership and so my midwife was no longer delivering. And we had seen the home birth midwifes during our miscarriage pregnancy and had built a relationship with them. So for me it made sense to have them catch our baby. But Todd wanted to return to the birth center for a few reasons. First; we had a good experience, and second, in his mind our home would stay tidy if we went to the birth center. But he also made it clear that he wanted me to deliver where ever I wanted and it was my decision. We both knew I had already made up my mind to be at home.
My birth story is already written here so I am not going to tell the story of our birth but I am going to talk about home birth and my experience from a birthing mother and from a doula who has attended a few home births.
First off why would anyone choose to give birth at home? Why home over a hospital or birth center? Well of course there are many reasons that women choose to give birth in their homes. For me it was simple, I wanted to be home with my family, I wanted Marin to be near me during labor, I wanted to use my things, I wanted my house to be the place my new baby would be welcomed. I wanted to be in my bed. This is what is comfortable to me and my family and so for me it was all about comfort. Being in the comfort of home is usually why people choose to have a home birth.
Of course there are other reasons that drive home birth choice, cost (the average hospital birth is usually more than $15,000 compared to around $4000 for a home birth) can be one reason. Many people without insurance look into home births or birth center births. Both are a great option for this reason.Another reason for home birth is because many people believe that birth is a natural process and not a medical illness needing to be fixed or healed. While birth can have complications many of them are a result of interventions that are not present in an out of hospital birth. Delivering at home allows the mother to be more in control of her environment and have as many or few people around her and in the home as she chooses. Many women start looking into a home birth because of an aversion they may have to medical procedures, or because they want to deliver in a specific way (such as in water).
I think most of the benefits I have already mentioned in the above reasons for choosing a home birth. But one of the reasons that I want to highlight is everyone coming to you. Everyone of my prenatal visits was in my home. I did not have to find a baby sitter for my daughter, I did not have to deal with parking (or paying to park like one of our local hospitals does), we sat in my living room, I used my toilet, Marin helped each time and by the end was ready to become a midwife herself.
Not only was this wonderful prenatally but during the birth they came in, set up my house with the birth tub, I needed a round of antibiotics before I gave birth and that was done in my living room with the IV sack of fluids hanging from the ceiling fan. Marin stayed in her bed sleeping, we didn't have to call anyone to come and get her or drop her off. And then of course once Owen arrived she was brought in to be with us and meet her new little brother. She was near me the whole time. At one point in my labor I even went in and laid with her in bed for a while. She was sleeping and I was in labor (about 2 hours from pushing Owen out) and I got to lay there looking at my first born, who still looks like a baby when she sleeps, and breath her in and think about her birth and meeting my first baby, and that was such a special moment for me. Had we been rushing off to the hospital that may not have happened. Or I may have had to said goodbye to her until I was ready for her to rejoin us.
After Owen was born in the water, we all moved into the bedroom where all of the postpartum exams took place. The following pictures are my favorite of my midwives doing Owen's newborn exam.
Measuring his chest
This is where we were all left. Our midwives cleaned up the house and started some laundry and left us all tucked into bed. To go beyond the actual birth day, all of the follow up postpartum visits were in our home including our six week check.
For those of you who think doing a home birth is nuts there are lots of articles out there about the safety of a planned home birth for women and infants with no health risks. In fact because the use of interventions is so low many of the studies say that it may even be safer for the mother and baby. I'm not going to site lots of articles here because this post is long enough. But if you really want the data let me know and I can send you some stuff. I also want to be clear that I am not against hospitals or doctors. I have been to many hospital births, every one of them was amazing, I met some amazing nurses and doctors, and cried at each one when the baby came out. Each birth is a miracle, I love seeing a mother and father meet their baby and the baby meet them. That moment of the mother pulling a baby to her chest always takes my breath away and I always cry because of how beautiful it is. Home birth is not for every woman, but for those of you out there who have given it thought, I would encourage you to check into it, entertain the thoughts, do your research and give your local out-of-hospital midwives a call. Check out your local birth centers and find out what your at home options might be. Have a conversation and ask questions, find other women who have given birth out of the hospital and listen to their stories, you might just find yourself laying on your couch one day with your toddler running around your house and your midwife listening to a heartbeat in your growing belly.