Healthy, Natural Pregnancy: Considering Homebirth

As I get nearer and nearer to the birth of our sweet little one, I suppose I will be posting on topics more in line with preparing for the birth!

We are beginning to work through our preparations for another homebirth, and I absolutely cannot wait!

Ry-and-I-during-abbies-birth  

**During our first attempted homebirth. Ryan coaching me while I'm in the birthing pool.**

Our first child was intended to be born at home, although in the end she was delivered by our midwife in a local hospital, with an OB/GYN consulting at the birth. Perhaps I will get around to posting both of our children's birth stories sometime in the next two months, but the short version of her story is this:

We began with slow labor all day Saturday, which picked up into active labor by 5 pm that evening. I labored at home throughout that entire evening, night, and the next morning. When progress began to go stall and go backwards due to swelling and a posterior baby whose head was coming down crooked, we tranferred to a hospital where I had a healthy baby by vaginal birth the next evening, with the help of medical intervention (epidural, oxytocin, episiotomy, etc.).

Our second child was our first successful homebirth and what a wonderful experience that was. After false labor for about 12 hours the afternoon and night before, nothing was happening the morning of his birth. I went to get my hair cut at noon, and began to realize that I was in labor within minutes of sitting down in the hairdresser's chair. By the time I got home an hour and a half later, I was well into my labor. We were all shocked at the speed of the birth (considering we'd had 12 hours of slow labor and 27 hours of active labor the first time around) and he was born in our living room less than 2 1/2 hours after getting home, with a total of 4 hours of labor from start to finish.

The same intention to birth at home, yet two very different stories. In a sense, I'm glad that I've had both experiences, because it opened my eyes to the fact that not all births go as we'd like them to or as we plan for them, and that's okay. But regardless, in both situations I was so grateful for the time that I was able to spend in my own home, feeling comfortable and safe in my surroundings, yet knowing that I had excellent care and that help was available should we need it.

That said, here are a few reasons that I personally opt for homebirth as my preferred birthing plan:

  • I feel most comfortable in my own home- with my bed, my bathtub or shower, my kitchen and nourishing food, etc. I can dim the lights, put on music, use a birthing pool, make sure those coaching and helping me are well fed and rested. It adds to my ability to relax and simply focus on the work at hand.
  • There is an intimacy and a degree of specialness that comes from laboring and birthing in my home. It's difficult to explain, but there is something very beautiful about it.
  • There is nothing like being able to immediately curl up on your own couch or bed with your new baby, and with your husband. So restful.
  • Having transferred to a hospital in the thick of labor, I know that it is incredibly uncomfortable. It really threw off my relaxation and the "zone" that I had been in while I was still at home coping with contractions.
  • Peace. No interruptions. Only the people that I actually want attending my birth (rather than the umpteen nurses, doctors, students, etc. who attended my first birth).
  • No one telling me what to do with my baby after the birth. No pressure to bathe the baby, to give it a bottle or pacifier, to nurse on a particular schedule, etc. My baby stays with me 100%, and the entire family can start to bond immediately with our new addition.
  • Real food! How on earth can you recuperate from such a physically demanding ordeal on sugary pudding, white bread with jam, and coffee??? I indulged in fresh fruit, yogurt, homemade "labor-aid" (an electrolyte replenishing drink), salad and other nourishing foods after the birth, not to mention light eating and drinking throughout my labors.

Those are just a few of the reasons that we personally choose to attempt homebirth with each of our babies. As you can clearly see, there are no moral or spiritual reasons, nothing more "right" about the decision to birth at home than in a hospital. Simply one mom's preference.

Since this is an important topic that many women would like to explore more, I decided to do a little bit of nosing around for you. :) I asked 3 of my close friends/family to share their thoughts on why they also choose homebirth, which I will share with you in my next post on considering homebirth.

Have you had a homebirth? How was your experience? If not, is it something that you would ever consider?

Are you or your family struggling with health challenges? Is it time to make some changes? Maybe you already know that you WANT to do things differently in your home -- use better products, buy real, wholesome foods, prepare more from-scratch meals, even use home remedies instead of medication when you're sick. But do you have all the tools you need to make it happen?

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About Stephanie Langford

Stephanie Langford has a passion for sharing ideas and information for homemakers who want to make healthy changes in their homes, and carefully steward all that they've been given. She has written three books geared to helping families live more naturally and eat real, whole foods, without being overwhelmed, without going broke and with simple meal planning. She is the creator of Keeper of the Home.

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Comments

  1. Jennifer says:

    Love your articles, I am a nurse that works L&D/postpartum, we have a midwife and we have a lot of patients that opt for natural at the hospital. I love it!! I unfortunately had dangerously high BP, (182/102) and had to be induced. However if my next pregnancy is smooth, I am thinking about opting for home birth with a midwife.

  2. If God blesses us with another baby, we are seriously considering a home birth. My labor and delivery went well, but I hated the hospital stay afterward.

  3. I just wanted to say thank you for your honesty. I love that you said that it was your “personal” choice. I just had my first baby this past May, an attempted homebirth. I ended up transferring to the hospital because, well, I think my midwife just was overly cautious and didn’t really want to deal with me; I had slightly elevated blood pressure, but by the time we got to the hospital it was fine. It’s a long story and I’m still trying to come to terms with it emotionally. Even though I received good care at the hospital, I agree with everything you said; I so wish I could have been able to just snuggle in my own large bed with my new baby and husband. There wouldn’t have been what felt like a million strangers in the room when I was delivering, and it just generally would have been so much more special. I’ve received a lot of pressure from people to consider birthing at a birth center next time, but my heart is still set on a homebirth. I know that births don’t always go as planned and that’s okay, but there’s nothing wrong with doing what you can to achieve the birth you want. So anyways, thank you again, this was such an encouragement!

  4. Erin Rose says:

    Thank you so much for being a gentle homebirth mom. I always wanted a homebirth for as long as I can remember but my husband never had peace about it, so we opted for the hospital. I praise God for His guiding my husband and my submissive heart! I had preeclampsia with my daughter and needed the hospital care. I am now expecting our second child and will have another hospital birth. For us we have good health care and are blessed with good doctors who care. It’s a 2 days out of our lives type of thing, so we can endure anything for a couple days. I am so happy for those who can birth at home, but thank you a thousand times for being so meek about it. Every homebirther I’ve met has been so mean toward people who birth in hospitals. :( Not every woman can “birth in a field”. haha Some of us need a lot of help, while others don’t. Again, thank you for uplifting my heart in the matter :)

  5. I had a homebirth with my first and will be having another one with my second due in November. It was amazing and I would not do it any other way!

  6. I had a completely natural hospital birth that went well but left me wanting a home birth with any consecutive babies the Lord would give us. This past April I gave birth to a posterior baby at home! A big reason I did this was because I got an uterine infection from being in the hospital which left me absolutely miserable after my first was born. This time around has been light years better than it was the first time. Especially the postpartum period.

  7. I’m a little late reading this, but I thought I’d share my experience with home birth anyway. :)

    We’ve had all four of our children at home with a CNM, and it has been a wonderful experience. I’m so thankful for our peaceful births!

    I’m currently expecting our fifth baby, and I’m hoping and praying for another home birth. This time around I had a partial placenta previa which caused some bleeding in the beginning of the pregnancy. We had an ultrasound around 19 weeks, which confirmed the location of the placenta (a little too near the cervix). We’ve been praying that the placenta will “move,” and I have another ultrasound scheduled at 32 weeks (just a few weeks from now!). I’ve noticed that our baby hasn’t been in the position our babies are usually in (head down), so I’m hoping that doesn’t mean the placenta is still near the cervix.

    Praying you are feeling well and that you’re able to enjoy a home birth! :)

  8. A home birth is my heart’s desire. My first was supposed to be a home birth, right down until he decided not to flip (he was breech). My midwife would not deliver him breech. I interviewed several doctors to see if any of them would be open to delivering a baby breech as we had tried every avenue to flip him (chiropractic, herbs, stretches, prayer, visualizations, accupuncture, water therapy, everything!). I was more than dissapointed to say the least when the end result was a c-section. I layed on the OR table thinking “this is entirely opposite of what I had envisioned–I’m in a white, stark, room, with metal and medical supplies everywhere. I’m exposed to who knows how many people and I can’t feel my legs”. It was horrible and traumatic… but through it all, God was there and I was able to pray my way through “not controlling” the situation.
    Sadly, baby number two was breech as well, and everything followed the same path. I was absolutely devastated.
    I’m pregant with #3 and am praying that this one stays head down! I can’t do a homebirth this round, but my doctor is allowing me a VBAC, which is a miracle for the state of California.

    Say a prayer! :-) If I deliver naturally with no problems, my husband will be okay with a home birth for #4!

  9. rachael says:

    Would you mind sharing the recipe for your homemade electrolyte drink that you had after your birth? Thanks!

  10. Thanks for this post. I have been reading your blog for a little while now. I really enjoy reading and learning new things from your blog.

    I haven’t had a homebirth, but it is something that I am considering doing when I become pregnant with our second child. My son was born in a hospital and the thought never really occured to me to have a homebirth. I delivered at a small hospital and had a good birthing experience, but as I am learning more I think this is something I would like to do the next time around. I tend to worry alot and still have concerns, but I think in learning more about homebirths and finding a good midwife, I will be able to ease those concerns.
    Thanks again for this post.

  11. By the way, I’d love for you to participate in a blog “carnival” that a friend of mine and I are doing (or spread the word so other people can participate)… it’s all about recipes to fight the summer heat. :)

    http://everyurlwastaken.blogspot.com/2009/06/fight-heat-friday-no-bake-cookies.html

  12. “Labor-aid”? You intrigue me once again!
    I’m 21 weeks along with my second, and I wish I could have a homebirth! After my horrendous first-time experience, I want to experience something somewhat pleasant! Because of my history and my mom’s history, my husband wants me in a hospital or birthing center attached to a hospital. I am determined to have a VBAC this time around, and now that it has taken us months, my husband and I have decided to go the midwife route, even if it ends up being in a hospital or birthing center an hour and a half away. I’m in the process of searching for a midwife that is willing to do a VBAC, so I’m praying for God’s hand on the situation there!

  13. Great post!! How exciting. We have four…
    #1-Induced, hospital birth (baby wasn’t moving well). Had some medication, but delivered a healthy baby girl.
    #2-Hospital delivery-super quick, not even an IV!!
    #3-Induced, pitocin, delivered in two hours. This was a hospital delivery as well, but it was a catholic hospital, so they never took baby away from me at all.
    #4-I wanted a homebirth, or birth center birth, but our insurance wouldn’t cover it, and we didn’t have the extra money. We ended up having an unplanned, unassisted home birth (although my husband does have his EMT cert.) It was so awesome. Coolest thing ever. Baby was born with me half-standing/squatting over our toilet. Good times. Husband and I still laugh about it to this day… and baby’s name is “Ezra” which means… Jehovah helps. =)

  14. Since I’m past the birthing stages, I copied your article link and sent it to my friend who is going to have a homebirth (any day now). She will be greatly encouraged by this article you wrote. I was planning a homebirth for one of mine, and the midwife left town and the baby came (9 days early)! But I totally “get it”.

  15. Thanks for responding Stephanie!
    As seen in other comments, homebirth by a CNM *certified nurse midwife* is illegal in my state, Nebraska, but for some reason, if you have a lay*midwife, it is fine…although this is NOT common at all. There was a CNM who spent her entire life savings building a birthing center in NE and at the last minute the doctor (CNMs MUST have a doctor as “part” of their practice, although I never saw a doctor, just my midwives) backed out and the beautiful birthing center has sat empty ever since. It’s so sad, as I think many women would have LOVED the option, the closest one is over 4 hours away…and who can do that in labor!? :)
    Wonderful post!
    Sarah M

  16. My friend just had her second child at home last night (the first one was also in the hospital) and she absolutely loved it! She felt so much more rested, relaxed and enjoyed not feeling drugged up. It went amazingly well for her and everyone is doing fine and are happy!

  17. I’m pregnant with my third and we just met with the midwife for the first time today. I think we’re going to go for a homebirth with this one! :)

  18. Thanks for all the wonderful comments, everyone!

    I agree that both a hospital OR a homebirth can be a beautiful experience, and I’m so glad to hear that many of you have had such positive hospital experiences! That’s awesome! All in all, mine was better than I expected, even though it wasn’t what I planned or hoped for. In the end, it’s all about the baby, right? :)

    Also, thanks to those who have mentioned birthing centers. These aren’t very common in Canada (and don’t exist at all where I live, in BC) but from what I have heard about them, they sound like such a great option for sort of a compromise between home and hospital! If you have access to one, I’m sure that it would be well worth looking into!

    Sarah M, I didn’t get any other comments from you. Sorry you’re having troubles! Sometimes Typepad is goofy. I saw your post, though- thanks! I’m blushing. :)

    Naptime Seamstress, I’ll raise a mug of tea right back at you! You go for it, not having an epidural! Yay! You can do it!!!

  19. Thank you for a great post, and the grace you showed in writing it.

    We have two kids with another on the way. My first was born naturally with very little intervention (she had to be suctioned while only her head was out due to an extreme amount of meconium, and I didn’t get to hold her for about 15 minutes). The birth was fine, but the hospital stay itself was not. Our second was born at home, and we had a great experience. We are now expecting our third and plan on having a homebirth again, and really look forward to it. Here are the birth stories: http://makinghomehome.blogspot.com/2008/06/bens-birth.html and http://makinghomehome.blogspot.com/2008/04/lucys-birth.html

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