As a home-birthing mama, I’m often asked how I knew that home birth was right for our family. Newly pregnant friends will ask how I came to that conclusion when the choice feels so big, and I certainly faced those who were concerned about it, as well. So, I thought it might be helpful to talk about how I made the choice to have a home birth and how you can decide if it’s right for you.
Home Birth Basics
If you’re just starting your “where should I birth?” journey, you may have a few questions about how it all works. Home birth is exactly what it sounds like, giving birth at your place of residence. But you won’t be going at it alone (unless you choose to, that’s called an unassisted home birth!).
Generally, a licensed midwife will be attending the birth with you. Some work individually, and others as teams. You’ll want to find your midwife/team on the earlier side of pregnancy, if possible, so that you can begin to build a relationship with her/them.
They will perform all of your standard pregnancy check-ups including screening for things like mental health and dietary needs. They do tend to be more flexible about alternative ways to treat things like nausea or how you take the glucose test, for example. Although this can be found in all birth practitioners!
Day of, your midwife will arrive around the same time in labor as you would head to the hospital, and she will stay with you through the entire process, monitoring you and your baby’s health closely.
How I knew Home Birth Was Right for me
By the time I got pregnant, I already knew I wanted a home birth.
I had been studying holistic nutrition and clean living for a few years and had become more aware of and confident in my body. I began to trust it in a way that I hadn’t ever before.
I will say, though, that this wasn’t always my reality. There was a time when I didn’t even know home births were an option, and all things “natural” felt…silly. It wasn’t until I began nannying for a family of chiropractors who had attempted a home birth themselves that the thought even entered my awareness.
They taught me all sorts of things about healthy eating, clean living, and nature-centered birth/parenting. My frozen-food-loving, over-the-counter-pill-taking, cheaper-is-better-thinking self was cracked wide open. It was like everything I knew had been peeled back to reveal a deeper, truer, more connected version of life that was calling me to explore.
And through that exploration, a lot of my birthing, living, and parenting decisions began to form. So, by the time I got pregnant, three years later, I knew with every fiber of my being that home birth was the choice for us.
Home Birth Facts
A quick search on Google will offer up both extremely supportive, and incredibly damning “facts” in both directions. You will find whatever it is that you’re looking for (I know because I’ve Googled, ha!).
The research and stats differ country by country and case by case. Generally, though, there is very little difference in outcomes for either home or hospital in healthy pregnancy scenarios.
You know the answer
Because the research isn’t clear and everyone has an opinion, my suggestion is to seek the answer within. The truth is, you already know.
When we are able to turn off our busy brains it’s easier to remember that we are simple animals with very simple needs. We need to feel loved, safe, and capable.
There is no one place or method that will make everyone feel this way. It doesn’t matter how many people you ask, books you read, or research you find. Your body is going to feel safer in one scenario than the other.
When I sat with myself and really thought about where I would feel safe and empowered, the answer was clearly at home. For others, the answer is unequivocally the hospital.
If you’re not feeling as certain in either direction, try flipping a coin. No, seriously. I talked about this in a blog post I wrote a while back, but the idea is that your body will give you the answer when it’s faced with it. If you flip to “hospital” and your body feels disappointed, maybe it’s time to think deeper into home birth. If you land on “home birth” and you feel a little frightened, a hospital might be the better choice.
There are, of course, middle-of-the-road options, like birth centers, but those are a little tricker to write on since each one is so vastly different. Some are connected to hospitals, others are free-standing and essentially the same as a home birth in someone else’s home. If you aren’t getting a strong “yes” to hospital or home, it’s worth looking into your other birthing options!
How to Prepare for a Home Birth
If you do decide that home birth is the right choice for you, there are a few ways to feel even more prepared and supported in your decision. Here’s what I would recommend.
- Get a doula. It might seem odd considering that midwifery is such a supportive practice, but midwives are there to handle the medical side of things. Their hands are full! If you are looking for more 1:1 support throughout, a doula is the way to go!
- Register at the hospital. In our case, we registered for two. One that was nearby, and one we preferred if we had the choice. It was nice knowing we had a backup plan settled.
- Set up your postpartum healing kit. Whether at home or hospital, having what you need to heal is KEY. Some of our favorites are Wild & Pure Dry Wipes, Mother Mother goods, and all things Earth Mama Organics.
- Create a visitor plan. Having a baby at home is new to a lot of people, and it can make setting boundaries a little more difficult. Try to be clear with your family and friends about what you want before birth (even if it’s just for them to text first!). You can ask your midwife or birth partner to send a group text with details or to write a note for the door with information about how you’re receiving support.
- Keep an open mind. Birth is unpredictable, and no matter how detailed and organized your birth plan is, baby has their own. The more flexible you can be, the more at peace. The more at peace you are, the more easily your body can birth!