Why we chose to have a homebirth.

It’s a question I’m asked a lot. And it’s an answer I love to share.

All my life I knew I wanted to deliver my babies naturally. I wanted to fully experience childbirth and I did not want to be numb. This was the extent to which I thought about it until I became pregnant with Miles. I then began reading Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, The Birth Partner and other empowering articles and stories of women who had delivered at home, birth centers or with midwives at the hospital. Unfortunately, we were due to have Miles within days of a pending move. We didn’t know whether we’d be living in Seattle or Bainbridge Island when I’d go into labor. So a homebirth just wasn’t realistic. After spending the first few months of pregnancy receiving care from an OB/GYN group in Seattle, I decided it was not the care I wanted. It’s not always the best idea to change caregivers mid-pregnancy, but I knew I wanted and needed more personal care than what I was receiving. So I switched over to a midwives group in Ballard (who treated us like gold) and planned on delivering with them at Swedish Hospital in Ballard. We moved to Bainbridge Island on a Saturday and the following Tuesday morning (12:30) my water broke. Contractions came very quickly and because the ferries weren’t running at that hour, I knew we’d be delivering on the freeway if we tried to drive to Ballard from Bainbridge. I was right. We ended up heading to Harrison in Silverdale and delivered Miles there. After putting up a few fights at the hospital, we were able to have the birth we wanted. But it didn’t come without quite a bit of pushing.

When we found out we were pregnant again, I knew that if everything checked out and it was another low risk pregnancy that I would want to receive prenatal care from a midwife and deliver our baby with her at our home.  The difference in prenatal care from an OB and a Midwife is huge. When I went to my OB appointments, I felt like another number. I peed in a cup, they took my temp and blood pressure, asked if everything seemed fine and sent me on my way. 15 minute appointments, tops. When I went to my Midwife appointments, I spent about an hour with her discussing everything pregnancy, listening to the baby, asking questions of all sorts. She observed me as a whole person. Asked questions about tight muscles and posture. We covered everything the docs would have times 5. She cared about me and the baby and how our family was doing. This is the care I wanted. This is the care pregnant women and families deserve.

Thankfully my pregnancy continued to be low risk so we were able to confidently deliver at home. I knew I wanted our Midwife, Chris, Sydney, Miles and my mom at the birth. I ended up so lucky to have our Midwife, another Midwife on the Island, a student-midwife, Chris, Sydney, Miles and my mom all in attendance. My mom hung out with Sydney and Miles downstairs while I labored upstairs. Aside from the periodic monitoring of the baby, my labor was completely uninterrupted. I was able to move around the house, brace myself on whatever I found most comfortable, ask for the support of those there to help me when needed and accept advice from them when they thought I might want it. The mood was a combination of excited, calm, confident and loving. In contrast to the anxious, nervous, cold and interrupted feelings you get in a hospital. I felt safe. I knew my baby would enter the world in relaxed loving hands. And most of all, at home. She wasn’t sick, nor was I. Aren’t hospitals for sick people? My family joined us in the room immediately following her birth. In fact, I wasn’t technically even done laboring since the placenta was still inside me when they came in the room. We held her for as long as we wanted before the Midwives cleaned her up. She was able to receive all the cord blood because there was no urgency to cut her cord. I got to lay in my bed and snuggle with my entire family. I got food from my kitchen. I was able to learn to breastfeed my new baby in the comforts of my home with however many pillows I wanted. We slept. Without staff coming into our room every hour disturbing our sleep or researchers coming in to run some new test.

In the days following her birth, our Midwife and the other Midwife who was in attendance stopped by to pay a visit and checkup on us. Again, in the comforts of our home. We talked about breastfeeding and labor after pains, how Elle was growing, etc.

At the end of the day, we got the family experience we wanted. We were treated as parents, the caregivers of our baby. We were asked permission for every step of their job. If it was a good time to weigh the baby, if we wanted to wait a bit. I wasn’t under pressure to deliver a baby the way the hospital staff is used to just because that’s what they see all the time. I was encouraged to deliver our baby the way that felt the most natural and comfortable. Our decisions were supported by our caregivers. Decisions weren’t made for us by our caregivers. Our family was put at the top of the priority list for a small bit of time. And we welcomed a healthy baby into our family and home all at the same time.



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10 responses to “Why we chose to have a homebirth.

  1. Archelle

    This is great! I decided a long time ago that if I ever have children, I’m going to have a natural childbirth. American women are really pressured into having a baby in whatever way is most convenient for the doctor/hospital and not what is best for them.

  2. Khajha

    you know that don’t consider myself especially maternal & i will not be having children but LAURA! you really made me a little teary with this post :)

  3. You guys are so lucky. Homebirth is wonderful! Auggie was a planned homebirth but he ended up with other plans. I really hope that everything checks out and I’ll be able to fully experience a homebirth next time.

    • We hope you can have a homebirth next time too! You deserve it! We always think of you when we talk about extensive labors. You were such a rock star!

  4. Before I say anything negative about the hospital, I want to say that I’m happy I had my baby in the hospital because it turned out he was sick and spent 10 days in the level II nursery before coming home with us. But, having said that, they gave me “medication to help me sleep (read: Nubain)” and I couldn’t even sign the papers when they came to do my epidural (something like 8 hours later). They had to wake me up 5 times (I’m told, because I don’t remember) to sign the papers and then my epidural wore out 30 minutes before I started pushing and no one came to even check on it. I will never, ever get pain medication again. I wanted to remember my labor and having my baby. And luckily my labor was long enough I remember actually giving birth, but I don’t remember any of the transition period, which is disappointing.

    I didn’t get the care I wanted either, from my OB, and I should have changed doctors but I was too scared to. I spent 9 months getting to know every midwife and doctor there and then when they decided to induce me, it turned out that *none* of them were on call and I got a midwife that I had never met before. And she didn’t even come into the room until my son was crowning. The nurse labored me, along with my husband (in nursing school) and my Mom (an RN). Thank goodness for wonderful L&D nurses!

    • Thanks so much for your reply Holly. I’m sorry you didn’t get the experience you deserved at the hospital. One of the things about pregnancy is that it can be so overwhelming. An overwhelming amount of hormones, changes, information, advice, etc. I know it can be so hard to change care providers (been there, done that), but it can be such a positive change especially if the person (or group of people) you transfer to know why you did so. We were so warmly received by our group of Midwives when I was pregnant with Miles even though they had to spend some additional time with us to get history information and just to get to know us. The CDC has reported seeing a rise in homebirths and it happens to be of the crowd who has already had one or more children which leads researchers to believe that mothers have had less than positive experiences in hospitals with their first birth and then make the switch. I hope that pregnant women continue to arm themselves with knowledge and that that knowledge arms them with confidence. Because during those 9 months with your hormones raging and the possibility of tears coming any second, women need to have confidence and support behind their wishes and decisions. I’m happy to hear you had a good support system with you during labor. I’m also happy to hear you had the safety net of the hospital for your son’s care. He’s a doll. Hugs.

  5. So well written! We chose home birth for many of the same reasons.
    “We’re not sick!”
    Plus, I think care is so much better when you have a small, very knowledgeable team that’s with you for the whole process, rather than a large team that doesn’t know you and sees you for so little. One thing I tell people about our decision is, “OB’s are trained surgeons that do high-risk birth very well. Midwives understand and assist normal births. We wanted a normal birth, not an emergency or surgery, so we chose a midwife at home.” I hope that the state of midwives in hospitals continues to improve, however, as the vast majority of people are still not comfortable with out-of-hospital birth. I’m not comfortable in a hospital, so I’ll continue to have babies at home when I can. :)