Friday, March 28, 2008

Truth about Homebirth

Over the years I have been asked many questions about homebirth. Many of these people were being nosey, many were curious, but some were actually interested in real information. This post is in honor of Crystal who will birth at home within the next few days, and for all of the mothers who have genuinely asked me about homebirth out of real interest.

I get lots of questions about midwives. People are simply ignorant about what a midwife does and how she does it. Midwives are highly trained individuals who specialize in pregnancy care, birth, post birth and immediate newborn care. My previous midwife also offered well women care at her office. Different types of midwives attend different types of births. Some midwifes attend births at hospitals, some at birthing centers and some at personal homes. Some midwives have an office while others do home visits. Every midwife is different and has a different philosophy. My personal midwife Marinah, who began Sage Midwifery , trusts in the birthing process and in women's bodies. While trained professionally for every circumstance, she has a hands off approach. We waited together patiently and did not intervene in the birthing process. This means no induction, no vaginal checks unless solicited by me, no machines, wires, ivs, or anything near that. No forceps, no drugs, no pulling, nothing. Baby comes when baby is ready. Midwives believe in birth and trust in it.

Midwives come with a bag of goodies, a scale, oxygen, cord clamps, gauze, a fan (which my midwife says is her most important tool, I agree I loved it), whatever she needs she has in her bag of tricks! They are prepared for natural birth.

Midwives also require that you obtain a birthing kit which has basic supplies like gloves, lubricant, menstrual pads, sitz bath, baby hat, etc.

I enjoy waterbirths so I labor and deliver my babies in the birthing tub. The water lessens the pain of contractions and provides for a warm safe entry for baby as well as a quick rinse before greeting family.

At Home
The amazing thing about birthing at home is that you are most comfortable in your home. You do not have to go anywhere. Everything that is about to take place will happen around you. You can wear what you want, eat what you want, have there who you want, adjust ligthing and temperature as needed, labor where you want, deliver where you want and make whatever kind of horrible noise you desire. It's all about you as it should be! Once the baby is born, you do not have to go anywhere. You are already at ease. People clean up around you and feed you while you bond with your new baby. It's wonderful and soooo easy going.

Ryan has played such an integral part in both of my at home deliveries. At Justin's birth Ryan was by my side the entire time. I was emotionally and physically in ed and I wanted him to do and be everything to me at my labor. My needing him was so bad that if he was trying to eat something or pee during my 30 something hour labor I would scream for him to be back at my side. He was in the tub with me and caught Justin and cut his cord.

At Tyler's birth I was emotionally dependant upon my midwife because of some psychological turmoil we went through together during my pregnancy. Ryan helped in other ways this time. He helped me out with his strong hands during my back labor sine Tyler was posterior. He was in the tub with me pushing on my back during my pushing contractions so he did not catch the baby this time, but he did cut the cord.

I can't begin to explain how much respect I have gained for my husband because of his active part during labor and delivery. Ryan is there working with me d=from start to finish. Feeding me, holding me, leaning with me, wiping my brow, fanning me, uplifting me, inspiring me, giving me blessings, catching babies, you name it. He is 100% in it. I am so much closer to him because of the role he takes during our births. It takes two to make a baby, it takes two to deliver a baby.

My family is amazingly supportive during the birth of my children. I am lucky in that both sides of my family births at home or births naturally. My sisters are there with me the whole way. They record my births with a pen and notebook including contraction timing and quotes as well as photographs. they also feed me, water me, help Ryan and find what needs to be found in my uber organized bins. I'm a bit of a nesting Psycho when I'm pregnant. when needed they too allow me to rest on them, or use them to support myself during pushing. Crystal held up my arms when I squatted with Justin and I distinctly remember asking her if I could lay in her lap while laboring with Tyler.

Older children have a great place at home births. They are not displaced or forgotten about. They too have a part to play during a home birth. Becky helped Justin to understand what was happening when it was happening. He was in the room when he wanted to be and out when he wanted to be. Justin was able to watch various stages of Tyler's birth. He decide in the end that he did not like the noises that I was making, but he did watch as Tyler was pushed out and to this day he is obsessed with talking about it. I am delighted that not only does my child have a good understanding about the human body but that he also has witnessed the birth of his brother, What an amazing bond they have because of it! I'm proud that Justin chose to watch the birth of his brother.

Natural Homebirth
I have had two homebirths myself, and have attended 4 homebirths and one natural hospital birth. Many women have become distant from birth. It has become so medicalized that it is nearly unheard of to have witnesses at a birth, let alone children at a birth. I feel sad about this. Every time I attend a homebirth I feel rejuvenated, alive and full of power as a woman. I witness strength and beauty and honor and faith and trust and family togetherness. I gain so much respect for all of the women and men that I have witnessed involved in the birthing process. I can honestly say that homebirth has brought me closer to my nieces and nephews, my brothers and sisters on both sides.

For me, there is no other acceptable choice in which to deliver. I could not labor in bright lights or with cords and tubes coming from my body. I have to move and be free and do what I want to do. Homebirth is a gentle and personal experience as personal as could possibly be. Every homebirth story is different and every midwife is different just as every pregnant woman and mother is different and beautiful and wonderful. Birth should be a pure experience between husband and wife and family where love and gentleness abounds to support the entire process.

I wish Crystal the best and can't wait to attend another beautiful homebirth.

I've posted pictures of Tyler's homebirth on his birth story here. I have many more pictures of homebirth that I would be happy to share, just not on the internet. If you are genuinely interested email me and I will chose appropriate ones for you to see. My favorites include pushing pictures as well as afterbirth bonding pictures.


  1. That was really well written. Sigh. Too bad for me and my near still-born babies and post-partum hemmoraging. We've all got excuses, don't we!

  2. This post was more difficult for me to read than I had anticipated. As excited as I was to have a natural birth and as hard as I worked to achieve one, it was not in the cards for me, nor will it ever be. I know how anxious you were following Justin's difficult birth and I'm glad that you are able to experience this, but I don't think I'll ever stop grieving my physical shortcomings. On a brighter note, I thought you'd like to know that my great-great-grandmother saved my great-grandpa's life by carrying him in a sling! He's was born small and sickly and she carried him in a sling every moment until he was strong. He lived to be over 90 years old and went through eight wives (one by one)!

  3. Great post, April. I've been thinking I want to do my own someday soon. Birth is sometimes a controversial topic and I think alot of my friends avoid the subject with me because they don't want to say, "What the...??? You're CRAZY!" But I think if they knew more about what a homebirth entailed and the benefits that come with it, they would breathe a sigh of relief that I hadn't gone off the deep end and myself and my baby were safer than they envisioned. Ya know? Maybe you should add to the midwife goody bag that they bring drugs for in case of hemorrhage. I know my friends worry about that since a birthing woman "can bleed to death in 7 minutes". My family were sure happy to hear that every licensed midwife brings drugs in case of emergency.

    Anyway, love your thoughts, experience and sharing attitude. And I've been thinking about Crystal every day, hoping that baby comes SOON, and dying to hear the birth story! God speed! :)

  4. I have wanted to have a home birth since Jacob but Jason seems to get grossed out about having "fluids" all over the house and he freaks out every time pressuring me to have drugs even though I say no. He just doesn't like the birthing process.

  5. your homebirth link is not working.

  6. Great post! I too had a homebirth - VBAC no less! - and it was incredible! My birth story can be read here:
    I wish more women knew that this is a safe, valid option!

  7. I fixed my link, thanks for letting me know. April

  8. Yay for Crystal! She knew it was a boy, eh??? I'm so happy for her and can't wait to hear all about it. What a GINORMOUS baby! :)

    I also loved the photos you sent of your Tyler-belly and Tyler's birth. They made me kind of jealous because I had so many less photos than you and I would have loved some of those after bonding ones. Since it was so late my photographer's jetted home and I was too out of it to notice we didn't take any. Next baby!

    Don't you wish we could post all the real photos and everyone would just dang enjoy them as they were meant to be?