Home birth: an introduction

I had both of my babies at home – one in the dining area in my apartment. The second in my bedroom.

When I tell people this I get a little push back.


Did you just forget to go to the hospital?

I had what’s called a “planned home birth.” When I went into labor, and it was apparent that it wasn’t practice or false labor, my husband called my midwife (who then asked to talk to me) and she came over with an assortment of medical supplies, we  (and by we, I men my husband) set up a birthing pool and a few hours later, I had a baby.

I thought midwives were some weird medevil thing…

There are a couple of different kinds of midwives. My midwife is what’s called a licensed midwife, she practices midwifery privately and assists people in home birth. A certified nurse midwife is someone who might work in a hospital or birthing center, but usually works under the supervision of an obstetrician.

What if you died?

In my case, that was pretty unlikely. I was young, healthy, active and had basically no risk factors going into labor. But just to be sure, every time I visited my midwife, she scored me on a variety of risk factors – blood pressure, weight, fetal heartbeat, presentation, etc. If my risk factors showed any red flags, I would have to been transferred to the care of an obstetrician and given birth in a hospital. Obviously, you can’t plan for everything, and I was transferred to the hospital after my first daughter was born because I had some tearing and needed stitches.

Home birth isn’t for everyone, but I felt pretty comfortable that if something came up, my home is 15 minutes from a hospital, and I could get there if I needed to.

Do you have something against doctors?

I think doctor’s are great. But, I was really fascinated by the idea of home birth, and then I watched Ricky Lake’s documentary The Business of Being Born and knew that when I decided to have a baby, I wanted to look into the possibility of home birth. I was curious about water birth and really liked the idea of having a peaceful, birth experience with no interventions.

I felt like one of the upsides (and depending on how you look at it the downsides) of home birth was that I wouldn’t be tempted by the availability of an epidural, and so it’s would be easier for me to give birth without having one. There is research that indicates that the routine use of interventions during labor (whether they’re epidurals, pitocin, etc. can cause what’s called “cascading interventions” and lead to a higher rate of c-sections.

Disclaimer: I just want to say that I don’t think any woman is wrong for having a c-section. I think it’s incredible that this surgery is safely available for so many women in labor, and I think it’s important that this is an option when a woman or baby in delivery needs it. I don’t think that having a c-section is a failure, a disappointment or anything like that, but it is major surgery, and I think that’s important to keep in mind, too.

I have some more to share on this topic, but in the mean time, enjoy Jim Gaffigan’s description.

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