Home. This is where I prefer to birth. I realize not everyone is physically able to do the same or are comfortable with this idea but for my situation this has always been ideal.
Home is where a woman feels most comfortable. She can go where she pleases and do as she pleases. She knows her boundaries and doesn’t have to ask permission to go for a walk. As I am of a more independent nature this aspect of childbirth is important to me. I’ve never liked the idea that women have to get permission to do what they need to do for their comfort during labor. When there is so much intensity going through the woman’s body she knows what her body needs instinctively. I’ve found that when the woman doesn’t know what to do she’s usually going through transition!
The advantages of home are many. Everywhere we go there are germs. Our bodies learn to cope with these germs and kills those that are dangerous to us. At home we have adapted to all the germs in it. Since we have done this the immunities we have acquired have been passed on to our babies while we are pregnant. This means that when our baby is born in our home there is no bacteria present in our everyday surrounds that would harm them. This does not include any bacteria visitors may bring into the home of course. Make sure everyone washes up before handling your new baby!
Food is also a consideration. When you’re in labor you need your energy to keep up with the waves of labor. This can be difficult if you don’t get sufficient calories and fluids. At home you are able to eat all the foods your body is already used to and not have anyone tell you that you are not allowed to. This is important as it is a major cause of labor not progressing. Without a sufficient caloric intake your body gets too tired to keep up with the demands of labor.
When in labor it can be hard to eat. You actually don’t feel hungry much. You just get tired and a little weak, sometimes shaky. Your support team can help you to remember to eat. It doesn’t have to be much, an occasional honey stick can be nice in a cup of tea. A piece of fruit or some light soup can also be palatable. Try to have these on hand for during birth whether or not you choose a home birth. They can be just what is needed when you’re laboring at home and want to eat something before you head to the hospital.
When at home you can also wear what you please. You don’t have to wear a hospital gown or anything special for that matter. I’ve birthed a baby in a dressy button up shirt before. Basically, what you have on will do. I have a ‘birthing shirt’ that I’ve worn for ten of my babies births. It’s pretty worn out now! The ribbing around the neck is shredding and split but when I’m in labor and my husband or midwife asks me to put it on I know that the birth is near. This shirt is more like a nightgown in its’ length but I wouldn’t want to wear it in a hospital setting!
One big advantage I’ve found with a home birth is being able to go as I please. If I want to labor in bed, great. If I feel like going outside, I can! I’ve worked in my garden, walked down the driveway to get the mail, made laps around the outside of my property (2 acres), even spent time picking up garbage. Basically, it was what my body knew and was used too. It was very comfortable for me and I didn’t have to ask anyone if it would be alright and I didn’t have to notify anyone that I was leaving. I just left. Freedom to be as I please!
When it comes time for the baby to be born I get to choose where the baby will be born. My last daughter was born while I was standing in the shower. I think my midwife would have preferred if I would have gotten out of the shower but the water on my back was a great distraction. Baby’s tend to be a little slippery in there but when the birth was here she quickly shut the water off and caught the baby. She let me have the baby as I saw fit.
If your baby is born having some difficulties breathing, etc. this emergency is treated differently at home than it is in the hospital. The baby is put on your stomach (or in John’s case on my back) and helped either with rubbing down, cpr, whatever the midwife sees as necessary. The baby needs mom’s body heat, voice, and energy to come to sometimes. In the hospital it is rare for baby to be cared for on mom. It is preferred, by the staff, for the baby’s cord to be immediately cut and then taken to a warmer tray that has lights surrounding it for them to work on the baby. This seems like an ideal way to recover a baby for the staff but I want you to put yourself in your baby’s place. Your baby was warm, hearing your voice, receiving oxygen from you. Now the baby can’t feel your energy, hear you, smell you, and is cold. Not nice. When the mother talks it gives the baby spirit something to come to. It knows the sounds of its mother, not the unfamiliar sound of the nursing staff. The baby, at birth, is right in between life and death. You want the baby to come to you, so to speak. She used to also be receiving oxygen from you. Not only is she not able to get all of her blood back from the placenta but she isn’t getting the needed oxygen from you either. If the cord is attached it gives your baby more time to resuscitate without danger of lack of oxygen.
This brings up another point. You know your birth plan. Your doula and your midwife both know your birth plan. There is no on call doctor or a different nurse with every shift that needs to learn your birth plan. They know it and they know you. There is no learning curve and nothing needs to be posted to make sure the staff knows your wishes. Everyone is on the same page. That in itself can be very relaxing and reassuring.
If you are low risk I highly recommend you look into a home birth for you and your baby. Talk with others that have had a homebirth. Interview lots of homebirth midwives. Educate yourself. Your baby will thank you.