Imagine your perfect birth experience. Who is with you? How do you want to introduce your newborn into the world? Where are you the most calm? It's exciting that you can choose conditions and circumstances that feel right to you.
If you're a healthy expectant mother having a normal pregnancy and you have no medical or obstetrical risk factors, giving birth at home is a wonderful option. Home births are statistically as safe or safer than hospital births. Birth is a normal function of a woman's body, a healthy physical and emotional process, and a woman can be the artist of her birth experience at home - unconstrained by set hospital policies and procedures. That said, a mother choosing to birth at home must be committed and also trust in her body's ability to give birth without needing much, if any outside interventions beyond the continuous support of her husband and qualified labor team.
So let's answer the question, Who attends a home birth? The answer is easy, there can be family, children, or dear friends - people you want at your birth. Your midwife, the home birth specialist you have trusted with all your prenatal care will be there during the entire birthing process - along with her assistant you've gotten to know. You might have also chosen to have a doula attend for the gentle magic she can work during labor. The pet?! No problem, it's family too. As few or as many loved ones as mama is comfortable with - it's her unique birth.
Now the question most dear to our heart, How do you want to introduce your child into the world? In your home, will the lights be dim with soft music playing? Or will it be dark and quiet? Do you want a water birth? At home the baby's umbilical cord will not be cut until it stops pulsing, and done when you are ready. Generally after birth the baby is placed on the mother's chest, providing security, warmth and bonding between mom and baby. No one will be carrying your baby away to perform standard procedures - there is plenty of time that later. Instead your midwife will encourage you to nurse your newborn, which helps to reduce any bleeding you may have. The sucking action stimulates the uterus and causes it to contract. At home, there is time to be quiet, calm and peaceful - a great introduction into the world. Enjoy those first moments, they are sacred - baby's special time bonding with parents.
Some AMAZING Reasons To Choose Home Birth!
- A desire to be surrounded by the comforts of home - your comfy bed, your favorite mug, wearing the clothes you choose, your bathroom. Easier to relax, be calm and work with the birth process in familiar surroundings.
- If you need distraction during labor there are so many options at home - music as loud or as soft as you like, maybe watch a favorite movie curled up on the couch, take a warm shower, lounge in a birth pool, freedom to pace in your own space - even outdoors, more options than being a patient in a hospital bed.
- There are so many elements of birth you can control - you want to eat and drink during labor? great. You'd like to change positions or rooms during labor? no problem. It's too bright? dim the lights or turn them off completely and light some candles. The possibilities are completely in your hands.
- Privacy, sweet, sweet privacy, will be yours. Birth is an intimate time when you want to feel safe and secure, not exposed. At a time when relaxation is critical, being out of a strict, invasive hospital environment will pay off as you relax and let your birth progress at it's own pace.
- Decreased risk of medical interventions such as an IV, epidural, episiotomy, unnecessary inducement, medications or caesarean section. Complication rates are lower than hospital births.
- Cost of home birth is lower than a hospital birth. Many insurance companies cover home birth. Unfortunately, not all do, but many times it is still less expensive to pay out of pocket for the home birth than to pay your co-pay and deductibles for a hospital birth.
MOST AMAZING Reason for Home Birth - Midwife Care
The level and quality of care with a midwife is something every woman should experience. No crowded waiting room, the visits are unhurried. Prenatal care for a woman commonly includes discussing nutrition, exercise and overall physical and emotional well being, as well as her primary purpose of overseeing the healthy development of the fetus. She will take your measurements and weight at every visit. There is no need for an inspections of your private area with every visit - only if there is a reason to look such as a bloody show, spotting or other reason.
Your midwife will also become familiar with the birth plan of the family, assisting with suggestions if asked. These visits are also a time for the midwife to get to know those who plan on attending the birth, and for them to ask questions and listen to the baby's heartbeat. She can also discuss the mechanics of birth, the more those involved know what's going to happen the more comfortable they will be while awaiting the birth.
And the care you receive during labor, delivery and postpartum - well it is AMAZING.
Can a First Time Mother Have a Home Birth?
Yes! Usually first labors are a bit longer because your body has never given birth before and has to "figure it out." It can be very helpful for a first-time mom to remain in her home environment; sometimes labor may stop and start and take time to get going in earnest. A home birth will provide less pressure and is more relaxing than the hospital environment - this is an experience that need not be rushed or speeded up.
Birth at Home and Bounce Back Quicker?
You bet! This could be due to lack of intervention, or because the uterus shrinks faster without drugs. Maybe resting in your own bed without interuption helps or delicious home cooked meals and a long herbal bath to soothe the sore body. It could be the tender care of your companion. Whatever it is, giving birth at home makes you feel less like you've been beat up with a baseball bat and ready to enjoy your new family addition.
What About Complications?
Your midwife is well trained in avoiding and handling complications - remember normal births are her "specialty". Her intuition and instinct are consciously developed and their use is a priority in the kind of care she gives. Problems in labor usually develop slowly, allowing enough time to be transferred if needed. A good midwife always comes prepared with an excellant emergency plan created specifically for you and where you live. She has the proper tools with which to control hemorrhage if the need arrises. If the problem lies with the infant, your midwife is competent at neonatal resuscitation. Because your midwife has come to know you on an intimate level during all your prenatals, she is also equipped to help you handle emotional issues that might arise during birth.
What are the Peer Reviewed Stats on Home Birth?
First, let me make a really important differentiation about planned home birth versus unplanned home birth. There is a study advanced by hospital advocates that incorrectly lumps all non-hospital births together, including unplanned emergency birth at home or in a taxi or while camping, including hidden teen pregnancies, etc. This flaw is clearly pointed out in peer-reviewed journals but ignored by some hospital proponents. When "unplanned" home births are removed from the numbers, every study comes to the same conclusion, that home birth is just as safe if not safer than hospital birth, and home birth results in MUCH higher vaginal birth success rates with far fewer interventions and complications.
Below are some peer-reviewed wide-accepted statistics regarding home birth:
- 97% of planned home birth babies are carried to full term - versus 87% US National Average
- 5.2% cesarean rate - versus 31% US National Average
- 87% VBAC success rate - versus 50% to 80% hospital VBAC success rates
- 89.1% natural home delivery success rate - about one in ten planned home births switch to a hospital, most often due to "failure to progress"
- 4.5% intervention rate - less than five percent used pitocin or pain intervention (ie. epidural)
- 1.5% postpartum maternal transfer rate - it is very rare that moms transfer to a hospital after delivery, most for non-life threatening issues
- 0.9% newborn transfer rate - it is even more rare that the newborn needed to go to the hospital for postpartum care
- 97.7% breastfeeding rate at six weeks (86% exclusively)
- 1.3 deaths per 1000 (0.13%) intrapartum mortality rate - infant mortality rates are similar to hospital data for low-risk pregnancies, and much lower than average hospital births
- Home birth has grown 54% nationwide in 8 years, from 0.56% in 2004 to 0.89% in 2012 (CDC)
- Arizona's out-of-hospital births have grown from 1.23% in 2004 to 1.46% in 2012 (CDC)
- Six states have grown much faster, now delivering 3-6% out-of-hospital births (the five northwestern states and PA)
- Maternal deaths are very rare, typically about seven per year in Arizona, and no known deaths at a planned home birth
Most of the statistics above are from this study of 17,000 planned home births:
Some are from the Centers for Disease Control:
And some are from the Arizona Department of Health: