Home Birth
Benefits of Birthing at Home
Throughout history in all cultures, women have given birth at home. Pregnancy and birth are normal life processes, not illnesses, and women in America are realizing they need not have their babies in a hospital to have a safe, satisfying and positive birth experience. Recent studies have proven the benefits of homebirth to include:

Increased Attention and Personalized Care - Midwives trust the process of birth and provide constant care and support throughout their client's labor and birth. This allows clients to feel more supported and able to meet the challenges they face. A homebirth midwife is with you at all times; there are no shift changes and there is no one else there having a baby but you. With a personal relationship established, women are able to trust their bodies, let go and have their babies more easily. Women have fewer complications and feel better about themselves and their babies when supported throughout labor by a caring, experienced midwife.

More Relaxed and Familiar Environment - The stress and anxiety associated with traveling to the hospital during labor can be avoided with homebirth. The family is able to have special music, candles, religious or cultural ceremonies, to help create the atmosphere they want. Birthing women are able to settle into a comfortable environment, allowing them to cope far better with labor in familiar surroundings with familiar people supporting them. You have the opportunity to discover that you can cope with labor using your own resources and strengths.

You Are In Charge - Your family is in charge and you are the center of undivided attention at a homebirth. There are no time limits, food and drink are not restricted, and you are free to labor in whatever position and attire you find most comfortable. At a homebirth, all others, including the midwife, are invited guests. Siblings or other family members can be present. When it's time to give birth, the laboring mother can try whatever position she wants: on her side, squatting, sitting or kneeling. Under the guidance of the midwife, dads or moms can help "catch" their child as it is born, as well as cut the cord (which is delayed at home until the cord has stopped pulsating).

Gentler Transition for Baby - Homebirthed babies are trauma-free due to the gentle handling of a midwife. No unnecessary medical interventions are performed routinely at a homebirth and babies are born drug free. Babies are usually placed skin-to-skin on the mom's stomach or breast immediately after birth, providing security, warmth and bonding between mom and baby. Delayed cord clamping allows for improved circulation and blood volume for the newborn. All baby exams are done in your presence on your bedside which allows mom and baby to feel secure and relaxed.

A Safer Birth - Midwives are much less likely to perform unnecessary or "routine" procedures and interventions that may put a mother at risk for infection, or cause pain and debility postpartum. If you have a low-risk pregnancy and have had good prenatal care, birthing at home can be the safest option for you. Homebirth is perfect for first time moms who may experience longer labors - they are given the time and space to labor as needed. When birthing at home there is a decreased chance of infection - hospitals are harbors for microbes never found in homes that are antibiotic resistant. In a homebirth setting you are relaxed and less inhibited to follow your intuition and give birth they way you know best.

Greater Maternal Satisfaction - At a homebirth, more time can be taken for you and your family to get to know the baby in the special moments right after birth. These moments are very powerful and sacred, and more likely to be respected by the midwife and guests than in a hospital setting. After the birth mom and baby (sometimes dad too) are tucked into their own bed in the comfort of their home to rest and sleep. Breastfeeding can be more successful because it can be done at your own pace when you are relaxed and settled after the birth with the support and guidance of your midwife.

After the baby is born, the midwife doesn't go away. She is still accessible for information and support. This can be of great comfort during the postpartum period when moms have questions or problems. Emerging from the birth feeling capable and confident allow you to meet the challenges of new motherhood.

 Is Homebirth Right For Me?

If you have a strong desire and commitment to have your baby at home, trust your body's strength and natural ability to give birth, and can devote the time and energy needed to take care of yourself during pregnancy, then homebirth may be right for you.

Some risk factors may rule out homebirth. To make this assessment, you must weigh your particular circumstances and the skills and experience of the midwife against the local hospital care available to you. Conditions and diseases that might impact pregnancy, such as diabetes, clotting abnormalities and severe asthma, are definate contraindications for homebirth.

If you are indecisive about the use of pain medication during labor or the lack of available pain medication makes you feel hesitant or uncomfortable, then homebirth may not be for you. You must be well prepared and confident in your body's ability to cope with the pain of labor.

Families who choose homebirth may be confronted by others who may not support their decision, believing it is both unwise and unsafe. Again, a strong inner commitment is required to stand up for the right to birth as they choose. Showing family members the evidence to the contrary is sometimes helpful.
 What Do I Need For My Homebirth?

Finding the right care provider, doing research, reading and taking natural childbirth classes, are all important elements of preparing for a homebirth. The most important factor is taking good care of yourself to keep your pregnancy low-risk with the help of a midwife who will educate you on nutrition and low-tech approaches to potential problems.

Your midwife will probably provide you with a list of supplies you need to have ready for your birth, otherwise known as a birth kit. A birth kit may include items like chux disposable underpads, sterile gauze, blankets and towels, newborn cap, cord clamps, etc. There are many internet websites selling pre-made birth kits, but ask your midwife the best place to find these items.

A familiar environment with nothing to distract or disturb you is essential. Who will be in attendance? Which room will be the birthing room? In your home you will want a designated space to labor that is quiet, dimly lit and comfortable, with food, water and another nourishing drink readily available. A private bathroom with a shower or tub and toilet are necessary for the laboring mother.

Above all, you need to trust in your body and your inherent ability to give birth.
Resources
 Videos
  • Birth Day, Naoli Vinaver Lopez (Sage Femme Productions)
  • Gentle Birth Choices, Barbara Harper
 Books
  • Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, Ina May Gaskin (Bantam Publishing)
  • Spiritual Midwifery, Ina May Gaskin (Book Publishing)
  • Heart & Hands, Elizabeth Davis (Celestial Arts Publishing)