I was hormonal, exhausted, and IN PAIN. The fourth degree tear caused by the forceps delivery of Y was bad enough. But seven days after giving birth, I felt something was “off”. I thought maybe my stitches opened up. A peek with a mirror confirmed I was right. The doctor wasn’t too sympathetic. Between tears and curse words, I asked her if I tore naturally or because of the forceps. She said she didn’t know. Really?
It was painful. And emotional. And traumatic. That was my hospital birth experience. Constant pressure and fear from the nurses and the doctor, telling me I wasn’t advancing and that my pelvic bone slightly protruded up, making it really hard for my baby’s head to come out. She must have told me that I should get ready for a c-section at least five times. I truly think if my sister had not been there, I would have ended up with a c-section. I don’t believe there was ever any real reason or emergency for the doctor to keep saying that I might need a c-section.
Many people ask me why I want to give birth at home. I get strange looks every time I say it.
But after my first birth, I didn’t want to go through the same thing. I knew that was not how I wanted to bring a baby into the world. So for my second, we chose to explore alternatives and dive into the unknown. P wasn’t on-board at all for a home birth. He thought it was dangerous. After my sister gave birth to her twins at home, P made me promise I would never do that. Even though my sister had no issues whatsoever and had a beautiful experience. Now I realize that it was just a lack of information. P and I didn’t have the right education about home birth for our first child. A hospital was the safest choice, we thought. A hospital is what everyone did. A home birth was antiquated and dangerous!
I told P that Cindy Crawford had given birth at home (he’s had a crush on her since high school) and we watched her testimonial on-line. He thought it was interesting. Then I got him to agree to meet with our midwife. She gently flooded us with information and calming words. She gave us statistics, literature and abundant support. She told us about some of the (over 1800) births she’d experienced. After doing much research, soul searching, talking and praying, we knew we were both ready to give birth at home. At 30 weeks, we switched from OB to midwife.
One of the main reasons I wanted to have a third baby was to experience birth at home again. I could give 100 reasons or more, but here are just 10 reasons we chose to give birth at home:
1. We are 100% involved in every step and decision. Pre-natal care is beyond anything I ever got from my OB. My midwife comes to my house for every check-up. Each session is no less than an hour. We TALK about everything. We connect. She actually teaches me about my body and my baby. She talks to my baby! She gives me books and the latest research. My midwife requires that you go to birthing classes. Even if you’ve done it before, like we have. They are 5 classes and they are 2 hours each. THIS IS KEY in home birth. EDUCATION. Information so that you can make responsible decisions. We learn about the risks, and prepare transport plans in case we need to go to the hospital.
2. I weigh myself and I check my own urine. She provides strips that show glucose, protein, leukocytes, blood, etc in the urine and then we go over the results right away. She draws my blood at home. There’s no going to the lab and waiting around.
3. My midwife is a registered nurse. She brings to the birth the same equipment that you would find in a hospital room when you give birth: fetoscope/doppler to monitor the baby; local antiseptic & anesthetic; suturing supplies; oxygen/resuscitation equipment; IV equipment; medication to stop bleeding; blood pressure cuff; hanging scale to weight infant, etc.
4. I get a birthing kit with extra supplies. This includes gauze, peri bottle, cord clamp, large plastic pads (to put on floor, bed, sofa, or wherever you choose to birth), bulb syringe, drinking straws, and a few other things to help during/after birth.
5 . No intrusion of privacy by numerous nurses and residents who come in to ask me questions while I’m having contractions.
6. I get to be in my own clothes, or in no clothes, in my bathroom, my bed, my living room. Looking at my pictures, going to my kitchen, feeling free to come and go as I need to.
7. Freedom of movement and positions. I think this is crucial when facing contractions and making sure the baby moves into the right position. Motion and exploring different positions as you tackle contractions helps to ease the pain tremendously. Being bed bound is certainly not the ideal position to give birth. Did you know that the only reason they make us be in a hospital bed is for the convenience of the doctor? So they can have a clear view of your vagina and baby coming out and interfere as needed.
8. No one is asking me if I want the epidural. There’s no anxiety, no fears. No beeping machines. No checking me (unless I ask to be checked). There is quiet, serenity, and peace at home which is encouraging. There is a sacred space created to allow this natural, intensel process to take place.
9. Everyone in the room believes in me and my body’s ability to give birth.
10. I can push my baby out wherever I want, even in the water! And no one will count or tell me when to push or not push. And best of all, my husband and I get to catch our own baby. Nothing like feeling their warm, slippery bodies and putting them on your chest. Primal, spiritual, intoxicating and oh so powerful. I will be the first touch my baby feels. Not rubber gloves from a stranger.
I’m no better than you or anyone else. My birth is not better than yours. It’s not about that. It’s about sharing our birth experiences and knowing that we have choices. And that government and hospitals have to give us more choices.
And what about the pain, people ask? Sure, there’s pain. But it’s not pain because something is wrong and needs to get fixed. It’s productive pain. Every contraction tells you where you are in labor, and pushes you closer to the finish line. And you get a break in between each surge. But most of us don’t know how to deal with the pain, so we ask for the epidural, like I ended up doing in my first birth. It’s crucial to be prepared to face contractions. That’s what doctors don’t tell us. There is a lot we can do for pain management besides an epidural. And that takes research and practice before birth.
I’m not doing this for a medal, or because I’m brave, as some people say. Why do people run marathons, climb mountains, jump out of planes? It’s personal satisfaction and empowerment that goes beyond words. Giving birth naturally, to me, is similar to attempting any one of those extreme sports. You see what your body is capable of doing with nothing but God, your heart, your lungs, and your own internal drive. And once you do it, you’re hooked.