On February 9th, 2017 our life was forever changed when we welcomed our little Prince David into our lives, following a victorious homebirth. Our original birth plan was to birth at home with a certified Midwife, but the prices for a Midwife in the state of Georgia was a minimum of $3,000, which we did not have. Then my secondary plan was to have a water birth at the Army hospital (I’m an US Air Force vet) on military post with the Army Midwives. After plan B fell through, my third and final plan was an unassisted birth at home with a Doula; no Midwife or nurse.
I understand that not all births are the same, not all pregnancies are the same and not all moms can have a natural home birth. But if you’re considering home birth, but not really sure of the benefits, I’ve come up with a list of 7 benefits that I discovered from my own home birth experience.
My Top 7 Benefits of Homebirth:
#1 Having Control Over Your Birth Plan
Being a woman of faith, I don’t believe that I ever had 100% complete control over my birth plan, but I did have way more control than the average woman in America who births in a hospital setting. I’m definitely not knocking hospital births, as I almost had one, but I know one of the reasons I ran from birthing at the Army hospital was this very reason – no control. When I voiced my birth plan, how I wanted to labor and deliver in their birth pool, they denied me. They said they would let me labor for a while in the water and then I’d have to get out and deliver on their table. I was thinking, what’s the purpose of having a special birthing pool if you can’t even give birth in it? It seemed like almost everything on my list was pushed to the back-burner by the hospital staff, ultimately solidifying my decision to birth at home. I left the Army Hospital and never came back. And I didn’t bother explaining myself to them either.
#2 Labor & Deliver However/Wherever You Want
I can’t stress enough how AWESOME it is to labor however you want and deliver your baby wherever you want. Laboring at home, you have the freedom to do so however YOU choose. You can labor and give birth in your bathtub, in the shower, in your living room, in the backyard, on the couch, on the floor, on the bed – wherever you want. Sit, stand, squat, lie down, roll around on your exercise ball – there are no rules or restrictions. And you can do it all wearing your favorite t-shirt or nothing at all. I loved the freedom of being able to wear whatever I wanted and relax in the privacy of my home with the people that I was close to. One of the first hospitals (not the Army hospital) that my husband and I toured as an option for birth told us that I could labor standing up if I wanted, but it was mandatory for me to have the pitocin IV inserted into my arm. This was not an option for me, so we looked elsewhere. The Army hospital was our second choice, and one of the reasons we walked away from there was because the doctor who’d be delivering my baby said that I could labor in their birthing pool, but I could not deliver in the water. They would actually make me get out and deliver on the hospital bed (obstetric table). Of course we were not happy with that answer, so that’s when I moved on to plan C – a home birth. I wanted to be free to labor however I wanted so that I could be in the most comfortable position to relax my body and my mind. Birthing is not just a physical event, but it’s a mental one also. Remember that the majority of the labor and delivery depends on your emotional and spiritual health.
#3 Avoid Unwanted Medical Interventions
So much can be said about this subject. From the beginning, I knew that I wanted a natural childbirth, involving no surgery. Most moms don’t want to get cut open, and it saddens me that today’s medical industry is, in my opinion, very money driven. Because vaginal births pay an average of only $8K, and could keep staff waiting with the laboring mother for hours or even days, they aren’t as enthusiastic about your birth. Cesarean Sections, on the other hand, pay on average between $15K and $21K, and they are relatively quick, so there is an incentive to get you into surgery. You might be thinking, why would any doctor want to perform a major surgery on a pregnant lady? Why not encourage vaginal birth? Well, after watching the documentary movie Business Of Being Born, produced by talkshow host Ricki Lake, I discovered that the doctors delivering our babies are actually surgeons, so they went to Medical School to perform surgery, not deliver babies. And most of the doctors in the labor and delivery unit don’t know much about old fashioned vaginal birth, only births with interventions. Several doctors (Obstetricians) were interviewed and admitted they had never seen a natural birth. You mean you’re a DOCTOR and you’ve never seen a natural birth? Huh? With that being said, if you want to avoid having doctors scare you into a c-section, it’s best to plan a homebirth or deliver at a birthing center.
According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, cesarean birth is too common in the United States and has increased greatly since it was first measured in the 1960s. In the U.S., nearly one in three women gives birth by cesarean section. C-section data reported by 1,318 hospitals through the voluntary 2016 Leapfrog Hospital Survey, Leapfrog found that over 55% of reporting hospitals had excessive rates of C-sections. That means that far too many women are undergoing a major abdominal surgery without medical necessity. Cesarean sections carry serious risks of infection or blood clots, and many women experience longer recoveries and difficulty with future pregnancies. C-sections can also cause problems for babies, like breathing difficulties that need treatment in a newborn intensive care unit (NICU). In the long-term, research shows that C-sections can cause chronic pelvic pain in some women, and babies born by C-section are at increased risk of developing chronic childhood diseases like asthma and diabetes.
As you can see in the chart below, 35% of American moms are getting C-sections, in comparison to some parts of Africa, where it’s less than 1%.
#4 No Unwanted Medications
In #2 of this blog, I mentioned how one of the first hospitals we toured as an option for birth informed us that it was mandatory for all mothers – no matter what – to be hooked up to their pitocin IV drip. We knew before even speaking to the hospital staff that we wanted ZERO medications. Under no circumstances would I accept the epidural, pitocin, or any other meds. So when they told us that all pregnant women under their hospital’s care had to have the IV in their arm just in case “something” happened, we told them were not okay with that. We left that hospital and never came back. Even the Midwife there told us she felt like we were not a good fit for their hospital. Lol. I know what you’re thinking… What if “something” happened? What if you really need pitocin? Well, that’s the thing. I don’t think there’s any case where I’d need it.
What is pitocin? Pitocin is the hormone that causes the uterus to contract during labor, and to contract after delivery, preventing postpartum hemorrhage. When Pitocin is used prior to delivery, it is used either to induce labor, or to strengthen labor that has slowed down or stalled completely.
If I’m laboring slowly… then I’ll just have to wait it out. I won’t rely on pitocin, which is synthetic oxytocin, to induce labor because baby will come precisely when he is ready. Did you know that one of the side effects of pitocin is fetal death? Not worth it. And if I’m experiencing postpartum hemorrhaging then I will drink some herbs such as nettles tea, raspberry tea, or take alfalfa. I know what you’re thinking again…. What if none of that works and you’re hemorrhaging to death? That, my dear, is an excellent question. If I’m in a life or death situation, I can only trust God’s will for my life. If it’s His will for me to live and be here for my babies, then praise the Lord, I’ll survive. If it’s His will for me to pass away and someone else to take over as the guardian to my children, then so be it. My faith in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ outweighs my fear of death. I can die just as easily in a tragic situation outside of childbirth, and would be faced with the same circumstances. But I hope and pray that the various herbs would work to stop the hemorrhaging, and also breastfeeding helps as well. If you’re concerned about postpartum hemorrhaging, check out this very informative article when you get a chance.
What is an epidural? Epidural anesthesia is pain medication delivered through a catheter – a very thin, flexible, hollow tube – inserted into the epidural space just outside the membrane that surrounds your spinal cord and spinal fluid. An epidural is the most commonly used method of pain relief for labor in the United States.
I certainly did not want the epidural for 3 main reasons. Number 1) I don’t want to numb or minimize the pain of labor and delivery. After the epidural, many women can no longer feel the urge to push, which is SUPER important during childbirth, especially in preventing vaginal tearing. To me, the pain of labor is what makes childbirth special. Only women endure this pain. Only mothers can share their stories. Only moms can say I went through 7+ hours of labor for my babies. To numb that is to lessen the childbirth experience, in my opinion. Some moms prefer the epidural, for whatever reason, but I know that the benefits do not outweigh the risks. Even Doctor Oz (watch it here) spoke about the real dangers of the epidural. Number 2) I don’t want my baby to receive any medication through the placenta into their little veins. Any medication that a mother uses during labor enters the baby’s body as well, through the umbilical cord. This includes painkillers and anesthetics delivered through epidurals. When women have an epidural, their baby is more likely to need to be delivered with the help of instruments that use vacuum suction or forceps. Number 3) There are far too many women that I know personally, who have been harmed by the epidural (which they had years ago) and are in pain still to this day. There’s nothing they can do to reverse it. That’s sad. Doctors cannot guarantee that you and your baby won’t be negatively affected by the epidural. Once again, not worth it. Having a home birth, without the interference of pushy medical staff is definitely my cup of tea.
#5 First One To Hold My Baby
Okay, so I was the second one to hold my baby, since my husband caught him. But it was beyond amazing to be somewhat in charge and not have to wait on a nurse or doc to clean him up, cut the umbilical cord, put a hospital band on his wrist, swaddle him, and then hand him to me. I held my baby when he was seconds old. That feeling is like no other. My hands and my eyes were the first ones he gazed into. He was safe with daddy and mommy. There was no separating my baby from me. I didn’t have to ask to do skin to skin. I didn’t have to wait for any medical staff to give me the green light on anything because there were no medical staff present. There was immediate bonding between me and my baby. Our breastfeeding experience was as soon as my baby was ready to eat, which was about an hour or so after he was born. I couldn’t ask for a more perfect and beautiful experience. Because of this I choose to have all my babies at home.
#6 No Pressure To Vaccinate, Eye Ointment or Cut Umbilical Cord
If you’re like me, then you don’t want your baby getting vaccines, eye ointment or cutting the umbilical cord too quickly. When we were pregnant with our son, we met with our almost doctor (yes I said almost) and talked with him about everything childbirth. He kindly told us the whole process, what he and his staff do and what they allow, and then we had some questions about vaccines. We asked the Doc if any newborn vaccines were required, and he informed us that the Hepatitis B and Vitamin K were essential for our baby to be in good health. We voiced our concerns about the vaccines and he ensured us they were the experts in health and that we had nothing to worry about. We had our mind made up: no vaccines. Period. They were not going along with our requests so we had to move on. When we had our baby at home there were no doctors or nursing pressuring us to get our baby vaccinated with the Hep B shot or the Vitamin K shot, which is not a vitamin, by the way. And my hubby waited 30 mins or so to cut David’s umbilical cord. I wonder if the hospital staff asks mothers if they’d like to keep their placenta? Birthing at home, if you choose to keep your placenta or plant it like a tree or capsulize it and eat it – you totally can.
#7 Already Home Sweet Home
Traveling to a hospital with a big belly and swollen ankles is a task in itself. Plus this can interrupt and stall labor. You get to the hospital and they tell you nope, not dilated enough, go home. No preggo mom wants to run back and forth to the hospital. Then once you give birth you’re there at the hospital so that means you’ve got to get yourself and baby home safely. Many moms have to prepare to travel home with their newborn after only a few days in the hospital. You might not want to do any traveling for a week or two, and if you’re already at home then you can do just that – relax. Birthing at home will allow your mind and body to recuperate with no pressure to travel with your new baby until you’re ready. That dedicated room in your home where you birthed at will always be a special place to you. It will always be: This is special place where I had my baby. We no longer reside at the house where we gave birth to David, but the house is still there and we have it all on video, so it’s fine.
Last Bit Of Advice
Hopefully this gave you some insight on why birthing at home is totally amazing and well worth it for you and your beautiful baby. My advice to you is to research, research, research – as much as possible. Watch some videos, read birthing books, ask other mothers who birthed at home as well as moms who birthed in the hospital setting, and come up with your own birth plan that you are happy and comfortable with. This will help you soooooo much in the long run.
Also, I advise you to look into finding or hiring a Doula and/or Midwife. Both are great to have, but if you can afford only one, please do it. Sometimes a close family member or friend can serve as an amazing Doula as well. They can be a life saver and help you stick close to your birthing plan. My Doula showed up 2 hours before I gave birth (I called her at the last minute lol) and she was soooo vital to my home birth. She was like a friend, a doctor, a nurse and a Midwife at the same time. No matter where you give birth, having your baby according to your rules, morals, and birth plan is best. My birth plan went according to plan, all except for the fact that our son arrived a week early. You never know when baby will decide to show up, so always be prepared weeks in advance. Seriously.
Lastly, don’t let anyone make you feel bad for wanting a natural childbirth at home. Oftentimes you will hear people tell you things like: you must be crazy, or you’re gonna change your mind after you feel that pain, or you’re going to regret not getting that epidural, but do not listen to them. Most times, the women who say that have NEVER had a natural childbirth, so they can’t offer you real advice and they cannot give you the AMAZING benefits of natural birth. All they give you is the negative stuff to scare you into folding like they did. You are brave. You are smart. This is your body. This is your baby. And this is your pregnancy. Give birth the way you want to. If you need extra support from women who have done this before, join natural birthing Facebook groups such as Natural Birth Support Group, Homebirth Assisted & Unassisted, and Home & Waterbirth. The women in those groups are phenomenal, personal and super supportive of natural and home births. They can answer most questions that you have because they’ve been through it themselves. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them. If you have any questions for me, please don’t hesitate to ask. I’m here for you mommies! To watch my amazing home birthing experience click here.
See ya next time!