Deciding where and how to give birth is as stressful as planning a wedding or trying to get pregnant. There are so many options, and everyone has an opinion on what’s best.
No matter what anyone else says, making sure that you’re comfortable is what’s most important. A woman has to do what she knows is best. Sometimes that means deviating from the norm and using older methods of bringing a life into the world.
Deciding to Homebirth
For me, deciding to homebirth was easy. I thought, “Women have been having babies for thousands of years.” I was also concerned about high C-section rates and didn’t want anyone convincing me that I needed to take drugs or have my baby cut out of me unless it was absolutely medically necessary. Even better, the cost of a homebirth was also much lower than that of a hospital birth.
With my first pregnancy, it was difficult to get everyone on board. None of my friends or family members had done a homebirth, so I had to explain my decision to everyone. However, once everyone saw the success I had with my eldest, other expectant parents asked for my midwife’s information.
Midwives and the mothers they serve learn to trust each other and develop a close bond.
Then, when I was pregnant with my youngest last year, during the pandemic, I heard of hospitals separating mothers from their newborns due to COVID concerns. I felt grateful for my homebirths. My midwife was happy to deliver another baby, and admitted that her phone was ringing so much that she could only take on patients she had previously worked with.
Midwives and the mothers they serve develop a close bond. They learn to trust each other and work together throughout the entire pregnancy. From what I know of hospital births, most women don’t see much of their doctor. During prenatal care, it's mainly the nurses who help expectant mothers through the pregnancy stages. I can’t imagine not being friends with the person who helps me through such a life-changing experience.
The First Trimester
Once deciding to homebirth, growing a healthy baby is the top priority. Midwives openly discuss the importance of eating right and exercising from the very beginning. Everything the mother eats affects her baby’s growth, and that responsibility is often downplayed in the medical industry.
Growing a healthy baby is the top priority.
The monthly visits are relaxed. I used two different midwives, one for my older children and another for the younger two after my previous midwife moved out of state. They both had comfy couches and chairs. They welcomed fathers and siblings. The exams were simple. My blood pressure and temperature were checked. Measurements were taken, but the main event was always hearing the baby’s heartbeat. That's such a reassuring sound for new parents!
The Second Trimester
I didn’t want to know what gender I was having with any of my children. It gave me an extra reason to push during labor. I also didn’t wish to have ultrasounds, sonograms, or tests for defects. I felt that if my babies were healthy, they were healthy, and if they weren’t, I didn’t want pressure from anyone to have an abortion or anything like that.
Despite my personal preference, midwives are well equipped. If they don’t have the necessary means, they work with technicians who can easily schedule testing, ultrasounds, or sonograms.
The Third Trimester
The last trimester is when things really start to get interesting. Your body is big, and the baby is active. It’s important to get yourself in the right mindset. Prepare for pain and combating fear of it!
It’s important to get yourself in the right mindset.
Labor pains, for me, are best described as the worst menstrual cramps you will even experience. But that pain exists for a reason. It helps you know when to push and how hard. Braxton Hicks, pre-labor, and/or false labor contractions are less common in first-time mothers. I had a few with my eldest when I didn’t drink enough water, but with each baby, they grew stronger and started earlier. By the fourth baby, I started having them at 20 weeks. It got so consistent that when I was in actual labor, I didn’t realize it until my water broke, and my water doesn’t usually break until it’s time to push the baby out.
Labor and Delivery
Before it’s time to push, pain management is essential. I found that breathing in a low deep voice helped, and bounce-walking aided my body through contractions. Resting when the pressure let up helped me to reserve my strength for pushing.
Pushing is the hard part. You’re tired. You’re in pain. And you just want to hold your baby. There may be some tears. You will want to quit, but your partner and your midwife will help you overcome that frustration.
Pushing feels good. It helps get all that pain out. Once the baby comes, the relief is euphoric. You get to hold your sweet little one, and they cling to you.
But What If Something Goes Wrong?
Birthing is a violent process. I compare it to going to war. You battle and battle and battle until you finally win. It’s bloody and exhausting, but in the end, it’s for a purpose.
A trained midwife knows what she’s doing. When my eldest was born, the cord was wrapped around her neck, and she had swallowed meconium. My second daughter got stuck coming out, and my youngest came out so fast he was delivered by the midwife’s assistant a minute before the midwife got to my house. Each of these situations could have been fatal, but they weren’t because everyone involved knew how to work together.
Hospital transfers are something every midwife prepares for.
Even if these situations escalated, hospital transfers are something every midwife prepares for. They know just what can go wrong, and we discussed emergency plans before delivery to know what to do just in case.
The best part of a homebirth is being able to lay in your own bed with your baby. It’s so soothing, and the midwives do an exceptional job of containing messes and cleaning everything.
They hang around in the background for a while, making sure to clean and cook and provide every comfort possible. Before they leave, they offer instructions. There's a lot of healing to do, but once they depart they remain just a call away.
Homebirths are a wonderful option for women who are up for the task. I wouldn’t have a baby any other way. Of course, they’re not for everyone, but homebirths offer a personalized touch for parents who wish to welcome a baby into their home from the very first breath.
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