Home birth is the best birth. But I get it, it sounds kind of scary to some people, especially a first-time mom who is being hit with horror stories of how awful and painful birth can allegedly be from every single stranger she encounters with unsolicited advice.
For the record, I am friends with home-birthers, hospital-with-an-epidural birthers, scheduled-C-sections birthers, birth-center mamas, and even an accidental-car-birth mom! Having carried and delivered three beautiful baby girls at home, I know that pregnancy, labor, and delivery for each kid (let alone each woman) is totally different. All the more reason why women should look into home birth.
Even in a non-pandemic society, there are major benefits for mom and baby when it comes to home birth. We can help all women by encouraging and educating them about home birth.
Here are my top three reasons for preferring a home birth over a hospital birth:
1. You Can Control How Clean Your Home Is
When we changed from a hospital birth to a home birth back in 2013 during the third trimester with my firstborn, part of the reason was how uncomfortable and confusing the hospital tour was. We were planning on using a teaching-friendly, midwife-friendly, water-birth-friendly Los Angeles hospital. But we left the tour feeling like there was too much exposure, too much access, and too many people who would have immediate contact with me and our baby. Plus, it was unappealing that my husband would have had to drop me off all alone and go park then walk back to me. I didn’t want to be alone. An issue many women are currently grappling with during this time of COVID-19.
I wanted medical experts, but I also longed for privacy as I was about to experience something for the very first time and didn’t even know the people who would be staring at me or telling me what to do. So we switched to a home birth.
Babies become adapted to the germs and environment their mama is in while she is pregnant.
One of the facts we learned along the way is that babies become adapted to the germs and environment their mama is in while she is pregnant. So home germs are what they are “used to,” so to speak. But leaving your home during labor and going to a hospital exposes mom and baby to new germs they’re not immune to, in addition to the facts that the adrenaline boost you get when traveling to the hospital can stall labor and it can be rather uncomfortable to contract without movement in a moving vehicle.
I’d also remind new mamas that they need to heal. Your cervix doesn’t close for six weeks and limiting your risk of infection is key too.
Now, having attended a home birth where a Grandmother was concerned about whether or not it was sterile, I can tell you this: Lab coats, masks, gloves, and a hospital room will not make birth sterile. No birth is sterile. At least I know and can trust when I last bleached my floor, and I know who came in and out of my COVID-free home.
No birth is sterile. At least I know and can trust when I last bleached my floor, and I know who came in and out of my COVID-free home.
Another thing to consider is that over 200 women who entered a labor and delivery ward in NYC tested positive for COVID — but only 14 percent were symptomatic. So, even though the research is mixed on the risks to pregnant women and babies, this shows that, unbeknownst to them, pregnant women can be carriers and potentially a part of the spread.
2. Home Births Can Be Financially Smarter
During that first pregnancy, we moved across the country and had a 90 day waiting period before my company’s insurance kicked in, and then we had to meet a $2,000 deductible.
When I called the hospital (this was in 2013), the billing office said at a minimum a natural water birth and stay would likely be over $10,000. We’d have to pay a $2,000 deductible for me and $2,000 for the newborn baby. A home birth at the time was $5,000. A midwife, who made herself available to us, only charged us half because she was generous and kind, and we switched to her at 35 weeks.
We are currently a part of a health share plan that covers everything related to pregnancy and birth, even home birth. So our last two pregnancies and home births were covered. No questions asked.
We are currently a part of a health share plan that covers everything related to pregnancy and birth, even home birth.
It can be a hassle, but a lot of midwives will direct you to third-party billing specialists who can instruct you about how to ask questions of your insurance provider about home birth and what they will or will not cover.
Back to the friend who had a baby in a car...turns out originally her insurance company didn’t want to cover a home birth. But after she demonstrated how quickly she labored with her third baby, they agreed that birthing by accident in a car is a much higher risk to mama and baby than a medically attended home birth.
3. Midwives Provide More Care for Mother and Baby
We’ve been reading a lot about companies, airports, and grocery stores considering taking people’s temps. Do you know who is constantly taking a mother’s temp? Her midwife.
Midwives are doing as many telehealth appointments as possible, and, when needed, going to see their patients in their homes while adhering to all of the necessary guidelines during COVID.
Your partner will never be removed or asked to leave unless you request it. The midwife will entrust you to make the decision on who you want there.
Home-birthing women get seen, listened to, and spoken with more often than hospital-birthing women.
With our third daughter, we had to kick out my mom, my mother-in-law, and our two other daughters because labor had stalled, and more people means longer labor. But, I was asked what I wanted. I was given all of the reasoning behind the advice, and I was able to make an educated decision without pressure from anyone.
My midwife was my advocate, instructing my family to get me water and food, checking on my temperature and blood pressure, and asking about the healing process every single postpartum visit. That’s in addition to all of the questions she would ask during the pregnancy.
I’ve compared notes with other moms, and, when you have a hospital birth, the mother’s aftercare is not equal to that of a home birthing mom. Home-birthing women get seen, listened to, and spoken with more often than hospital-birthing women.
Many don’t realize this, but midwives are also trained in early infant needs and medical issues.
Many don’t realize this, but midwives are also trained in early infant needs and medical issues. Beyond the immediate APGAR test newborns receive, they will give Vitamin K shots and antibiotic eye ointment, draw blood for infant screening, help you latch a nursing baby, make sure the newborn is alert and moving normally, check their temperature, their heart, and lungs, post-birth growth, etc.
I’ve known midwives who have caught heart murmurs that pediatricians didn’t. Who have transferred to a hospital when necessary. And who have delivered accidental breech babies.
All of this to say, I felt comfortable knowing my midwife had the skill to observe and check on me and my baby, ask the right questions, and determine what was needed for both of us.
I am biased — I have had three home births and two pregnancies with entire at-home midwifery care. But if you’re not high risk and can find someone you trust, I’d highly recommend it. Even in a pandemic-free world, but especially more so in one.
I sincerely feel for my friends who can’t have the birth experience they planned for, but I’d also encourage them that this is motherhood. Learning, changing, adjusting, and educating yourself to pivot as needed for the betterment of you and your children.
The bottom line: women should feel empowered to bring life into this world in a safe, peaceful environment they want. And since they likely can’t get that in a hospital right now, I’d recommend they try it at home.