What I’d Like For You To Know: Home Birth

Whatidlike Welcome to a long overdue edition of <a What I'd Like For You To Know. If you're new here, the idea behind this series is to ask women to share something about a specific life challenge or circumstance, addressing some of the misconceptions and (most importantly) telling us all how we can reach out better.

When Kate of Now There Are Three offered to explain some misconceptions about home birth, I was eager to hear what she had to say.  Though I know and respect many people who have made this birthing choice, I've always been a hospital birther myself, due partly to my tendency to deliver a little too early and partly to (let's just be honest) my deep love for the people with the pain medicine.  I know you'll enjoy reading Kate's reasoned and gentle perspective…

The What I’d Like For You To Know series has made me keenly aware of one area of my life that is often misunderstood and sparks heated defensiveness in women.  Home birth.  I have had two home births and in July I will have my third.  Here’s what I’d like for you to know about why I have chosen to give birth at home.

When my husband and I made the decision to have a home birth my family was a little nervous. My grandma was beside herself. She would ask, "Why would you want to do that without pain medication? What if something happens? Why would you want to deal with all that clean-up and the 'icky' stuff?  Hospitals and doctors are there for a reason, USE THEM!"

No matter what I said, there was no way I was going to change her mind. It taught me one thing:  There was a good chance that I wasn't going to change most people’s mind, especially my grandmother’s, and I had to be okay with our decision despite what others thought.

Here are the most common questions and comments I receive about homebirth:

Why did you choose a home birth?

It started with a friend asking me to go to her first appointment with a lay midwife.  She brought with her a list of questions ranging from newborn care to safety precautions. As I listened, my mind started to open to the possibility of birth looking different from the mainstream.

Nine months later, she had her little girl at home. Just hours after having the baby, my husband and I went for a visit. It was so peaceful, relaxing, and quiet. I was so impressed with how calm it all was. Family was there, mom and baby were resting in the bedroom and dinner was in the oven. I decided in that moment that a home birth was the best fit for our family.

Another reason was the epidural needle.  I once saw how it was done on a morning show and almost passed out. I know from many women that it is heavenly and I'm fairly certain that it is, but there is no way that gigantic needle is coming within 10 feet of my back.

I wanted to feel childbirth, pain and all. It is not beautiful and I had no expectation that it would.  But I did want that connection.  This is not to say that the connection I had with my babies was any more powerful than women who have conventional, mainstream births in a hospital.  It simply means that I wanted to experience childbirth in its wholeness.  And home birth provided a means for me to do that.

Aren't you afraid something will go wrong?

I am well aware of the risk I'm taking. Fortunately, I have had two low-risk pregnancies and births. Professional midwives will only take low-risk births and track the health of pregnancy just the same as a doctor would. I have the same access to testing and am given standard preventative care should problems arise.

A good midwife is trained to respond well in emergencies. Most are equipped with life saving devices and a “transport” plan to help deal with emergencies safely and effectively. A good midwife has about a 5-10% transport rate and any higher should be called into question. In addition, my midwife is incredibly cautious. If there is a bad feeling or you insist on going to the hospital, she is supportive and responsive.

Who cleans up? Isn't it messy?

This is always a fun one.  People always seemed incredibly grossed out by not having the “sterile” environment of the hospital.  I assure you, it still is sterile.  I do not clean up after my own birth. The midwives do this. I had a plastic sheet, spare sheets, and surgical pads down on our bed. The mess was easy to contain and quickly cleaned up before I even had a chance to notice. 

Don't you want nurses to take care of you?

Thankfully, I have a mom. She doesn’t do blood pressure checks at 2 a.m. but she makes sure everyone is well-fed, my house is clean, and my babies are loved.  My midwife stays with me for several hours after the birth or until I have successfully passed a post birth checklist.  She will then come to my home at 24, 48, and 72 hours after the birth and four more times over the next six weeks to do routine newborn and post-partum care. 

What do you love about it the most?

I love being able to walk around during labor. I love that my midwives come to my home and stay for the entire birth. And while they are there, they interact with my family and celebrate with me. 

I love the intense rush of adrenaline you get just after you push the baby out. One moment you are in the most intense pain and the next you are experiencing the greatest sense of relief you've ever felt in your life. Then you look down to find this little purplish, blue creature lying on your tummy and you’re done!

I love that my husband is able to be comfortable in his own home. He doesn't deal well with me being in pain. So I labor with women who know exactly what I'm going through and can offer support. He is able to flow in and out of the room based on his comfort level and he knows I am still well taken care of.  Then at the last minute I can call him in to witness the birth of our baby.  I love that my midwife knows this about him and doesn't put any extra expectations on him. 

Some women become defensive when they find out I've given birth at home. I find that it somehow makes them uncomfortable. I always hear, "I want the drugs. I could never do it without them". I think any woman can, but if you don't want to, that's perfectly fine.  Again, I’m so thankful we all get to choose where and how we want to give birth.

Speaking for myself and possibly for most home birth moms, we do not in ANY way think we are superior for giving birth at home or giving birth without drugs.  It does not mean our birth was more beautiful or more whole.  I know there are women out there that sometimes give off that vibe, and for any feelings they give you of being inferior, I am sorry. I can tell you for the majority of us, we are just glad we have the choice to give birth the way that we want.

To read more of Kate's posts, visit her blog Now There Are Three.

79 thoughts on “What I’d Like For You To Know: Home Birth

  1. Smockity Frocks says:

    Thank you! I so enjoyed reading this! I have 7 children and have had 4 with no drugs. I feel the same as you about the pain being part of the process for me.
    I SO wish I could have home births, but I am considered “high risk” and no midwife will touch me because of my history of pre-term labor. I would love the freedom to walk around until the last minute and hold my OWN baby for as long as I want afterwards. (I hate the way the nurses whisk them away.)

  2. Smockity Frocks says:

    Thank you, Kate. I loved reading this!
    I have 7 children and had the last 4 with no drugs. I feel the same as you about wanting the pain to be part of the process.
    I SO wish I could do home birth, but I am considered “high risk” and no midwife will touch me.
    I would love to be able to walk around until the last minute and be able to hold my baby for as long as I want afterward. I always hate the nurses taking them away!

  3. Jane Anne says:

    I enjoyed reading this. It was insightful and non-judgemental. I have talked to a mom that had at-home births and she was so against hospital births she made me feel bad. Thank you for such a wonderful explanation!

  4. Rachel says:

    Beautifully written, Kate! I, too, had a home birth with my first (and so far only) child and it was an amazing experience. Everything I hoped it would be.
    Home birth is definitely one of those *hot topics* that can truly polarize people. I wish that weren’t the case. I completely agree with you, I’m thankful I was able to do what I wanted and what felt right for us. I would never try to tell someone else what they should or shouldn’t do.
    I was really afraid to share the news with people when we made our choice. Overall, we were wonderfully supported. Those who couldn’t understand had a hard time keeping their opinions to themselves. We learned that we didn’t need to convince others to agree with our decision, but it really meant a lot when we were supported.
    Thank you for sharing this!

  5. Karen says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. I had three of my five at home and loved every bit of them. It was all so much calmer and more relaxed than my two hospital births. I’m thankful I had the opportunity to do this, and thankful for great midwives.

  6. lori says:

    I really appreciated your story. No matter how fellow moms choose to give birth, I hope that other will also adopt the attitude that you shared in your last paragraph. 🙂

  7. jpritchard says:

    i must tell you that i think THIS IS WONDERFUL. i first was turned onto the idea of low-risk pregnancies delivering at home after watching “The Business of Being Born”—and, although not entirely medically accurate, the documentary really centers on the fear instilled in women about birthing more naturally.
    i’m training to be a physician (only one year left!!) and have been quite shocked to see how many natural methods for birthing (anything from mineral oil to ambulation during labor) are available to women but hidden from the eyes of those in the hospital. i’m hoping to incorporate obstetrics into my family medicine practice and will most certainly recommend that low-risk women consider the option of home birth, or at least using a doula or midwife for their birthing.
    check out books by dr. michel odent for more insight 🙂

  8. Daina says:

    Thanks for posting. My husband and I would consider a home birth (though I’m not sure I’d opt for one in the end) if there were a midwife near our home. We’re in a small town in a less-populated region of the state and I just wasn’t able to find one I could get to without having to drive almost an hour into the city for each appointment. It’s been the biggest disappointment our new small-town home has brought us!

  9. Shawna says:

    What a beautiful story. I wanted to have our kids at home, but due to risks, I couldn’t. After my birth experiences, I am glad that I was in the hospital.
    That being said, I am so glad that there are women out there that still do home births, and I am especially thankful that some of them offer to share their beautiful stories with the rest of us.

  10. Runningamuck says:

    You wrote it wonderfully Kate! I have had one hospital birth, two homebirths and one birth center birth (my midwife had two of us call her at the same time so we both had to go in. But it turned out wonderfully as I got to use her big huge tub and ended up with a water birth). All natural and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I totally agree with wanting to experience labor with all it’s highs and lows. Great job!! =0)

  11. mama2tlc says:

    Awesome explanation. I chose a drug free hospital birth and was surprised at all the people who were surprised at my drug free choice. You explained it so well as being part of the process. Shannon, thanks for doing this again…can’t wait to see more!

  12. Carrie says:

    Thank you for sharing this – wonderfully written! I had an epidural with my first – pitocin & back labor plus a low pain tolerance changed my mind from wanting a natural birth. But in a different scenario I would hope to have a ‘natural’ birth next time.
    I just don’t think I personally would ever choose a home birth, because I know that if anything were to happen (especially to the baby), I would forever blame myself and wonder if something different could have been done if I were in a hospital. But I’m glad that it has worked out for you, and it sounds beautiful and comfortable!

  13. Kelli says:

    After a hospital birth for my first child, I later had 2 home births. I much prefer being at home. A rich, beautiful and peaceful experience that I treasure.

  14. Kristen S. says:

    so glad to read this! there is so much rhetoric from the birthing establishment, as well as ungracious homebirth militants, and I’m so thankful for choices in childbirth! I’ve had the last 3 of my 5 at home, and while I don’t plan to have any more, I would definitely never have a hospital birth again! I’m the reverse of the commenter above…if anything were to happen during a hospital birth b/c of all the intervention, I’d forever blame myself for not staying home! my sisters are happy hospital birthers, and we lovingly support each other in our decisions and there is no greater gift to your sisters/friends than to encourage her to research/study/dream about the birth she wants!

  15. Amy @ Finer Things says:

    Beautifully written! Thankfully, my doctor allows me to labor at the hospital much like one would at home. The whirlpool is nicer at the hospital, too. 😉
    If I didn’t have the incredible support of flexible doctors and nurses who let me labor and deliver naturally (they didn’t even put a hep lock in last time) I may have chosen home birthing, also.

  16. Kristi says:

    Thanks for sharing! I had my first 2 in the hospital and second 2 at home – I am thankful that God allowed every delivery to be wonderful. I am thankful to live in a place that allows home birth as a legal option. I believe God blesses us with amazing experiences to see His glory through these kinds of circumstances if we will have faith and trust Him! I, too, had fantastic midwives. I always encourage other mothers-to-be to look carefully at the option of homebirth, for it is truly a blessing! 🙂

  17. Becky says:

    Very graciously presented! Nearly every “home birth” friend of mine tends to force it on the rest of us, to the point that some of us “hospital birthers” completely avoid those “home birth” friends during pregnancy.
    I have had two hospital births: My first was a completely normal pregnancy, followed by a vaginal delivery, requiring 2 episiotomies, due to a compound presentation; there was meconium in the sack, so the doctors had to suction her lungs right after she was born. With my second pregnancy I had pre-term labor starting at 6 months, bedrest for several weeks, and an emergency C-section due to an oblique lie when I was over 5 cm at 32 weeks. This little guy spent 23 days in the NICU, before coming home on an apnea-bradycardia monitor for four months because of his heart rate drifts and irregular breathing.
    I can understand why others might choose a home birth. But given the issues I (and my babies) have had, even one of my “home birth” friends’ midwives said she would have sent me to the hospital too–so that’s the best option for my health and the babies. Thankfully I have had great doctors who have been supportive of my requests, and hospitals that allow the babies to stay in the room the entire time.
    I’m thankful that we all get to make our own choices, and I genuinely enjoy hearing the “other side” presented in a non-combative way!

  18. Molly says:

    Love the article. I haven’t had any yet, so I know I have no room to speak, but after seeing Pregnant in America and The Business of Being Born, I will insist on having a natural, at home birth if at all possible. Home births are safer, and natural births FAR exceed the safety of pitocin+epidural+whatever other interventions they can dream up to shove you through that hospital!

  19. Bonnie Walker says:

    thank you for being non-judgmental in your article! You tell your story beautifully. Just wanted to add that a home birth is not the only way to have a completely drug free, natural birth. I know it is rare, but I had a wonderful doctor who let me stand up and walk around and do whatever I wanted in the hospital and I ended up with a completely natural birth and felt all those things you talked about. So, although I’m sure it is much more likely to happen with a home birth, it is also quite possible with a hospital birth. I just didn’t want people to think that if they want a natural, painful, med free birth that having it at home is the only option. I think choosing the right doctor or midwife for you is really most important in having the kind of birth you want, whether it be drug free or not!

  20. Carmen says:

    This was almost as if I was reading my own words. We used midwives for the birth of our daughter, and had planned on a homebirth. We ended up, due to complications, being transferred to a hospital. But, being able to come back home, three hours after her birth, is an experience I would trade for nothing. Thanks for your wonderful post 🙂

  21. The Clever Mom says:

    I, too, had a home birth after a less than satisfactory experience in hospital (though with a midwife in constant attendance, I hated the postpartum ward more). My experience was almost the same as Kate’s. My husband took care of our 4 year old, they went to the comic book store, watched scooby do on youtube at the other end of the house and popped in for the delivery.
    The entire experience was totally within my control, noone suggesting I had to get on the bed for long periods of time to track contractions. I could wander naked or half clothed wherever I wanted to, could eat or drink to my satisfaction, and everything was so peaceful and quiet (except, of course, for me).
    I’m just the kind of person who believes that people who aren’t sick do not belong in the hospital. The majority of pregnant women aren’t sick, so why should they start off in a hospital? I get that they may feel safer there and that’s cool, but I hope we get more of a cultural shift so that low risk healthy mums feel just as safe in the home where their midwife, an expert in detecting unhealthy variations in labour, can either catch the baby or move the whole thing to a hospital for higher risk support.

  22. Tasha says:

    What a graceful and well thought out explanation! I have had three different births, my first at home (waterbirth, so cool!!), the second induced in a hospital with no drugs (Although at that point I was screaming for them!), and the third an emergency C sec.
    Out of all of them, my favorite was the Homebirth. There are so many misconceptions out there against home birth. I feel every woman should have the right to choose her birthing options, of course with the baby’s well being in mind. The peacefulness and homeyness of the home birth is my kinda thing though, and if it hadn’t have been for my body going nuts, my third would have been born at home as well.
    Thank you for sharing her story!!

  23. Prasti says:

    thanks for sharing! like kate, i am deathly afraid of that epidural needle (especially after reading about how they do the procedure) and had chose to have my 1st baby w/ no meds. this time around i am planning to do the same, though i’m hoping to try a waterbirth too. i had been contemplating a home birth as well, but maybe when we try for our 3rd :). i really appreciate reading this…very helpful!

  24. Erin says:

    Thank you for such a well written and gracious post. I haven’t had children (yet) but I love to read many different sides so I can be as well informed as possible.

  25. Laura L. says:

    This was really, really well written and I so enjoyed reading it.
    Thanks for sharing. Wow, there are an amazing amount of home birth mommies reading this blog. Neat to read about your experiences too.
    I had 3 in the hospital, and 1 placed in my arms in China.
    If I was ever to birth again (which I’m not) I’d think about a home birth.

  26. HopiQ says:

    Thank you for an informative and gracious post. We had two hospital births (second pregnancy was twins) and two home births. They are very different experiences, and I’m so thankful for my five healthy, beautiful children! It was difficult for our families to understand our decision simply because we as a culture are uninformed and fearful.

  27. Crystal says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this. Before my first was born, I had no idea that things like this were possible. I ended up having a c-section, and I often wondered if the outcome would have been different if we had made different choices. I went on to have 2 more c-sections after my hopes for a VBAC were dashed due to extenuating circumstances with my second pregnancy. I sometimes long to know the other side of things, but I’m so happy to be able to hold my 2 healthy boys that I have with me. I love hearing about wonderful home birth experiences in a way that doesn’t make me feel guilty for the way my own children entered the world.

  28. suburbancorrespondent says:

    I, too, have enjoyed the peaceful environment and sense of control that a home or birth center birth can bring. And it bothers me to have people making judgments about homebirths (dangerous! foolhardy!), when in fact they know nothing about them. As if we would be selfish enough to jeopardize our babies!

  29. Lisa says:

    I am so glad chose to interview Kate. It’s a great subject and there are so many opinions about it. I have had nine homebirths, so I know a lot about them. I’ve had simple and I’ve had complicated and I would never have wanted to be in a hospital. Several of the comments have referred to “ungracious homebirth militants”. This is sad. I have a lot of homebirth friends and we all believe strongly that it is the best way to have our babies, but I don’t know anyone who could be described in this way. There are statistics that prove that it is a safe (if not safer) alternative to hospitals birth for healthy, low-risk women.
    I love the peaceful atmosphere where no one is taking the control away from me or my husband. He is completely in charge of my, and baby’s, well being. It really strengthens our marriage relationship. Our other children have watched their siblings being born and helped with the clean-up. They are a big part of it. Afterwards it is so sweet. Baby and I are well taken care of and no getting up and getting in a car to go home. I, like Kate said, don’t judge those that make a different choice than I do. I don’t want responsibility for their family. But it is a wonderful experience…not just because it’s natural, but because it is home. Lisa~

  30. Courtney@BooksnBoys says:

    I also enjoyed the non-judgmental way the post was written. I am one of those woman who would have died in childbirth without an epidural (no, seriously I would have). My dad was a paramedic, so he wouldn’t ever let me have a home birth because he’s seen calls of home births that needed help. So it’s never been an option for me. It was interesting hearing a different opinion though.

  31. Chelsea says:

    Another option is to hire a doula and have a hospital birth. The doula will act as an advocate/coach and make sure the medical staff follows the birth plan. My nurses never once offered me an epidural because we had a written plan. They didn’t even make me wear the uncomfortable belly straps except for an occasional heartrate check once every hour. I had three hospital births, two completely drug free and one with necessary intervention. But in all three cases I hemorrhaged horribly afterward and most likely would have bled out if I’d not been at a hospital.

  32. missy @ its almost naptime says:

    Thanks Kate. I am THE poster child for unnatural childbirth. I have never been able to understand why anyone would go au natural but you have done a wonderful job of explaining it. I too am so thankful that we are among the first generations of women who are able to determine most of the details of our childbirths.
    Blessings to you and prayers that your next baby will come as easily (3 halfhearted pushes, more like a cough!) and joyfully as my third baby did!

  33. Jessica says:

    What a gracious post! Isn’t it sad that sometimes mothers are made to feel a certain way about their birthing choices? It is a shame.
    I wish you well on your third birth. We have our own third coming in August. We will have to swap stories!
    Thanks Kate! And thanks Shannon, for hosting her.
    Thanks!

  34. Whitney says:

    I really appreciated the tone of this post. I had a hospital birth for my son and I was so happy with my experience. I had a nurse midwife and she was wonderful. I actually wouldn’t have a baby at home for two reasons: I have a very low pain tolerance. The idea of doing it naturally honestly scares me, which makes it worse. Also, my son was born with a mild congital defect. It was taken care of, but because it could be hereditary, I am automatically considered high risk even though my pregnancy had no complications. I would NEVER take that risk that something could go really wrong. But thanks for your article!

  35. lomagirl says:

    I gave birth at a birthing house with midwives for my second child. It was a great experience (though I did miss the drugs) and if I decided to have a third, I would consider a home birth.
    One thing you didn’t mention- I think our bodies recover better with natural childbirth (drug free). I know that I did much better after mine as opposed to the first birth with an epidural.

  36. Miche says:

    That was really great to read about; I would love to try the relaxed feel of a home birth, but since my second son came a month early due to my water breaking out of the blue, I think I am now considered high risk should we have more. I’ll have to look into it; thinking about having your room set up how you want -maybe even candles! and dinner in the oven and a soft bed would be so much nicer than the hospital I birthed both of my sons at.

  37. Adventures In Babywearing says:

    This is great! I had Ivy at home and it was definitely something that not many people understood. It was one of the best decisions we EVER made.
    It was right for us.
    And one great benefit that I am still loving is that Ivy had her days and nights right since the very first day she was born! (No getting poked and prodded every couple hours by nurses in the hospital!) : )
    Steph

  38. Blessed says:

    This is a beautiful post.
    I wouldn’t opt for home birth – I’m a bit too paranoid 🙂 – But I had hoped to have my children naturally in a hospital. Unfortunately I have a serious fibroid tumor problem so… my first was born in 2007 via C-Section and my second (and last because C-Sections are so tough on your body) will be born in June via C-Section again and I’ll have even more tumors removed.
    Oh well, I feel like I’ve missed out on part of the “experience” of motherhood by missing out on the birthing but the joy of having a healthy baby in my arms and knowing that I’m tumor (and cancer) free quickly make up for that loss.

  39. Bona Fide Mama says:

    What a wonderful article about homebirth. I am 40 weeks pregnant with number three and, God willing, this will be my second homebirth. As a mother who has experience both medical induction/hospital/epidural AND a homebirth… I actually enjoyed the first experience more. But I decided to give homebirth a shot again! Because I know it’s the right thing for me and my family! I’ll be writing about my birth very soon. Again, thanks for sharing.

  40. Monica @ Paper Bridges says:

    excellent, Kate (and Shannon)
    I’ve always been a fan of homebirth and was ready to go for it, but it wasn’t to be. I did get the prize at the end though, my baby girl, and that’s the most important thing of all.
    I applaud all homebirthing mamas for getting the birth they want. I applaud all the hospital birthing mamas for getting what they want too.
    Aren’t you glad we have a choice! 🙂

  41. Marti says:

    This was so neat to read after watching my nephew be born at home last night. Both of my sisters have had their babies at home regularly (four home births between the two of them), and they both have loved the experience. I’m a hospital girl myself, though my last one was “accidentally” born at home when she came faster than expected.
    I’m thankful that we have so many options available so that we can each decide what is best for our own family.

  42. Miranda says:

    what a lovely explanantion. i’ve given birth in a birth center, a hospital, and most recently, at home. my favorite part of birthing at home (and at the birth center) is sleeping in my own bed that night! there is nothing for comfort like your own bed!
    we were mostly supported in our decision, with respectful questions asked. i definitely felt like i had to be careful to emphasize that it was MY choice, not something i was pushing on others.
    thank you for talking about this, and i love reading the comments, which have been so gracious!

  43. Alyson says:

    What a great post! A part of me wishes I had had enough confidence in myself to consider something like this when I had my kids. Not that their birth experiences weren’t amazing anyway, but this sounds really cool 🙂

  44. Jessica says:

    Thanks for your perspective. Child birth is a very personal thing and there are so many different ways to choose to do it these days. I appreciate your non-judgmental attitude.
    I’ve thought about home birth but have had complications with both of my pregnancies and am glad to have had them both in the hospital. I was bedridden with pre-eclampsia for the first one so I was unable to walk around. But with the second one, even with complications I was walking around, in the tub. The hospital was very supportive of my decisions.
    Thanks again for your story!

  45. Wanda says:

    UHHHMAZING!!!!!
    Good for you! I am a scaredy cat! I had high risk pregnancies though and my hubby was a wreck. So it couldn’t have worked well for me. Two of my babes were in ICU.
    I am….like you, thankful for having the choice! God bless you and your sweet babies! It sounds awesome!
    Really neat post!

  46. Lana says:

    Awesome! I think that by baby number 3, I may be ready for this and could sorta see myself doing it! Baby number 1 was so difficult; 2 was so much easier, so maybe 3 (if that ever comes to be). Thanks for the insight!

  47. Megan@SortaCrunchy says:

    What a gracious, informative, and lovely way to present this option! Both of my daughters were Cesarean births, but if I had it to do all over again, I would have done more research on homebirth to begin with. It sounds so inviting!

  48. Hope-It's a Vivas Thing says:

    I chose a midwife with my oldest son after terrible care from the hospital staff with my first daughter. I loved it. However, when we had our 2nd son, we didn’t feel comfortable with the midwives that were in town and decided to seek an ob/gyn who would respect our wishes to have a natural childbirth. Our son ended up being 7 weeks premature and we were so grateful to have the doctor. After that, we chose to stay with him. Our next daughter was an emergency c-section due to her size. The doctor was wonderful for our next son, who let me deliver naturally with a VBAC. Unfortunately, our last daughter ended up being another emergency c-section, so it was great to still be with the same doctor!
    All that to say that we just never will know! I’ve had the great experience of having different types of birth with my children. I’ve also been blessed to help with my niece and nephew and a few good friend’s childbirth. It can be important to have other women there to support and love you through it, no matter where you decided to have your baby! I say can be, because I have an awesome husband who was amazing through all of our births.

  49. Mary-Ann says:

    I am also considering one when I start having kids. It sounds so nice and peaceful and I was never a hospital person, I get scared around one.

  50. Lenetta says:

    I am part of the Nebraska Friends of Midwives – our state has the interesting designation of being one of two states that specifically prohibit Certified Nurse Midwives from attending home births (Alabama is the other, I think). We have legislation introduced to hopefully change that! I had my daughter in a hospital with a CNM, and we both wished a number of times that we could’ve been at my house.

  51. harper says:

    I just birthed my first at home (10 lb 10n oz at birth), and I’m so glad I did. In my family’s experience, hospitals are neither clean nor safe, and so I was terrified at the thought of having to go there–more so than of the pain. However, the pain for me was not as bad as I expected. The worst part was when the mw used the doppler during contractions. I can’t imagine how excruciating it would have been to be hooked up to monitors.
    For me, refusing to fear the pain was the best anesthetic. There’s nothing to fear but fear itself.

  52. Leanna says:

    I am going to give birth to my first child at home in September. I was planning on writing my own “Why We Chose Home Birth” blog for my personal baby blog, and I have been completely inspired by this entry!
    I meet a lot of people who are VERY anti-home birth without knowing the facts, and it really bothers me. As someone who believes women should be able to choose the birth they are comfortable with (from home to a planned c-section), it is so aggravating for me to be on the “wrong” side of so much hate towards this beautiful option. I hope many people read and find truth in your writings!

  53. Sarah says:

    Hi Kate…I too, have had 3 homebirths, they were wonderful, I also had 2 hospital births, the first was my first, breech and scary….the 2nd was fine and great…
    I would never want anyone to think I thought homebirthing is superior..or the “right” choice…but I would want them to understand that it is a “valid” option…
    no one I know is cavalier about having a baby, at home or otherwise…

  54. Christine Chapman says:

    HURRAY FOR HOMEBIRTHS!!!!!! THANK YOU for posting such a well written point. I had my daughter at home, and can’t wait to do it again some day! I wish I had of thought of your clever answers when I was confronted with opposition. I was told by a staff member that I was “Flat out insane” to even think of it! Well, Elephants, Giraffes and monkeys DON’T NEED needles, and I didn’t either. If anything, I was paying tribute to all women 3-4 generations ago who ALL had their children at home. Yes, there were fatalities, but also lack of education, less nutritional support and no option for high-risk women to seek hospital care. Thank you 🙂

  55. Jen says:

    Fabulous post Kate. Thanks for putting in words what I am never able to describe to my non home-birthing friends. I truly believe that every mother should be able to explore he options and with her birth-partner make the the choice that is right for her/them. With my first and only child, my husband and I were planning on a drug-free, hypnobirthing assisted, hospital delivery with our midwife until we did a hospital tour at 36 weeks. And I suddenly decided that the hospital wasn’t very appealing and I wanted to be at home. Our midwife and hypno-birthing coach were extremely supportive and our son’s birth was a memorable, magical experience. But I am often shy when it comes to talking about it, because I dislike having to justify the safety of our decision. We did what was right for us.
    Thanks again!

  56. Callista says:

    Thanks for sharing that. I couldn’t do homebirths. I thought about it briefly with number one but I don’t handle pain at all there’s no way I could have done it. I’m glad some people can though!

  57. Gayla Fenimore says:

    As Kate’s mom I would like to give you the mothers perspective on home birth. When she first told her father and me that she was having a home birth we were quite naturally concerned for her and the safty factors that go along with a home birth. Katie was very sensivive to our concerns and scheduled an appt. with her mid wife so I could meet her and ask all the questions I needed to ask in order to feel comfortable that this was a safe method of childbirth. Ellie was wonderful, answered all my questions and more and reassured me in such a way that I looked forward to sharing this experience with my daughter and her husband. Now that she is pregnant with #3 I am thrilled as I anticipate the miracle of birth nestled in there sweet home with their two children. P.S. As a mother of a home birth daughter I did get a lot of questions from friends, many doubting that this would be a safe experience. I always respond that I think it is the best way to have a baby, at home surrounded by those you love.

  58. Amy @ Cheeky Cocoa Beans says:

    Beautifully written! Thank you for sharing your story! I, too, and thankful for the many options out there available for us. My babies all came pretty quickly so I avoided a lot of medical intervention that way–with my 3rd baby, I ARRIVED at the hospital at 8 cm! (I have seriously said that if I were to become pregnant a 4th time, we would HAVE to move closer to the hospital…or be prepared for a home birth!) With my 3rd, it was a very good thing that I was already mentally prepared with the decision to go drug free if possible. For me, the various types of pain med. work a little too well and leave me loopy and unable to focus for too long for my liking. But like a previous commentor said, we get the best thing in the end…our baby. 🙂 Thanks again!

  59. suzannah says:

    great post!
    i delivered with a midwife at a birth center within a hospital, and that was the perfect fit for us. i could labor walking around (or in the shower or tub), the lights were dim and the room was “homey” (and the same for labor, delivery, and recovery), and i got my baby right away and began breastfeeding.
    home birth didn’t appeal to me personally, but i LOVED delivering with midwives.

  60. brenda says:

    You know, it sounds the same as homeschooling comments. “Oh, I could never teach my kids at home! I ______ (fill in the blank.)”
    It’s lack of knowledge. I know b/c I used to be there on both topics! 🙂

  61. Kelley says:

    Thanks for sharing. I have a friend who did home birth and she loved it. I would never qualify b/c shortly after birth my body tries to “crash and burn” as I call it – some would call trying to bleed to death. So I need lots of medical persons around. thankfully, my body never got what it wanted and I’m here to raise my three beautiful (if not loud) kids!

  62. se7en says:

    All parenting choices: how you school, how you feed, how you birth, do you scan, do you immunize, seem to be really really contentious issues. Perhaps because you really really have to believe in your personal parenting choices. You have to do what is right for your kids and it is hard to believe that someone else can make different decisions and it is right for their kids.
    I used to be really intense about our decisions but I have discovered that actually I don’t have to have the same beliefs about everything to be brilliant friends with someone… Basically time has chilled me out!!! And someone who homebirths or doesn’t, nurses or doesn’t is a potential friend simply because I am sure we have heaps in common just because we have children.
    That being said: We have Se7en kids and Se7en brilliant homebirths… people might think I am a bit mad, or a lover of pain – actually I am so terrified of all things medicinal that I would have to be knocked out cold to give birth in a hospital! The thing I like best about home birth is lounging in my own bath afterwards with my new little one and then I get into my own bed with my own clean sheets and all my kids pile in and we can lie around and admire the sweet new arrival – love it. Wouldn’t change it for the world!

  63. BlueCastle says:

    Your post is beautifully written.
    When I was pregnant with my first child, I knew I wanted a home birth. We found a very capable midwife and that’s what we planned for. In the end, I had to have a c-section and I was very disappointed. 3 years later, however, I was able to give birth at my midwife’s birthing center. It was a home-like environment and helped ease my husband’s fears. Attempting a VBAC was considered very risky. I consider my vbac to have been one of the most beautiful gifts that God has given me. It was peaceful, and calm. I was able to labor on my own – and since I did labor for 26 hours, this was very important to me.
    Like you say, I felt so fortunate to have been able to choose this for myself and my child. Now, we live in a place where home birth is illegal. Women have been fighting for this right for a long time now, and still it is considered “too risky” or just plain dumb. Abortion is legal, but homebirth is not. It makes no sense, but some day I believe we will have this right again to choose the best birthing option for ourselves. And really, that’s all I want. Not to crusade for all the reasons why homebirth is the best (in my opinion) but just the opportunity to make an informed decision.

  64. Kristi says:

    THanks for sharing this! I’ve been blessed with two natural childbirths, two others with some pain assistance, but I haven’t been brave enough to try it at home. We do escape the hospital as fast as possible, though. Reading this keeps me gives me some encouragement . . .

  65. Nic says:

    Here in the Netherlands 50% of the babies are born at home. I’m 7 weeks pregnant and I think I want to deliver at home as well. Much more comfortable than in a hospital! And we’re only 5 miles away from a hospital, so if the need arises I can be there within ten minutes (and that’s a safe idea as well).

  66. Elena says:

    A very good article and would make a nice “Introduction to Homebirth!” Reading it brought back such happy memories for me. (I had two normal births, a homebirth to hospital transfer for cord prolapse and a baby we knew would be stillborn at home.)

  67. Janna McGregor says:

    Thank you so much for this. I did not have a home birth, but I chose to have a natural birth in a hospital. I had a doula, my husband, and my mother as my coaches and it was the most difficult/awesome experience I have ever had. People’s reactions always surprise me when they find out I had my girl “natural.” Some have been really rude and made comments that have hurt my feelings. I feel I have always had your attitude, “to each his own” and I support all pregnant women with their individual decisions. So, I am praying about having a midwife for my second one. I just have to convince my husband!!! Thanks again. It was very encouraging.

  68. crumbsonmyfloor says:

    5 babies, 4 born at home with my awesome midwife. Would not have changed anything. I should write something at my place about each of their births. There is some funny stuff in the mix of it. Like when I told my husband * no thank you* for something in the middle of pushing…I was in pain and said *no thank you*!
    Take care,
    Amy

  69. Bonnie says:

    Beautifully said, Kate. Thanks. I had my daughter with a midwife in a hospital, so sort of got the advantages of both. If it were possible, I would consider a home birth for the next one.

  70. E. says:

    I have a question about homebirth legality, and I’m wondering how homebirthers in general come out on this one. I have a friend who has had all her babies at home. It is illegal for her to have a homebirth in our state. Something about birthing centers and midwives having to be attached to hospitals in case anything goes wrong. But regardless, she chooses to break the law every time she gives birth. When it comes time to get a social security number for her baby, she calls the county and lies to them, telling them that her husband was the only one present when the baby was born. If she didn’t, apparently the out-of-state midwife she uses could be prosecuted. Are there a lot of midwives and women who are doing this so they can birth at home? I guess I’m wondering how typical and accepted this is. I don’t have any intention of “turning her in,” but I worry about it and about what she’s teaching her children about telling the truth.

  71. ruth ann says:

    Thank you for sharing your story!
    I’m right there with you – “but there is no way that gigantic needle is coming within 10 feet of my back.” It was my fear of needles that drove me to ‘natural’ childbirth! 🙂

  72. Christina Martin says:

    I think it’s really great, opening up this communication way on such a controversial issue. I’ve never wanted to do home birth, but I don’t figure other people’s choices are any of my business; however, I’ve met so many women on both sides of this one who feel the need to push their views onto everyone else that this post is a very welcome injection of warmth and reasonableness.

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