Home Birth: Is it Right for You?
By: Lisa Donovan
It is funny how doing things the "old fashioned way" is looked upon as risky and dangerous. When I presented the option of a home birth to my husband he responded very nervously and adamantly insisted that he wouldn't be comfortable unless there was an emergency facility, prepared to handle any catastrophe, in the same building as the birth. He had reason to be frightened — he had watched his godson get whisked away by helicopter five minutes after his hospital birth due to pneumonia complications. Had he not been born in a hospital we would have, undoubtedly, lost him. But, I still couldn't shake the feeling that I wanted this birth (my second child) to be at home and with family. However, seeing the nerve-wracking turmoil that it was putting my husband through, I agreed that we would have a hospital birth. This still did not change my mind about how wonderful of an experience I have seen home births be.
Both of my best friends have had multiple home & water births. The experiences were peaceful and devoid of IVs and monitors and bleeping machines and strangers walking in and out of the room every five minutes doing their "rounds". There is no tired OB/GYN who has already delivered four babies before this one. There is a quiet, calm doula and midwife there just for you and your family.
This type of birth has become so uncommon that I think most women don't even know how to initiate it. Some good books to start out with are Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin and Homebirth by Sheila Kitzinger. Ina May Gaskin is a world renowned midwife from The Farm in SouthEast Tennessee. She has been responsible for spreading an educated and collective understanding about midwifery and homebirthing to the medical community as well as the general community. Those two books will get you started with the general nature of home births. A next good step is to look in your area for a midwifery center — or even just a basic birthing center. Something that I find encouraging is that a lot of insurance companies and medical centers and integrating midwifery and birthing options into their prenatal and labor care. Once you are in contact with your prenatal center, you should be able to find a good doula next. Most midwifery centers and birthing centers can pass you along information about local doulas — I highly recommend them. My best friend has had the same doula for each of her labors and she counts her doula as mandatory. The difference between a doula and midwife is this: the midwife, while still focused on you and your physical state with much compassion, will be mainly focused on the physicality of labor — they are a trained medical professional; a doula will be your center — they are there to be your coach and take care of any physical and emotional needs that you may have during labor (massaging you, coaching your breathing, coping techniques) — they are not a medical professional but should have many years experience with labor (or at least a good reference list).
Most of us take for granted that hospital births are the only way to do it. If you feel, as I did, that you would like a more "natural" birthing experience (because, after all, it is the most natural thing we as women do) then it is well worth researching and getting acquainted with. To this day, I regret not sticking to my guns and doing more research to persuade my husband. Bring your child into this world the way you want to — not the way you feel you "should".