Why I Chose a Home Birth

olive chan —  March 9, 2015 — 6 Comments

Choosing a home birth was not an easy decision, but I’m glad we gave it a try.

“Redemption” is probably not the first word that comes to mind when you think about childbirth. But for me, it was. The moment I realized I was pregnant with our second child, I wanted redemption. My experience of birthing my first baby was pretty tame as far as birth stories go, but there were elements that made it a traumatic experience for me.

I gave birth to my first baby in a hospital and I came out of that experience feeling unheard, disempowered and simply run through the system. I wanted to do it differently the second time. I wanted to actually experience birthing my child the way I was built for it.

why-i-chose-a-home-birth

I chose to get a midwife instead of an obstetrician since my first pregnancy and birth went well and there were no indications that there would be major complications this time around. [Side note: Obstetricians are invaluable for high-risk pregnancies and people who need particular medical care. Midwives are excellent for low-risk pregnancies (they can also write prescriptions and have all the medical equipment; they aren’t backwoods hillbillies). Because obstetricians have so many patients, they cannot give the same level of attention and care as midwives can.]

The next big decision was where to give birth – because with midwives, I actually had a choice of whether to birth at a hospital or at home. This was an easier decision for me than it was for Tim. Having been through the hospital experience, I knew that I would be more relaxed at home and that me being more relaxed would probably mean a smoother birth experience. I was also fairly confident that this pregnancy and birth would most likely be low-risk. Home birth was only an option if I continued being a low-risk case. Of course, choosing a home birth was really only choosing to plan for a home birth. Whether I would get to birth at home in the end remained to be seen.

We made our list of pros and cons. Reasons for a home birth included: me being a homebody and my home being where I function best; not having to drive to and from the hospital; not having to worry about my older child being in a new environment; being able to shower in my own bathroom and rest in my own bed right away; eating home food; Tim actually having a bed to sleep in. Reasons that made us hesitate: the risk of something going wrong with the birth; the mess.

At our midwives’ suggestion, we watched a couple documentaries including The Business of Being Born (affiliate). After seeing how other families did it, Tim felt more assured that birthing at home could be an option for us. I learned after reading the documents on home birth by the College of Midwives of British Columbia that even if I was planning to birth at home, I still needed to pre-register with the local hospital because my midwives had to call them when I went into labour so that if I did need a transfer, the hospital would be ready. It comforted me to know that the medical system worked in tandem with the midwives to provide the best possible care for us. According to my midwives, most home birth transfers to the hospital are for lack of progress and not emergencies. Also, the majority of these transfers are for first-time births and not subsequent births. Home births were also required to have two midwives in attendance, so if for some reason only one midwife was available, I would have to deliver at the hospital.

In preparation, we toured the local hospital and I felt comfortable with that environment if I did indeed need to birth there. It was a different hospital from the one I’d birthed in previously and it was much smaller and quieter. I ended up visiting that maternity unit three times at the end of my pregnancy for non-stress tests because my baby was overdue.

As for the mess, the midwives gave me a list of supplies to collect for the home birth, including two large garbage bags. I had everything set aside in a box beside our bed as well as a small hospital bag packed just in case. When it became clear that home birth was a go and the midwives arrived, they set up one garbage bag for the garbage and the other for laundry. When it was all over, they cleaned everything up while I was in the shower. It was messy though and let’s just say I’m glad we have hardwood floors!

In the end, I’m really glad I chose to birth at home. It took six hours, similar to when I was induced at the hospital the first time, and it was harder work without the narcotics to knock me out. However, I felt so empowered and strong to have done it. My recovery was so much smoother and quicker because I was more relaxed. I wouldn’t have chosen to a home birth for my first child, because I still think there are too many risks when you haven’t had a previous birth. But for a subsequent child, it was the best choice for me.

The redemption I prayed for? I got it.

 

  • I’ve never had a baby and never will, because it’s past the time of opportunity for me. BUT when you talked about birthing according to how you are made, my ears perked up and stay perked up through out your entire post.

    I am a creative person and have struggled with process in the making of art according my design. There’s conception – the fun part and then there’s process which is kinda crazy. But accepting my design has helped me accept my process, rather than going along with how everyone else seems to do it. So that’s good.

    But I never, EVER thought about how to BIRTH my work according to how I’m made, according to my design. You have given me much to think about in this incredibly practical, simple clear post about birthing at home.

    And since I know you are an artist as well, I’d be curious to know if you’ve ever given thought to how you birth your work? Not now of course. You’re a young mother! But one day.

    Right now for me, it’s something to think about, dwell on, to see what comes to mind to me.

    THANK YOU!!!

    • Thank you for your kind words, Carla!

      I totally think there are similarities between birthing babies and birthing art. The work of creating is messy and requires hard work and perseverance. And there’s always a point where you think you want to give up. But if you press forward, the result is beautiful.

      I’d love to hear what surfaces for you as you dwell on this metaphor. :)

  • ZackF

    Enjoyed this article Olive. Glad to see you writing again :)

  • Karen

    Could you please check the link for The Business of being Born. It isn’t working for me.

    • Hi Karen,
      Thanks for flagging this. It should work now! Sorry for the inconvenience.

  • Aren’t we so lucky in Canada to have this option? Women are often surprised when I tell them they can have a midwife without any additional expense! I had two homebirths so I can totally relate to all the “what ifs” and research before making the clear decision. And, really, at the end of the day, it’s just what feels safe and right to do. Because, for some, that means being in a hospital! Thanks for sharing your experience and educating women about their choices :)