It starts (usually) with having a midwife. Even before we started trying for our first baby, I knew I wanted a midwife instead of a doctor. In our first meeting she mentioned home birth as a possible option, but I was nervous about the whole thing. I liked the idea of a home birth, but what if something went wrong?
I met with my midwife regularly throughout my pregnancy. During our 45 minute appointments, we had the time to talk about all my pregnancy questions and concerns, including choosing where to give birth. After much research and discussion with my husband and my midwife, I decided on a home birth. These were my reasons:
1. Stay or Go?
Birthing at home means not having to decide on just the right moment to go to the hospital: not so early that I’ll be sent home, yet not so late that my baby is born on the side of the road. Plus, riding in a car in the middle of active labour is literally hell on wheels. Being at home means the midwife comes to me and stays the whole time.
I think of birth as a private moment, but that’s pretty difficult to achieve in a hospital. People walk in and out of your room, and it’s kind of hard to relax into labour with other labouring women next door or on the other side of a curtain. I wanted to give birth privately in my own home with only my husband and my midwives present.
To me, hospitals are for sick, injured, or dying people, and a healthy woman with a low-risk pregnancy is none of these. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for modern obstetrics. Historically, childbirth was the most dangerous life event for mothers and babies (and still is in many parts of the world). Modern medicine, hygiene, ultrasounds, and emergency c-sections save lives. But a normal low-risk pregnancy doesn’t require these kinds of interventions.
Yes, of course things can go wrong in a home birth. Things like meconium aspiration or shoulder dystocia. But on the flip side, those things happen at the hospital too, and you’re also more likely to run into antibiotic-resistant infections and injuries due to unnecessary interventions. Large-scale midwifery studies in BC and Ontario demonstrate that health outcomes for moms and babies in planned home births are comparable to matched low-risk pregnancies at the hospital, and have significantly fewer interventions, including c-sections.
“Research shows that home birth is as safe as hospital birth, where there is screening, planning, trained professional midwives and a health care system that supports midwifery and homebirth.” – College of Midwives of BC Place of Birth Handbook
4. Natural Childbirth
The more I learned about the side effects and complications of epidurals and c-sections for me and for my baby, the more I wanted a natural, drug-free delivery. Birthing at home would support and increase my likelihood of that.
My home is much more comfortable than the hospital. Everything I want is there. I can labour in whatever position I like, wherever I like, and when everything is over, I can fall asleep in my own bed. No paperwork and no drive home. (And don’t worry, the midwife cleans everything up before she leaves!)
6. In Case of Emergency
I live ten to fifteen minutes from my local hospital, a specialized pediatrics and maternity care centre. What people often don’t realize is that even in a major urban hospital, it still takes time to prep an operating room and gather up a medical team. The turning point for me was when I realized that in an emergency, I would likely be at the hospital before they could even be ready for me.
Once I had decided on a home birth, my midwife provided me with a list of basic supplies like a plastic drop sheet, extra towels, and gauze. She visited my home to see where I planned to deliver and discussed in what situations she would transfer me to the hospital. She explained the emergency equipment she carries to every home birth, and her training for emergency situations like neonatal or maternal resuscitation, shoulder dystocia, and postpartum hemorrhage.
Funnily enough, despite all our planning, I ended up with an accidental hospital birth when my daughter arrived too quickly for me to make it home from an early labour assessment.
I still preferred to birth in the comfort and privacy of my own home though, so I tried again with my next pregnancy. This time I got that home birth, and it was everything I had hoped for!
Olivia is the blogger, bookworm, and social media enthusiast behind This West Coast Mommy. A social worker and dedicated mom to two little girls, she writes about her family and life here on the West Coast of beautiful British Columbia, Canada, as well as green living, cloth diapering, geeky stuff, and paleo/gluten-free recipes. .