If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you probably have a ton of questions about this journey that you are on.
Pregnancy and childbirth are so exciting that you will soon be parents! This is one of the biggest changes anyone can go through, and you want all the support you can get along the way.
One form of support is education. Education about how your body changes during pregnancy, what you should consider before parenthood and of course – what will the birth be like?
Since the beginning of time
Until recently, babies were almost always born at home. Changes in culture and the medical industry have resulted in a shift where hospital births are the norm in many parts of the world today, while home births are now considered rare or even taboo.
Home births are fairly common in countries like the UK and the Netherlands, but not everywhere. However, we are seeing home births growing in popularity elsewhere, but this is not without questions and concerns.
Let’s take a look at them.
What is a home birth?
First of all, what is a home birth? Quite simply, it is labor and delivery from the comfort of your home.
For the sake of this conversation, we will only talk about planned home births with a licensed midwife or obstetrician who accompanies home births, and not about “free births” or unsupervised home births.
Isn’t a home birth dangerous?
The biggest concern with home births is safety. What if something happens?
The fact is, most birth emergencies do not occur suddenly. Most of the time, they happen gradually, and providers have warning signs long before an actual emergency occurs.
A recent study in the United States found that only 12% of those with home births had to be moved, with only a quarter of those transfers being urgent. The most common reasons for the transfer were “no progress” (her body did not dilate naturally), a desire for pain relief, and exhaustion.
Another thing that many people don’t realize is that midwives are trained health professionals.
Midwives know what signs to look out for, are experts at drug births, and bring safety equipment such as baby monitors, sterile instruments, necessary medication, emergency medication for bleeding, oxygen tanks, sutures for tearing, and sometimes IV fluids.
A good midwife also has a clear plan if you need to be hospitalized.
It is helpful to interview midwives, ask them about their relationship with local hospitals, their relocation rate, whether they will stay with you if you relocate, and when they would choose to be relocated.
Not everyone is suitable for a home birth in the first place. As a rule, midwives only accept “low risk” home births.
The criteria for “low risk” vary from country to country and even within countries and between providers.
You may not be eligible for a home birth if you:
- Had a previous caesarean section
- Have active genital herpes
- Have gestational diabetes
- Are pregnant with multiple births
- Your baby is “pushing” (his head is not pointing down into your pelvis)
- Do you have serious medical conditions such as the lungs, heart, kidney, bleeding disorders, or preeclampsia?
- Birth less than 37 weeks pregnant
- Are over 42 weeks pregnant
What are the benefits of having a home birth?
Why does someone want a home birth?
Everyone has their own reasons, here are some of the most common:
- You can be in your own space
- There are no distractions from bright lights, beeping monitors, and other hospital noises
- Feeling safer at home
- You go into labor and delivery wherever you want (the toilet, your bed, outside)
- Avoid unnecessary procedures and reduce the risk of a caesarean section
- Privacy, no random strangers walking into your birthing room
- Less likely to be separated from the baby after birth
- More options like water birth and delayed cord cutting
- More people can be present at the birth, including children
- A reduced risk of infection
- Previous traumatic experience or hospital birth
- You don’t want medical care
If home birth feels right to you, it will be a benefit to have your wishes granted.
Is a home birth insured?
Price is one of the biggest barriers to getting a home birth, especially in the US
The price of a home birth depends on where you live and may or may not be covered by insurance.
You will also need to purchase supplies such as towels, linens, mattress protectors, snacks and drinks, and a birthing pool if you wish.
Do I have other options?
Depending on where you live, your options are other than the hospital and your home.
There is a growing number of freestanding (non-hospital) and hospital birthhouses. While finance and availability mean these options may not be available to everyone, they do give people more options when creating a birth preference plan.
Your body your choice
There is a birth work that says “your body, your baby, your choice”. This is true when deciding where to give birth.
Birth is unpredictable and things happen, but if you are a low-risk pregnancy and have a desire to give birth at home – then a choice should be yours.
No matter where you end up giving birth, you know you did the right thing for you and your baby, and that is what matters.