I’ve worked in midwifery services since 2002. I’ve given birth to 3 beautiful beings in the most amazing empowering births – three planned home births.
Let’s look at the most convincing reasons to have an ecstatic home birth.
Homebirth is Safe Reason #1. Safety is paramount
The safety of home births compared with hospital births has been the number one tool the obstetric system has used to take ownership of women’s birth processes. Now the risk factors have been studied and, in the largest cohort study done to date (64,000 women with a low-risk pregnancy), research has shown that home birth can be regarded as safe, especially for low-risk women with no pregnancy complications.
The data shown in the above study shows that a planned home birth or giving birth in a birthing center has very good outcomes and there is no increased risk of adverse outcomes for the mother or the baby, provided the World Health Organization guidelines are followed. This means healthy women pregnant with healthy babies. There’s an increased risk of hospital transfer when it’s the woman’s first baby. The reasons for these transfers are not clear, however; inexperience, fear of the unknown and excessive caution on the part of professionals can be triggering factors.
Because low-risk pregnancies are studied, it doesn’t mean that high-risk pregnancies will have a better outcome at the hospital. It simply means that high-risk pregnancies tend to have better outcomes in a hospital setting when serious complications that might lead to infant death can be taken care of more efficiently.
Read more in Homebirth Is Safer For ‘Higher Risk’ Women Too.
Homebirth is Safe Reason #2. Continuity of care
There is a misunderstanding that if we can choose an obstetrician, we can have continuity of care for the birth but, as many couples realize, for births in the regulated health system, when you really need that support to get through, the obstetrician is not there. Only if there are complications or it’s time to catch the baby will the obstetrician be at the birth.
When you hire your own midwife, you can still choose the person you want to care for you and you still have all your appointments with that person (but in your own home!) And here’s the best part – the same person is with you for the entire birth and immediately afterwards, too. If your birth gets tough, your midwife will help you through it. She will hold your hand and encourage you – things obstetricians and gynecologists are most definitely not known for. When the baby is born, following midwives’ global standards, a midwife will stay and help you with breastfeeding and provide comfort measures; a doctor will not. With a midwife, you have true continuity of care and your experience will be all the better for it.
Homebirth is Safe Reason #3. Less intervention
What happens during your labor affects the outcome of your birth. An independent midwife by your side can help you give birth in the way you really want, rather than labor without continuous support from someone not employed by the hospital (in planned hospital births), which statistically results in more interventions.
Unfortunately, in many birth settings, having hospital care means you hand over your power to the hospital staff and they make the decisions regarding your birth process. In a hospital setting, far too often medical attention and medical intervention go hand in hand and routine obstetric practice leads to poor outcomes.
Believe it or not, the woman in labor is the best-prepared person to help a baby to be born.
There is robust research on the safety of home birth. If we study the collected data on the merged national perinatal databases, we will find that different parameters, such as early neonatal death rates, neonatal seizures, intrapartum fetal death rate and neonatal mortality rates in a planned home birth and in a planned hospital birth are very similar.
Further research on perinatal death and infant mortality has found no correlation between birth location and fatal outcomes.
Maternal outcomes (maternal morbidity and mortality) are very similar in hospital and at-home births; maternal satisfaction, however, is way higher in out-of-hospital births.
Unplanned home births are not accounted for, as the safety parameters are different.
Homebirth is Safe Reason #4. Respectful, nurturing care
Vaginal birth has been the midwife’s field of expertise since the beginning of time.
A woman in labor needs respect and nurturing. If she has these, she’ll give birth without any problems. When you are in your own home, you’re in your safe space. It’s the space you own, where you rule. When you go to a hospital to give birth, regardless of how friendly the staff might be or how amazingly the space is decorated, you are the outsider and you will most likely get a hospital ‘delivery’. I am very cautious with the words I use and only very rarely will you hear me referring to births as ‘deliveries’. In this case, though, it’s most likely that with the giving over of your power, your baby is ‘delivered’ to you.
A home birth midwife knows her place and is very knowledgeable in birth physiology. Having a midwife by your side at your planned home birth is key. She trusts you and the birth process; she just needs to nurture you so you can let go and dive fully into the experience.
Homebirth is Safe Reason #5. You know what to expect
A private midwife will be able to tell you from the start what her beliefs and philosophies about birth are; she won’t change her mind at the last minute. You often hear about women who have chosen doctors based on their agreeing to a VBAC, only to have these doctors change their mind or impose ‘rules’ further down the track. A midwife will be upfront with you and there will be no surprises later.
Your relationship is based on mutual trust.
Homebirth is Safe Reason #6. Your birth plan is more likely to go to plan
If you plan a home birth, then you are planning not to have an epidural or other medical pain relief. Because you will have a support team and no immediate access to drugs, chances are you won’t have drugs. And you won’t have other procedures that start off the cascade of intervention – specifically, medical inductions – eliminating the increased odds for more intervention and the need for pain relief. Sometimes a home birth does end in a transfer, but not all cases result in cesarean sections or other drastic treatments.
When I was in labor with my first child, I remember thinking how understandable it would be to say ‘Yes, yes’ to drugs. I was offered pain medication in that situation, despite my initial intentions of not having any.
Homebirth is Safe Reason #7. You call the shots
When you have a home birth, the tables are turned and you are given full control. The midwife will, of course, recommend things she thinks are medically required; however, she will follow your lead and respect your choices. This is vastly different from the power disparity that can happen in a hospital birth, or in hospital ‘deliveries’.
Homebirth is Safe Reason #8. Visits are lengthy, relaxed and in your space
In planned home births the midwife comes to your house. You don’t have to worry about going anywhere or coming back. She’ll get to know your home, your space. She will spend time with you – a lot of time – and you will not feel as though she’s in a rush to be somewhere else or to attend the next pregnant woman. When most independent midwives plan a home visit, it’s the only visit they have in their schedule for that day.
Homebirth is Safe Reason #9. There’s extra education about pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding
When pregnant women decide to have out-of-hospital births, the educational process begins right away and the thirst for knowledge becomes more evident.
You have a professional – a trained person and a specialist in physiological birth – at your service. She will be delighted to answer all your questions and point you in the right direction to get further information on anything you might be interested in knowing.
Midwifery education focuses on normality, in low-risk pregnancies; the vast majority of pregnancies should be like this. To have your own home birth midwife means you have a specialized childbirth class, backed up with the latest scientific evidence, every time you have an appointment. At the same time, you can focus on your needs, as they appear, whether during the pregnancy, in the birthing process or during the first few weeks after you give birth.
Homebirth is Safe Reason #10. Home birth can be an amazing, empowering experience
Birth is the most powerful experience a woman can go through. For it to happen that way, she needs to be in control.
There’s a much higher risk of having this power taken away from you in hospital births. In a hospital birth, you might have a cascade of unnecessary medical interventions. The American College of Obstetricians has acknowledged that the most appropriate caregiver for women with uncomplicated pregnancies is a certified midwife.
Even accredited birth centers cannot beat the satisfaction levels experienced as a result of home births with certified midwives. A woman who experiences a home birth will very rarely choose a different setting in her future pregnancies.
Have no doubt that giving birth is the most powerful, mind-blowing, transformative experience a woman can have, when she feels safe.
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