The most important factor in considering a homebirth is that the mother has a strong desire for a home birth. Even though a homebirth can save a significant amount of money, cost should not be the primary motivation in choosing a homebirth.
Women who are successful in homebirth usually have a trust in their body’s natural ability to give birth. Frequently they go to great lengths in taking care of themselves and in finding the right practitioner.
The following are a few of the reasons women choose homebirth
Homebirth is safe. Midwifery care preserves the normal physiological processes of pregnancy and labor without unnecessary intervention or technology. Research has never concluded that the hospital is safer then a birth at home when the woman is healthy and a trained birth attendant is present. Conversely research clearly shows that women who have hospital births are significantly more likely to have caesarean sections, forceps delivery, vacuum delivery, episiotomies and fourth degree lacerations and all the associated problems with those procedures. Perhaps most importantly, the dangerous bacteria and viruses that are commonly found in a hospital are less likely to be found in a home.
Homebirth allows for the full participation of family and friends. There is no limitation on the number of persons or age of those present. Unlike many hospital births new mothers can breast feed immediately after delivery. Following delivery, the baby is usually placed on the mother’s stomach or breast to provide security and bonding.
As a guest in your home the midwife will give her professional opinion but will always respect your opinions and preferences. Throughout labor the midwife will ask permission to do any procedures and will explain to the mother and family what she is doing and why.
When a woman feels relaxed and safe in her own home, labor progresses more smoothly. Women who give birth at home do not worry about making arrangements to go to the hospital. The midwife will come to you. She will bring supplies to help in case of an emergency. These may include oxygen, resuscitation equipment and certain medicine and or herbs to help in case of excessive bleeding.
Women and their families clearly know who will be at their birth. This one factor greatly decreases the stress on the birthing mother and her family. In addition, because your midwife knows you well, your care will be individualized to meet your needs. A well established relationship is a priceless asset for both you and your midwife. In the very rare event that your midwife cannot be present at your birth another provider will be available.
Advantages for Mother
- Longer prenatal visits provide the necessary time for building an open and satisfying relationship built on mutual trust and respect. There is ample time for all questions, concerns, desires and needs to be explored. Women can feel seen and supported physically and emotionally.
- Women have the freedom to choose which prenatal tests and procedures they would like to do and are not coerced into routine test and procedures
- No looming inductions. Women are able to approach their due date without the threat of induction. Homebirth midwives recognize that first pregnancies average 41 weeks. Some babies take longer to cook than others!
- Women can labor in the privacy, comfort, and security of their own home. The only people present at the birth are people chosen by the mother. No strangers, unknown doctors, or “observers” — no one coming in uninvited
- There are no strict protocols. Women’s “progress” in labor is evaluated independently from statistical averages and protocols
- No “routine” vaginal exams. Midwives honor that all labors are unique and proceed best when not interfered with
- Mothers are not automatically subject to routine procedures. No electronic monitors strapped to their bellies, no automatic IVs, antibiotics, or being forced to push on the bed, or lying back
- No “purple pushing.” No team of cheerleaders yelling at her to hold her breath and push.
- Significantly less chance of cesarean birth, forceps, vacuum, and episiotomy
- Less risk of infection
- Option to birth in water
- Women will have the same birth attendants with them throughout their labor and birth There are no shift changes at home
- Midwives trust the process and dynamics of birth. Longer labors are not forced along with pitocin and other interventions
- Midwives are dedicated to helping mothers give birth without tearing
- The time right after the baby is born is honored as sacred and fleeting. This is a time for mothers and babies to greet each other and fall in love. Midwives strive to facilitate these instinctive, private moments by refraining from unnecessarily disturbing the mother or the baby
- Mothers can birth their placentas normally without unnecessary force or trauma
- After the birth, mothers and babies are never separated. The newborn exam (and vitamin K if desired) is performed right next to the mother
- Extensive breastfeeding support
- Mothers and babies do not have to leave the house in the first week–the midwife comes to them for postpartum checks. A midwife remains on-call 24 hours a day for any urgent postpartum concern
- Woman-centered care. Family-centered care
- The mother and family are treated with dignity and respect. Mothers and partners are encouraged to catch their own babies.
Advantages for Baby
- Babies are born when they are ready! Labor is not artificially started through routine induction practices
- Babies are more likely to be born vaginally, without the use of instruments like forceps and vacuum
- Babies are significantly less likely to suffer fetal distress in labor because they are not under the influence of medications and the mother is not forced to lay on her back or do “purple pushing,” both of which restrict the flow of blood and oxygen to baby
- Because mother’s movement is not restricted, babies have the opportunity to find their way out of the pelvis in the position that suits them the best. There is less chance of them getting “stuck” in a poor position
- Babies are born without the effects of narcotics or other central nervous system depressants
- Baby are less likely to be born with breathing difficulties
- Less risk of infection
- Babies are born gently, without force and unnecessary maneuvers
- Babies are welcomed first by the hands of the mother, father, midwife, or some combination! Often the mother’s voice is often the first one baby hears
- Babies are welcomed into a warm, loving environment without bright lighting or loud noise and chatter
- Babies always stays with their mothers. The mother-newborn bond is never sacrificed for institutional purposes or convenience
- No early cord cutting. Baby receives her full blood volume from the placenta because her umbilical cord is not cut prematurely. Less risk of anemia and other problems related to immediate cord cutting
- Babies are encouraged to breastfeed as soon as s/he and mom are ready
- Babies are not subjected to routine glucose tests or other lab work.
- The baby’s experience of birth is recognized and honored
- Babies are welcomed into the world gently, and with love