Disclaimer: Birth is an extremely personal topic and however you have chosen to bring your children into the world is a personal decision. This is just what we have chosen for our family and in no way think less of what anyone else has chosen for theirs.
To start this out I would like to say that I have not chosen to have a home birth because I want to stand on any sort of moral high ground, it's not because we're massive hippies and it's not to be able to say I gave birth naturally like some sort of trophy. I have chosen this because through extensive research, discussion, thought and consideration I have realized I have the desire and confidence to give birth at home.
If someone would have told me I would be planning a drug free home birth a few years ago I would have said they were crazy, give me all drugs and wake me when the baby is here! The pain of child birth always scared me growing up and you can bet if I have the slightest sign of a headache I have always taken a Tylenol! My attitude about birth really changed when I wrote a paper on childbirth for a cultural anthropology class for college a couple years ago. I honestly only chose the topic of childbirth because I was supposed to compare something many cultures had in common and I figured well we all are born and we all die, and then went with birth because the alternative was depressing. That's it. Pure college student laziness and a severely procrastinated final paper for a class I wasn't even interested in.
It took about 5 minutes of googling to discover that the United States stood alone when it came to what was considered normal in birth. We have some of the highest C-Section rates in the entire world and spend more money per birth than almost any other nation and despite this, we have some of the WORST infant mortality rates amongst other first world nations. I won't quote statistics because then ya know....citations (gag). It blew my mind. How is this possible? I would have thought the US was the best at having babies. We have all of these fancy hospitals with highly educated doctors and people trained to jump into action at the slightest sign of distress (thinking Grey's Anatomy here). But as it turns out, that isn't proven to be the best way to have a baby for low risk mothers. The position of laying on your back is actually only convenient for the doctor and makes the process of laboring much more painful and pushing much more difficult, as opposed to squatting or being on your hands and knees which utilizes gravity. As it turns out, a lot of how people give birth in America is only convenient for the doctors and the hospitals and isn't for the comfort or safety of mother and child. I ended up watching nearly every home birth and natural birth vlog available on youtube and discovered, much to my surprise, that birth could actually be extremely peaceful and normal, instead of being treated as an illness or life threatening condition that needed fixing. Think about it people, there are nearly 7.5 BILLION people on this planet and it didn't get like that because we were ever bad at giving birth. Women have been giving birth in fields, putting their babies on their backs and going back to work for ever and in some parts of the world it is still done like that.
Now before anyone goes nuts here I am talking about LOW RISK, HEALTHY pregnancies. Doctors are absolutely necessary in certain circumstances and thank goodness we have them there for those circumstances. However, many of the interventions witnessed at hospitals are proven to lead to more C-Sections and complications in birth and postpartum. Yes, that means scheduled inductions and epidurals as well. Epidurals can slow labors and statistically lead to more C-Sections than births without them. I don't want to go on and on about the science and studies that are out there (there are A Lot) and so I will just leave some resources at the bottom of the page for anyone interested in learning more.
After watching "The Business of Being Born" and reading some of Ina May's work I decided I wanted to try for a natural birth and the place that made the most sense for me to do that was in the comfort of our own home, without trying to waddle to the car mid contraction or being poked and prodded by some inexperienced labor and delivery nurse or being told to lay flat on my back. Research goes to show that planned home births with certified nurse midwives are just as safe if not safer than giving birth in the hospital so safety wasn't a concern of mine. That being said, we also live very close to a number of hospitals and if for any reason we had to go to the hospital I am confident we could get there quickly and safely. If we lived in the middle of nowhere it's possible I would have made a different decision about where to give birth.
My husband was apprehensive at first, not knowing anyone that had given birth at home or really anywhere other than a hospital. We discussed it and agreed to give the hospital near us a try before hiring a midwife. I wanted him to be comfortable with our decision and I didn't want to make him feel on edge about the way our first baby was going to come into this world . So with an open mind we went to our first two prenatal appointments at the army hospital. Everyone...and I mean EVERYONE was rude. From the people we asked for directions to the OBGYN department from to the lady who checked us in, to the doctors themselves. We waited for 45 minutes and then spent 10 minutes being asked basic questions and hurried out the door. We both left feeling set aside and uncared about. After some more discussion we decided the hospital wasn't the place for us and I called for a midwife. During our very first discussion on the phone she congratulated us (first time someone had done that), asked how I was feeling, helped us find ways to help with the first trimester nausea and was so kind and caring. It felt like talking to my mom on the phone. Our first appointment was even better, where we got to know each other, spent an hour asking questions and having them answered with care and consideration, never being made to feel stupid for our inquiries or like we were wasting her time. My prenatal care has been a dream so far!
I decided I wanted to reclaim the belief that my body was made to birth without intervention that I think has been robbed from us by dramatized tv shows (and I love grey's as much as the next girl"), the insurance industry that benefits from expensive labors and your annoying neighbor Sally who likes to tell everyone how life-threatening and dramatic her child births were. My midwife, and the research I have done myself has lead me to feel confident and perfectly able to give birth naturally. I in no way expect it to be an easy journey, and I am perfectly aware that things can happen to make our plans not go as...well...planned. But if there was one thing my body was made to do, and I mean literally biologically designed to do, it's give birth. I plan on doing it with candles, a perfectly picked out playlist, a birth pool, an educated midwife, an encouraging husband and a great mindset!
The video "The Business of Being Born"
This video was the very first thing that lead me to changing my mind about birth and my ability to give birth naturally. It is full of equal amounts science, testimonials and encouragement. This video led me to find Ina May's books and talks about birth.
Ina May Gaskin
The "mother of midwifery". I have listened to her Ted Talks and read two of her books, "Ina May's Guide to Natural Childbirth" and "Spiritual Midwifery", both instilled me with a deep rooted confidence in my ability and desire to have a natural home birth surrounded with love and encouragement instead of bright lights, IV's and hospital gowns. She has delivered THOUSANDS of babies successfully and she goes into depth about specific positions to help stuck babies, how to get labor to progress naturally and everything in-between. I would highly recommend this book to anyone even remotely interested in giving birth even if they are not planning to do it naturally. It's always good to be informed!!
Australian Birth Stories and The Birth hour Podcasts
These are not specifically geared towards home birth or even natural birth and there are episodes with all different types of birth on them! I purposefully listened to the positive ones and listening to other mother's talk so openly about their experiences has made me feel so much more prepared for whatever is in store for us! It can be hard to find people now a days who have had great birth experiences so this was a fantastic resource.