Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Homebirth at the Homestead

The happy face of a homebirth baby!  Winnie- also known as #5
My family is known for doing things a little…  differently.  I mean, we are not your standard American family from what I can tell.  I fight the system, I have problems with the man, and I don’t particularly do well with rules…  then to top ALL that off…  I may be slightly impulsive.  (Keith just nodded his head in agreement)  So, when it came time that I was less than two months away from having our fourth baby, I made the huge, and probably radical decision, to have our fourth baby at home.

Keith, bless him, didn’t even offer resistance when I told him that I wanted to skip the hospital for our fourth time around.  He didn’t even bat an eye after we started having a hard time finding a midwife and talked about just having the baby unassisted instead.  Keith is cool like that. 

This decision should really not have surprised the people closest to us.  Neither of our parents tried to talk us out of it, and instead just simply asked us not to try and talk them into it.  Some of my friends did try to voice some concerns (probably because they weren't as aware as our parents that all attempts would be futile), but we had already made our minds up.  Baby was going to be born at home. 

But we had no midwife.  I was honestly not nervous about that at all, and neither was Keith...  he was more concerned about cleanup.  That was how strong we felt that we really just needed to stay out of the hospital.  I had three previous births in hospitals and while one of them was downright terrible, the other two weren’t exactly the way I wanted to do birth a fourth time.  I knew what the hospital was like.  I didn’t want that.  And besides that, I had really grown to distrust the baby doctors.  I didn’t want to feel like I was on a conveyor belt anymore. 

Literally, a few days later, a couple comes to our house to buy a bunk bed we had up for sale that had previously been used by a couple of foster kids that were no longer living with us.  Somewhere upon meeting them (I was not actually home for this) it was made known that she was a midwife.  And Keith probably said something along the lines of “Well, we are having a home birth.”  The connection and phone call was made, and literally five weeks before my “due” date, I am hooked up with a midwife.  Talk about timing!  

Keith just clued me in on the REAL story- it went something like this...

Keith- Rebecca is pregnant.

Katie- Where are you going to have the baby?

Keith- Well...  (waiting for the reaction) we are going to have the baby at home.

Katie- Oh, that's great!  Do you have a midwife?

Keith- No, we haven't been able to fine one.

Katie- Well, I am a midwife!

(The rest is history)

Me and Katie the day after Bella was born. 
And it was awesome.  I actually went into labor in a Cracker Barrel.  Labor was really fast.  Pushing lasted moments.  Baby was born just as pink as she could be, sucking her thumb, and checking everything out with a scowl on her face.  In two years, the scowl has not gone away yet though.  Just ask anybody that knows Bella.  The looks will send you to an early grave. 

Despite that, she was born in my room, on my bed, at my house.  I got to eat my own dinner (not that hospital crap), without being hooked up to any monitor, and without having nurses forcing me to lay on my back with IVs stuck in my arm, wanting to check my progress every five minutes.  After having had three previous babies…  I knew what I wanted and what I did not want.  I wanted comfort.  Not a regulated room with people coming in in the middle of the night to take vitals on my baby and wake her up while I was trying to sleep and recover. Which by the way...  is not cool.

So, for the fifth baby, we used the same midwife and had another home birth.  Again, it was amazing.  Labor, pushing, and baby.  All at my house.  Actually, Winnie was born in the bathtub.  That was impulsive.  But at the time it felt right.  She took longer to be born because of positioning, but it was still short compared to many women’s labors.  Active labor has been very short for me for the last two births, and actual pushing has always been short.  I have never pushed more than five minutes. 

Did it hurt?  Yes, it hurt.  But do you know what hurts more than natural birth?  An induction.  Now that is a terrible, terrible thing to go through.  And mine was unnecessary, but at the time, I didn’t know better.  I do now.  And I have sworn off drugs (all drugs) for births.

Ah, so this is a baby!  Remy with Bella
Why am I including homebirth on this blog?  It has everything to do with self-sufficiency, self-reliance, and living a natural life.  Part of living a life of independence is being able to do things on your own.  Can you have a medication free birth?  Yes, yes you can.  Is it challenging?  Well, yes it is, but so is raising children.  So, the way I see it, it’s just the first challenge in a long list of great big steps in the process of child rearing.  Do I think all medications are bad?  No, I don’t.  They have their purpose when they are needed, but there are times when we should stop and think "Do I really need this?"  But it is okay to feel childbirth.  And in my experience, it is the greatest sense of accomplishment knowing that I went through a natural birth, medication free, and not only came through it okay, but I came through it BETTER than I had ever done at a hospital. And actually, baby did better, too, without the drugs.

I found a list of advantages to a home birth.  I am just going to copy and paste it as they seem to have covered everything and I am not sure I could have made a more thorough list.  The complete list can be found here. But here are just the advantages of a home birth. 


  • Statistics show that home birth is as safe or safer than hospital birth for low-risk women with adequate prenatal care and a qualified attendant.
  • At home a woman can labor and birth in the privacy and comfort of the familiar surroundings of her own home, surrounded by loved-ones. in whatever positions and attire she finds most comfortable.
  • The laboring woman maintains control over everything impacting her labor and birth. Meeting her needs is the only focus of all those present. Nothing is done to her without her consent.
  • Labor is allowed to progress normally, without interference and unnecessary interventions.
  • Studies show that the risk of infection is reduced for both the mother and the baby.
  • During labor the woman is encouraged to eat, drink, walk, change positions, make noise, shower, bathe, etc.
  • Care-givers are invited guests in the birthing woman's home. She can have anyone she desires present: family, friends, children, etc. Her medical team (midwife and birth assisiant) do not go home because their shift has ended or because it was supposed to be their day off or because it is a holiday or because they plannedsomething else.
  • She doesn't have to worry about when to go to the hospital since her care-providers come to her.
  • Continuous one-on-one care is given by the midwife, providing ongoing assessment of the baby's and mother's condition throughout the birth process and postpartum period. Her care provider knows her well and she knows her care provider. They have established a trust relationship.
  • Women are supported through the hard work of labor, and encouraged to realize the insights, and experience the personal growth as a human being to be derived from such a powerful, life-changing event.
  • Bonding is enhanced and includes everyone who has contact with the baby including neighbors and relatives. Breast feeding is facilitated by the baby remaining with the mother.
  • Cesarean Section and forceps deliveries are unavailable - transportation to the hospital is necessary if these interventions are required. However, rates of both, as well as episiotomy, are very low.
  • The cost of a home birth may be less than a hospital birth, and is often covered by insurance if a CNM is utilized.
  • Pregnancy and birth are viewed as normal, natural body functions and not as an illness or disease.
 For baby #6, we are going completely hands off.  After having had five successful and uneventful pregnancies, we just decided that it would be okay to skip the ultrasound, the regular exams, the whole thing.  We are using the same midwife (and if you are in this area, I can point her out to you), and I will be sleeping in my own bed again...  and as my oldest just put it...  it will be "fabulous."  They are all really excited about baby.  They are always excited about new babies.  So, unless something happens that we would absolutely NEED a hospital staff for (because that is what they are for...) then we will  stay at home.  After having experienced both home births and hospital births...  I just will not go back.  And it is a very empowering feeling knowing that one of the greatest challenges a woman can face, she can tackle head on with strength and overcome one of the world's greatest fears.  The fear of the unknown.  And isn't that what this is all about?  Trust your body.  It is worth it.

Super excited Gracie holding Bella at two days old.  Yes, she was born with that scowl.

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