Homebirth is a deeply personal decision and you may choose homebirth for a variety of different reasons. For us, there were many contributing factors in our decision to homebirth that I could probably sit here and write about all night!
For the sake of this article not becoming 400 pages long I’ll just cover our biggest influences (maybe I’ll have to write a book).
Ever since I was around 14 years old I knew that I at least wanted to have my first baby in a birth center rather than hospital and if that went well I wanted to have a homebirth for my second.
I had a lot of doubt that I was strong enough to ‘handle’ natural childbirth instilled by society and the people around me.
Who Does That???
“I want to have my baby naturally” was met with “Just wait, you’ll be begging for an epidural”, “You couldn’t handle natural childbirth”, “Why? Who does that”.
It became so taboo to just trust myself and my body and to feel that I was capable that I almost shut it out; until I became pregnant with my first baby Axel at 19.
I was only about 5 weeks pregnant when I had decided that I wanted to trust myself and my body and opt for a homebirth. Telling friends and family that I was planning to have my first baby at home at 19 provoked some big reactions. But I knew that this was the right choice for us.
I was blessed with a supportive partner. My very soon-to-be husband supported the decision to homebirth one hundred per cent and stood up for me when I was questioned. During the birth of my first son, Artificial Rupture of Membranes was suggested by my midwife and mum, my fiancé was very quick to defend me, saying firmly “That’s her choice”.
Undisturbed, Natural Childbirth
I have always had a strong belief that our bodies are very capable of birthing; after all, we’ve been doing it for thousands of years. In my teen years, I was very interested in becoming a midwife. I just had this drive to learn as much as I could about pregnancy, childbirth and beyond. I spent many hours in libraries and researching online, just learning about the process, all the hormones involved, the stages of labour, birth options, the cascade of interventions etc. I believe that it was this early research and curiosity that sparked my passion for homebirth.
The Hormonal Orchestra
The hormonal roller coaster of birth is absolutely amazing and extremely complex. It doesn’t take much for this hormonal orchestra to be interrupted and lead to complications in labour including (my most hated term) “failure to progress”. An undisturbed labour best supports the normal hormonal rhythms of childbirth and leads to a much smoother and easier birth.
There are still a lot of hormonal occurrences that are not understood, for example we still don’t know exactly what causes the onset of childbirth. I think that it’s unwise to interfere with such a complex and instinctive process unless absolutely necessary. I gained a lot of my knowledge on this subject from Sarah J. Buckley’s Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering, and I strongly recommend giving it a read if you’re considering homebirth or just interested in the process. Emerging research is showing homebirth to be linked to better birth outcomes with significantly lower risks of interventions such as C-Section, Vacuum/Forceps, Episiotomy etc.
Continuity of Care
As someone who suffers from anxiety and a history of trauma, I knew that continuity of care for such a personal experience would be an absolute must. I knew that I didn’t want different providers getting close and personal, and I knew I’d need the ongoing support of somebody that I felt a connection with. I knew that we needed to be respected for our birth choices and preferences and was certain we would not experience that through the hospital’s system and protocols. Hiring our private midwife and private doula was the best thing we ever did. I felt so supported and genuinely cared for by these women and they are like family to me to this day.
We were blessed enough to have this continuity of care extend to our second baby which made the experience even more special. In Australia, homebirth with a private midwife is not covered by medicare, so as a general rule you’re looking at around $4,000-$5,000. This is something that I would really like to see change. Homebirth was an investment, and I never regretted it. In my opinion and experience, it’s one of the most important investments in your life.
Hospitals are bright, noisy, and often scary places; they are ironically the exact opposite of what facilitates a calm and physiological birth. I just simply have never been able to envision giving birth in a hospital. Leaving my comfort zone, my nest that I had been preparing for 9 months to go and give birth somewhere else just didn’t make any sense to me in a healthy, low risk pregnancy.
We envisioned a warm pool with rose petals in a dimly lit room, lit up only by our Christmas tree, soft music, and a quiet respectful, hands-off birth space and environment. We were fortunate enough to experience just that, on New Year’s Eve. An absolutely beautiful, fast, easy homebirth surrounded with nothing but love, support and respect. I felt good enough to run a marathon afterward. Our baby was greeted by his big brother (21 months old at the time) just moments after he was born, it was very special.
All families deserve access to a calm and respected birth in their own nest, so we really need to push for more accessible homebirth.
Respect The Choice Of Homebirth
Homebirth is a somewhat taboo subject in our modern society, though in recent years has slowly begun gaining acceptance. There is still a lot of awareness to be spread. Homebirth may not be for everyone but all women should be educated and supported to make the birth choices that they are comfortable with without backlash or judgement. Everyone deserves to be heard and respected.
Did you have a homebirth or would you consider having one? Tell us in the comments below.