Category Archives: Homebirth

Birth Story: “I did it! I did it!” – Katie and Carter’s HBAC

by Katie Champ

My journey to Carter’s homebirth after cesarean (HBAC) began when my daughter Kaylee was born on September 1, 2011.  I was induced at 38 weeks for pre-eclampsia with cytotec, pitocin, and an epidural which led to a cesarean section under general anesthesia.  After her birth, I was determined to do things differently the next time.  I needed to be the first person to see and hold my baby.  I joined the Twin Cities chapter of ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) and learned that I was not alone.  That other women had traumatic births as well, but they went on to have beautiful vaginal births after their cesarean.  This is when we decided that when we had another child, they would be born at home.

 

We spent a lot of time doing our research on natural birth, homebirth, birthing classes, midwives, and more!  On October 31st, 2012, we found out we were expecting our second child.  We went on the hunt for the perfect homebirth midwife, doula, and childbirth class.  We quickly found our midwives and decided to use Hypnobabies for this birth.  We couldn’t attend in person classes due to scheduling conflicts, but we were able to do the home study course.  We went back and forth on hiring a doula.  One thing I really regretted in my daughter’s birth was not hiring a doula.  Even though I had 2 wonderful midwives attending my birth, I didn’t want to have any regrets this time, so we went ahead with finding a doula and are beyond thankful we did.

 

I spent my pregnancy preparing myself for this birth.  I needed to make sure I did not get pre-eclampsia and I needed to stay healthy.  I completely changed my outlook on pregnancy and birth.  I ate healthy, stayed active, went to prenatal yoga, received chiropractic care, bodywork, and massage, did my daily spinning babies, listened to my Hypnobabies tracks and practiced my Hypnobabies techniques, read more birth books, attended ICAN meetings (and joined the board), met more homebirth families, and really took an active roll in preparing for this birth.  I wasn’t going to let anything get in my way of having a successful HBAC!

 

Fast forward to July 2013.  My guess date was July 13th, 2013.  This day came and went with no baby.  So did 41 weeks and 42 weeks!  I was growing impatient, but my husband kept reassuring me that I would not be pregnant forever and that babies come when they are ready.  Thankfully, my doula had gone to 43 weeks herself and assured me that I would go into labor.  At 42 weeks we started trying all to old wives tales to get labor started.  This little guy must not have been ready, because none of them worked!  At 42 weeks 4 days, we went in for a biophysical profile (BPP).  This showed low fluid, but nothing my back up OB said was urgent.  He encouraged us to keep trying to get labor moving and come back in 2 days for a follow up BPP and we would go from there.  He was pretty confident that labor would happen soon and was not concerned that I was nearing 43 weeks.  We were very lucky to have fabulous, supportive midwives, and a wonderful back up OB!

 

I cried lots of tears that day wondering when my baby was going to decide to make his appearance, but also accepted that he would come when he was truly ready.  Earlier in the week, we tried some herbs with our midwives, but that did not encourage labor to begin.  We decided to try them again that night and see what would happen.  That night, we had a wonderful dinner and put our daughter to bed before the midwives arrived.  I must have had a gut feeling something was going to happen.  We read extra books and had lots of extra snuggles, hugs, and kisses before bed that night.  I think deep down, I knew this would be our last bedtime as a family of three.

 

The midwives arrived around 8:00.  I spent the next hour bouncing on my yoga ball, hanging out with our midwives, and trying the herbs.  Around 9:00, I started getting a little crampy and a few waves here and there.  By 10:00, waves had begun to get regular.  I started listening to my Hypnobabies Birthing Day Affirmations while bouncing on my yoga ball. I texted my doula to let her know that labor had possibly begun.  I told her that we may have a baby the next day and that the midwives were still at our house.  I honestly thought I wasn’t in real labor.  I thought the midwives would go home to rest and come back in the morning.  Being almost 43 weeks, I was in complete denial that labor was actually going to happen!

 

Shortly after texting my doula, our midwives decided to time the waves.  They were already 2 minutes apart.  I kept moving on my yoga ball for awhile, then went to take a shower.  I went upstairs and by the time I got up there, I could barely move through a wave.  I asked my husband, Jon, to come help me.  I leaned on him during the waves while I was trying to move into the shower.  I listened to my Hypnobabies Deepening track and kept going between waves on the toilet and waves leaning on Jon.  I finally got in the shower.  The water felt great but standing was a challenge.  I got out and got on the toilet again.  I started getting vocal through the waves.  Deep moaning helped me make it through them.

 

I have no idea how far apart they were, but they felt very close.  I told Jon that I needed them to set the pool up because I needed to get in it now.  By this time, my midwives were setting everything up for the birth.  I texted my doula a little before 11:00 to come now.  She asked if the midwives were there and all I said was yes.  She asked if she should let the birth photographer know to come, and I said yes.  That was the last I looked at my phone.

 

My doula got to our house at about 11:45 and my photographer got there at about 12:00.  I was sitting on my yoga ball in our bedroom while everyone scrambled to get the birth pool set up.  My doula used the relax cue with her hand on my shoulder and said lots of wonderful, positive Hypnobabies birthing affirmations which kept me calm and relaxed.  The midwives and Jon were trying to get the pool filled fast.  The hose was not quick enough!  They brought up pots and pitchers of water from the kitchen to the nursery upstairs where we had the pool set up.  Shortly after, the pool was full and ready for me to get in. I climbed in the pool before another wave hit me.

 

The water felt amazing!  The only position I was comfortable in was kneeling and leaning over the edge of the pool.  Jon held my hand pretty much the entire time.  He was truly my rock through all of this.  My doula helped me with Hypnobabies affirmations, staying relaxed, and breathing my baby out.  My moaning got louder and deeper and the pressure waves more intense.  I can’t say it wasn’t painful, but I was able to keep my body relaxed and not tense up.  I thank Hypnobabies for being able to keep me calm and my body relaxed through this stage.  I spent awhile on my knees hanging over the edge letting my body push.  I never believed people when they said your body will start pushing when you are ready, but it is absolutely true!  As baby moved down, I needed to move to open my pelvis.  I alternated between one knee down and the other knee up in a lunge and then the same thing on the other side.  It was uncomfortable but its what baby and my body needed.  My midwives also wanted me to sit up so gravity would help bring baby down.  This was incredibly hard to do.  I certainly tried my best to stay upright, but I couldn’t do it every wave.

 

I said many times “this baby needs to come out!”  I was getting close to crowning when they brought my husband an elastic band with handles on it that he wrapped around his body and I held onto the handles to keep myself upright.  This is when the intense pushing began where I really gave it my all.  Shortly after, I remember saying it burned and they said that was good and to take it easy and his head was almost out.  A couple pushes later and his head was out.  His shoulder was a little sticky so my midwife helped loosen his shoulder and shortly after, the rest of his body slid out.  I remember hearing everyone tell me to reach down and pick up my baby.  I reached down and grabbed him into my arms and said “I did it!”.  I think a repeated “I did it” over and over again!  I was the first person to see and hold my baby!  Carter was born at 2:14 am.  He certainly waited until the last minute to be born, but once labor started, he was in a hurry!  His whole labor was about 4 hours long!  He was 9 pounds, 9 ounces and 22.5 inches long.

 

Carter’s birth was absolutely perfect and everything I dreamed of.  It was the healing birth I needed and it brought our beautiful baby boy into this world!

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Filed under Birth story, cesarean, HBAC, Homebirth, VBAC

“Incredibly healing and an absolute gift”: An HBA2C birth story

by Joyce Geving

My first of three sons was born December 21st, 2004.  We labored for hours and I was given an epidural followed by Pitocin. His cord was wrapped around his forehead, so with each contraction his heart rate would fall. So I was rushed into the operating room. I remember feeling so scared and helpless.  I am not sure if a cesarean could have been avoided with his birth. Afterward, I really mourned not being pregnant any longer, and I think it was the safe feeling of my pregnancy that I missed. I no longer had my baby safe and warm in me but had this scary birth story. I also left feeling like my body had been violated in some way. All of these feelings I shared with others and my doctor but were dismissed or hardly acknowledged so I thought I just needed to get over it and move on.

My second, July 6th, 2007, was a scheduled repeat cesarean. The hospital had a no VBAC policy in place and my doctor convinced me that a cesarean would be the safest option, and I went along with it.  It wasn’t until a couple years later, after watching the “Business of Being Born” that I began questioning the necessity of my cesareans and how I and my babies missed out on the natural experience and all the benefits that happen with that.

When I became pregnant with my third I knew I wanted to give birth, to do what my body was meant to do, even with a scar. I was so happy to hear the nearby hospital was doing VBACs again but was told it was not for me because I had had two previous cesareans and the risk was too high…so now what? I felt defeated.

I contacted the ICAN Minneapolis chapter and was informed of hospitals in the metro that would do VBA2C. I began making appointments and looking into a couple that were within reasonable driving distance. After each appointment I left feeling like they were setting me up for another cesarean, and more interested in adding my birth to their statistics – good or bad.  I began questioning what my birth was going to look like at the hospital with all their policies and protocols. 

Mean while, we had hired a doula because we had read the statistics supporting reduced risk of cesarean when doulas are present. I also knew I would need someone to help us make informed decisions in a hospital. Right from the start, we had a connection with our doula, Ashley; she gave us so much support and information that we needed. 

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While doing my research online, home births always came up as an option or in success stories, but my husband and I were both really scared of the idea thinking, “what if something goes wrong” and “what would we do with the dogs and my dad during labor, how are we going to come up with the money?”

Our doula encouraged me to just meet with homebirth midwives to rule it out, if nothing else, and at 30 weeks my husband and I made an appointment to do so. After our first meeting, we knew this was our path and had a sigh of relief. We left feeling excited again and validated, instead of stressed about the birth and our plans. We could really enjoy the pregnancy and the preparing for our birth. 

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My prenatal appointments were always at least 45 minutes long, usually longer. We talked about the importance of eating well and drinking water and my tea.  The care I experienced during our appointments was amazing, they always made me feel comfortable and that I could do this.  Nothing like what I experienced in any of my clinic visits.

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On January 21st, my contractions began at 10:40 at night. I was so excited, we were up timing contractions all night and called our doula so excited at 4am. She convinced us to get some rest. I slept a couple hours and my water broke at 7:35the next morning. Then I called everyone, because I felt like now’s the real deal, but contractions were still steady and not increasing or getting stronger. I was in constant contact with our doula and midwives. One of the midwives came to check on our progress and things were moving so slow we were urged to get some rest that evening and labor would hopefully pick up after some sleep. Just as soon as I laid down, contractions really began – and we had just told our doula to take her time and come that night when she wanted. One of the midwives came and hurriedly called the other to come now after she said she could see his head and then reassured me that my body was doing what it was supposed to be doing.

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That night, in our family room, I gave birth to our third son.  He came out and cried “momma” (sounded like that to me) and nursed like champ all while his cord was still attached to me. My husband was so comforting and amazing while supporting me. It was so calm, comfortable, and full of love and encouragement…it was a beautiful setting for our little guy to enter the world. 

My home birth experience was incredibly healing and an absolute gift.
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Why Choose Home Birth? Part 10

Editor’s Note: This is the last in a 10-part series asking families to share in their own words why they chose home birth. A heartfelt thank you to all the moms, dads, partners, and grandmas who shared. Please explore the rest of the posts (Links here: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8, part 9). We end with the voices of sweet Andie Lynn’s parents: Ryan, and Anna. All photos of Anna and Ryan and Andie’s birth journey are by Alisa Blackwood

Ryan, Anna, & Andie

Ryan, Anna, & Andie

Ryan: I chose home birth because I wanted an intimate and connected birth. I wanted to be present and to enjoy it. I wanted to know who was going to be there. I wanted to be comforted. I wanted help. I wanted people that actually listened. I wanted to draw from this experience as a way to feel powerful and confident! Our first baby was born in the hospital so when I heard I was having a second baby there was NO question in mind where the birth would occur. Our second baby would be born at home, and she was! Thank you birth world!

“We chose people who believed in birth. We had to.”

Anna: I’m writing this in the same spot our daughter Andie Lynn was born; our living room. Come to think of it, it’s the same place she was conceived. The journey from her conception to birth was a tremendous one of learning to stand up for myself, and learning to let go. We chose home birth against our family’s wishes, and came up against a lot of fear and judgement. But we also had lots and lots of support. We chose people who believed in birth. We had to.

This was our second babe, and we were fortunate enough to have been let in on the BIG secret during our last go-round. That secret? Birth is normal. We had been initiated into the birth scene two years prior with our first pregnancy. Our first child, August, was born in the hospital. Let’s just say it wasn’t the right place for us. We knew we had to plan a home birth with the second baby. I had this feeling that birth could be a sacred event, though my first birth was far from sacred. My first birth was traumatic not only for myself, but for my partner and son.

I dreamed that the birth of our second child could be empowering and that I would feel safe and loved. I dreamed I could birth my baby and draw her up into my arms. And while I dreamed many beautiful things, I fought with nightmares just as powerful. At nearly 39 weeks my water broke. My partner, Ryan, and I did everything we could think of to get labor going, but after about 30 hrs with no contractions, I was afraid that my nightmares would soon become reality.

I thought my home birth had to be perfect. I didn’t want it in any way to resemble my previous birth. I was terrified of transferring to the hospital. But my dream team assured me that as long as I was healthy and baby was healthy, there was no need for any intervention, yet. We were safe, no temp, and baby was moving and grooving in my belly. But I was tired from being up all night waiting for contractions and thinking and thinking and thinking and thinking. So we decided to give acupuncture and an herbal induction a try. An acupuncturist came over as I started my delicious caster oil induction. After 4 hrs of herbs and tinctures, plus acupuncture, jogging up and down the stairs, showering, dancing shimmying and gyrating my belly around, I started having regular contractions.

Once things got rolling I started to believe that MAYBE this would actually happen. Maybe my dream of a peaceful home birth would come true. I was able to move freely, to labor in the water and on the couch. And I was able to rest; to let each contraction go completely. My team held space for me to experience and express each emotion fully. I felt their BELIEF in  birth, as well as their belief in me. And I felt my baby as she rotated and descended. I did the work, the hard, hard work of laboring. Mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually I adapted and changed as I transitioned and then pushed. My daughter was born in the water, and scooped right up to my chest. The beauty of this reality was far better than any dream!

Even with the prolonged release of my waters, and with significant blood loss after the birth, I felt safe and confident with my midwives. They were aware of my past, and prepared for everything that came about. Their presence in the days after Andie’s birth was invaluable, and they helped us through some less-than-perfect situations. Pregnancy, labor, and birth are not perfect. Dealing with this imperfection, fully experiencing it, is what makes labor and birth so powerful and transformative. With both of my labors I came up against the edge. The first time I felt like I fell off.  This time I was surrounded by those who believed I could fly. And so I did.

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Why Choose Home Birth? Part 9

Editor’s note: This is part 9 in a 10-part series asking families to tell us in their own words why they chose home birth. 

Photo Credit: Allison Kuznia Photography

Photo Credit: Allison Kuznia Photography

I chose home birth because in 1982 no one could guarantee that I wouldn’t get an episiotomy. Then I became a labor and birth nurse and knew I didn’t need the interventions and had another home birth in 2006. Then I became a CNM and had two more home births because I’m a freak about privacy.

Anonymous

We chose home birth because when Larry and I were doing our Bradley Class homework during our 2nd pregnancy we somehow never made it to the hospital in our version of the ideal birth plan…and so we naturally stayed home for that birth and our next two as well!

Eileen Ho & Larry An

“I vowed that my next birth would be on my own terms…”

I chose home birth because I needed providers who would listen and respect me. When I had my first son I was naïve. I though that my wishes and carefully written-out “birth plan” would be honored, and that I would be respected as a participant in my own labor. Instead, when I went into the hospital they denied my knowledge of my own body and insisted that I wasn’t really in labor. When I wouldn’t leave, they left me unassisted in a dark room and ignored my pleas until I was well into the “pushing” phase. After the birth, my son and I were often separated for reasons I didn’t understand as we were both poked and prodded and examined for possible “deficiencies”.

From that experience I learned that I was strong, and that my instincts were good. I vowed that my next birth would be on my own terms and that I would be supported by people who would put trust in me and who would encourage my strength. My second son was born at home and the difference for us was night and day. I treasured every day of that pregnancy and my child entered the world in a home filled with love and joy and trust. It felt so right for our family, and so normal and so peaceful.

Jennifer DeJonghe

“I had overwhelming indications that the hospital was not the place for me…”

I chose home birth for my second and third babies’ births because, defying my gut, I had gone to a hospital for my first birth, because it was the conventional thing to do, and the experience was unnecessarily traumatic. Even though I had overwhelming indications that the hospital was not the place for me, I still struggled against the status quo in my decision to have a home birth for my second. There are MANY other more positive reasons why I chose home birth, but I thought I’d address this a different way: Why didn’t I choose home birth from the start? Sadly, it was because I was swept up in the mainstream and I thought there was safety with the herd. At the hospital, I was treated like just that: one of the herd.

Lesa Brostune

“No one touches me or my baby except for those that deeply love us.” 

I chose to birth my third baby at home and am currently preparing to have my fourth at home for an infinite list of reasons! I love laboring and birthing in my own environment where only those I have carefully chosen are invited. Those women (and my partner) know me very deeply and trust and honor the work of my body and baby. I get to hear the sounds of my sons playing or one of my trusted birth attendants explain to them the work of birth when my sons come to kiss my head or rub my back. Hearing the gentle, knowledgeable voices of midwives as they give me guidance when I ask and providing the most exceptional “medical” care I have ever received in my life. Getting to cuddle in my own bed with my baby and partner from the very beginning as my mother and friends care for all of us during the first week. No one touches me or my baby except for those that deeply love us.

Erin Sutton

“I knew I could do it, and I wanted that personalized and special home birth experience”

I thought about home birth after reading Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth with my first baby, but neither myself nor my husband got completely comfortable with it. Thankfully I had a lovely, low-intervention hospital birth with midwives with my first son. For my second, birth was no longer unknown, I knew I could do it, and I wanted that personalized and special home birth experience I’d read so much about. Of course if I could go back and do it all over again, I’d definitely birth both at home, but this was my journey and I’m so happy to have had both experiences!

Anne Ferguson

“…a comfortable, trusting and loving environment for our VBAC”

Our family chose home birth because my wife said she wanted to do a home birth. Honestly, having a home birth never crossed my mind until Anna casually mentioned it in conversation when we were starting to try for our second baby.  I knew she struggled emotionally after giving birth to our first  baby via c-section. She had learned a lot about VBACs since .  It became really important to us that we would be in a comfortable, trusting and loving environment for our VBAC and, after reading up on home birth and the birthing community in the Twin Cities, I was totally on board!  When the time finally came, it was so great being in the comfort of our own home with the love and trust of everyone there. The experience is something I will never forget!

Ryan Siskind

 

I chose a home birth because, with the history of mental illness in my husbands family, it was important to me to make the psychological part of birth as optimal as possible. Being a nurse I knew I would not have a much control over that in a hospital.

Hospital L&D nurse

 

I chose home birth because I could have my birth provider friends as my team! So precious to see people you love and admire do their job.

Kristin Hiebert

 

My family chose home birth because my wife only gets to give birth a few times in her life, why not do it where she is comfortable?

Tom Crandall

“… it felt like a rite of passage and something that all the cool kids were doing, but not something I felt strongly called to do.”

I planned but did not have a home birth with my first child. I was GBS positive and 10 years ago had no option for treatment for GBS and stay home. It’s a bad place to be in, to be forced to choose abandoning your whole plan or foregoing treatment. If you want to decline treatment, that’s fine, but it shouldn’t be all or nothing; it should be an option. My labor was prolonged and progress stalled for 8 hours. We transported to the hospital and upon admission I was found to be running a fever, though we had been checking at home. I was diagnosed with chorioamniotis and got some pretty massive antibiotics. I wonder if chorioamnioitis could have been avoided if I had had treatment for GBS at home. In the end, we were both fine, I had a vaginal birth after a 4.75 hour pushing stage.

Fast forward to my second pregnancy after years of infertility; this baby had an unstable lie, and I was worried would have trouble with her cord–specifically, a prolapse. I labored fast at home, all was well, but when my water broke in transition her heart rate dropped into the 60s and lower and didn’t recover. I remember pushing with all my might, looking at the Ambu bag on the floor next to me and wondering if I had made a huge mistake, birthing away from options like a vacuum or emergent C/sec. My midwife cut an episiotomy (after I suggested it) because my perineum wasn’t budging and she was born quickly thereafter, and did very well, no resuscitation needed. Total time from my water breaking to birth was about 10 minutes.  It was great being home in labor and postpartum was dreamy.

Looking back on my experiences, I wonder why I chose home birth. In a way, it felt like a rite of passage and something that all the cool kids were doing, but not something I felt strongly called to do. It felt like something I was supposed to do, a political statement about the normalcy of birth. My mother had a home birth with my younger sister; my husband was born at home. Maybe I felt like I had something to prove. If I have another child, I honestly don’t know what I would choose.
Anonymous

“…we believed, and believe, birth is a normal, natural process.”

We chose home birth for our first baby for a lot of different reasons, including overwhelming statistics on poor hospital birth outcomes and the wonderful experiences of friends and family who had chosen home births — but the main reason was we believed, and believe, birth is a normal, natural process.  And we felt we’d have the best chances at that reality if we stayed home, trusting ourselves and our fantastic midwife team.  Christian also really felt like he would be empowered to play the central role we both wanted him to play as birth partner at home.

Our reality did include transferring to the hospital because after 36 hours of slow progressing labor at home, Ada had rotated to a posterior and asynclitic position where she just couldn’t descend the rest of the way through my pelvis. The decision to transfer was made with calm resolve.

I am now 36+ weeks pregnant with our second child and we have planned a home birth again. I know we’ll get it, but I also know whatever happens we will maintain our home birth attitude -that we are strong and capable, and we believe in birth as a natural, beautiful, intense, unifying, and amazing process.

I feel so lucky.

Alissa Light

“…it made the whole experience hers and she owned it!”

I’m so happy my daughter chose home birth because it made the whole experience hers and she owned it!   Hospital administration and medical personnel commandeer birth and make it about their goals and objectives, not the mother’s.  And it’s not just home birth, it’s care providers whom she trusted absolutely which allowed her to focus entirely on working with her body and baby without having to keep and eye out for anyone who might highjack her plan or undermine her confidence.

A Home Birth Grandma

“I wanted to be in charge of my birth.”

I chose home birth because as a second time mother, I wanted my birth experience to be unique to my wishes and needs. My first was a hospital birth and although the birth experience was beautiful it left me wanting more. I wanted a calm environment before, during, and especially after the birth of our wee little one. I wanted comfort and an uninterrupted labor. I most of all wanted to be surrounded by people who see natural birth the same way I do. I wanted to be in charge of my birth. I wanted to have the experience centered around my family and our precious new baby.

It turned out to be so much better than we could have asked for. The team of people we chose to have with us in our very special time were there to support us completely, lovingly, and knowledgeably without judgement. Although the delivery of our sweet Devin came so quickly, I felt like our birth team was able to help me to feel empowered and full of peace as I safely brought him into this world. We were allowed and encouraged to be together with him after the birth without the unnecessary interruptions and nobody was rushing to make anything happen.  We were tucked into bed and allowed to revel instead of the constant interruptions we experienced in the hospital. We loved our home birth and can’t wait to do it all again!

Lisa Glass

“I am a do-it-yourself kind of gal.”

I remember my girls’ births often and think of my midwives as spiritual mothers who spent so much time with my husband and I preparing for our babies.
For me, when I was pregnant with my first daughter there was something really appealing about home birthing because I am a do-it-yourself kind of gal.  At least that’s what drew me to home birth initially. I was skeptical of taking direction from doctors, who, in my experience, are busy and uninterested.   I didn’t want to be pressured to go along with unnecessary procedures that are required in hospitals.  Plus, I believed natural birth was possible and wanted to see if I could do it.
The reality of home birth for me was that when I was in the process, I needed to let go and rely on others, to lean on other people for help, to accept help from my midwives and husband during labor and from my postpartum doula after my daughter was born.  Birth was a transformative and revealing process for me, but it was so hard and painful until I could let go.  The vision I had of my birth is that I would pull off this empowering feat with instinct and trust in the process. The reality is that I needed to do the most difficult thing for me and that was trust in and rely on others.
Kristen Todd
Check back tomorrow for the final post in our series!

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Why Choose Home Birth? Part 8

Editor’s Note: This is part 8 in our series asking families to tell us why they chose home birth. Please read through the other entries on the blog! 

Photo credit: Allison Kuznia Photography

Photo credit: Allison Kuznia Photography

“…safe to move, vocalize, waiver in my resolve, flounder and succeed”

Birthing at home as both an HBAC (home birth after cesarean) and an African American woman allowed me to birth in safety; I was safe from the provider’s fear of being a vaginal birth after cesarean, I was safe from the racism inherent in so much of health care but especially in birth, I was safe to move, vocalize, waiver in my resolve, flounder and succeed. For me it was the only safe option for birthing my children.

Rebecca Polston

“I was born at home, my siblings were born at home…”

I chose home birth in much the same way many women choose a hospital: it’s what I knew. I was born at home, my siblings were born at home, most of my friends from when I was really young were born at home. It was just my norm. I grew up with my mother rolling her eyes and scoffing whenever “TV birth” came on. I didn’t really think too much about it. By the time I was pregnant with my 2nd, it was more of a conscious decision, but I had already had a home birth, and it just seemed silly to change something that had already proven to work.

When I miscarried with my third pregnancy, the only people to show me compassion and actual care were people from my home birth world; the hospital world was scary and unkind (with one very notable exception – my nurse once I was admitted, and she holds a very special space in my story). My 4th pregnancy/3rd baby’s birth was really with my dream team. One thing I love about the whole idea of home birth is knowing who will be at your birth. That is rare in a hospital setting. I knew every single person who set foot in my space. There were no cleaning people, or cafeteria people, just people who loved me, even if only for that moment in time.

Rebecca Bolton Steiner

“I just knew in my heart that home was the way to go.”

I gave birth first in a hospital with midwives, and even though it was a very natural birth without interventions, I still felt that the transition from home to hospital was really disruptive to my concentration and unnecessary, and I hated the lack of privacy at the hospital. When I got pregnant the second time, I’d never spent a night (or even more than a few hours) away from my first child, so I also liked that by birthing my second child at home, I wouldn’t have to traumatize my older child needlessly by having to separate from him or drag him to a strange, uncomfortable environment while I gave birth. I just knew in my heart that home was the way to go.

Carrie Pomeroy

“At a hospital, I’m just a number…”

I chose home birth because at home I have complete freedom. At a hospital, I’m taking a huge risk. I don’t know if the doctor or nurses in charge are going to be in a good mood, bad mood, hurry, etc. At home, I am working with one or two people who care about me personally. At a hospital, I’m just a number, just a patient.

Elisa Armstrong

 

“Our hospital birth seemed like it was something happening TO my wife…”

Initially I chose home birth because I just wanted to support my wife, but then after experiencing it I realized how much more I was able to participate in the birth and how much better the birth seemed to go, compared to our hospital birth. Our hospital birth seemed like it was something happening TO my wife and the home births felt like something that we were doing ourselves.

Matt McCoy

“I was traumatized by my hospital experience during my first birth”

I chose home birth because I wanted a non-medicalized experience with my second birth. I was traumatized by my hospital experience during my first birth, particularly by a 6 hour separation from my baby after delivering via c-section. I lost trust in the hospital system and therefore felt a home birth after cesarean (HBAC) was the best option for me. HBAC was a very empowering experience– from first prenatal visit to birth– for both me and my partner. We felt our voices were really heard by our midwife and we never felt coerced or pressured, only guided. It was a wonderful experience.

Kylie Bickel Kuhlman

“I wanted to be heard, cared for, loved and cherished by my home birthing team.”

I’m a citizen of India and am extremely distrustful of the American healthcare system, especially since 90% of the patient care, especially mother-child care, is based on the health insurance the patient has. Since I work for myself and buy my own insurance, and the fact that I’m a foreigner, left me with little doubt and confidence that my choices would be respected, let alone cared for. It has been my personal experience that when people in the healthcare service industry first hear my Indian accent, they automatically assume that I don’t know what I want, despite me being specific (I’m a writer, so I like to write my instructions down on paper just in case people don’t understand what I’m saying due to my accent).

Not wanting to be patronized, I (not my husband) opted for a home birth simply because I wanted to be heard, cared for, loved and cherished by my home birthing team. I was extremely lucky to have a midwife team go above and beyond the call of duty. It is extremely important for a young, first time mother to feel loved especially if her parents are not around (mine are in India) and if it’s a new experience for the father of our child. I know that my husband was very grateful to have the birth at home as hospitals freak him out.

Cheryllyne Vas

“…much calmer and less urgent”

We are choosing home birth because  my wife wants to birth at home. I find that the whole experience is much calmer and less urgent. The idea of rushing out of the house to the hospital just seems like the opposite environment I want to put myself or my family into. Finally, as a man, I feel that in a hospital situation I will lose all say and involvement in what’s going on.

Tony Miller

“…the best start for my baby in this world.”

I chose home birth because I knew it would be the best start for my baby in this world. No unnecessary intervention or pokes or prods. And we all got tucked in together where we should be to rest and heal and grow. I trusted my team and I knew that we were close to competent and expert care if the situation changed. I didn’t need doctor Justin Case.

Kate Sophia

 

I will choose home birth when I have kids because it’s more comfortable at home for both mother and baby.

Ally Labbe

 

“…the kind of whole-woman care I needed.”

I chose a home birth because I knew that home birth midwives would provide the kind of whole woman care I needed. In my case, nutrition help/support to help combat pre-eclampsia and avoid having another preemie. I was induced with my first two babies, the second at 29.5 weeks. It was an isolating and traumatic experience, to not experience my third trimester, to have him spend 53 days in the NICU and not inside my womb…

When we wanted to have one more baby, we didn’t even attempt to see a doctor. I knew they would scoff at me, or tell me I would get pre-eclampsia again. I made dietary changes and found a home birth provider who supported me and believed in me. Absolutely one of the best decisions of my life! Completely healing, as well: little miss came on her own time, in our own comfortable space, at 39 week

Brittany Collins

 

I chose home birth because of the gentle, nurturing atmosphere that I needed for birth and that I wanted my child to enter the world into.

Heather Heefer Dart

“…as good or better outcomes than in-hospital birth, throughout the world”

I chose home birth because I had  an unnecessarily interventive hospital birth with my first child (albeit better than most due to my midwives and doula). I started doing research into home birth at med school. I had free access to the Cochrane Database (best meta-analysis resource for well designed studies in prenatal/birth care) and I discovered that when given these 3 things:

1. healthy mom

2.healthy baby

3.healthy pregnancy,

birth out of hospital has as good or better outcomes than in-hospital birth, throughout the world. I switched over to a home birth plan for my second and third births.

Rachael Rapacz, MD

Check back tomorrow for another post!

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Why Choose Home Birth? Part 7

Photo Credit: Megan Crown Photography

Photo Credit: Megan Crown Photography

Editor’s Note: This is part 7 in a multi-part series asking families to tell us in their own words why they chose home births. 

“I wanted to know that I could relax, let my body do its job, and be surrounded by caregivers that wouldn’t step in unless they had to.”

When deciding which route to go for my birth, we looked into a couple options. The main ones that we investigated were birthing at either HCMC or St Joe’s with the midwives or doing a home birth with the same midwifes who had assisted my partner birth three years earlier. There were a number of reasons that we finally decided to choose a home birth, but the main one was my trust in the home birth model and the trust I had in my midwife team. I heard from a number of folks that had lovely hospital births, but they all mentioned that they were very strong in their convictions and “effectively advocated” for themselves during their birthing time. I didn’t want to go into my labor knowing that I was going to have to “advocate” for myself throughout the process; I wanted to know that I could relax, let my body do its job, and be surrounded by caregivers that wouldn’t step in unless they had to. I also wanted to trust that my caregivers’ advice/methods would default to something that I was comfortable with and that I wouldn’t have to be constantly questioning my care providers motives.

Other considerations that came into play for us were the model of prenatal and postpartum care. Including  our three year old son Arlo in every prenatal visit helped with him welcoming his new baby brother into our family. The postpartum care that we received was excellent. We knew it would be because we knew the level of care our team provides, home visits, immediate access to our team and quick acton for the unexpected.

All in all, I’d say that having a home birth was actually better than I had anticipated. The feelings that I have around Emil’s journey into this world are so peaceful and this experience has had a huge impact on my life. I couldn’t have imagined a better experience. It truly was amazing.

Stephanie Johnson

“…research assured me that choosing home birth would be a safe option for me and my baby.”

I chose home birth for my second and third babies.  My first birth, a hospital birth, went extremely fast, and I expected the next birth to be faster, with little to no time to get to the hospital.  I wanted to be sure I could use comfort measures to deal with the anticipated fast second birth, and my image of “comfort” included minimal disruption with driving or triaging at the hospital during late labor and maximum time using water as a comfort measure.  I figured the drive and intake process at the hospital would mean I would spend the most difficult part of my labor driving, in hospital triage, and waiting for a water birth tub to be ready.  As a result, I looked in to home birth, where I knew my birth team would come to me while I labored in the comfort of my own home with a birth tub ready for me.

I am also the kind of person who relies on objective data and make evidence-based decisions.  While I initially wondered whether home birth was indeed safe, my research assured me that choosing home birth would be a safe option for me and my baby.

That first home birth exceeded my expectations.  I appreciated the personal, in-depth care that I received from my midwife.  The birth was not as expected since it was longer than my first birth.  Turns out I would have had plenty of time to get to the hospital, through triage, and into a tub!  What I found, though, is that I really valued the comfort of my home during my birth with the security of having a good care provider looking out for my baby and me.  That experience drove me to choose a home birth for my third baby, as well.  With that next pregnancy and birth, I appreciated that my midwives educated me on options for care decisions that needed to be made along the way.  They informed me and helped me make choices, but left the decision to me rather than telling me what to do.  I again felt well cared for, safe, comfortable, and blissful giving birth with my husband and older children surrounding me in the comfort of my home.

One thing that I remember and describe to others is opening the windows during labor and feeling the sunshine, smelling the fresh air, and feeling a summer breeze on my skin. People comment on how lovely that sounds – so very different from a sterile, cold, isolated-from-the-world feeling at a hospital.  I got to have all that comfort while still receiving quality clinical care and monitoring from my midwives!

Rebecca Feyder

“I wanted to welcome my baby into the world in the calmest, most loving setting available.”

I chose home birth because I trust my body and nature; because I honor women’s traditional ways of knowing as exemplified by my wise and skillful midwives; and most of all because I wanted to welcome my baby into the world in the calmest, most loving setting available.

I had visions of our home birth taking place peacefully in the living room:  sunlight streaming through the windows, peaceful music playing in the background, close family and friends playing quiet games with my 3-year-old, and me being surrounded by love and affection as I moved in and out of the birthing tub.  The reality looked much different.  My water broke at 2:30 am, but I didn’t feel like I was in active labor until about 4:00 am.  My husband filled up the tub, making it very hot so it would be the right temperature by the time the baby was ready.  My midwife arrived at about 5:30 am and my daughter woke up at 6 am, scared and concerned about the noises I was making.  My husband took her outside to calm her down, and slowly started calling our birth team.  I was alone in our house with my midwife when I suddenly felt the baby crowning!  The tub was still too hot to get into and I was in shock that this baby was coming already.  I made it as far as the dining room, where I slowly pushed while friends and family streamed in.  My 3-year-old had rejoined us all by this time, somewhat happy to see the baby emerging.  My second daughter was born joyfully, albeit awkwardly on the dining room floor.  She had a bit of a delay at the shoulders, but came out smoothly with the help of the next contraction and some skilled maneuvering.

It took me awhile to grieve the loss of the peaceful home birth I had pictured.  I also felt sad that my older daughter didn’t enjoy the experience as I’d hoped.  But I still trust in woman’s natural design, and I am impressed now more than ever with the knowledge, skills, and resources of my midwives.

Laura Prakash

“Was the birth of my son how I imagined it would be?  No.  Do I have any regrets?  Not a single one.”

My husband and I chose home birth because we believed that my body was built to go through the birthing process on its own, without medical intervention and we wanted to be in the quiet, relaxing comfort of our own home when our baby arrived.  We interviewed many midwives and found the right fit and knew they we the perfect women to help us through this amazing process.

Things certainly did not go as planned. After laboring at home for 24 hours and not having slept in 38 hours, I made the decision to go to the hospital for an epidural and some sleep.  Our son, Waylon, finally arrived after 41 hours of labor!  Six hours after his arrival, our family packed up and headed home from the hospital. Was the birth of my son how I imagined it would be?  No.  Do I have any regrets?  Not a single one.  Was it all still an amazing, life-changing experience? YES!  Would I choose home birth again?  I so badly want to say YES but, in all honesty, 41 hours of labor continues to pop into my mind!!!  In the end, I think I will give it another chance because I still believe my body is built for giving birth.

Heidi Banks

“Phenomenal Care”

As a doula, my training and experience taught me that an undisturbed birth would be safest for me and my baby. That’s why I chose to birth at home. But I also got phenomenal care from my midwife throughout my childbearing year.

Kathryn Orr

“…the best way to facilitate the peaceful entry into the world for our baby.”

We initially chose to welcome our third child at home simply for practical reasons: our second child was in such a hurry to arrive that we barely made it to the hospital in time! However, as we thought about it more, we realized that birthing at home was the best way to facilitate the peaceful entry into the world for our baby that we had been seeking…and we didn’t need to write a “birth plan” with a long list of medical interventions that we hoped to avoid in a hospital setting. The simplicity and serenity of laboring and birthing in the comfort of my own bedroom turned out to be better than I ever dreamed possible, and the relationships we developed with the members of our care team were much deeper than we had during either of our prior pregnancies.

Emily J. Pike, M.D.

 

I chose home birth because I didn’t want any interventions. I wanted my body to do what it was designed to do on its own. I don’t see birth as a ‘medical procedure’

Linnea Wilhelm

 

I chose home birth because it was a pretty good guarantee we could get to have a vaginal birth after my two previous cesarean sections. I would argue it was the safest and most healing for me. Went from being told, “You can’t push your babies out. You just make them too big,” to doing just that naturally at home in 3 1/2 hours.

Nicole Suzzanne

 

I chose home birth because I was born at home and hearing my birth story was and still is my favorite story. I always wanted that experience for my babies and dreamed of the day I could tell them their birth stories.

Libby Rose Kline

Please check back tomorrow for part 8!

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Why Choose Home Birth? Part 6

Editor’s Note: This is Part 6 in a multi-part series asking families to share in their own words why they chose home birth. 

Photo Credit: Megan Crown Photography

Photo Credit: Megan Crown Photography

The hilarious way our family chose home birth went like this:

Me: “Honey, we’re about 9 weeks pregnant, I think. ‘Ya think we should we get some prenatal care started or something?”

Husband: “Do we have to have our baby in a hospital? Can’t we just be home and have our baby right here?”

Me: [Furiously Googling “Home birth midwives in Minneapolis”] “Oh my word, there’s like loads of families already birthing humans in homes all over the place here!”

The spiritual way our family chose home birth was that it chose us. We choose spaces of health and love and beauty to conduct our living which, in our experience, is never the space of a hospital. Hospitals are a fine option in which to get care when sick so that is where sick people may very well get better. But we were pregnant, not sick, so a hospital birth felt jarring to our desire to be surrounded by beauty, love and health. I also loved the thought of having my baby at home and being right there. Right in our love sphere. Right there with all our germs we’d share with our new person. Right there with my own bathroom. Right there with my pillows and my socks and my robe. Right there and not having to climb into a car or pin my baby in a plastic car seat 48 hours after ushering in a planet-altering spirit. For us, choosing a home birth was a matter of claiming the sacred in a powerful way.

It was comforting, too, to choose a path that is tried and true: home birth is a mainstay for expecting women. Hospital births are the newfangled location for where to push out new people and frankly we were unimpressed with how our culture strays from the positively remarkable that is home birth to the dangerously unkempt which is hospital birth. As a linchpin, home birth is just smart birth. And even though we always assured the skeptics in our life that if our home birth plan went awry we were exactly one mile from a major emergency room, our quiet inner focus was that we were meant to engage the home birth experience, and that we would.

Dream vs. Reality

Well, we actually did visit a hospital when I awoke in a small pool of blood one morning during my 36th week. After monitoring the baby, experiencing the first and only ultrasound of our pregnancy and feeling the contractions intensify, we left the hospital. It took all my gumption not to wave at the slack-jawed delivery nurses watching a 36+ week pregnant woman, walking out of the hospital to continue her plan have her baby at home. There are few triumphs in life and we relished it because we were given the opportunity to, once again, choose home birth and most literally walk away from what a hospital professed it could provide in a better way.

The reality was different because our water birthing tub didn’t get organized in time and our birthing kit arrived via UPS 4 hours after we met our son in our bed. I think what all of that meant is babies don’t need much help to get here. When my midwife told me during labor that I wouldn’t have to ever push if I didn’t want to…that my body would do all the work on its own albeit perhaps slower than desired I realized the depth of creation…that creating doesn’t require effort but energy. And there’s a big difference between the two.

The genius of home birth is there just isn’t access to all the shenanigans and numbing potions and whatnot at the ready as in hospitals. Thank goodness. If there is anything more devastating than being numb to a powerful experience I’d like to hear it. Feeling deeply, in my opinion, is full of wonder and shouldn’t be feared. Isn’t this what it’s all about? Isn’t this the point of life? Live it. Feel it. Get in. Dig in. Lean in. Bear down. Get in touch. This is it. This is powerful. Women especially create all these outside ways in which to numb themselves and this world from knowing their truth (make-up, fronts, hair coloring, to name a few). For me it was time to get in deep and know myself and where my body could go, where my mind could visit for a time.

I wasn’t particularly impressed with what came from my mouth when laboring during my home birth but I was acutely impressed with what came from my body: Harold.

For our family, meeting Harold after he was born at home was a staging ground for the ways we have moved forward since that time. Because he was born at home we’re all in touch with the wonder of his entry. We tell the story again and again. We reminisce about this spot on the tub or that set of sheets or the smells and the sounds and the moments. And I was there for it unencumbered by machines or electronic beeps or swirling drugs in my blood or needles, straps and fluorescent lights.

There was one moment in the hospital that is a quintessential way of hospitals approach their patients. When drawing blood for testing it was discovered that I need more hydration. The nurses started preparing to hook me up to an IV bag of saline solution in order to rehydrate me. I pulled back from the needle and asked if I could drink some water from a glass instead and the nurse cocked her head to give that a thought and said, “You could do that, but you’d have to drink a whole glass!” So instead imploring me to drink a tall glass of water or two like a normal person, the hospital staff jumped to pumping a hydrating solution into my body in the most unnatural of ways. It made us wonder how they’d approach, say, the birth of a baby, so we left for home and never looked back (in all senses of the phrase).

Claire DeBerg

We actually had a relatively nice natural hospital birth with our first, but desired a more relaxed atmosphere for our second birth. Plus, it’s saving us about $2,000 over an insurance covered hospital birth.

Melanie Turner Corbett

I chose home birth because I know that my body instinctively knows how to give birth and with a healthy pregnancy and excellent prenatal care with fabulous midwives, I wasn’t in a position where I was ill and needed a hospital. Home was the healthiest and safest place for me and my babies.

Melanie Gray

I chose home birth because I believe in the normalcy of birth, but to be a part of that trust being played out has changed me very much. To let go of all of the trappings of hospital birth and suspend myself in the loving warmth of my home and my midwives- with whom our family has a deep, personal connection- and just. birth. my. baby. was profound. It changed me very much.

Katie Land

I chose a home birth because I couldn’t picture it any other way!

Emme Wadsworth

I live in my home and I give birth as I live.

Gail Tully

I chose home births because home is where I felt safe, supported, and able to give birth on my own terms and in my own way. I am so grateful to my husband and our midwives.

Linda Winsor

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