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
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.
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.
“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.
“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.
“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!
“…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!
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.
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?
“… 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.
“…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.
“…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!
“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.
Check back tomorrow for the final post in our series!