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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.


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.

“…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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Birth Story: Emaline’s Home Water Birth under a Blue Moon

by Kerri Rivers

Editor’s Note: All photos in this birth story are from Megan Crown Photography. 

Kerri getting support from her partner and doula. Photo Credit: Megan Crown Photography.

Kerri getting support from her partner and doula. (and doggie)

Our second pregnancy was accidental. Jason and I had been indecisive for several years about whether and when to have a second child. But we were thrilled when we saw the positive pregnancy test. We knew right away that we wanted to have this baby at home. The hospital birth of our son five years earlier was a lovely and natural water birth but we couldn’t help but feel that it had been unnecessary for us to be in the hospital. So we made calls to several home birth midwives. Our first interview was with Emme Corbeil of Trillium Midwifery and we felt an immediate connection with her. We didn’t end up interviewing anyone else.

Homebirth mama Kerri gets a hip-squeeze from her doula and support from her partner.

Homebirth mama Kerri gets a hip-squeeze from her doula while her partner and son look on.

Our prenatal care was amazing. Our appointments were at Emme’s home and each one lasted an hour, giving us time to talk and get to know Emme and the midwife apprentices. We brought Eliot to each appointment and he loved being a part of the process (and playing with Emme’s great toys). Having our appointments at Emme’s home, always with a warm cup of tea, where there was intimacy and comfort,  was a blessing and wonderful preparation for birth. As I approached 40 weeks, I felt completely at peace and ready to meet the sweet baby in my belly.

Happy Birth Day, baby Emaline!

Happy Birth Day, baby Emaline!

My water broke on Monday night a little after midnight. It was 2 days before my due date. I hadn’t yet gone to bed, but after a quick talk with Emme, I laid down to try to get some sleep. Jason stayed up and filled the birth tub. I had intermittent contractions throughout the night and didn’t sleep well, mostly due to anticipation. Neither of us got much sleep. The next morning I got up early and went for a long walk with a friend, hoping that it would get things moving along, but there was no change. Emme and Julie, a midwife apprentice, came over around 10am to check on me and the baby. Everything was great. Emme commented that her head was so low that she couldn’t really feel it. We agreed to touch base later in the day. Emme called while we were eating lunch just a few minutes later and told us that she couldn’t shake the feeling that maybe the baby was breech. She asked if we would be willing to go for a positional ultrasound and we agreed. I promised myself I wasn’t going to worry about the possibilities, but  it was difficult to keep my mind off the idea of not being able to have a home birth. The ultrasound took less than three minutes and the ultrasound technician was able to confirm immediately that the baby was head down. We were incredibly relieved.

After dinner that evening, Jason, Eliot and I took another walk. My contractions were becoming more regular and I was pretty tired. We talked with Emme and let her know that it was still stop and go. After making sure that our house was tidied up and everything was ready for the birth, we went to bed around 10pm. Around midnight, I felt like I couldn’t lay in bed anymore and I got up. I knew at that point that my labor had started in earnest. My contractions were still between 6-10 minutes apart but they were definitely getting stronger. I took a long shower and mentally prepared myself for whatever was to come. It was a Blue Moon that night and I spent a few minutes outside taking in the full beauty of the moon under which my daughter would be born (and getting a huge mosquito bite on my belly in the process).

A new family of four

A new family of four

After checking out the moon, I decided to sit on a birthing ball to see if it could help me get into a rhythm. I started my birth playlist and relaxed, while Jason and I chatted and kept track of my contractions. It felt so calm and peaceful and the birthing ball was definitely working its magic. Around 2:30am, we called our team and asked them to come over: Emme, Julie, Rebecca the second midwife, Margaret our doula, my friend Kristen who would be there for Eliot, and our birth photographer, Megan. Everyone showed up over the next forty minutes or so and we all got cozy in the living room. I was able to talk between my contractions and I continued to labor on the ball. I remember feeling incredibly comfortable, safe and surrounded in love at this point. We woke Eliot up around 4am to make sure he would have enough time to fully wake up before the baby arrived. It was important for him to see his sister’s birth. As my contractions started to intensify, Margaret suggested I try laying down in bed to rest for a couple of minutes. I agreed and we moved to the bedroom. The first contraction I had in bed felt so much more intense than all the others and I knew that I was ready to get into the tub. By this time, I was in a labor fog and had lost all sense of time. I got into the tub and remember that the water felt so warm and took the edge off the contractions, which were very intense at this point. I know that I labored in the tub for about an hour before I felt the need to start pushing, but at the time, it felt like only minutes to me. It is so incredible what birth hormones can do! I remember Margaret helping me through contractions and Jason and Eliot encouraging me. When I started pushing, I came out of the fog a bit and realized that Margaret was reading out loud a set of birth affirmations that I had written several days prior. I focused my mind on them as I allowed my body to open for my baby. After 4 or 5 good pushes, Emaline Ophelia was born at 5:55am. I distinctly remember hearing the song, The World Exploded Into Love All Around Me, playing from my birth playlist as she came into the world. Jason caught her while Eliot stood right next to him. The moment felt absolutely perfect to me, filled with so much love.

Happy big brother!

Happy big brother!

After the birth, Jason, Eliot, Emaline and I moved to our bed where we stayed while both Emaline and I were checked. She weighed 8 lbs and was 22 inches long. Emme guessed the weight exactly! By the time everyone left our home several hours later, everything was cleaned up, I had eaten, there were cold compresses in the freezer and perineal rinse in the fridge, and we were all tucked cozy into bed and ready to sleep.

Blue Moon Baby

Blue Moon Baby

Our home birth was everything we had hoped for and more. We were able to bring our daughter into the world in the most peaceful and loving way. Eliot was able to watch his sister’s birth. Jason was able to deliver his daughter. I was able to labor in my own home, surrounded by my family and a care team that honored and respected the normal and amazing process of birth. We feel so incredibly blessed, both to have had the birth we did and because of the precious life that joined our family that morning.

Kerri Rivers is a mama to Eliot (5) and Emaline (3 weeks) and wife to Jason. She is a Regulatory Compliance Specialist at Boston Scientific who likes to be crafty in her free time and is super passionate about natural birth.

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Birth Story: A long labor and a Thanksgiving Homebirth

by Stacey Plasch

I wasn’t expecting labor to start anytime soon, despite being 40 weeks and 5 days. I was actually looking forward to spending Thanksgiving, a mere 3 days away, still pregnant. But labor came creeping up Monday morning, and by that evening we knew it was more than just Braxton-Hicks contractions. What we didn’t expect was that I would still be pregnant on Thanksgiving, if only until noon. Despite knowing that our baby was still ROP, the idea that my labor could stretch for another 60-plus hours hadn’t even crossed our minds. Baby had been stubbornly in the right occiput posterior position for weeks despite me doing inversions, side-lying releases, pelvic tilts, and many other exercises from spinning babies. I had read on the website  that having a posterior baby can mean a longer and more difficult labor, but for some reason that possibility had flown from my mind.

So, thinking our baby would be born by sometime the next day, we called my mom and told her to come over. Our friend also stopped by to pick up our dog, who was so attached to me he ‘helped’ the midwife with every prenatal visit by lying next to me on the couch while she used her fetoscope or hands. We thought it would be better for all concerned if he was somewhere else during labor and birth. Our friend also had to bring us a hose to fill up the birth tub which our midwife, Vanessa Stephens Coldwater, had dropped off earlier that day. Apparently our hose’s connection was broken and we didn’t realize this until my husband, Ryan, tried to attach it to the sink! So our friend had to go to two different stores at 8 pm in the middle of November to find an outdoor garden hose!

Then we called Vanessa who said I should try to sleep as much as possible and that she wouldn’t be coming over until labor was further along. Sleep!? Who could sleep with these contractions every 10 minutes?! With Ryan in bed beside me, I lay on my left side and was surprised to find myself easily falling asleep between every contraction. We had taken the Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth and I concentrated on fully relaxing physically and mentally during each contraction. It was sure a long night though!

Come Tuesday morning Vanessa stopped by to check on us and said that baby’s heart tones sounded good. Vanessa was very encouraging and supportive. She checked baby’s position and said she had finally engaged in my pelvis and that all the contractions I was having were “turning contractions,” getting baby to move into a more optimal position. Vanessa showed me a few more exercises to do to help this process along. I really hated the customized inversions. I had to kneel on the bed with my chest touching the surface and my arms at my sides for an hour at a time. I just wanted to keep moving around and staying still made me antsy. In a way, I believe I was trying to escape from the pain by keeping active. It was easier to ignore that way.

I ate and drank as normally as I could that day. Ryan helped by offering me water between contractions and my mom made food and cleaned. We watched a lot of bad courtroom tv shows (“Judge Joe Brown! Now it’s Joe Time!”) and I remember the commercials annoying me. One in particular was repeated several times throughout the day. It was advertising a culinary arts college and asked “Why are you still sitting on the couch? Call the Culinary Arts Institute today!” I yelled back, “I’m in labor!” I also spent a lot of time sitting and bouncing on my birth ball. The best $20 I ever spent at Target!

The contractions had spaced out to about every 20 minutes during the day, which Vanessa said was normal. She said they would probably pick up in frequency come nightfall and they did! I was very anxious to get into the birth tub this whole time and Vanessa suggested I take a warm bath or shower. I finally did get in the tub for awhile to try to help me relax before bed. That night was more difficult and I needed Ryan’s help to manage contractions. I was starting to need some counter pressure on my lower back as well, which was encouraging!

Wednesday was very similar to Tuesday. I ate and drank normally, watched a lot of bad tv, and did several different exercises to encourage baby to move from posterior to anterior. I needed counter pressure with every contraction now and my mother and Ryan would take turns. They would use a tennis ball or a heated up corn bag and I would simply yell, “BALL!” or “BAG!” at the start of each contraction, depending on what I wanted. I also started to lay over the birth ball while kneeling on the floor instead of just sitting on it. We talked to Vanessa on the phone a few times and she stopped by to check the baby’s heart tones and to see how I was coping. She reassured us that everything was going well.

Wednesday night was the most difficult for me, and it was sometime during this night that I moved into more ‘active labor.’ The only way I could get any rest this night was to sit on the birth ball and lay my upper body on our bed. Ryan or my mom then sat behind me to provide counter pressure during contractions and sips of water in between.

I kept wanting Vanessa to come over, as I had this mindset that when the midwife comes, the baby will be born! I remember wanting to call her several times but Ryan encouraged me to wait until morning. We finally called her at around 7am and she said she would be over soon.

When Vanessa arrived we mutually decided to do our first and only cervical check, since we wanted to make sure I was making some progress. That was especially painful and I was glad I didn’t have them hourly, like many hospitals require. I was overjoyed to hear I was at a 7! YES! Vanessa then had me lie on my left side with my arms behind me and my right leg stretched over the top of my left leg. She said this position will sometimes encourage the amniotic sac to break. I don’t remember her saying this and when my water broke a few contractions later I shouted out in surprise, “My water broke!!” Although there was meconium present the amount didn’t concern Vanessa as baby’s heart tones sounded good.

I went into transition shortly after this and accidentally tensed my body against the contractions which caused PAIN and lots of screaming! My mom was essential at this point. If she held my hands, breathed deeply with me, and looked into my eyes I was able to relax well. I moved to the toilet to try to urinate before getting into the tub, but was unable to do so. My body starting to push while on the toilet but I didn’t realize this until afterwards.

I got into the birth tub and Ryan put on his swimsuit as he was planning on catching baby. I was kneeling and holding onto my mom’s hands as she kneeled outside the tub. Ryan got in behind me and provided more counter pressure on my back.

I was very LOUD and I pushed HARD, because at this point I was so done. I was very eager to meet my daughter and I just wanted her OUT. A few months beforehand I made a bet with my uncle that I would not tear at all. He’s a RN and has very conventional views of medicine and childbirth. He adamantly said that “all first time moms tear if they don’t have an episiotomy” and I wanted to prove him wrong! However, at this point I no longer cared about tearing.

Between contractions I would often reach up and feel the progress of her head. I could feel that she had hair and also wondered how something that big could possibly fit through my vagina. After pushing for almost 50 minutes she shot out and Ryan tried to catch her, but she kicked away and swam up between my legs in front of me. I picked her up and she immediately started screaming! It felt so surreal that she was finally born after all those hours! She had a ton of dark brown hair and was very alert. Both her Apgar scores were 10, so a cesarean due to the long labor or meconium-stained water would have been very unnecessary.

Audrey didn’t want to nurse for a while; she was too busy crying. Her head was moulded to the left and she seemed to be fairly unhappy about her journey earthside. Ryan and I cuddled her, caressed her hair, and I double checked her gender (we had a 20 week ultrasound to find out ahead of time). I was very grateful that Vanessa or my mom didn’t “hat, chat, or pat” on Audrey and just let the three of us be for awhile in the tub. After the cord was done pulsing Ryan cut it and then we all got into bed where I pushed out the placenta and Audrey finally nursed.

I had between a second and third degree tear. Luckily I didn’t need stitches and healed great after a regimen of bed rest, sitz baths, and frozen herbal compresses. I had heard that stitches made for painful healing so I was grateful to avoid them. Audrey was born with a nuchal hand so I likely would have torn even if I had pushed more gently. I never talked to my uncle about it as I didn’t want to further fuel that fire, and luckily he didn’t ask.

My daughter’s birth was the most empowering, amazing experience of my life. I found an inner strength I never knew I had. To have such a great outcome after a long and difficult labor is a true testament to the capabilities of a woman’s body, and to the knowledgeable skill of my midwife who understands all variations of normal birth. I truly believe our outcome would have been very different if I had chosen a different care provider.

Audrey’s birth was the starting point of my incredible journey into natural birth and parenting, which I’m very passionate about. I’m also going to Bradley teacher training in a few weeks and hope to start teaching my own classes in St Cloud before the end of the year. Her birth lit a fire in me that will not be extinguished anytime soon.

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Midwife: A documentary about home birth

Local birth photographer turned filmmaker, Allison Kuznia, writes about the making of her new documentary.


For the past decade, through my births, as well as in my work as a birth photographer, I have been intrigued by the world of home birth midwifery.

So I decided to make a movie about it.

My goal in making the movie was to show the art, beauty, and compassion within home birth midwifery.  But, as I went through the process of filming and conducting interviews with women and midwives from other states where home birth midwifery is not legal, a bigger message emerged from the movie as well.

I talked with a midwife from Iowa who was arrested in 2007 for practicing medicine without a license. I talked with the women behind Birth Matters in South Dakota, a state where their home birth midwives received cease and desist orders, and the women who wanted to birth at home were left with options they didn’t want to face: 1) birthing in a hospital, 2) having an unassisted birth, or, 3) crossing the border to have a hotel birth with a midwife from another state. I talked with a couple who described what they went through in finding an underground home birth midwife while they lived in Nebraska, and comparing that to how easy and accessible it was to find a home birth midwife after they moved to Minnesota.

Through these interviews, the message behind this movie started to come together on its own: Families deserve the right to choose where and with whom they birth.

While the documentary follows Twin Cities home birth midwife, Sarah Biermeier of Geneabirth, through her first year, from prenatals, to births (including a wonderful VBAC2), to postpartums, it also examines what the birth environment looks like in states where home birth midwifery is not legal and families are faced with fewer birth options. In an act that should be simple, giving birth has become a human rights issue and a political event.

A homebirth midwife

Other communities around the country, especially those in states where groups are working toward the decriminalization of home birth midwifery, have requested and are hosting screenings of the film. The premiere screening will be here in Minnesota. The film will be available for purchase on DVD and online streaming after the new year.

Midwife Documentary – Trailer from Allison Kuznia on Vimeo.

Midwife is premiering at The Heights Theater on Tuesday, September 24 at 7 pm with a 30 minute Q&A following the film. Visit www.midwifethedocumentary.com for more information and to purchase tickets.

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Home Birth? Me? No Way!

by Liz Hochman, CD(DONA), LCCE

If you would have asked me, newly pregnant with my first baby at age 27, if I would ever have my baby at home I would have thought you were crazy. I mean, homebirth just isn’t safe! There are no epidurals there! Only hippies and crazies would do that kind of thing!

During my first pregnancy I read everything I could get my hands on, and I mean EVERYTHING. My bedside table was 20 books deep at any given moment. Being the type A, analyze-everything, trust-the-data person that I was, I treated preparing for my childbirth like I was getting a degree in how to have a baby.   I attended a standard childbirth education class and learned all about when I could get the epidural, how the epidural worked, and any other interventions and medications that were available to me. At no point during this learning did anyone ever mention to me, “Hey, you’re planning a natural unmedicated normal low risk birth? You might want to consider a homebirth.”

Fast forward to after that birth and into the first year of parenting my sweet new baby girl. I found myself questioning a lot about the whole experience.  I began my path towards becoming a doula and found myself pregnant with my second child. It was during this process that I realized homebirth was the logical next choice for me. I wanted to KNOW who my provider was going to be at my side during this very vulnerable day. I wanted to not have to drive anywhere during the most intense parts of my labor.  I didn’t want to try and negotiate and fight with the staff regarding tests, procedures, and monitoring.  I respected those people a lot, as I worked with them nearly every week attending hospital births as a doula. But I knew that I didn’t want them to have to “make an exception” on my behalf as I asked for fewer and fewer items I knew they were required to implement.

So I began looking into this whole crazy homebirth thing.  Me! The type A, ex-research-manager-turned-doula, suburban mom – having a homebirth.  My husband had many questions about safety so we reached out to a few midwives and interviewed them.  He asked all the “what if” questions he could think of. They were all so lovely and thoughtful in their answers. They had clearly done their work, studied, learned, and were qualified to be compassionate and competent medical providers.  Each question we asked about safety was answered in a way that made total sense.

Q. What if our baby needs help breathing?

A. We bring oxygen and everything needed to resuscitate a baby.
Q. What if there is a shoulder dystocia?
A. We would do the same thing at home as they would do in the hospital for a shoulder dystocia.
Q. What if I bleed too much after birth?

A. We bring the same medications they have in the hospital to help stop the bleeding.


The biggest selling point for me, came from the numbers – once again! The data and numbers person from my past just can not be ignored. So I found the research, and it was a clear choice.

The biggest selling point for my husband was that it was cheaper than the hospital birth and we could all sleep in our own beds after the birth.  Originally when we called our insurance company they stated that they did not cover any out-of-hospital providers for birth. So we decided we were just going to have to take this financial hit and deal with it. Turns out they ended up covering nearly 1/3 of the expenses and it was STILL cheaper than an unmedicated normal birth at the hospital.

As I lifted my second-born from the water with the sunshine pouring in my large window in my living room I exclaimed “I DID IT!”  In retrospect, I think I was talking about a lot of things when I made that exclamation.  Yes, I created and birthed this beautiful child, that part is definitely part of that “I DID IT” statement. The other part was the piece where I trusted myself, my body, my instincts, and my yearning to have birth happen a different way. A way that allowed me to be WITH my family, WITH my home, WITH support, and WITH safety.

I guess that means I’m one of the hippies and crazies now?

Liz Hochman is a doula, Lamaze-certified Childbirth educator, and mama of two sweet girls. She teaches childbirth education at Blooma

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Sweet Moments in OOH Birth: A Doula’s Perspective

by Anne Ferguson, CD(DONA), HCHI

A homebirth mama is comforted by her partner and her doula as her midwives look on.

A homebirth mama is comforted by her partner and her doula as her midwives look on.

Amazing, beautiful and empowering birth can happen anywhere, that’s for sure.  But there are some special things I’ve witnessed as a doula in out-of-hospital birth that you really don’t see in a hospital setting.  Here are just a few of the amazing things I’ve had the honor to be a part of in some of the birth center and home births I’ve attended as a birth doula.


  • The doula waking the older children in the middle of the night just moments before their Mom pushed their new sibling out in the world so they could witness the birth, and the children announcing the sex of their new baby sibling.


  •  The entire birth team and family enjoying chocolate cake and pink champagne at 6 am after a beautiful home birth.


  • A strong Mom pushing her baby out into the world just as she envisioned, in the birth tub in her backyard as the sun rose on a beautiful summer morning.


  • Enjoying Pizza Luce for lunch while sitting around the dining room table in a comfortable and cozy birth center with a Mom in early labor, waiting for her body to move into the next phase, without any expectations around timing or a need to rush the process along.


  • A beautiful, quick birth during a power outage, because it turns out you don’t really need power to have a baby!


In general out of hospital birth offers the following perks:


  • Taking a bath or shower in your own bathroom and then climbing into your own warm, comfortable bed not long after giving birth.


  • A homemade meal made just for you, right in your own kitchen or in the birth center kitchen, made just to your needs and tastes. 


  • Midwives who you know and trust because you’ve been meeting with the same people for months, and you know who is going to be there when the times comes for your baby to be born.  (This happens sometimes in hospital birth with small groups of care providers.)


  • Moms being able to trust their bodies completely, knowing when it’s time to push their babies out without any cervical checks. 


  • Control over who comes in to your postpartum space, instead of the constant flow of traffic that usually happens in the hospital setting.


Out of hospital birth is a safe and wonderful option for low risk mothers wanting a low-intervention birth.  In the Twin Cities we are incredibly lucky to have three free-standing birth centers and many, many wonderful, skilled home birth midwives.  If you are planning to have a low-intervention birth, it is well worth your while to consider your out-of-hospital options!

Anne Ferguson, CD(DONA), HCHI is a birth doula, Hypnobabies instructor and placenta encapsulator who has two sons, one born in the hospital and one in the comfort and safety of her own bedroom.  You can find her at www.bywaterbirth.com.





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