I hope you don’t mind if I deviate from our normal topic of teaching to discuss a subject very dear to my heart – birth. This past Saturday my nephew was born, and I was so privileged to be there for it! Birth is absolutely amazing, complete with the full spectrum of emotions. As I watched my sister-in-law hold her precious newborn son, all the memories of my own birth experience (just seven months ago) came flooding back.
You see, my nephew was born at home. Just like my own son. And when we tell people that, the range of reactions we get is hilarious. About then, my husband normally starts quoting comedian Jim Gaffigan, who jokes, “We had all our babies at home – just to make you feel uncomfortable.”
The idea that women can give birth at home is a complete shock to some people and extremely worrisome to others. But I absolutely loved my home birth, and watching my sister-in-law and her family experience the same joy just confirmed in me all the reasons that giving birth at home is amazing.
So why did I choose to have a home birth? I’m glad you asked.
1. I wanted a natural birth. I believe every woman should be able to choose what interventions she wants at her birth, and I knew that I wanted as few as possible. I wanted to give birth naturally for many reasons, but in particular I wanted to hold my newborn son in my arms and have him and I be fully aware, drug free, and able to experience that incredible moment together. (And it was totally worth it!)
2. I believe God designed the female body to safely give birth. There are two different ways of looking at birth. The medical community views birth as a dangerous event that needs to be controlled and managed so that everyone is safe. A midwifery view, however, trusts that birth is a natural process and that the body will typically give birth on its own, largely free from intervention. As a Christian, I take it one step further. God has designed the female body and prepared it to give birth. As such, I didn’t want any unnecessary interventions.
3. I didn’t want to be pressured by medical staff. I have heard and read so many stories of how well-meaning doctors and nurses push interventions such as Pitocin, epidurals, forceps deliveries, and C-sections on women who don’t really want them. While I knew I could refuse such interventions, I did not want to have to argue with a doctor or nurse or to be made to feel guilty. When you’re in the middle of labor, the last thing you need is more stress, and that just sounded incredibly stressful to me
4. I wanted to labor on my own turf. So many times when I told people I was having a home birth they would respond, “You’re so brave!” But I didn’t feel brave. I felt safer and more comfortable with the thought of giving birth at home than I did in the hospital. Women should give birth in the place in which they feel safe and comfortable. For some, that’s the hospital, but not for me. I absolutely loved laboring in the comfort of my own home. I was on my own turf and able to fully concentrate on my labor, free from unnecessary distractions.
5. Home birth is safe. People tend to assume that home birth is inherently dangerous and risky. What they don’t realize, however, is that birth in the hospital is also risky. The medical community just doesn’t want you to know it. Unnecessary interventions increase your risk of C-sections and other complications. So the choice between home birth and hospital birth is a decision of which kind of risk you want (not a decision between risk and no risk). In fact, the statistics show that home births are just as safe (if not safer) than hospital births.
6. I had awesome midwives. Home birth midwives are amazing – at least mine sure were. They counseled my husband and me and helped us prepare for the labor. They anticipated my needs and listened to my fears, concerns, and hopes. During the labor, they took care of everything and helped in any way possible. They didn’t push anything on me but instead calmly and kindly gave help and suggestions. They were not only competent and skilled professionals but also became trusted friends.
7. I wanted to bond with my baby. When I had my baby, I placed him right on my chest, and he stayed there for as long as I wanted. He wasn’t whisked away to be weighed, poked, and prodded. The newborn exam could wait for awhile. Instead, I was able to sit and learn to feed him in a calm, peaceful environment, without being pressured that if he didn’t eat soon enough, they were going to do something about it! Those first precious hours with our son were just wonderful.
8. I wanted to recover in comfort. How awesome it was to be in the comfort and familiarity of home for the days of recovery. Our midwives came back to check on us, and friends and family visited on our turf. My husband and I could sleep together in our own bed as opposed to cots and sofas. The peace and tranquility in the home was fantastic (that is, when the baby wasn’t crying, of course.)
I loved my home birth, and while it’s not the right choice for everyone, it was certainly the right choice for me, and I wish more women knew that this option is open to them.
For more details about my experience, read my birth story.
How would you describe your birth experience? What do you wish would have been different? What are you thankful for?