Here’s what you need to know!
The idea of giving birth in a hospital is actually pretty new. It wasn’t until the twentieth century that more women opted for hospitals, largely because of the availability of anaesthesia. But in the last decade, there has been a small but important shift back to the idea of home births.
Partly in thanks to the greater acceptance of midwifery over physician assisted births, and partly to avoid unnecessary medical interventions to say nothing of the typically unfriendly environment of hospitals, some women are choosing to have their babies at home.
Is this the right choice for you? That’s something you have to decide and discuss with your partner, but for some, it’s the only way to go.
Do your research
You’re going to need a midwife to ensure that the birth of your baby goes as smoothly as possible. Take your time interviewing possible midwives: you want to be comfortable with the person you choose. Experience counts in this line of work, so ask questions about their education, certification, number of births attended and so on. Find out if she has dealt with labors that experienced complications, and how she handled them. Does she have the right equipment, like suturing kits, IV fluids, oxygen and masks? You want to know that she will be able to deal with whatever happens.
Ultimately, your goal is to manage risk: there is more risk to your baby in having a home birth. Even with an emergency plan in place, unless you live next door to the hospital, the transition time can in itself be a problem. That said, birth is a very natural process and if you have the right person helping you, you can do it.
Do you want a water birth? If you don’t have a large jacuzzi tub in the bathroom, you’re going to need a birth tub or baby pool to make that happen, so look into it early!
You should also check in with your insurance company. Most won’t cover the costs of home births, so you’ll have to plan for paying for this yourself. A midwife providing prenatal, delivery and postnatal care can run to several thousands of dollars in fees, so make sure you get all that information up front.
Have a plan B
You need to have a plan B. That is, a solid plan in the event that the birth doesn’t progress as expected. You never know what will happen during labor, but if an issue does arise, you need to make sure that both you and the baby are safe. That might mean a change of plans and a trip to the hospital.
Talk to your midwife to see if she has a pre-existing relationship with a doctor at your local hospital. Ideally, she will. If she doesn’t but she’s still your first choice of caregiver, take a visit to the hospital long before your due date and make sure you have filed your birth plan with them so that they have it and are aware of your wishes. Doing this doesn’t commit you to going into the hospital to give birth: call it an insurance policy.
What about supplies?
Your midwife will have the supplies that are necessary for a safe birth, as mentioned earlier, but there are other things you’re going to need. She will be able to provide you with a list, or even possibly a pre-assembled kit, but here’s a quick list:
2. Gauze pads
3. Bulb syringe
4. Peri bottle
5. Maternity underwear
7. Chux pads – waterproof
8. Baby blankets
9. Baby hat
10. Ink pad for footprinting
11. Waterproof sheet for the bed
12. Birth tub, for water births
Getting ready for the big day
Once you’ve hired your midwife, doula and / or postpartum doula and supplies, you can relax. Just make sure that as you approach your due date, you’ve got the house clean and the room chosen for the birth ready to go. Get the sheet on the bed, the towels in a stack and try to relax!
If you’re opting for a water birth, do a dry run on setting up the birthing tub, if you don’t have a big tub in your home already. The last thing you want to find out during labor is that your tub has a leak.
Decide who you want with you in the room and make sure that your partner and anyone else who needs it has the list of phone numbers of all those people. Whether you plan to include older siblings in the process is another important question. If you do, you need to prepare them for what they will be witnessing. It’s still a good idea to have a family member who can watch over them, out of the birthing space, or who can stay with them in the event of a plan B scenario.
Ultimately, you have to remember that every birth experience is different and all the preparation in the world won’t change what nature intends. For some women, the idea of birthing their baby with less medical intervention makes all the sense in the world. And there’s nothing false in that!