Updated: Nov 14, 2019
Home birth can seem quite daunting, but is a wonderful birthing option for families.
Giving birth where you are most comfortable should be at the top of your birth plan. Homebirth is very common in some countries, such as the UK and Netherlands. Less than 1% of women in the US give birth to their baby at home. Although US home births have increased by 30% in the past few years. Homebirth can be planned or unplanned, but today lets discuss planned homebirth.
Who is a good candidate for home birth?
There are several opinions on which women should be eligible to give birth at home. Many countries have standardized "lists" of what makes a mama a good candidate for home birth, the US does not. If we take a look at the criteria given in Janssen's (2002; 2009) studies on home birth in Canada, this is what they say. (This should not be used as an exhaustive list):
* A woman who is pregnant with one baby
*Baby is head down at term
*Between 37 and 41-42 weeks pregnant.
*No serious medical conditions ( heart disease, kidney disease, blood clotting disorders,
type 1 diabetes, gestational diabetes managed with insulin, preeclampsia, or bleeding)
*No placenta previa at the beginning of labor
*no active genital herpes
*No thick meconium
* *No prior C-section
* *Spontaneous labor
* Some research study guidelines also included women with one prior C-section (low transverse incision) and women who were induced on outpatient basis (Janssen, 2009).
However, because of the lack of data on the safety, ACOG considers prior C-section to be an "absolute contradiction to planned home birth" (ACOG, 2011)
Home VBACs are possible and do happen. More and more women in the US are faced with the denial of hospital-based maternity care for VBAC. According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, planned home VBACs have been increasing at the same time that hospital VBACs have been decreasing. Some women are choosing a home VBAC rather than having an unnecessary repeat cesarean or repeating a previously traumatic surgical birth. Mothers need as much information as possible to make an informed decision about where and with whom they want to give birth.
Photo Credits - @rebeccacoursey_photosandfilm
Why would I consider a home birth?
Some women believe that having a home birth is safer than opting for the hospital. It is the much easier route for an intervention free birth. Maybe you or a friend have had a traumatic hospital birth. You desire for a private homey birth, where you have control of who enters your birthing space. Your children can be present. You have the option to deliver in the birthing tub, on the toilet, in your bed, or even your backyard!
Homebirth is amazing! It can make for the perfect place to welcome your little one!
Homebirth isn't right for everyone. Parents need to engage in lots of preparation, responsibility, be able to inform themselves, and take on lots of involvement during birth. I suggest taking a 8 week home birth class, preferably one that teaches emergency childbirth.
If you plan on a water birth you will need your midwife to come out and assess your bathtub (to make sure it is suitable for birth), or your birthing pool. Lots of midwives and doulas have birthing pools for you to rent. Even if you opt out of a water birth, you will need to have clean towels, washcloths, a set of bedsheets that you don't mind getting messy, a waterproof cover for your mattress, food and drinks for yourself (and some to share ;D ) and anything you desire to create your birthing space.
I suggest interviewing several different homebirth midwives in your area. Some states require different types of midwives. There are several different types of midwives; which include certified midwives (CM), direct-entry midwives and lay midwives. Research which type of midwife is best for you!
Midwives do come to your birth with clinical skills. Unlike a doula, midwives are medical professionals. Midwives will monitor babies heartbeat (doppler or fetoscope), perform cervical checks as requested by the mom, suture any tears, recognize complications and transfer mama to the hospital (hopefully before it is an emergency), examine the newborn, provide physical and emotional support, administer oxygen and emergency medications, and also have the skill of adult and neonatal resuscitation.
The cost of home birth can vary considerably depending on where you live. Sometimes home birth will not be covered by insurance.
Even though there are differing opinions regrading home birth, when the mother has the option of birthing at home it can make for an incredible and joyous birth.
"Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood." -Marie Curie
Evidence based Birth
"What is Home Birth?" (2012)