Why I Chose a Home Birth

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Click here to read: Why I Chose a C-Section

Coming up with a birth plan can be one of the most difficult parts of a pregnancy with so many different questions to answer. Do you choose a midwife or a doctor? Will you opt for an epidural or go the natural route? Should you deliver your baby at home or in the hospital?

Elizabeth explained why she didn’t want to deal with the stress and pain of a natural childbirth and instead chose to have a scheduled C-section. (Canada’s C-section rate is at an all-time high with almost 100,00 deliveries a year.)

Heather Hudson, a Toronto mother of two, tells us why she chose a very different birth plan for her two children.

Q: The C-section rate in Canada is at an all-time high. Was having a C-section ever a consideration for you with
your two children?

A. When I became pregnant with my first child, I feel like I started from scratch in terms of exploring all of the intricacies of the beginnings of motherhood. I’d like to say that I looked at all the options and weighed them equally, but I don’t think I ever truly “considered” asking for a C-section. Most medical professionals will tell you that a C section is more of a last resort or emergency kind of procedure. I’m a little mystified that anyone would elect to have unnecessary surgery of any kind.

Q: And so what inspired your decision to have home births?

A. The idea of home birth came about when one of our prenatal classes (with our midwifery clinic) was devoted to it. We really got a sense of what that would be like and it seemed a lot less scary than people imagine. I really liked the idea of being – and staying – in a comfortable, familiar place during labour where I would have the support of professionals and not have to disrupt the flow of labour by moving to another location.

Q: When making the decision to deliver at home, were you ever concerned for you or the babies’ safety?

A. I’m not a big worrier, but I did have a little trepidation about emergencies or abnormalities in the birthing process before both of my home births. I always reminded myself – and was reminded by my midwives – that I was a healthy person with a healthy pregnancy. I had no risk factors and there was no indication that everything wouldn’t be routine as the due date approached. I trusted my midwives implicitly, but it was important to acknowledge that my birth story could include an ambulance ride to the hospital. I felt like the risk was worth it to me. I don’t think most people know this, but midwives bring an incredible amount of equipment with them to a home birth. After the birth of my daughter, I looked up and realized that my bedroom had been transformed into a hospital room, with oxygen, a fetal heart monitor and all the things they need to assess a newborn. More importantly, they bring the experience of so many different eventualities. I felt very safe.

Q: What were the advantages/disadvantages of your home birth experiences?

A. The advantages of the home births were that I was able to stay as relaxed as possible during labour because I didn’t have the stress of moving locations or adjusting to a new place with new people. I was able to move into any position I wanted, have a shower/bath in my own home and felt comfortable everywhere I went. Probably the best part was after the baby was born, when I could just lie back in my own bed with my baby and not have to move for days if I didn’t want to! Everything just felt really right and natural. Honestly, there were no disadvantages for me, though I imagine if I had to go to the hospital during a really critical part of delivery in an ambulance, it would have been pretty traumatic.

Q: How long were you in labour for?

A. I was in labour for about 12 hours with both of my kiddos.

Q: Were there any complications?

A. Nothing serious, but the final moments of both births were a little more exciting than we wanted them to be! I had trouble pushing my daughter out and her heart rate began to drop – at one point my midwife cautioned that we’d have to go to the hospital if things didn’t progress, which spurred me to give it all I had and she came flying out! When Hayden was born, the cord was wrapped around his neck and my midwife had to practically dive into the huge birthing tub we’d rented (like a soft hot tub) to disentangle him. And then he kind of got stuck and his body
wouldn’t come out. My husband and another midwife heaved me onto the bed behind the tub and gravity did the trick. A little scary, but, again, I was in incredibly experienced and knowledgeable hands. I don’t feel like there would have been any difference if I had been in a hospital.

Q: Do you think having a natural, home birth made breastfeeding any easier?

A. From what I understand, breastfeeding can be more challenging if you’ve had certain kinds of medication, particularly for a C-section. Certainly, I didn’t have to face any of that. However, I think the continuous support of my midwives was more important than the home birth in terms of adjusting to breastfeeding. They really helped me figure it out and keep trying when we were having latch problems.

Q: How long did it take you to recover physically from childbirth?

A. Oh, was I supposed to have recovered by now? Ha ha. I feel like my body recovered from the rigors of birth in 4-6 weeks, though of course I felt exhausted and hormonal and all of that for many months after, as most women do.

Q: Do you have any regrets about having delivered your babies at home? For instance, was there a point that you wished an epidural was an option?

A. I have absolutely no regrets about delivering my babies at home. There were moments in the transition phase of both of my births when I wanted to just get the hell out of my own body, but I wasn’t looking for drugs at any point. I feel like I was as prepared as a person can be for that kind of pain and having a home birth meant that an epidural wasn’t an option. I had accepted that and so I didn’t have to make any panicky decisions that I might have been tempted to make in the hospital. I certainly have no judgment for people who use epidurals and would absolutely consider one were I to find myself in an exceedingly long labour in a hospital.

Q: Do you have any advice for women who are in the process of deciding factors such as home delivery vs. hospital or natural vs. epidural?

A. I think the best advice I can give when it comes to preparing for birth – at home or in the hospital – is to learn as much as you can about the process. The more you’re aware of what’s happening to your body, the better prepared you are, both physically and mentally. I think this awareness really helps in the birthing process.

Regarding location, it’s a personal decision and I certainly wouldn’t presume to recommend it to someone who wasn’t comfortable with the idea. However, most people are automatically opposed to home births because of the perceived risk factors – I would suggest asking questions and reading about it. It requires more of a commitment on the part of the labouring person and a deep trust with your caregivers. If you have that, it’s not as scary as you might think and could actually be a transformative, empowering experience.

The same goes for having a drug-free birth. It bothers me that many women enter the process already planning for epidurals. What they may not realize is that every time any kind of intervention is introduced, it affects labour, i.e. an epidural may slow down the process of labour and so often pitocin is administered, which speeds it up, so more epidural is needed… and on and on. This is all traumatic to a woman’s body and I’m not sure women always know what they’re getting into. However, I acknowledge that every birth is different and thank God for that epidural in cases where a woman has been labouring for hours and hours with little progress. A long labour may require some kind of pain relief to give the woman the endurance to continue. Or there may be other variations where it becomes necessary. Again, I would never say never to using an epidural – every case is unique and, ultimately, it’s up to the woman to choose what’s best for her and that choice should be respected. I think it’s wonderful that we have so many options when it comes to giving birth. I just wish more women would trust their own bodies as much as they trust the medical system.

Author by Jackie Burns

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