Homebirth is becoming increasingly popular in the west. But, is it the right choice for you? Take this quiz and find out!
Before modern society moved birth to the hospital, from an empowering life event to a medical illness, it was normal to birth at home.
Today, around 1-2% of women in the United States birth at home, but that number is growing. Homebirth is much more common in other countries, and is even becoming a part of the standard medical care system where it’s greatly reduced negative birth outcomes. It’s even become the norm in countries such as the Netherlands.
Homebirth still has a long way to come in modern western societies, but the majority of women in the U.S. do have access to homebirth midwives (or, it’s actually legal throughout the U.S. to have an unassisted [no physician present] birth).
Is Homebirth the Right Choice for You?
Ask yourself if these points below are important or apply to you, and consider homebirth for your next birth if you score high in the “yes” column.
- Homebirth is statistically safer for the majority of women. That’s simply a fact for low risk women. Why? Midwives are trained in natural births and homebirths come with less interventions. That means that the body can work in the way it is supposed to, take its time, and not also deal with medications and their side effects. Now, of course that applies to the majority of women. Some women and births may be more at risk, so check with your provider as well as a homebirth midwife regarding your situation. Things that do not exclude you are: previous cesareans, breech babies, a “too large” baby or “too small” pelvis, or twins.
Yes – I want the safest route available to birth my baby.
No – I have a history of high risk complications, more than two cesareans (get an ultrasound to ensure that the placenta is not on the scars), or baby may have a birth defect.
- Homebirth is more comfortable for mama. Say what? Even without the epidural? Yes. More women find their homebirth experience and postpartum recovery much easier than a hospital birth. You get to sleep in your own bed and shower in your shower – what’s better?
Yes – I want to be in the comfort of my home.
No – I feel more comfortable at the hospital or have fear of birthing at home.
- Homebirth allows the woman to make all of her birth choices. In the hospital, you follow the hospital and its insurance’s policies, and your obstetrician’s policies – period. You may even need to worry about declining interventions and rubbing up against child protective services for doing so. A homebirth midwife is generally hands off unless a medical emergency arises, or to suggest positions or minor interventions to help the mother and baby along.
Yes – I want to call the shots at my birth.
No – I am okay with the physician running the show.
- Homebirth allows birth to be a normal event and involve the family (and friends). Birth can be an euphoric, seamless event. Not all the time, but most of the time it’s a completely smooth and natural process. Allowing the entire to be a part of the event eases the transition.
Yes – I want to be surrounded by my family in the comfort of our home.
No – I would rather be able to limit my family members in the hospital.
- Homebirth allows a woman to eat. I know that may not sound important, but if you haven’t had anything to eat and labor takes awhile, you may lose all your energy and need interventions. Most hospitals do not allow a laboring woman to eat in case she must have a cesarean.
Yes – I want to be able to eat throughout labor.
No – I still want to be in the hospital.
- Birthing at home keeps the germs away. A hospital isn’t exactly where the healthy go to have a good time. It seems a bit strange that we would want to have our precious newborns there for any amount of time. Many women return home from birth (or don’t make it home) with bacterial infections, and your newborn is also more at risk for contracting a bacteria or virus.
Yes – I want to gently welcome my little one at home in the safety of our healthy space.
No – I am okay with the risk.
Other Birthplace Options
There is another alternative that I didn’t mention between homebirth and hospital – birthing center. A true birthing center is a stand alone business and building that is dedicated to births. It is not attached to a hospital (these are glorified labor and delivery areas). It typically has a mix of obstetricians and midwives, and more natural policies with the added luxury of being closer to a hospital.
The Fear Factor
As a doula, I talk often with my clients who are hesitant to homebirth about their level of fear. It’s totally normal to be a bit afraid of birth – especially if it’s your first time. It’s a major event in a woman’s life and is no easy feat. However, if your fear is more of an anxiety that you cannot mentally control, it may actually be better for you to plan a birthing center or hospital birth. Fear and mental thoughts are a huge factor in the success of a birth plan. You must be confident in your choice, whichever birthing place you choose.
Talk to your Friends and Provider
If you are still having a hard time choosing where to birth, talk to women who have birthed at the hospital and at home and get an idea of how their experiences were. Consult with a doula in your area to learn more about the midwives in your area and hospital policies. Whatever decision you make, be sure it’s an informed one.
Homebirth is not for every mama and birth. Sometimes, a high risk mother or baby simply needs medical care – that’s what medical care is there for. If you have a hunch that something is wrong, follow your instincts (but not fears). Talk to your provider (and homebirth midwives) before making your decision to be sure you’re a good homebirth candidate.