Home birth can mean many things, but mostly it means birthing in our natural environment at home. A key in any birth is how comfortable we feel because if we become very upset this transfers to our body and our baby, just as if we become very afraid.
In the progression of mankind before hospitals if a woman was scared, say by an animal, in labor out in the wild her body would stop birth to protect mother and baby and to let mom find a place where she is once again safe and protected to safely deliver her baby… our bodies and our nature were primarily concerned with survival and survival of our young, and we have not changed!
If we become scared today, even if it’s from the friendly doctor in the white coat trying to help us, well, our body does the same thing! To protect our self and baby our body will stop the progression of birth, not to mention the fact that our babies heart rates will either jump or drop due to their own scare and fear of survival. So we want to make sure we are choosing our birthing environment based on where and with whom we feel confident and safe with. Looking at birth as one of the deepest meditations and sacred acts of intimacy will drastically effect how and with whom we birth.
So what can a home birth look like?
The answer to that question lies in our own creativity and our own desires. Most familiar to us is the home birth assisted by a midwife and doula. The first birth I encountered was a home birth in the
with a midwife in assistance. It opened my mind from the typical American birth horror story that I heard growing up to one of beauty and grace. The home birth with a midwife is often best for those of us who feel comfortable in knowing that we can trust ourselves and our bodies, but we want to have someone to turn to for all the questions that come up, and someone to be at the birth “just in case”. We want to take responsibility, but we also want some back-up responsibility and help.
The midwife stands in as a doctor would, making sure the baby and mom are safe, though if any major developments come up they transfer to hospital. Each midwife carries her own views, so in
choosing a midwife,
just as when choosing any family or friend who is there with us, it is important to choose all birth attendants (whether paid or otherwise) wisely, making sure all of our birth co-creators are on the same page as us in so far as what decides risk and what is the best response to unexpected events; and making sure all are focused on respecting the space of the mother and baby not only during the birth, but during the third stage of labor, while birthing the placenta and coming face to face with our baby.
The biggest difference between this and a hospital birth is most midwives will support us in listening to our body, working out any emotional blocks that may be holding up labor and encouraging mom to move and explore different positions to aid comfort and progression. Other differences may be found in the ideas that concern the birth of the placenta, cutting of the cord and skin-to-skin greeting, but this depends hospital-to-hospital and midwife-to-midwife.
In many ways though, midwives are still performing functions that a hospital would perform. Taking heart rate, blood pressure and in deciding when to transfer moms to hospital, if they feel the birth is not within their comfort zone. It is important also to note, that they are taking a great deal of the responsibility, if something goes wrong, they can be held responsible so at some level their decisions will stem from that. When to transfer to a hospital would be part of that, as would stitches or requiring baby to visit hospital. As well as what patients they take on, for example some might define
as high risk and only hospital worthy, though others will find it no more risk and have much experience with it.
If you choose to take a health care professional, whether a midwife or a doctor, pay attention at each of your prenatal appointments that you leave each of the sessions feeling empowered, like you can do it! Even if you're experiencing difficulties, your health care professional can give you empowering steps to take to help yourself.
If we walk away from our appointments filled with fear, it's better to leave that person and find someone who inspires trust, even if it's our 39th week! Birth is an event that has the potential to shape how we walk through every day after that, for the good or the bad... how we parent and how capable we are of loving our babies. If your health care professional inspires you to feel capable, you will know that in your cells forever! It is not a small decision, we should never settle just because we think birth is one day!
What else can home birth resemble?
Home birth may also include unassisted birth: being without a paid attendant, many of these are enjoyed completely alone, while others prefer to labor with mates and family nearby. The benefits of an unassisted birth are the fact that when we are observed we change our behaviors, so if we are birthing by ourselves, we feel free to surrender to our natural instincts...to do whatever we need, and not to do what others say we should do or experience.
Dr. Sarah Buckley
talks about the importance of undisturbed birth, and whether we are taking a health care professional or not, having the goal of being undisturbed, and preparing those who may be with us of what we'd like birth to be like is important. A
can also be chosen where there is no clamping or cutting of the umbilical cord, allowing it to fall away naturally. And birthing outside in nature: whether in our garden or under the stars, some feel more comfortable supported directly by nature during birth.
What we most want to think of when planning a birth is what best reflects our true selves because this leads us to what is best for baby. Our spirits and our bodies need to be confident and flexible. Birth and motherhood in itself is a process that asks us to give up “control” and become a co-creator. It may ask us to step outside our comfort zone and to face fears that are no longer serving us, but it is up to ourselves to draw the line and define ourselves by our choices.
Is Home Birth Safe?
Most moms number one concern is safety, for themselves and baby. And this is why there are so many strong and different opinions on what the best way is to give birth actually is...because we all find different ideas of what is safer (and data to support whatever we want to prove). The fact is, no matter where the birth and with whom, it’s still bringing new life into the world, and it’s not 100% guaranteed.
But we can minimalize the risk, and that can only be done by going within and seeing what and who we truly are, what we, and baby really needs. Many studies are showing home birth is as safe or more safe as a hospital birth. I personally believe home birth is much safer unless there is an abnormal risk because we feel more comfortable to be ourselves at home and we are not presented with the many options that interfere with a normal birth.
But many of us have been taught that hospitals are the safest, and as a mother if we feel safest there, then we are right in deciding to be there. On the other hand though, if we choose an environment to birth in that we feel naturally stressed in, this likely ends in causing distress and complications in our-selves, our babies and our labors. Spending time during pregnancy contemplating and imagining a safe, healthy birth, and contemplating in what way we and our babies want to experience birth together is a wonderful way to prepare for our births, and it’s a wonderful way to help choose the most appropriate location and the best attendants, if any, for our births.
Again consider where you could have the most intimate time with your partner and the stillest meditation. Every woman wants the best outcome, but many fears come up from day one, or even before pregnancy! How, where and with whom are all extremely important decisions, not just because it’s birth, but because it is our choice to further define who we are and how we trust ourselves and our very nature. We must realize we are already teaching our baby how much they can trust themselves and their very nature. Take time, explore and be confidant in whatever decision is made, for when it truly reflects who we are, then we truly walk away empowering ourselves and our babies.
Home Birth to Natural Birth Main Page.