The post for today comes from an amazing woman, Brandy. Some of you may know her from her blog, Young in the Mountains, and some of you may be meeting her today for the first time. Brandy just recently celebrated her first time being a doula after being influenced by her partners in her own home birth. She continues our series today on childbirth and shares with us how a home birth works. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!
I have two children–one born at the hospital and the other at home. I can say there are two major differences between the experiences. When you’re in transition at home, you want to go to the hospital and when you’re in transition at the hospital, you want to go home. Also, you want home cooking in the hospital and someone else’s cooking at home. Kidding aside, I’ll give you the real story of what it’s like to have a baby at home.
Home births are often low-risk ones. While each midwife has varying risk levels that she is comfortable with, you have to be a healthy mama to have your baby at home. It just makes good sense. Therefore, a lot of prenatal care is concerned with eating well, exercising well, resting well, drinking lots of water and keeping tabs on your state of mind. You have to really want a home birth to have one and it’s important to have all your ducks in a row leading up to one.
In a similar way that a mother might tour the maternity ward of a hospital to get a feel for how things are done, midwives come to your home at least once before the birth. They need to know how to get there, of course. Additionally, this is the time to sort out where various supplies will be placed, where a birth tub might go, to be sure you have everything you need, to plan where they might sleep if the labor is long. It’s also a time to visit and enjoy guests in your home.
When labor begins, it’s time to start communicating with your midwife (or her apprentice or doula). That way, they’re not off on a rafting trip when you’re having your baby. After a time, perhaps when your contractions are becoming hard to handle, they’ll come over and see how things are going. This might involve an internal examination or it might just be watching you work through a few contractions. Your vitals will be checked regularly from here on out. Perhaps, you’ll take some walks together to get things moving or fill up the pool to get some relief.
When it’s time for transition, that crazy netherworld between labor and birth, that’s where the midwives shine. They help to keep you grounded, encouraged and calmed. It’s a heavy time, where you feel you might die (or want to go to the hospital for that epidural), and you shouldn’t have to do it alone. During this time, when nothing feels comfortable, they’ll help to keep you focused on your work and remind you of the wonderful reward at the end.
One of the best things about home birth, besides getting to be in your own bed when it’s over, is that you get to push in a variety of positions. You can stand, squat, sit on a birth stool, try hands and knees, do it in a pool, or on your bed. There are no stirrups and you don’t have to be flat on your back. As long as all is well, it’s up to you. They will use the Doppler to check your baby very often and a flashlight, if needed, to gauge your progress.
Once the baby has met your arms and you’ve been checked over, the midwives aid in clean-up. Laundry is started, the trash is taken out, and a meal is cooked for you. My midwives made me eggs and fed me yogurt when my son was born. They stayed with my children while we took a trip to the doctor and get everything back in order for me. It was wonderful. In the days following the birth, they’ll come to your home and check on you both several times. They offer breastfeeding advice, support as you sort out your emotions, and instructions on baby and self care.
I’ve had babies both ways and I see the merit in both. Each pregnancy is different and so we take it one at a time. I have tremendous faith in my midwives, the same as I would with a doctor, because they have helped me through the hardest work of my life. I trust them to have my interests at the center of their work. It has been a blessed experience.
Brandy spends her days watching the skies and tending her children on her little homestead in town. She lists “sticking it to the man” as one of her favorite hobbies and is not above putting a frozen pizza in the oven when the day calls for it. Together, her family hikes, creates, learns and grows.