Should I consider a home birth?
Real Mom Problem
“I'm looking into home birth for my next child... The hospital I will be going to is completely new and state of the art, but a hospital is a hospital. I'm trying to weigh my options.”
- 1. Many moms choose to give birth at home rather than in a hospital or birthing center
- 2. Home birthing moms prefer the intimate atmosphere of home without the clinical feeling of a hospital
- 3. Home births can be assisted (usually by a midwife) or unassisted
- 4. Other moms prefer to give birth in a hospital setting, with easy access to emergency care if it is necessary
Real Mom Solutions
There are many reasons moms choose to give birth in the privacy and comfort of their own homes. Check out the varying opinions on home birth to help you decide if delivering at home is right for you.
Our Expert Mom Says...
No, not in my professional opinion. As an RN in labor and delivery for over 20 years, my experience is that if something unexpected goes haywire while giving birth, it is often at the end stage - when you are frankly, too far away to get the immediate medical attention you need to ensure a healthy mom and baby.
Hospitals have worked hard to design labor rooms that are warmer and more inviting; while an arms reach away, emergency supplies are stored in the beautiful oak armoire.
I think the key is communicating with your OB/Midwife prenatally what your goals are and then, once you are in the hospital, keep talking with your labor and delivery nurses. All the healthcare team is looking for are reasonable expectations; when we know what your preferences are, we can help write the script!
Some of the more common things include:
- I don't want to be continuously monitored
- I don't want an IV
- I don't want an episiotomy
- I don't want a cesarean section
These are all reasonable requests, although, birth is a moving target. Much like the weather changing on a flight — you can't control it. Rather than mandating what will and won't happen, communicate your goals, and be flexible about what you may or may not need along the way to bringing a healthy baby into the world!
Sarah McMoyler, RN, BSN and mother, is WebMD's Pregnancy Expert, and founder of McMoyler Method. As a specialist in labor and delivery nursing for more than 20 years, McMoyler has assisted in the delivery of more than 5,000 babies. Her personal view and in-depth professional experience has been integral to McMoyler Method's success in graduating more than 18,000 San Francisco Bay Area couples to confidently approach pregnancy, prepare for delivery, and care for their newborn babies.
McMoyler decided to make her popular method available to a broader audience by presenting McMoyler Method to a global audience through the release of a book titled The Best Birth: Your Guide to the Safest, Healthiest, Most Satisfying Labor and Delivery and the upcoming launch of a new online class.
Consider These Home Birth Benefits
I am having a home birth. As far as I know, home birth is really ideal for mom and baby. It's just a much more relaxed environment. I have heard women say their babies hardly cried at birth, nursed more efficiently, and that they healed more quickly from the birth. Also, having your own stuff around you makes you so much more relaxed, as opposed to the feeling of being "watched" when you are in labor at the hospital. I found the constant interruptions actually lengthened my labor. I could feel my contractions slow every time they came and checked on me or did a cervical check.
I had a home birth with my first. It was really nice to be in my own environment; I think that's what made labor go faster for me. I would have done it with my second but insurance wouldn't cover it.
I had a home birth--best decision I could have made. It was my space, with only people I wanted around. My food. My drinks. My own toilet and bed! Being able to walk through my house and point to the living room and say, "I had him RIGHT HERE"... it was just amazing.
These Moms Prefer Hospitals
The women in my family have a long history of home birthing. Most women have had no problems but it's when the unexpected happens. My mother-in-law birthed eight children at home and everything was fine but my grandmother and mom would have died in childbirth if they weren't at a hospital. The reality is mother and baby can die during childbirth. Look at just a few months ago a home birth activist in Australia died after a home birth. Death during childbirth is a real possibility and when I give birth I want to know 100% that I am in the safest, most equipped place for if the unthinkable happens.
Personally, home births scare me and I would want to be in a place where I could be rushed to the operating room if need be or where there are medications for me if I need them.
I prefer to have hospital births. I think home births are dangerous. I've never had an issue standing up for what I felt is right or getting pushed around by anyone in a hospital. I can have anything I want or need plus the added bonus of having a doctor there with the ability to save my or my baby's life. I don't look down on home-birthers, nor do I feel the need to educate them on the best way to do birth. It's a personal decision. One of a million decisions a woman makes for herself and her baby.
Some Moms Dislike Hospital Settings
There is no evidence that being at a hospital hooked to monitors improves outcomes for babies. There is little evidence that having antibiotics ever prevents Group B strep infections. At a homebirth, you are in conditions where your body is used to and immune to bacteria in your home. In a hospital, you are exposed to all of the sickness and germs that are throughout the entire hospital (via nurses, circulated air, hospital bathrooms etc). Complications "could" arise. The odds of complications are much lower at home though, since at home you have no outside interference or intervention, which is almost always the reason for a complication in the first place.
It's becoming more popular because women are becoming more educated. For decades we have treated pregnancy and child birth as an illness when it's not. The truth is that you're more likely to have a safe delivery at home then in the hospital where doctors are trained to intervene.
I do not feel that the hospital model provides safe and adequate or medically proven care to mothers or babies. I feel our bodies are geared to do this thing without the interventions that they impose in hospitals. I also feel that giving birth is not an illness and should not be treated as such. OB/GYNs are trained as surgeons and no offense to them -- I am glad for their existence and what they do in their practices -- they are not trained how to handle low risk natural delivery. They are trained at spotting things that may be wrong and "fixing" them.
Hospitals are a risky setting to birth in. Interventions are common, done for convenience, and increase unnecessary risks for mothers and babies. Many women are realizing this, appreciating that it is safe/safer to birth outside of this environment, so they go for that. Not to mention all the other perks of home. Yes, it is becoming more popular. Of course it was/is the norm throughout history and in most of the world, though (for perspective!). We must be aware of settings and be careful.