I can't tell you how many times I've sat down with a couple discussing their birth options only to hear the woman is desiring a beautiful body led, natural birth and her partner or other family members think she is being foolish, naive, selfish, and or dangerous.
I'm here to say with confidence that home birth is a safe birth option for healthy, low-risk women! You, my friend, if you are wanting a home birth, are not being negligent. You are being wise! I have the habit of talking to the pregnant woman, but today’s episode of Apothecary Wisdom I want to talk to you and to your partner, your mother, and your mother in law. Because they don't understand the value and legitimacy of home birth. They don't have the frame of reference for it. So, please watch this video and share it with them so they can understand your situation better and support you to have the birth that you want.
My name is Maria Chowdhury. I'm a mother, licensed midwife. As a mother, I had a home birth. As a midwife, I've provided all the prenatal care, childbirth education, labor and birth support, postpartum care, and breastfeeding support for hundreds and hundreds of women.
In this post, I am covering the most popular benefits of home birth and my personal top 3 reasons why I know home birth is way better than hospital birth, for healthy low risk women who want a natural physiological birth.
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Benefits of Home Birth:
- Continuity of care- you know who your midwife will be when you give birth.
- Midwives are experts of natural birth they know what normal is and know when to seek medical care when needed.
- At home, you receive evidence-based monitoring prenatally, in labor, and postpartum
- You have professional prenatal, birth, and postpartum care.
- You have access to all the necessary labs, ultrasounds, tests, and emergency medical attention.
- The risk of infection is reduced at home.
- Outcomes are better for certain complications at home because the mother has freedom of movement and is not sedated, or tethered to the bed.
- Risk of Cesarean birth is reduced
- Fewer unnecessary medical interventions
- Fewer inductions
- Less perineal trauma and lacerations
- True delayed cord clamping
- You can make informed decisions without the pressure of the medical community judging you.
- No mother baby separation
- Individualized and personalized care
- Home birth promotes family togetherness.
- You don't have to drive in labor or put your newborn in the car seat.
- You get to have a water birth at home.
- You get to be more yourself at home.
- You are more comfortable at home better able to relax and cope with labor
- You have freedom of movement.
- You get to create your birth atmosphere with lighting, temperature, music, etc.
- You get to eat and drink delicious food and herbal teas during labor and afterward.
- You get to take an herb bath!
- You get to have your children and pets there if you'd like
- You get to keep your placenta and make art out of it or medicine or bury it.
- You get to see what your body will do when it is supported and uninterrupted.
Let's break this down. Time has a few components to it.
Let's start with how time shows up in prenatal care:
When you go to the doctor's office for a prenatal visit, you will wait in the waiting room for an hour and see the doctor for about 10 minutes.
When you go to the midwife for a prenatal visit, you wait about 10 minutes and see her for an hour. If the doctor can check everything in about 10 minutes, what are midwives doing in the other 50 minutes of the prenatal visit?
A typical midwife prenatal visit consists of all the routine checks that doctors and nurses do: Urine analysis, BP, pulse, look for signs of preterm labor, ask about headaches, dizziness, swelling, and bleeding, they check the fundal height, palpate the baby and listen to the fetal heart tones. Sure, you could do all of that in 10 minutes if you don't explain what you are doing, why you are doing it, and what the results are.
Midwives take their time to explain why all of this is important, so the client understands the micro-decisions she makes throughout her day impact her pregnancy, her birth, and ultimately her sense of well-being and personal empowerment.
Midwives take their time to determine the fetal position and teach the woman and their partners how to palpate to know what position the baby is. Midwives explain why optimal fetal positioning is one of the pillars of successful labor that starts on its own, progresses naturally, and leads to being able to push the baby out with the least amount of fetal distress and perineal trauma. This type of education takes time.
Midwives talk about the value of nutrition, hydration, herbs, mediation, and exercise. They get on the floor and do the exercises with the mom. They teach them the breathing techniques to relax their mind and body. The midwife asks about how she feels, what she is dreaming, what she is the most excited about, and the most afraid of.
Birth is and should be an exciting and fulfilling experience rather than her biggest fear.
Midwives take the time to establish trust in the birth process, trust in her body, trust in their professional relationship, and trust in the midwife's skills. Midwives take time to answer all the questions and to tell stories that make you laugh and cry. Midwives know who their clients are beyond just their blood pressure and their names. (They might forget your partner's name, though) This sort of care takes time and commitment.
Time shows up at the end of pregnancy if the mother goes past her EDD. Midwives have the perspective that women are biological beings, and the baby will be born! We need to be patient. Yes, we need to monitor and get the appropriate level of care, but we don't need to rush to induce simply because you are going overdue or if your due date is on a Friday, weekend, holiday, or your care providers scheduled vacation.
How does time show up in labor?
From my perspective, the most damaging obstetrical intervention is the clock. We are women, not machines. In the medical model of labor and birth, women are expected to progress according to an outdated model called Freidmens Curve, which starts active labor at 4 cm dilation and expects moms to dilate 1 cm per hour with 1 hour of pushing. Granted, that is an outdated model, none the less there is pressure to perform or if you don't progress fast enough, they have to augment labor with medications such as Cytotec or Pitocin, or artificial rupture of membranes, all of which carry risk and interfere with labor's natural process. I highly encourage you to read more about the Friedman Curve and how unnecessary obstetrical interventions cause many of the obstetrical complications that they are trying to prevent. It is a self-fulfilling cycle. Please don't misinterpret there is a vast difference between unnecessary medical interventions and very necessary medical attention. That is an important topic for another video.
Time shows up in a home birth very differently for a woman in labor. While midwives are very much aware of the time, they are not watching the clock in the same way. Instead, they are watching the laboring woman, the baby, and how the labor is progressing. They support her to rest when she is tired, move when she has energy, eat, drink, and go to the bathroom.
In a hospital birth, the time clock starts when she is admitted, and she can no longer drink or eat, and she needs to ask permission to go to the bathroom, take a shower or get out of the bed.
How does time show up in postpartum care?
At the hospital, they are very concerned about how many times the baby nurses and for how long. You need to document all that information if the baby is going to stay in your room. The nursery has so many checks test that must be done on their schedule. Then suddenly, you are released with a bunch of paperwork and a 6-week postpartum visit scheduled. You went from seeing the doctor every week prenatally to only seeing them once in 6 weeks after the baby is born. You and your baby are going through so many challenges at this stage.
Postpartum care in a midwifery practice looks very different. Midwives give so much more of their time at this stage because they know how important it is. Midwives come to your house and check you and your baby at 24 hours, 3 days postpartum, 1 week, 2 weeks, optional 4 week, and finally, the 6-week visit. Unless there is an issue, you don't have to take your baby to the pediatrician until you are ready. The midwives can perform all the necessary tests at home. Many midwives schedule a 3-month visit to make sure signs of postpartum depression aren't creeping in. The 3-month mark is when many moms quit breastfeeding, go back to work, and think they should be back to normal. And in many ways, they are recovered and many ways, they are not.
I'm trying to illustrate the importance of taking the time to experience the entire process from prenatal care, all the way through to long-term postpartum care. Time is one of the hallmarks of good thorough midwifery care!
The midwifery model of care sees pregnancy and birth as a natural, normal, healthy, and biological process that requires nourishment, support, education, and time for a woman to birth her baby on her terms safely. The medical model of care sees pregnancy and birth as something that needs to be managed and controlled in order for it to be safe.
Midwives see the pain as a sensation with a purpose. Hospitals want to numb the pain because you don't have to feel it if you don't want to. Besides a numb woman is much easier to take care of.
The midwifery model of care sees the mother and baby as one entity. They are not separate. They should not be separated. Babies are aware, sensitive human beings at birth and should be acknowledged and treated as such. The medical model promotes separation by having one doctor for the mother and another doctor for the baby. To them, it is entirely acceptable for the baby to stay in the nursery for hours. There are skilled care providers in there, making sure all the babies vitals are normal.
3 Choice of Words
How do these statements sound to you? Imagine a healthy woman in labor with strong contractions 3-4 minutes apart, the baby sounds great, and she wants a natural birth and is about to get her cervix checked.
"I'm going to have to check your cervix now to see where we are at. They go straight in and check the cervix, looking away, they say, oh, your cervix is tight, and you are only 4 cm. You have a long way to go, and you've already been in labor for 8 hours. I know you wanted a natural birth. But if you think this is hard, it is only going to get much worse. We really need to see some progress soon, or we will have to start the Pitocin. Are you sure you don’t want an epidural? The anesthesiologist is about to go home and if you want one, now is your only chance."
"Hey, what do you think about getting your cervix checked to see where your at in labor? Ok, let me when you are ready. (Wait for permission before you check her). Ok, you will feel my hand on your thigh, and I'm about to touch you now. Ok, I feel the baby's head is nice and low. The head is well applied to your cervix, and you are already 4 cm! Wow, you are about to go into more active labor soon. You are doing a great job." I know it seems like you've been working hard for a long time, and you have been. Just remember just because it's taken 8 hours to get to this point. It doesn't mean anything! This is where you are now, not where you will be, especially with these nice strong and productive contractions you are having. Girl, your body is working perfectly and your baby sounds great! The two of you are a good team.
After hearing two people describe the same labor and cervix, which one do you think will lead to a successful natural birth, and which one will lead to unnecessary medical interventions? Which one would you rather hear in labor?
I sincerely hope this post helped you see some of the many benefits of home birth and see what makes it so different. I’m highlighting that your support team matters! How you give birth matters! Your birth is important to the global movement of gentle birth, safe birth, biological birth. And let's be honest, Home birth is a lot of personal responsibility that requires careful planning, support, lots of communication, and a skilled midwife. And it is so worth it!
If you want to know how to hire a professional midwife, download my guide 50 Questions To Ask Your Potential Midwife before you hire her. As a bonus, there are 25 questions for your potential doula too! Click the image to download.
If you want a look at the Home Birth Supply List, you will need for a home birth, check out my home birth supply video.
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