Friday, July 1, 2011

Home Birth- My Experience

My husband and children just minutes after Hugo was born

 The Healthy Skeptic posted an interesting article today about home birth. He talks about the studies that show home birth with a qualified midwife to be at least as safe, if not safer, than hospital birth. He also mentions how women have been giving birth in familiar places throughout most of our history and how the majority of the world still does today.

I really enjoyed reading his article this morning and so I'm feeling inspired to tell you about my personal experiences giving birth to my youngest two children in the middle of our living room.

Victor- My oldest, born in the hospital

My first child was born in the hospital. I was very mainstream at the time and never would have considered birthing anywhere else. I read all the baby books like "What To Expect When Your Expecting" but I really didn't know much about the birthing process. I ending up having pitocin and an epidural. I felt helpless the whole time just laying on the bed while others moved me around and told me what to do. When my son was born I thought he was cute like a little puppy but didn't feel truly bonded to him for several weeks. I later learned that's a side effect of the pain medication.

By the time I become pregnant with my second child I had started to learn about the world of natural healthcare.  We decided we wanted to try for a home birth and so I found myself a qualified midwife.

After the first midwife appointment it was clear she was a lot different than the hospital obstetricians. Our visit lasted over 45 minutes during which time she really got to know us. She treated me like a whole person and not just a patient.

Lucia- My middle child

My labor started on a Saturday. The midwife and I stayed in contact by phone throughout the day until I felt things become stronger and we agreed she should come over. After she and her assistant arrived things went pretty quickly and Lucia was born within two hours in a large tub of water my husband had set up in the living room. She had the cord wrapped around her neck but my midwife simply unwrapped it and the baby was breathing fine.

I immediately fell in love with her. She latched on and started nursing right away. After a couple of hours recovery time the midwives tucked my new baby and I into bed and told us they would be by in the morning and to call if we needed anything or had any questions before then.

After Lucia's birth I felt empowered.

I remember a few weeks later going out for a walk. I had my oldest in the stroller and the baby in an Ergo carrier on my chest. I was feeling completely overwhelmed by my new responsibilities of caring for two young children. I was fighting back tears afraid of what the neighbors might think if they saw me crying while walking down the street. Then I started to think about Lucia's birth. I remembered how strong I had felt. I thought "If I can do that I can do anything." It gave me the strength to keep going even when I was exhausted.

Hugo- My youngest

A couple of years later we decided to do it again when I became pregnant with our third child. Hugo's birth was quite a bit harder than my second's. He was in the posterior position and I had to push for about four times as long. It was the hardest thing I've ever done. But he was born perfect.

All three of my birth experiences have shaped who I am but the last two made me a stronger more self confidant person.

When people find out that I had two babies at home the most common reaction I get is "Your brave!" But I truly don't think it has anything to do with bravery. Bravery implies that it's somehow more dangerous than any other birth. If I thought that I would never agree to birth at home. I would never willing put my children at risk. People don't understand that hospitals use dangerous interventions. Hospitals sometimes cause emergencies and most hospitals take away the empowering experience that birth is supposed to be by making the mother purely a bystander while the doctors do all the work.

I know that birthing at home is not ideal for all women. But all women should have the freedom to choose where they feel safest and most comfortable because the birthing experience is amazing and has the power to transform.

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  1. Thanks for sharing your stories! I can so relate :) Especially to the part where you talk about drawing strength from your birth experience...I find myself doing that when I feel scared or overwhelmed about something. If you're interested in reading my birth story, go here:

  2. I saw your comment on The Healthy Skeptic and I came right over. you're inspiring me...I've been thinking about having my next baby at home. how did you handle the pain? with my son the epidural fell out, my dr was horribly rude, and when the nurses told my birth coaches to HOLD My legs DOWN...yeah, that was the last straw - and that wasn't fun..

    i want it at home and peaceful so bad...but i'm so afraid, lol..especially since my son was born sick - he needed medical care right away.

  3. Hi jillypumpkin!
    I'm sorry to hear you had such a bad experience with your birth. It breaks my heart that so many women are treated so poorly during birth when we are most vulnerable.

    What helped me get through the pain was trying not to fight against it but to instead work with my body and embrace the pain because it meant my baby was coming! Usually in life pain means something is wrong so we naturally fear it but its important to remember that pain in labor is normal and just your body getting the baby out.

    I know, easier said than done! But you may find an inner strength you didn't know you had. One thing about being at home- It's not as easy to just give into the epidural when your feeling weak so your sorta stuck with having to make it through and you do it.

    As far as your son needing medical attention right away that is something you would want to discuss with your midwife but in most cases you can transfer pretty quickly to the hospital if the need arises. And the midwife is skilled in a lot of emergency situations and will bring medical equipment.

    Good luck!

  4. Hey Kara, My oldest was a hospital birth (posterior, forceps, traumatic) and I went on to have 4 homebirths. They were all very different experiences but each of them was liberating. Each one freed me of the guilt I harboured from the birth of my oldest. I love reading other homebirth stories...thanks for sharing! :)

  5. Hi! Stopping by from MBC. Great blog!
    Have a nice day!

  6. After having my first baby in the hospital, and experiencing what that is like, I totally understood why so many women want to give birth at home. I adored my dr and the nursing staff at the hospital we chose, and we did decide to have our subsequent babies in the hospital, too.

    But I want women to have options--especially because many women's hospital and doctor options are NOT good. And I am so grateful to women like you, who did give birth at home, for sharing their stories with us!

    (Beautiful babies, by the way!)

  7. Thank you all for your kind comments

  8. My mom had the last 4 of her 6 kids at home, so I knew already that I wanted to do home-birth because of her experiences before I was even married!
    I'm so grateful to have had that support in place and I love hearing of other women who have discovered the joys of bringing their babies straight into their own home! :-)
    God bless!

  9. So excited to find you. We are new to the Paleo lifestyle and have a little boy who is 19 months. I really appreciate your blog. I'm also studying to become a certified Doula and believe that every woman has the right to an empowered and informed pregnancy and birth.

  10. Just found your site looking for recipes, but I also wanted to thank you for sharing your story. I really wanted to do a home birth with my last child, but I was VBAC. Even though the risk of uterine rupture was small, it's 45 minutes to the hospital so if it had happened I would be dead, and my husband just wasn't comfortable with the risk. I had both my sons with no pain meds, but my first (with a CNM in a hosptial) was much better than my second (OB in different hospital). They took my baby away to the nursery and wouldn't bring him back! They kept telling me to rest but I just sat there fretting until they brought him. Grrrrr...

  11. Hello there Kara,

    I have never had children of my own, but I really appreciated your personal story. I don't think there's anything wrong with choosing to have a home birth, but there is also not anything wrong with choosing to have a birth in a hospital either. I would have appreciated if you made that distinction. I understand that in some ways women are judged for having a home birth, but judging the hospital as an unsafe environment is also wrong. All of my siblings were birthed at a hospital, and my mother always had a wonderful experience. It totally depends on how much homework you do when picking a physician. My mom is stil close friend with both the nurses and phsyicians. Actually, I needed immediate medical attention as I swallowed amniotic fluid during the birth, without immediate medical assistance, and being in an incubator for the next two weeks, I wouldn't have lived. I see POSITIVES and negatives to both ideas. Maybe just show that more next time.

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