I’ve had really different birth experiences with all of my children, some negative, some positive but none that really satisfied me. When Simon was born I was 19, scared and while I was well read up on the basics of becoming a mom, I was still very unaware that I had “choices”. I was on assistance at the time, my clinic was mediocre to say the least but they were dealing with a large amount of patients varying from drug addicts to single parents. When it came time for my delivery I was told that I “wouldn’t be having a baby” because I was “too calm”. They checked my progress and I was in fact in labor and 6 cm dilated. Once admitted it was rush, rush, rush. They couldn’t wait to get this baby out of me. I was put on Pitocin, then more Pitocin offered drug after drug (which I refused because I wanted a natural childbirth). Then came the episiotomy and stitches. After Simon was born I was exhausted, being in labor 26 hours can do that. He wouldn’t respond to breastfeeding, the nurses were very pushy and made me feel uncomfortable. Then when I finally gave up, they treated me like a failure. When Simon wouldn’t take to the bottle either he was put on a feeding tube and kept in the hospital for nearly a week. When I asked for a Tylenol for a headache they said it wasn’t in my chart but I could have a Vicodin (I decided to just tough that headache out). I was just horrified.
My birth experience with Avery was quite the same only 18 months later. Went to the hospital at 4 cm dilated, put in a bed, put on Pitocin until it was finally time to push. Cut again, stitches again. I didn’t even try to breastfeed because I wanted to avoid the humiliation of failure.
Jumping forward 5 years to William’s birth and it was a much different experience. I was in a different state, I had insurance and a good job. I was really happy with my OBGYN, he was really supportive, informative and made me feel comfortable to ask questions but appointments were often rushed. While I was pregnant with William I began watching documentaries and reading different books about birth options. I stumbled upon The Business of Being Born, a documentary that discusses childbirth in America. I was really shocked by some of the information, elective c-sections, hospital interventions and their effects, which were totally avoidable but what caught my attention the most was the idea of a home birth. I really wanted a home birth with William but didn’t have much luck finding a midwife in our area and being that I was already halfway through my pregnancy I decided to stick with my doctor.
Labor day finally arrived and I was having regular contractions but was not ready to go to the hospital. Being Will’s first child, he went into game mode and decided (against my wishes) that it was time to go to the hospital. When I arrived I was only 2 cm dilated but the hospital insisted that I be admitted. Once again I was put on Pitocin but my dilation wasn’t progressing due to some scar tissue from a previous procedure. After a few hours with no progress my doctor advised me to let him break my scar (yes, break my scar and it does hurt as bad as it sounds). The hospital and nurses were really friendly, made me feel welcome which was completely different from my previous births. I was allowed to get up and walk around, to take a bath, to sit on a ball but I was still hooked up to an IV and felt restricted to my space. Then they offered me pain medication. My birth plan was to not have any pain medication but I was feeling so bad that I took it anyway despite Will’s efforts to talk me out of it. Looking back I wish I would have listened because it didn’t work anyway. They don’t tell you that it may not work before you get the needle in the back. I did not get an episiotomy and did not have any stitches. William was born healthy, latched on right away and breastfed like a champ. My birth experience was much more positive than before but I still longed for a truly natural childbirth.
I feel like your body knows what it needs to do, you just have to trust it. This is my main reason for choosing a home birth. When I found out I was pregnant again (figuring this would be the last time) I really pushed for a home birth. I found a midwife through a referral of a friend who had a baby at a birth center. When we finally met she said that she had been doing home births for 20+ years. I was totally pumped! Meeting with a midwife is a much different experience than the OBGYN. My appointments last at least an hour and we talk about everything from diet to emotions to how the family is coping with the idea of a fourth baby. It is a much more personal experience, I feel 100% comfortable talking about anything with my midwife. She asked me if I wanted a sonogram, she asked me if I wanted to be screened, she asked me if I wanted to have my 28 week blood work. Each time we talked about a procedure she made me feel like I had a choice to do it or not and we talked about it. Every decision that I have made is on account that I made it and not because someone was just telling me I had to.
I am so excited for this baby to come because I know that I can do it! I can stay in the comfort of my home, take a shower in my bathroom, sleep in my bed without a nurse coming in to wake me up every few hours. We have discussed the big “what if’s” and I’m comfortable knowing that my midwife only delivers babies and has done so for 26 years. She knows if I’ll need to go to the hospital and I know that I can trust that she will take care of me if that should happen.
Having a baby at home is perfectly safe if you are a good candidate, do your research, know that you have a choice. Check out The Business of Being Born from your library, listen to podcasts on Pregtastic.com and become informed. This article about home birth on Babble.com is really good too!