The history of home births started as a way for women to feel comfortable giving birth. Not every couple feels warm and cozy inside those cold hospital walls, which is why many decide on a home birth experience. Instead of wearing a thin paper gown, and being introduced to countless nurses, moms are in the comfort of their own homes. Once their baby is welcomed to the world, they don't need to pack a bag or go into a bathroom with no familiar things; they get to be inside the home they put together.
For whatever reason, many people see home births as "hippy-dippy." Mamas may go to a specialist for a sonogram and tests on their baby, but as far as labor and delivery are concerned, it'll be done in the privacy of their own home and a with a midwife.
While having a home birth is totally normal these days and can be totally safe with the right precautions set in place and a certified midwife present, there are a few things that pop up that may throw mom off. For instance, if there's a complication that arrises — an ambulance needs to be called ASAP, meaning that the home birth experience will now be transformed into a hospital birth. On the opposite side of the spectrum, midwives are way more capable of doing a variety of things than many people know; and these 20 are just some of them.
20 Some Mamas 'Ghost Bust' Before Birth
I know what you're thinking, what the heck is ghost busting? Per Mind Body Green, "Ghost busting refers to finding and clearing any negative emotions and thoughts that could have an undesirable effect on your birthing experience." Granted, this doesn't really help the mamas who are trying to rid of the "hippy-dippy" stereotype, but it makes sense to give birth in a clean, positive space. This doesn't necessarily mean it's pointed at ghosts, per se, but it does mean cleansing prior arguments or bad memories that occurred in the home. After all, once the baby comes, parents only want happy moments and energy floating around.
19 When Complications Arise, A Hospital Is Your Only Choice
As much as a mom wants to have her baby at home, if there's a complication that needs immediate care and attention — the hospital is her only choice. Although moms may envision the perfect birth story in the comfort of their own home, that's not always how it works out, and a mom needs to be flexible. Moms who want a home birth may not want to hear this option, but when it comes to the safety of you and your baby, going the mainstream thing and going to the hospital is the right choice. And while a mom may feel defeated, it's what's best.
18 Midwives Bring A Whole Lot More Than You Think
It's a pity that midwives and doulas don't get enough respect or praise as nurses and doctors do. Many certified midwives have done hours of work and visitations to be professionals when it comes to child labor and birth. According to Parents, "Standard of care for midwives for emergencies includes [meds]—such as Pitocin, or synthetic oxytocin for use in case of hemorrhage, oxygen, IVs, equipment necessary to monitor and record vitals on both mother and baby, and other first aid type equipment." Not only is that satisfying for moms considering a home birth, but midwives also bring all the tools they may need to deliver the baby safely.
17 Home Births Were Actually Illegal In NYC Not Even 10 Years Ago
According to The Guardian, home births were actually still illegal not even 10 years ago due to safety issues, not having the proper size tub, etc... "For a brief period last May, it even became illegal to have a home birth in New York City. Under a 'written practice agreement' system introduced in 1992, midwives in New York state are obliged to be approved by a hospital or obstetrician." Per the site, only one hospital in the entire city was willing to oblige. When said hospital had financial issues in 2010, midwives in New York City had no job, which is why things changed for them.
16 If The Placenta Doesn't Come Through — An Ambulance Must Be Called
There's nothing more fulfilling for a first time mom when her dream of having a home birth comes true. It was a long process, but she gave birth in the comfort of her own home, with only those she adores around here. However, the work doesn't stop once the baby comes out; the placenta needs to come out, too. If the placenta refuses to appear, mama may need to catch a lift to the hospital to birth it out. As one mother noted to The Guardian who went through something similar, she felt frustrated. "It seems so unfair that I have to have an epidural now when I didn't have it when the pain was so indescribably [bad]," she said exasperatedly.
15 If Labor Doesn't Progress — Say Hello To The Hospital
Similar to what happens if your placenta doesn't arrive or if the baby is breached — the ambulance needs to be called. At a moment of panic, it's not a time to "wish" you could have a home birth still; it's about getting that baby out safely and alive. While most women are aware their bodies were quite literally born to do this, some forget that our birth plan doesn't always go as plan. If a woman is having contractions for hours and she's still not dilating as she should be, this means labor is not progressing. This can force a baby to get tired and for its BP to rise. No mom wants that, which is why they may start off at home, but they're delivering that baby in the hospital. Sorry!
14 There's Not Much A Midwife Can Do With A Prolapsed Cord
As daunting as it sounds, it's probably important for moms to know what the average delivery complications are so that they're not frightened beyond belief if something abrupt happens. A prolapsed cord is one of those common things that can occur in labor. It's when "the umbilical cord drops (prolapses) through the open cervix" and ahead of the baby (when born naturally), according to the Cleveland Clinic. Depending on the midwife, some feel comfortable dealing with something as serious as this, while others may think it's best to get to the hospital ASAP before anything else can go wrong. No mom wants to look back on an emergency situation and think they could have planned better.
13 How Much Does Birth Cost Anyway?
One of the hardest parts about delivering a baby in the US is the cost of it all. Unlike delivering a baby in Europe, the cost of having a baby in the US is in the thousands. This is a big reason why women may want to have their baby at home; the only things they'd really need to (hopefully) pay for are a birthing tub and the midwife's services.
"Despite the fact that a home birth is usually much cheaper overall than a birth in a hospital or birth center, many families end up paying out-of-pocket for the costs of their midwife," Parents says.
How much a midwife charges and their role in the birth depends on the state mama lives in.
12 You May Need An Assessment Before Choosing A Home Birth
As a soon-to-be-mom, you want to believe that the ball is in your court. You're doing everything you can to have a healthy pregnancy and an even healthier delivery. However, just because a mom may want a home delivery, doesn't mean she's going to be able to do some. Depending on the state, some states need moms to undergo a risk assessment, as Tonic notes.
In Arkansas, anyone who wants to have a home birth needs to have a Pap smear, multiple lab tests, and a pelvic exam before they go sniffing around for a midwife. This isn't to discourage moms in the slightest, it's to make sure that the mom (and her baby) are safe contestants for a home birth.
11 Mamas May Need To Have An Uncomfortable Exam...
Let's be honest about birth, shall we? Throughout pregnancy and labor, a woman is going to go through a series of awkward or uncomfortable exams and tests. These aren't done to discourage the mom or violate her personal bubble, of course, they're done to make sure mom and baby are okay (and will continue to do okay) on their journey. In Arizona, for example, "regulations require midwives to perform [natural] exams throughout a patient's labor, which some patients object to because A) they're uncomfortable when not in labor and in labor they can be excruciating, and B) after the water breaks, [natural] exams can increase the risk of infection." Tonic also notes that if a mama is uncomfortable with any exam, to speak up and explain her concerns.
10 Pain Relief Options Are Limited
Most moms opt for a homebirth experience because they love the fact that it's spiritual, comfortable, and well, more natural. Moms that want to experience a more natural home birth love the thought of doing so without pain meds. However, as a woman becomes more dilated and the contractions worsen, they throw their entire mental plan out the window and demand stronger meds to help them get through labor and delivery. Midwives, however, only have so much pain meds to give a mama in need. They don't have the excess a hospital has. So if you're a woman who goes back and forth on the whole "natural vs. med" birth plan, perhaps a home birth isn't in the cards.
9 There's Not Much You Can Do With Meconium Aspiration
There are countless tales online of women going through a home birth and all of a sudden they see that murky liquid no mom in labor wants to see. This is a clear sign that a woman is experiencing Meconium aspiration syndrome. As Merck Manuals explains, "Meconium aspiration syndrome is trouble breathing (respiratory distress) in a newborn who has breathed (aspirated) a dark green, sterile fecal material called meconium into the lungs before or around the time of birth." Considering they're digesting their own fecal matter before even being born — this is a huge red flag that midwives can't help with besides calling an ambulance to the hospital STAT.
8 If You Had A C-Section Before, A Home Birth Might Not Be In The Cards
There are quite a few moms out there who gave birth for the first time in the hospital, only to find their experience harrowing, wanting to make their next pregnancy a home birth. However, if a mom endured a C-section her first go-around, a home birth may not be in the cards for her. In Louisiana, for instance, one mom told Tonic she was "disqualified" to having a home birth for her second baby since she already had a C-section for her first. A midwife is unable to perform a C-section at home, which is why the hospital is the only option (in case a C-section is needed again).
7 You Don't Always Need A Midwife...
This is something not many doctors or midwives will say to a mom-to-be, but there are a rare group of women who indeed insist to have an "unassisted childbirth." While it sounds frightening to imagine a woman giving birth without any medical professional in the room, it has happened. As Tonic explains, "Unassisted childbirth (UC) is an independent home birth option done without outside professional support. Some people choose UC for spiritual reasons or for privacy, others for financial reasons or lack of insurance, and still others out of DIY-resiliency and their innate beliefs about the normalcy of birth"
An unassisted childbirth is one of those things both midwives and doctors would advise against.
6 Is There A Sink Around?
I'm probably apart of the rare percentage who actually enjoys hospitals. Having formerly interned for one, I've seen countless miracles and happy stories for a lifetime. Not to mention, I always felt like cleanliness took the utmost importance (which, I know cannot be said for many hospitals). Doctors, nurses, and those in the delivery room are constantly washing their hands with soap and using antibacterial scrubs. It may seem excessive, but it's comforting knowing they take germs seriously. At home births though, midwives, of course, wash their hands, but it's not to the same degree doctors or nurses do in the hospital.
5 The Percentage Of Homebirths In Europe Is Actually Going Down
Without looking at any of the numbers, I assumed home births were on the rise considering how pricey hospital births were becoming. On the contrary, homebirths in Europe are actually down a small percentage! Per The Guardian, "The practice has suffered a precipitous decline. In 1959, 34% of women gave birth at home in the UK. Last year, just 2.7% made the same decision. In Scotland, 1.2% of births take place at home. In Northern Ireland, this drops to fewer than 0.4%." Is this because women found themselves going to the hospital after birth to fill out paperwork and do tests anyway? Or did they just not have the experience they were hoping for?
4 Are Our Bodies Even Suitable For A Homebirth?
The Guardian brought up an amazing train of thought: are our bodies suited for a home birth? Now, I know what you're thinking, how could a body be suited for birth in a hospital but not at home? Well, as they explained, a woman's "pelvis has become much smaller, to adapt to our upright posture. And because being brainy is such an advantage, our baby's heads have become much bigger." You can put two and two together to see the problem here. In fact, In some parts of Africa, labor is much more dangerous due to "obstructed labor." If labor is much harder these days than it was in former times, should mamas even risk it with the home birth?
3 There Could Be Harsher Complications With A First-Time Labor
Moms of multiples say that their first delivery was the hardest. Not only do they not know what to expect but their body doesn't really know what to expect either. Both mentally and physically, a new mom has never done this before. This is why some health professionals ask mom to wait until her second pregnancy to have a home birth. As Uprising Baby explains, "For one thing, first births often take longer. This is because the ligaments between the bones of the pelvis have not loosened yet. A woman's body goes back to normal post-pregnancy, but it's more "elastic" than before, making a second pregnancy a little easier."
2 They Don't Always Admit Defeat
Most midwives sign on to do a home birth because they believe in the cause. They understand how calming and spiritual a home birth can be and want to help as many women possible enjoy the same experience. That being said, it's important to choose a midwife you identify with; a person who's trustworthy and understands your wants and needs. What if the midwife and mama believe in different things or expect different things from the process? This can be distressing for everyone.
Sometimes, a midwife may be reluctant to admit defeat when a mama has given up. Let's say the homebirth was taking far too long and the pain was unlike anything she felt before, she may want to give up and go to the hospital. But if the midwife doesn't take her seriously and tries to give the "natural" way one more try, that can cause some serious tension.
1 Mama Is Still Gonna Have To Go To The Hospital Eventually...
Surprise! If you've been planning on a home birth the entire nine months because your dislike hospitals and don't want to give them a dime of your money, that's going to happen eventually. Although you may have successfully birthed a baby with the help of a midwife, a new mom (with the child attached) will still need to eventually go to the hospital for a medical checkup, screenings, and paperwork. As our earlier BabyGaga article noted, "This is because many pregnancy risk factors can only be detected through standard prenatal screening." Midwives are extremely talented individuals, but they can't do it all by themselves.