Planned home birth with an appropriate attendant is a very safe option for many women and their families. Many studies have documented the safety of planned home birth with low risk clients and trained birth attendants. Licensed and certified midwives have particularly good results. In NY's Capital District, there are now a variety of licensed, certified, midwives offering planned home birth as an option for clients.
Not everyone is an appropriate candidate for planned home birth. Responsible planned home birth midwives carefully screen clients for physical, psychological and social health; they do not accept everyone into their practice. This vigilance then continues throughout the prenatal care process. Responsible planned home birth midwives do occasionally transfer clients out of their practice.
All that said, it is the client's choice that is most important. Humans birth best when they are comfortable -physically, psychologically and socially comfortable. Place is part of this comfort equation. Today, most women are most comfortable with the idea of birthing in a hospital. It is our cultural norm. Home birth goes against this norm. The woman herself needs to freely choose this option or it is not likely to work well. If she doesn't choose to birth at home, she needs to be supported in getting to the hospital (or birth center) of her choice and having the individualized care she desires.
Assuming that medical, psychological and social factors are compatible with planned home birth, how does one decide? More importantly, how do you know if planned home birth is right for you?
Let's assume you are considering the option of having your baby at home and that you are an appropriate planned home birth client. Lets assume that there are qualified midwifes in your area. With those assumptions in place, let's have some fun and make some lists*. Here we go!
*Planned Home Birth Might Be For You If:
- You have always imagined having your baby at home
- You really want to avoid an epidural
- You just know that home is a safe place for your birth
- You really want to avoid having your labor induced with Pitocin
- You love the idea of having your baby, in your cozy home, with your chosen midwife
- You love the idea of being the first person to hold your baby
- You love the smell of your own coffee (or clothes in your dryer, or your daughter's teddy bear, or...)
- You want your child (children) to meet the new baby on their own terms while in familiar surroundings
- You feel tense and on edge as soon as you walk into a hospital
- You want to avoid using narcotics for yourself (and your baby) in labor
- You don't like messes (hospital births can be very messy!)
- You cannot imagine packing your bags and driving to the hospital while breathing through contractions
- You really want to avoid an episiotomy
- You cannot imagine packing up your bags, putting your new baby in a car seat, driving home and then unpacking soon after birthing
- You love having your partner sleep next to you during this wonderful time
- You love fresh, home baked chocolate chips cookies
- You are just more comfortable with the idea of birthing in your own home!
*Planned Hospital Birth Might Be For You If:
- You love the idea of planned home birth but you are simply not a candidate due to medical, psychological or social factors
- You really want an epidural
- You love the idea of planned home birth but you do not have an appropriate attendant
- You feel warm and fuzzy every time you walk into a hospital (really... some people do!)
- You are comfortable with all the providers who may be attending your birth
- You are planning a Caesarian birth
- You want someone else to hold (and maybe wash) your baby before you do
- You love hospital food and love having it brought to you three times a day
- You feel safer when people around you wear uniforms and name badges
- You like the idea of packing your hospital bag and filling it with special treats
- Your children look forward to the new baby coming because they love spending extra time away with grandma and grandpa
- You prefer being conventional, not going against the grain (that is ok!)
- You like getting away from your house, if even for a day or two
- You are just more comfortable with the idea of birthing in a hospital!
Does that help? I hope that these lists give you some helpful things to ponder on your journey to parenthood.
May all babies be born into loving hands
*These lists are meant to be read with humor, self awareness and a touch of curiosity. They are not meant to be complete. They are certainly not meant to hurt or insult. If you are considering home birth, please visit a planned home birth specialist and sit down face to face for an in depth conversation. Local Care Midwifery, PLLC offers free, hour long consults for this very purpose.