H is for Home Birth
In recent years, Home Birth has become widely debated and more mothers are choosing to return home to give birth to their children. When celebrities such as Beyoncé start considering their options, shouldn't we? The benefits to home birth are many and some would consider the risks to be minimal. Let's take a look at the potential benefits of birthing at home!
Benefits of Home Birth
Lower rates of maternal death, postpartum hemorrhage, perineal lacerations
When the mother is supported and birthing at her pace, there are fewer complications and recovery is much easier. Midwives are able to handle many low risk scenarios without emergency assistance.
Lower rates of episiotomy, instrumental vaginal birth, and cesarean birth
Midwives are less likely to use any method of formal intervention unless absolutely necessary. Home birth transfer rates to a hospital facility for Cesarean birth are incredibly low. Read about the iconic Ina May's Farm and their incredible birth statistics here, They are a wonderful example of a home based midwifery service, and they have been providing maternity care for over 40 years!
Lower rates of newborn interventions such as meconium aspiration or resuscitation measures
This is likely due to interventions and stress levels within the hospital, although the exact cause is unknown.
Lower rates of infection
Your family's immune system isn't interrupted when birthing at home. Your baby isn't separated from you and there isn't any need to travel, so there is much less incidence of infant and maternal infections.
Better food and hydration
I mean, who loves hospital food anyways? Your midwife will encourage you to eat and drink as you feel you need to, and you can have all your favorite snacks at the ready!
Better rates of breastfeeding success and reported maternal bonding
This is due to the fact that mother and baby are not immediately separated at home, they are given as much time as desired together. This starts the relationship off in the best way, leading to more skin to skin care and better newborn temperature regulation.
"Among the low-risk births, outcomes were essentially comparable between planned home births assisted by midwives or physicians, and hospital births. The slight differences in outcome were not in hospitals’ favor, either: babies born in hospitals were slightly more likely to require resuscitation, oxygen therapy or hospitalization after birth." - Parenting
Another note from the Midwives Alliance of North America, "Of particular note is a cesarean rate of 5.2%, a remarkably low rate when compared to the U.S. national average of 31% for full-term pregnancies. When we consider the well-known health consequences of a cesarean -- not to mention the exponentially higher costs -- this study brings a fresh reminder of the benefits of midwife-led care outside of our overburdened hospital system."
Many birth partners or husbands that I have spoken to insist that they will never allow a home birth to happen, as it's just too dirty. I have to admit I've always been a bit confused by this! Besides the above mentioned lower risks of infection, personal preference for comfort, and the birth assistants available to help, there simply isn't much of a mess to worry about or to clean up.
Another perspective on cleanliness is that your home is protected from outside germs. Various hospital personnel coming in and out of your room to perform various tasks exposes you to many unknown organisms, and you have to trust the room and equipment has been properly cleaned. From an anecdotal standpoint, I've seen fathers sleep on the hospital room floor when they were exhausted from hours of support. Being home and able to rest comfortably would have been a much better option for them!
This birth was one of my happiest clients to date, a VBAC client who fought for her right to give birth at home. Less than an hour after having her baby, she was resting in her own bed (on a clean set of sheets!) while the Midwife and her assistant cleaned the kitchen and emptied the birth tub. No mess was left for her or her family to clean up! This is not abnormal, most Midwives assist with set up and cleaning of your home for the birth. If you have concerns, ask your care provider!
It is important to mention that a mother's comfort in her birth environment does make a difference. If you feel unsure or unsafe birthing at home, it may not be the right choice for you and your family. Transversely, if hospitals make you uncomfortable and you're worrying about your birth plan, home birth might be the right decision for you.
There are numerous ways to educate yourself during your pregnancy through research, interviewing care providers, and hearing other's birth stories. If home birth sounds lovely, but you still feel unsure, make sure you get a well rounded view of your options from many sources. I love to share this birth video collection with clients. Sometimes it’s helpful to see how different locations and experiences play out, as well as see something other than usual pop culture examples of birth! Check out the beautiful compilation I’m embedded below for some examples.
As I always say, it comes down to what feels right to you! If you’re local in Delmarva, check out my Doula Services and Childbirth Education classes. To see a list of local Certified Professional Midwives, birth centers, and more, check out my resources list here!