What led me to homebirth?
After 2 traumatic hospital births, traumatic for different reasons, hard life lessons learned in taking back my power, and not trusting in others as I had before the birth of my first two babies, and with the support of my husband, I knew that if I were to have a third baby, I would have a homebirth.
I knew I wanted to remain in the comfort of my own home, with my own things, my own people, being able to labor in peace without having to go anywhere or do anything that didn’t resonate with my body and my intuition, and allow my body to do what it innately is made to do.
I knew that when my baby came into the world I wanted to have 100% control in what happened next. I wanted my baby’s gut to be populated with our family’s bacteria and not the bacteria in the hospital. I knew I wanted the cord to remain connected for as long as possible. I knew I didn’t want any vaccines, eye drops, injections, baths, anything intrusive to my new baby. I also knew I wanted full control of my own body. To birth in whatever way, position, time, my body desired. I didn’t want to be poked, prodded, made to lie down, anything intrusive happening to my body during the birthing process.
I knew that fear is what leads to pain, and that pain could be greatly reduced or eliminated with the elimination of fear. Being allowed to fully tap into the primal instinct, the body’s release of endorphins, and staying in my comfort zone would lead to a much better labor, delivery, and after birth experience.
How did I find a midwife?
A friend of mine had previously had a homebirth, so I asked her for recommendations. She told me who she used and why she chose the woman she chose. She also told me about another midwife and the pros and cons of using her as well. I researched both of these women, met with one of them, and decided she was the fit for me and our family.
How did my pregnancy look as far as appointments and doctors’ visits?
At the beginning, I started meeting with my midwife, and a regular ob/gyn through my insurance. For the first 4 months, I continued meeting with both. I was very uncomfortable meeting with the regular ob/gyn because I felt like I was always saying no, turning down tests, vaccines, etc. When I told my ob/gyn about my homebirth plans, he was very unsupportive and even threatened me, saying that if something were to go wrong and I showed up at the emergency room, that no ob/gyn would help me because I had started off as a homebirth. He tried to place fear in me. He tried and tried to convince me to have a hospital birth, have every test and vaccine, etc. etc. I had a dream one night that I asked my midwife if I could stop going to my ob/gyn visits and she said yes, and I was so relieved. I told her about my dream, and she said “you can stop going to see your ob/gyn”. It was such a relief. No more feeling like a criminal, feeling like a lawyer pleading my case, and being uncomfortable with every doctor visit. From that point on I never went to the ob/gyn again.
What was my experience like?
I absolultely loved having a homebirth. My midwife came to my home for all of my prenatal visits. She allowed my other 2 children to listen to the baby’s heartbeat, she answered their questions, she explained everything, got to know me and our family intimately, asked tons of questions, answered any and all questions, recommended books, classes, research articles, and educated us on every last detail of everything.
We chose to have a water birth. My first two babies came early (3 weeks, and 2 weeks early), so we had the birthing tub blown up and ready to go by the time I was 37 weeks along. I believe for many reasons my son came late. There was no pressure from a doctor to induce, schedule anything, etc. There were no internal checks to see how dilated or effaced I was. There was no pressure from anyone or anything. My baby and I were allowed to do things when both our bodies were ready.
The night I went into labor I was dreading the next day. My husband, who is a firefighter, would be working a 24-hour shift and leaving me with a 3-year-old and a 6-year-old. I was dreading walking up the hill to softball practice, because by this point walking was nearly impossible. I was at 40 weeks 5 days, and at 5’ 1” with a giant watermelon in my belly, I was very uncomfortable.
We went to bed, and as soon as I laid down, I had a very painful contraction. I laid there breathing through it and waited to see if there would be another one. Sure enough, another contraction came shortly after, and I knew this baby was coming fast. My husband called the midwife and started filling up the birthing tub. He prepared the bed with a tarp under sheets that we didn’t care if they got stained, and I worked through my increasingly painful contractions. I went into a la-la land zone pretty quickly. It was like an alternate universe where I was loopy, groggy, and in my own world. The tub couldn’t be filled up right away as we ran out of hot water. Eventually when the tub was filled I immediately got inside. The midwife and her assistant arrived and began setting up. I absolutely loved being in the water, but during each contraction I felt the urge to stand and lean on my husband. My torso is extremely short, so by standing and elongating my torso, baby and I were more comfortable during each contraction and we had gravity on our side. After a while I asked what was happening (remember the alternate universe). They told me I was having the baby and I said “oh, thank god.”
After a few hours, I said I felt like I needed to go to the bathroom. Everyone encouraged me to make my way to the toilet. That idea sounded awful as I didn’t want to get out of the water. We went back and forth like this for a while and my midwife kept ensuring me that the pressure I felt was the baby ready to be born. I knew she was right, but I also knew what else would be coming out with the baby and didn’t want to do that in the water, yet didn’t want to get out of the water. Eventually they convinced me to get on the pot. They placed me on the toilet straddling it, facing the toilet tank with my arms resting on the tank. They gave me a spoonful of honey, for a little power, and had me smell peppermint essential oil while eating the honey so as not to become nauseous. The first contraction that I had on the toilet brought with it a deep, guttural, Amazonian yelp that came out of nowhere. I immediately worried about my daughters (who were asleep in the other room) being woken up, and asked someone to please close the bedroom door. My midwife knew, from that sound that had emitted from my being, to take a look below, into the toilet bowl, and sure enough my little guy was out to his eyebrows. Well at this point, I couldn’t walk back to the tub, so my husband lifted me off the pot and placed me back into the birthing tub. I rested my head on my arm on the edge of the tub. I was on all fours and asked for someone to hold my hand. My midwife held onto my hand, my husband got into position to catch the baby, and on my first contraction back in the water my sumo wrestler baby flew out (poor guy had been wanting to come out for a few hours). All in all, it was 3 hours and 56 minutes from my first contraction as I laid down to go to bed, to when Grant was born. My husband caught him, but there hadn’t been time for the midwives to explain how things work when baby shoots out behind mom. My husband instinctively raised Grant up and out of the water. But I was still on all fours with my sweet baby behind me and no way for me to see him. With the help of my midwives lifting my leg over the umbilical cord and my husband maneuvering the baby under my leg I was able to hold him for the first time. My first thought was that he looked like a football player. Big, broad shoulders, huge hands, chubby face (he was 9 pounds and 22 1/4 inches long). But my euphoria was short lived as I began having contractions again. Ugh, I thought and said “I’m having contractions”. My midwife explained that it was the placenta. I was unable to deliver the placenta laying in the tub, so I had to give my sweet baby to my husband while I stood up to deliver the placenta, thanks gravity!
I made it to the bed, and was able to nurse my sweet boy and snuggle in the comfort of my own bed. My girls were able to meet their new brother that morning when they woke up. They had gone to bed without a brother and woken up with a new baby brother.
Homebirth aftercare is impeccable!
The aftercare may have been the part of the experience that was the most awe inspiring. Not only did my midwife take expert care of my baby and I physically, the care for my emotional health was amazing. I was encouraged to write down my birth story. Triumphs, disappointments, positives, negatives, every emotion. I was asked about my emotional health, offered advice and encouragement, cared for on such a deep level, and was allowed to heal mentally, physically, and emotionally at my own pace, provided with the tools, resources, and support to do so.
Hindsight is 20/20
In hindsight, there are a few things I would have done differently. I would have definitely hired a birth photographer, and a doula. At the time, I thought that paying for the midwife and homebirth as well as the hypnotherapy classes was already going a little overboard. Now, I realize how amazing both of these things would have been. I also, would have paid to have my placenta encapsulated. While I seriously considered this, and did save my placenta (we ended up burying it in the backyard under a fruit tree), I looked at it as an extravagant expense. This would have been a priority over a doula and birth photographer if I were to have another baby. I tend to lose more blood than I should during childbirth, and having my placenta encapsulated I believe would help me so much in gaining back strength and healing more quickly.
This is some of my homebirth story. I highly recommend homebirth to anyone considering it. I am open to any and all questions regarding homebirth. Feel free to comment here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are local to the Inland Empire and are looking for someone to pick up your placenta and encapsulate it for you, I highly recommend Toni Kinsman Consulting. If you are local to the Inland Empire and are looking for midwifery services I highly recommend Lisa Marie Sanchez Oxenham of Sacred Journey Midwifery, Karen Pecora of Blessed Beginnings, and Karen Baker of Birthsense and Beyond. Wishing you all empowerment and strength in your womanhood.