Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mama Knows Best #5 - Home Birth

Hi! I'm Jessi and I blog over at Sparrows and Arrows. I am the mother of 3 girls, and am excited to take part in Kira's Mama Knows Best Series and share some of my experiences with you :)

Home Birth & Hospital Birth
My 3 girls are, Kate, Maya and Lily-and were all different styles of births. Kate was born via Obstetrician at a hospital, Maya was born via midwife at a hospital, and Lily was born via midwife at home - so I have covered some bases in child birth and have a somewhat educated opinion :)

If you wanted my short answer - Home birth FTW! They are an excellent option for whom it is an option,  I don't want this to sound as though it is wrong to have a hospital birth in anyway! You need to do what you feel the most comfortable with, I was lucky enough to have totally text book, low risk deliveries that allowed me to have the option of a home birth.

If you want to know why, here is the long answer :)
When I had Kate, I didn't even know midwives existed, so I just went the hospital route, with no reason to question.
During pregnancy: I saw so many different students and residents and only ever got about 5 minutes face time with my obgyn - who really didn't have a clue who I was each visit. Every appointment was behind schedule and I really had the feeling that I was not being encouraged to ask questions, they needed to keep moving.
Delivery: When delivery time came, I was not in labour, but my water had broken. They said you'll be induced in the morning and left me alone. When I buzzed them that night to say I was feeling a lot of pain they brushed it off and were just going to give me morphine - I was not asked if I wanted it, I was told I was getting it. A keener student suggested they take a look, and wow imagine that, I wasn't just a wimp, I was 8 cm! The epidural guy was called in (I was never talked to about other pain options, and trustfully went with what was suggested).
I had 5 strangers in the room while I delivered, and then soon as she was out, the Dr. left and the nurse did all the work - until her shift was over.
Post Delivery: I stayed in the hospital for 2 nights, and was checked on when it was their scheduled time to - which sometimes was the middle of the night.... no matter if we were both sleeping - rounds need to be done! I had a rough recovery, and lots of stitches, but as far as I knew that's how babies were born. I now know it was the drugs that made pushing harder and therefore caused more tearing.
Fast forward to Maya: By the time I found out I was pregnant with Maya, I had met a friend who had had a midwife. She is my hippy vegetarian friend so I didn't take her seriously, I mean there was no way I was delivering my baby in a tent with a stick of wood in my mouth while the neighbors chanted in a circle! " Umm I had my baby in the hospital after being induced and having an epidural"she enlightened me. oops. She told me I really needed to at least meet them, and I would change my mind right away.
I decided to sit on it (which I have learned not to ...if you want a midwife go right away - there are wait lists!) so I was wait listed and started my care with an obgyn. Again I was a number, my appointments were always behind schedule, and therefore rushed. I hated it. I was so happy when the midwives called and said there was space for me, even 6 months in I switched.
During Pregnancy: Every appointment was held in a room with comfy couches - no medical looking equipment, they knew my name, she took time to ask me questions to get me thinking when I couldn't think of anything to ask. I was never rushed or made to feel like anything wasn't in my hands.
"Have you thought about natural childbirth" she asked. Here we go I thought - here is the hippy part - who on earth has natural child birth! Why suffer when there are drugs to help you?!
"Nope I had an epidural with Kate and I am going to again I guess." She smiled and let me believe that that was totally fine, but she said I had such a fast delivery the first time, that this one was bound to be faster and I should prepare myself for not having drugs - there might not be time.
Delivery: When I called to say my water broke, Heather (my midwife) was over right away to check me (despite an 12am false alarm the night before) and we headed over to the hospital - where 15 minutes later, and as predicted drug free*, Maya was born. She and another midwife were the only "staff" in the room, they kept the lights low and I was able to go home 4 hours later.
*I will add I had not taken her suggestion to prepare for a natural birth - and panicked when I found out I couldn't have any drugs... tried not to push and fought against my clearly the smart thing to do...also in all honesty, because I could feel the muscles I was using to push I was terrified and embarrassed to maybe go to the bathroom on the table...if we are being honest here :). 
Post Delivery: I felt great after having Maya, I felt empowered and like I could do anything. I had very minor stitching needed, and the midwives came to me for the first month of post baby appointments. Hippie friend wins, midwives are awesome.
Jump ahead 3 more years and Lily is coming...
I got a midwife right away. Appointments and such were the same, I had decided that this baby would be really fast and I know I can do it drug free so maybe I should just stay home. What a great idea, I thought.
Are you F&%^%# crazy is what Clifford thought. How would I win this battle?? He thought I was putting our baby at an un-necessary risk, that I was being selfish thinking of comfort over the baby's safety.   I posted to my baby center birth group ( a great recourse btw!) about my frustrations and recieved an answer from a maternity nurse who had some valuable information that helped convince my husband to at least attend the home birth information night.
She said the following: I work in a hospital, and attend high-risk deliveries on a regular basis as part of my job.  I decided early on to have a hospital birth, because with everything I had seen over the years, I was convinced that I needed to be in the hospital for my own safety, and that of the baby.  Well, I'm starting to regret that decision now.  I've been doing a lot of research, and am slowly starting to discover that so many of these high risk deliveries that I have attended have only become high risk because of the medical interventions imposed on the mom.  Statistics are actually showing these days that home births are extremely safe- there are fewer medical interventions and fewer complications.  I applaud your decision to do this at home, and I will likely do the same thing for baby #2.
At the Information Night I was embarrassed that Clifford was the only dad asking question (and direct, "what will you do in this scenario...), the midwives answered all questions with medical statistics and science .... and he wavered, if science says it safe it must be! So we went ahead with my plan.
Delivery: I woke up and my water broke and contractions started, the midwife team showed up and hung around my bedroom quietly as I laboured. I was in such a different place with this delivery, I had research so much in to home births and knew this was the most natural thing my body could do and felt totally in control. At one point they decided to check me and realized that Lily was stuck - enter panic feeling of "what was f%^$ was I thinking!! Why am I not in a hospital".. 3 minutes later she was born, and I was totally team home birth again :)
Post Delivery: They let me hold her for awhile, then did all her stats right there on the bed with me. Clifford made coffee, the midwives went downstairs to do their paperwork, and our newly grown family + dog hung out together on a nicely cleaned bed that 25 minutes before - wasn't so clean. Again I had such a feeling of empowerment, something I did not get when I was numbed by pain meds. Overall it was just such a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere that I wished I had all my babies that way. And after all was said and done Clifford was a major advocate for home births too :)
 Again, this is my opinion based on my own experiences and those of my friends. There are wonderful doctors out there and great hospital experiences, this is just my account and meant for those who are considering going the home birth option. It helped when deciding to hear other stories of women who had successfully had home births. I know that home birth isn't for everyone, and some medicaly are not able, but for me it was a most amazing and rewarding experience.

If it is midwifery and/or home birth is something you are considering, I suggest watching "The Business of Being Born" I watched it after having Lily and it really is full of great information, that I think will help in making a decision.

- Jessi

Thanks Jessi!  I'm going the hospital route for my first birth, but I have the option to choose between a doctor or a midwife for delivery.  This information is certainly helpful to me!


  1. One of my best friends just had baby #3 (other two were hospital births with major complications that could have been avoided) via water birth at a midwife run birthing center. She said it was the best! I regret not doing a birthing center/water birth with my second daughter when I found out about it and did research on it, I really wish I would have!

  2. Thats crazy she progressed do fast! Cute little baby.,sooo sorry I messed up your name!! I swear I have pregnancy brain!


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