“Hi, I’m Chelsea and I birthed two of my three children at home.” This isn’t actually how I introduce myself to people, but it usually eventually comes up in my mom circles or when talking with couples thinking about having children or newly expecting. And when people find this little factoid out about my husband and me, we usually get one of three responses: a blank or confused stare, the ever lovely eye roll, or 20 questions. Home birth isn’t super common these days, but it is making a comeback and I would love to share some insight for anyone considering or just curious! So here are some of the most common questions I am asked and answers from my experience and knowledge on the subject! I hope it is helpful.
Q: “Isn’t it MESSY?!”
A: Birth can certainly be messy! Blood, fluids, baby… messy. But just like in the hospital, things are set up to minimize and/or clean up the mess. A hospital room doesn’t stay a mess and neither does your home. When my first daughter was born (without the midwives here yet, so there nothing but a towel on the rug beneath me), there was a golf ball sized blood mark on the floor that was quickly cleaned up with some peroxide and cold water afterwards. The sheets on my bed did get quite messy once I laid down and birthed the placenta, but they have a system where you put a plastic pad underneath the top set of sheets and a clean set underneath. They took off the dirty sheets and started any and all dirty laundry in the washer! I don’t recall any mess anywhere but the sheets with my second home birth, who was also birthed standing up in my room. So, not too messy and whatever mess there is, proficient midwives will handle!
Q: “So you had them in a tub?”
A: While birthing in a tub is an option, we chose not to. When I had my son in the hospital, there was a tub in the birthing room but I didn’t enjoy it much and preferred the shower. If we did choose to have the tub hooked up at home, it would have been delivered and set up around 36 weeks to ensure it’s ready to go for the birth! With my first home birth, I never would have made it into the tub anyway! And my second, I didn’t wish at any point that I had it.
Q: “Why would you choose to not use pain management?”
I did choose to use pain management, just not in the form of medication. There are many pain management techniques to use during labor and birth including and certainly not limited to: counter pressure, deep breathing, massage, changing positions and moving freely, using essential oils, an amazing playlist, eating healthy snacks and drinking water. No, none of these took the pain away, but they did allow me to manage it while being aware of my body and my baby.
Q: “Weren’t you afraid something was going to go wrong?”
A: Nope! My midwives are well trained, very skilled and experienced women who took exceptional care of me and my babies throughout my pregnancies (and all in my living room I might add!) They have had very few hospital transfers in all of the births that they have attended and it is usually not because of emergency, but rather because momma is just very tired and would like some sort of intervention (epidural, etc.) that she didn’t originally plan on. I believe that our bodies know how to grow and birth our babies and that when we allow them to work the way they were made to through the labor and birthing process, things go smoothly. Not pain-free and without a lot of work, but without serious complications.
Q: “Were your other kids there?”
A: They weren’t. A friend came to pick them up sometime early on in labor and they spent the night there. Some families choose to have their other kiddos present, but ours were so young (22 months when our second was born, then 3.5 and 20 months when our third was born) and we didn’t think it would be best for anyone involved.
Q: “What was it like?”
A: So relaxing and empowering. I could go on and go about just how much I loved having our girls at home and share each of their birth stories, but here are a few bullet points:
- It was wonderful to not have to leave my home for any prenatal appointments.
- It was comforting to know the women who will be attending my birth and caring for me and baby postpartum REALLY well.
- It was empowering to know that my midwives believe in me, my body, and my baby and listen to all of my questions, concerns, and wishes for the process.
- It was surprising. Evidently, I use denial as a coping mechanism so our second child (first homebirth) was born while we were setting up the room so I could labor because I didn’t believe I was as far along as I was.
- It was relaxing. During my second home birth, I and my birth team sat in my living room in front of a crackling fire talking about life. I would get quiet and lay my head back when I had a contraction and then continue on in our conversation. It was surreal and thinking back now, it seems strange but I was so relaxed!
- It was so helpful to just be in the comfort of my own home and not be woken up by hospital staff throughout the nights following delivery. Having my midwives come back for all of baby’s appointments through 6 weeks old was super helpful, too!
The last one isn’t a question, but a comment that I get a lot: “You are some special kinda woman, I would never do that!”
My response: Yes, you could! If you want to, you can TOTALLY do it. If you have had your children in the hospital via c section but want to have a home birth, that is not out of the question. If you had an epidural each time and your pain tolerance is low, you can still do it! If you’re afraid people will think your crazy and some of your family may get mad – yeah, they probably will, but it’s YOUR choice, not theirs. My encouragement to anyone even remotely interested is to interview and find midwives that you are comfortable with and talk through all the things. They don’t mind, it’s their job!
If you had asked me 10 years ago (before I had children) if I would ever consider giving birth at home I would have laughed at you, like, really hard. But I am so thankful that we had those experiences and made those choices for our family! I hope this has been helpful and eye-opening! If you have any other questions or have home birth insights of your own that you want to share, drop them in the comments!