Help! I Want a Home Birth But Dad Doesn’t

20 Comments 03 June 2010

By Eric Walker

What do you do when you want a home birth but your significant other doesn’t?

Does this sound familiar?

So your significant other isn’t on board when you entertain the idea of home birth. Don’t be surprised if this is the case.

Many Dads-to-be are skeptical at the first mention of home birth.

Our society trains us guys to think doctors know best, and that it’s our patriarchal duty to make safe choices.

So how can you help him overcome this old paradigm? How can you educate him so that he tells people that the home birth midwife is the only person that he’d ever trust to birth his children into this world?

Today’s post is about how to work with your significant other in the situation that you want to have a home birth, and he doesn’t.

Also I’m writing this post with the assumption that Dad is committed to being an active part of the birth experience.

I have to warn you, what I suggest in this post isn’t easy work. It will force you to come out of your comfort zone. It will test you and your significant other’s ability to communicate and work together.

But in doing so, the suggestions I provide will further prepare you for something arguably just as important as your birth experience, and that’s labor and delivery.

It’s the ability to grow with your significant other during times of change and challenge that will be profound markers for an enduring relationship.

With that said, please take the perspective that disagreeing about wanting or not wanting to have a home birth is a great opportunity for love.

I will now cover five rules for you to understand and apply.

Follow along with this process.

Rule #1. He Loves You and the Little Little One

No matter how heavy handed, thick sculled or stubborn he may seem about the option to have a home birth, he loves you. He wants what is best for you and your little little one.

He simply lacks the proper understanding about home birth. You must understand this, and use it as an opportunity for education and communication.

Along these same lines, NEVER question his intent.

You can call into question his knowledge on the subject. You can giggle at his naiveté. You may observe that he could have made better choices. But never question his intent. He wants a wonderful birth experience just like you.

So start with the understanding that you both want the same outcome, but see it from a different point of view.

You want or are seriously considering home birth as a birth option. He wants a hospital birth. You both want the best birth experience possible. You both want a healthy and strong child that enters this world without complication.

That’s a great start, and good ground to be standing upon.

Rule #2. Communication begins just between you two. No one else.

Even if you have the most supportive and wonderful relationship with your respective family members, guard yourself from their influence on this matter until you and your significant other have thoroughly communicated, and can be united on this decision.

Worst case scenario:

Your mother-in-law points her accusational finger at you, and says, If anything happens to my grandchild, it is all going to be your fault,” and then the in-laws whisk your significant other away to tell him how irresponsible having a home birth would be.

I know it’s dramatic, but realistic.

This would not help either one of you. Agree to guard yourself from non-experts with opinions especially non-expert family members with influential opinions. Odds are they don’t know anything about home birth.

Let this communication process take months. It rarely will be something that occurs over a weekend, or even a week. The home birth or no home birth communication phase will last for awhile. Embrace that. Make this communication period part of the fabric of your bonding. It will underscore and set the tone for your entire pregnancy.

Here are some key talking points for the communication process:

  • Throughout the communication (decision making) process, model the behavior you seek to receive. If for some reason things go badly, and you end up in a fight, race for the peace bridge. Don’t bother holding out for the other person to apologize or take back what they said. It doesn’t matter if you don’t question intent. Simply make amends and focus on modeling the behavior you seek to receive.
  • Be able to articulate the reasons for your desire to give birth at home. Go beyond the intuitive, instinctual and emotional reasons. This is certainly good enough for you, but be able to translate that so that your significant other can make logical sense of it.
  • Be open to his reasons, concerns and fears for not wanting a home birth. No judging. No arguing. Simply listen and justify. You want to be able to get inside the psychology of your significant other.
  • I recommend keeping a notebook, whiteboard or chart that documents the key points of this communication. As over the top as this may sound, it will be vital. It will help you stay on track with two-way communication and not get sidetracked with repetitious road blocks that impede progress.
  • Again, this is to be communication just between you and your significant other. I suggest making that agreement and any other necessary agreements before the communication process begins to make your time pleasant, productive and efficient.

Rule #3. When you educate, you empower.

You and your significant other will want to be just short of experts (or authorities) about home birth. I’ve spoken about how I trusted the instincts and confidence Kaitlin had for home birth, but we both followed that up with education, and lots of it.

One of the first places I’d like to recommend may not be what you’d expect.

Let me introduce you to Natural Papa (Derek Markham). I don’t know the dude, but I’ve recently discovered that he and I have more than a few similarities.

Natural Papa is a tree-hugging dirt worshipper from New Mexico who has a cool blog about natural parenting.

I think his blog is useful for home birth dads and/or dads-to-be who need more information and perspective.

One of the biggest problems for home birth dads is that they usually don’t have a lot of support from their peers.

Natural Papa has done a good job of finding other home birth dads. He has several interviews that I think every home birth dad to be should read. It’s also great social proof.

Follow the links below:

Home Birth Dad interviews from Natural Papa.

You’ll find over ten different Home Birth Dad interviews.

In one of Natural Papa’s interviews, he speaks with Jorge T. Cuevas from Home Birth Dads [dot] com.

Jorge is the only person I know of who has created a product with the home birth dad in mind.

Although I haven’t purchased this $25 DVD, I did listen to an the internet radio show that Kerry Tuschhoff , founder/director of Hypnobabies [dot] com, natural childbirth expert and certified hypno-therapist did with Jorge.

Go here to listen to that Home Birth Dad DVD with Jorge Cuevas interview.

From that interview, I can tell that the Home Birth Dad DVD provides unique insights about home birthing from the dads from dads who have already experienced it. Dads candidly answer questions about their concerns and considerations.

It’s true that men considering home birth rarely have the opportunity to ask other men about their experiences, this video bridges that gap and allows home birth dads-to-be to get answers that they may have been seeking but did not know where to find.

By no means does the education stop there.

I highly recommend a natural childbirth class in your local area.

This shouldn’t focus exclusively on home birth, but rather focus on natural childbirth that incorporates the best of many different birth philosophies. It should offer an in-depth look at a variety of natural birth techniques that stress trust for the mother’s body.

If a dad-to-be is going to support home birth, inevitably he’s going to trust his partner’s body to do what nature has been doing forever.

Furthermore, when Kaitlin and I attended a natural birth class here in Kalamazoo called Birth Kalamazoo. We were introduced to so many other resources, videos and significant names in the field of home birth that we had an unlimited amount of options for further self study.

I recommend you take advantage of further study and explore. Here are a few of my favorites:

Rule #4. Exercise and follow through.

Performing these exercises will open up the lines of communication after you feel as if you’ve exhausted all communication. Performing these exercises is also the best practice and application for all that you’re learning about home birth.

Write your home birth plans.

During your natural parenting class, you will most likely be asked to complete a birth plan. I highly recommend this. In fact, I recommend three birth plans. Write the plan for a home birth. Write the plan for a hospital birth, and write the plan for a home birth transfer to a hospital birth.

Have fun with birth art.

There is one kind of learning that you’ll receive from books, DVDs and all varieties of web pages. But for you to fully participate in the process, you and your partner will benefit from birth art and/or journaling.

When you and your partner are able to bring an image to light, I think you will be surprised at what it reveals. If you allow it to be a prompt for further exploration, it may tell you even more about home birth.

Rule #5. Prepare, test, communicate and decide.

If you’ve gone through all of the aforementioned “rules,” then I think you and your partner will have come to an agreement about where you will birth. Again, the process will likely take at least a month, but probably a little longer.

Going through the aforementioned process will definitely open your partners mind to home birth, perspectives, realities and potentialities. I know it did for me.

Now here are a few parting thoughts that I’ve sub-titled Prepare, Test, Communicate and Decide.


Set up your home for birth even if he hasn’t fully endorsed the idea yet. Where will you labor? Will you have stations set up? Who will clean things up? Who will be present? Will you use water, or no? Ambiance? Who will be your midwife? Is she available? Will you have a doula present? Is she available?

Basically, prepare as if you’re having a home birth. Cross all your t’s and dot all your i’s. How’s it feel?

Check to see if your preferred midwife is available as early as possible. Same goes for your doula. Find out how they work; how much they cost and their overall preferences and mode of operation. Have them over to the house. When they come over, prepare a fruit and cheese plate for something, and get comfortable. Get to know this person. Do you like her?


Keep going to the hospital for “normal” care. How is that going? How does it compare to your visualizations of what you want your birth experience to be like?

Communicate & Decide:

Somewhere throughout the communication and education phase, use the calendar to set a date for a decision. If you’re fully engaged in the process, and visiting your hospital care provider AND hooked up with a home birth midwife and doula, you can wait pretty late into the pregnancy.

Once you make a decision, trust that you’ve both underwent and exhausted the lengthy process and feels right about it.

Although it’s true that the woman is the one giving birth, and can ultimately be the final decision maker, if your significant other is the one who sits next you during labor, through the pain, through the intensity of the experience, don’t cut him out of the decision making process. And don’t ever get emotionally charged up and say that you have that clout over him (even if you do).

It is much better undergo the process I have shared today, and get his questions answered.

Most dads will be very nervous about a home birth. But little by little, with communication, education, preparation (and statistics) on your side, he’ll see what you see.

It is always better for the significant other to have faith in the process and the midwife, than to not have faith in what’s going on.

It will be better for you, your relationship and your child in the long run.

Your Comments

20 Comments so far

  1. Kasie says:

    Excellent article! I went through this very thing when I first broached the subject of home birth with my husband. He was very much NOT in favor of it in the beginning, but after realizing that I had done my homework, and was well-educated, he accepted that it was going to happen. Now, he is a huge home birth advocate and talks about our son’s birth to anyone who will listen. He is enthusiastic that our future children will also be born at home.

    • Eric Walker says:


      Thank you. Isn’t it awesome to see that change in your significant other?! You must have a wise husband, but also you must communicate really well.

  2. Derek says:

    Great overview of a difficult topic! And thanks for the shout-out – much appreciated!

    Keep up the great work.


    • Eric Walker says:

      @Derek (Natural Papa),

      You weren’t hard to find. Katie had pointed you out awhile ago, but upon my research for this piece, I came across your content a few times. Good stuff.

  3. Kelsey says:

    I’m not sure what midwives are like in all areas, but most I know wouldn’t attend a birth with a woman who they didn’t provide prenatal care to. I’d recommend that women who are interested in home birth go meet with midwives to interview them as being their primary care givers. I know that some guys who aren’t sure about home birth get on board when they meet the midwife and see how she treats mom.

  4. Erin says:

    Great advice. My husband was initially reluctant about a home birth as well, but luckily he trusts my opinions are well researched, and was quickly on board. Education is always the missing link, isn’t it? We’re waiting happily and calmly for our first home birth (second child) with a wonderful midwife any day now!

  5. brige says:

    My husbands parents ( a nurse and a family practice/emergency doctor) when I told them we wanted a bc or homebirth their reply was why fly first class when you can go coach… I laughed… My hubby was not so sure so I googled episiotomy and episiotmy repair and made him watch the video and explained that there was a 30% chance atleast of this happening in a hospital… After his faced regained its normal color I also told him about them never taking our baby away from us being able to have a celebratory beer after the work was done… And he came around… Its great esp. For other guys in our friend circle, he was so supportive and you know we all have the questions what sex like after what was the whole process like… He enjoyed that it wasn’t a medically environment that we got to cuddle in bed with our new little bit and that I was up for cooking dinner that night… Although we ended up a a free standing birth center (we had literally moved (for the military) at 38 weeks and well our house had no furniture and well the bc was more homey and nested our midwives (god bless their souls) were amazing and gave us either option I love this sight and well we’ll be moving late in the pg this time and will be doing a homebirth! Thanks for all your support and info

  6. emmegebe says:

    For my husband, meeting the midwives was the turning point. His attitude changed from skepticism to wholehearted support once he saw how well-trained and skilled the homebirth midwives were. They won him over with their knowledge and personalized care.

    Another factor for him was meeting other families who were planning or had had homebirths. It reassured him to know that “normal” people did this.

    He might have reluctantly gone along with my wishes anyway, but it was great to have him 100% on board. He’s been a homebirth ambassador to lots of other fathers since then.

  7. Leah Hazard says:

    Great blog. May I add my own book to your list of recommended reading? The Father’s Home Birth Handbook is the only book dedicated solely to fathers’ hopes and fears around the subject of home birth. It can be ordered from or — enjoy, and happy home birthing!

  8. Ahmie says:

    we just had our 2nd homebirth (3rd child) 2 weeks ago with the same midwife who attended our prior homebirth. To clarify what Kelsey said above, it varies greatly with midwife. I actually didn’t get much prenatal care with my midwife because I was seeing my regular family practice doctor for my standard prenatals (the doctor knew that I was planning a homebirth, not thrilled about it but not pushy about her wish that I’d birth in the hospital – I always get the feeling that it was more that she wantedt o be there for the birth because she really likes our family but felt that she can’t attend a homebirth because of malpractice insurance problems and licensing fears, not because she doesn’t believe it’s safe for mom & baby). I was also getting regular chiropractic care and prenatal massage (I have soft tissue issues & physical disability that predate my first pregnancy), so I suffer from “appointment fatigue”. My midwife understood that, we kept in touch by phone instead. Our situation is a little unique though, since my husband and my mother both knew my midwife well before the pregnancy whose birth she first attended – my mom worked with her for over a decade at a non-profit, and my husband worked at the same non-profit for a year between our first’s birth and our 2nd pregnancy.

    As for my husband’s comfort level with birthing at home, I’d suggested it with our first but he was not going for it – and our housing situation didn’t really lend itself to it anyway. He was born with a CNM in a hospital-run birthing center, completely unmedicated. Watching me birth the first one really instilled confidence in my ability to birth (for my husband – I always trusted my body to be able to do it) and he didn’t argue with me about birthing the 2nd at home though the cost of the midwife was a concern (especially because our state doesn’t yet license them so our insurance won’t cover it – hospital birth would have been without copay or deductable so it’s a financial sacrifice but he could see that it was really worth it in my case – I’m a slow birther, contracting for days, and hospital administrators get nervous with folks like me and start pushing interventions. I labored with my first for 5 days and my 2nd for 3). After the birth of our 2nd, he actually suggested that we have the next one unassisted! I said no, we need the midwife to run interference with his mother (who lives with us), and I was right – I was in prodromal labor for 6 weeks this time around, our midwife came over several times to check on me (staying for hours and even overnight more than once) and that really reassured my mother-in-law (as did the fact I was still getting regular care by our family doctor – who is also my mother-in-law’s doctor so there’s a good trust level there too). My mother-in-law has birth issues – she and her siblings, as well as her husband and his siblings, we almost all born at home but she wound up with a c-section when birthing my husband for “failure to progress” so with my slow labors she thinks I need a c-section too (and is forced to re-evaluate the necessity of the surgical births she underwent, which can’t be comfortable but she hasn’t talked about it). I understand her issues and have compassion for her, but I also need the midwife to keep Mom from coming & hanging out with me too much with her nervous energy while I’m birthing!!!

  9. Michelle says:

    Great post! I loved all the rules, especially the one about doing birth art and journalling together to get a better understand of the dad’s underlying psychological feelings and opinions about birth. Any opportunity to get to know your partner better before becoming parents is well worth it in my opinion, no matter what your end decision is.

    I am just at the dreaming and planning stages of starting a family with my soon to be hubby but I’ve learned so much about the choices I (and eventually we) will make when the time comes (I’m already a HUGE homebirth enthusiast by the way lol) thanks to great blogs like this one. So thank you and your wife for sharing and keep up the great work! :)

  10. bringbirthhome says:

    It is so wonderful to see these comments! I love that meeting the midwife eased so many of the Dad’s fears out there. Their calming presence does work wonders. :)

    @Leah Hazard – I’m so glad you stopped by! I’ve heard about your book since the creation of this post. If you’re not already over at Bring Birth Home on Facebook, stop by and join the conversation there.

  11. Eric,

    What an awesome article! So very practical and informative yet great depth and sensitivity! May I say that I am very proud of you. I admire your courage and transparency! Blessings to the “three” of you!

  12. Jen says:

    I am so glad to hear from a home birth papa!

    I had informed my husband early in our marriage that I wanted home births, but I don’t think he became comfortable with the idea
    until he met our superhero midwives (I’m fairly certain most midwives are superheroes). They were wonderful and kind and supportive and stuck with us through the hospital transfer (ugh- I am pretty sure we were the most depressed crew to ever show up to birth a baby). After our last postpatum visit, he looked at me with watery eyes as we left, sad that our appointments were over. He is very excited about working with them again for our next baby (babies).

    I was nervous about his ambivalence in the beginning, but meeting our midwives and becoming educated has transformed my husband into a home-birth-advocating-papa. :)

  13. Lisa says:

    What a great topic to address. I truly feel for the women who have the burden of “convincing” their husbands to be on board with the way they want to birth. Thankfully my husband and I came around in the same time (after 2 hospital births) and went on to have 4 children at home. Once you experience homebirth, you don’t go back. It really is about educating people and putting the word out there, and breaking through the stigma our society holds.

  14. Sybille Andersen says:

    It is your body. Most all of my homebirth client’s husbands come to this realization – it is your body, your choice. Unless they feel more educated in this topic (which I am sure they are not) then perhaps they might have a say. Let them do the research, read some good books, and support their fears with legitimate articles (which they will not be able to produce) and then reconsider the choice. But in all honesty, the fears they have are not backed up by evidence.
    Sybille Andersen, CPM
    Nantucket, MA


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