Home Birth Advocacy, Home Birth Safety

Learning To Trust Home Birth, Hospitals Aside

4 Comments 05 December 2011

“Home birth is actually pretty safe, Mom. And plus, the hospital is right around the corner from where we live.”

Sound familiar? I know I’m not the first home birther to use this line on family or friends.

As the loved one of someone who is birthing at home, the idea of a hospital being close by is a comforting fact. And as someone who is planning on giving birth at home, it’s a great point to use when introducing the topic.

When I first began planning my home birth, and telling select family members of those plans, I almost always mentioned the close proximity of our local hospital.

It was literally 10 minutes from our front door.

Their heads nodded in approval saying, “Oh, that’s good.” And, “Just in case.”

I’ll admit it – I liked being that close to a hospital for my first. It was after all, not just my first home birth, but my first birth ever. I didn’t know what to expect.

But as my due date neared, I began to rely less and less on the hospital.

My faith in birth outgrew the need to remind myself of my safety net. I stopped talking about it.

Our first child was born at home, and the entire event was beautiful. Hard work, but beautiful.

When I became pregnant with my second child, I knew right away that I’d be planning another home birth.

I called my midwife and doula, (my dream time) to let them know I’d be needing their services once again.

With this home birth however, one thing would be distinctly different: we had moved to a new home a half hour outside of town. No longer 10 minutes away from the hospital.

I thought long and hard about the possibility of giving birth at home if I lived in the country.

This wasn’t the easiest conclusion to come to.

Heck, I’m human. And I think “what-ifs” are a common part of our nature. We have to think through many different scenarios!

Ultimately, the answer I came to was yes.

Yes, I would give birth at home even if I lived far away from a hospital.

When it came down to it, I wanted to give birth at home to my children more than I was willing to sacrifice where I lived for a what-if possibility. That’s just not a way I want to live!

I wouldn’t give up my desire for home birth, nor would I give up my desire to live in the quiet countryside.

I believe in myself, my body, my team, and above all else, I believe in birth.

Does living in the country make life more dangerous? No.

Does home birth make birth more dangerous? No.

So I birthed at home a second time and it was gorgeous. And I didn’t think twice about being 30 minutes away from the hospital. I could have been two hours away. It wouldn’t have made a bit of difference to me.

p.s. this is not my home. Beautiful though!

Home Birth Advocacy, Home Birth Safety

Home Birth Delivers Exceptional Newborn Care

7 Comments 13 November 2011

Of the several important factors that inspired me to give birth at home, newborn care was right at the top of my list.

When I imagined giving birth at a hospital, I didn’t think of laying in a hospital bed. I didn’t think of nurses coming in and out of the room, what midwife would be on call or the bright florescent lighting overhead.

I thought about the moment of my child’s birth. I visualized it. And I didn’t like what I imagined.

A stranger’s hands holding my baby, quickly wiping her body with rough hospital towels, suctioning out her nose and mouth, all the while her arms flailing, reaching for me – for my warmth; my familiar body.

Birthing at home extinguished this fear.

I was calmed with the idea of newborn care at home.

Since I would discuss newborn care with my midwife in advance, she would know that I’d prefer my baby to be placed on my chest immediately after birth.

She would let the blood from my placenta continue to pulse through the cord into my baby until it was done before clamping and cutting the cord.

And she wouldn’t try to take away my baby. Or invade our space to suction her if not necessary.

My midwife, as we discussed and I envisioned, would sit back in awe of birth and respect our sacred bonding time together in the magical hour after birth. She’d clean up and begin to prepare for my placenta to come, record her stats, get out the measuring tape, the scale, and reminisce the birth with me.

I knew my idea of newborn care would be more directly aligned with her routine practice, which put me at ease. Rather than asking for her to allow the cord to finish pulsing, she would automatically follow suite.

Exceptional Newborn Care at Home

What makes newborn care at home so outstanding?

The midwifery model of care is built upon evidence based practices relating to the health and emotional well being of mom and baby.

Listed below are the specific aspects of newborn care that are commonly practiced at a home birth.

Immediate skin-to-skin contact. 

My midwife and I shared the belief that a newborn should have immediate skin-to-skin contact with mom for at least the first hour of life for the purposes of bonding, regulating newborn’s heart rate and temperature, and the most natural way to initiate breastfeeding.

Studies show newborn’s stress levels double when placed alone immediately after birth.

And listen to this amazing health fact: when an infant suckles at mother’s breast, there are 19 gastrointestinal hormones released, stimulating growth and nutrient absorption.

A mother releases large quantities of oxytocin when immediately placed skin-to-skin with baby, increasing bonding and contracting the uterine muscles which prevents bleeding. I loved feeling the rush of that love-hormone!

During this time, a home birth midwife checks the vitals of both mom and baby.

Delayed cord clamping.

First of all, allowing blood to continue pumping from the placenta into baby does no harm to mom or baby. So why interrupt it? Not only does it do no harm, the blood in the umbilical cord is full of amazing T-cells, which have cancer fighting properties (this is why cord blood banking has become so popular).

Umbilical blood is designed to enter the child at birth. Look at the situation the way nature intended, before the use of modern medicine/instruments: blood would continue pulsating through the cord before the cord could be cut, perhaps even to the extend of drying first in order to be cut (think ancient civilizations – they could have chewed, sawed with rough stones or even burnt the cord to separate it from mother and child).

Your midwife can leave the cord to continue pulsing until it finishes, and in the meantime, clean, help mom birth the placenta, facilitate/encourage breastfeeding, and record stats of the birth.

First bath.

It is common procedure for newborns to be washed with soap when born in hospitals. This is not medically necessary for the new baby, but protocol usually requires that newborns are washed before touched by hospital staff or the staff must keep gloves on at all times.

Since baby doesn’t need to be washed, it doesn’t normally happen at a home birth. Maybe spot-cleaned, say if there is some meconium, (baby’s first bowl movement) on the baby. Otherwise, vernix, (a waxy coating that helps facilitate baby through the birth canal) is moisturizing and can be rubbed in the skin. Your baby is not dirty.

Weighing & measuring.

When it comes time to weigh and measure baby, (again, approximately an hour after birth) these things can be done an arms length away from mom. Baby does not need to be taken across the room to a scale underneath a heat lamp.

Other medical procedures may include but are not limited to: eye ointment, vitamin k and a newborn screening test. Discuss with your midwife which of these she can perform, and when a third party is needed.

Midwife stays for 4-6 hours after the birth and returns approximately 24 after that.

Midwives leave the home after mom has gotten cleaned up, fed and the family is ready to take over from there for the day. She will return the following day, approximately 24 hours after the birth.

During that visit, she will check over the baby again, take baby’s temperature, your blood pressure, and ask questions about how you’re feeling – if you are able to get enough rest and have support. She will document everything on your chart and schedule another meeting anywhere from 4-7 days from that time (or as needed).

I received the exact kind of newborn care that I desired after both of my home births.

My babies were placed on my chest, warmed between my skin and blankets, snug under their newborn hats. The cord continued to pulse until it finished, and neither of my babies were poked or prodded. After the first few initial cries, they were quiet and content through the process of weighing, measurement and footprints on their home birth certificates.

I am so grateful for the way newborns are cared for after a home birth.

It is not just the exact moment of birth that matters so much, (to both mom and baby) but also those first moments and hours that makes for a peaceful introduction into this world from the womb.

Do you find newborn care at home to be exceptional? Fill in the blank in the comments below, “I think newborn care at home is exceptional because ___________.”

Home Birth Safety

From Planned Home Birth to “High Risk” Hospital Patient

1 Comment 26 October 2011

guest post by Kim

30 healthy weeks into my second homebirth-planned pregnancy, I blithely walked into Children’s National Medical Center for a fetal echocardiogram with my husband.

We were confident and cocky.

I had given birth to my first son at a freestanding birth center, intervention-free and midwifery-supported. We had no risk factors for birth defects and I had remained active and eaten an impeccable diet prior to and after conception. Our midwife had assured us that the baby’s heart tones were normal and showed wide variation.

What could possibly go wrong?

No parent wants to hear the dreaded words “high-risk pregnancy”.

For me, this label packs an especially painful punch, as it requires birthing in a hospital and conjures up images of Monty Python’s “Machine That Goes Ping” skit.

The only reason that I did not birth my firstborn at home was because our tour of the hospital nearest our home was a homebirther’s nightmare: white walls, scary lighting, continuous fetal monitoring, required bed labor…I ran out of there in tears and vowed that I could not risk a scenario in which I ended up there for any reason.

Since discovering my baby’s functional heart condition, I went through a predictable progression of emotions that I tried to use to secure the best, most appropriate, and most personalized care possible.

I am still on my journey, and I hope that in a few weeks, I can return and shout, “Success!” Along the way, I have learned a few tricks of hospital transfer. I hope that you never have to use them.

Day 1-3: Anger/Denial/Grief

Why did I trust that ultrasound machine? (Cue every study that has called into question the efficacy and accuracy of ultrasound) What if it is raising the specter of a risk for no reason? Am I sacrificing my homebirth to a what-if situation?”

At this point in the journey, I was in no emotional condition to deal with the logistics of transfer, but felt overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of change required.

And who could blame me? Suddenly the safe haven of birth at home is not safe, but the very real risks of hospital birth remain. Why do doctors worry to such a great extent about things like proximity to a NICU but don’t give a second thought to the increased risk of fetal distress that directly results from so many of the interventions that hospitals use so cavalierly?

“I am not going to reprise the joy of that first birth.”

This is when the educated choice of a midwife or midwifery practice comes into effect. Hopefully, you have already researched your midwife’s community connections prior to becoming her client (hint to all moms planning out-of-hospital birth).

I did not directly, but lucky for me, the Bradley instructor that guided me to my midwifery practice six years ago did. My primary midwife knew exactly what strings to pull in order to find professionals who could meld my birth philosophy with my medical needs.

She spent two mornings calling fellow CNMs, CPMs in the area, and labor/delivery nurses to find out the cafeteria gossip on who could support a birth such as mine and what hospital would be most able to accommodate ALL of my needs. I, on the other hand, spent the same two mornings burying my face in a box of Kleenex and calling my doula-turned-therapist (Thanks, L.S.).

Day 4-7: Fear

“All of those studies showing the increased risks associated with common hospital interventions are still relevant, and now I have to face them head-on.”

In some cases, common hospital interventions might even put you or your child at increased risk of complications as compared to a low-risk motherbaby pair. This is certainly the case with my baby, although none of the doctors involved in my care have so much as hinted at it. Why would I want my baby, who is already at risk for fetal distress in labor, to be exposed to narcotics or induction drugs?

I was able to exit the fear phase by touring my birth hospital.

Apparently, not all hospitals are like a terrifying Halloween experience. My original midwife was able to find a mother-friendly hospital whose 35% cesarean rate is most likely attributable to the Housewives-of-?-County women in this area who request early inductions and c-sections as a matter of convenience.

No scary, dangerous hospital policies, no bright lights, and L/D nurses who actually have familiarity with natural birth. I actually saw birthing balls and stools in the L/D/R rooms! I even heard the moans of a mother in transition as we toured. What a beautiful sound.

Day 8: Suspicion

“Are these new midwives really medwives? Does my parinatologist laugh behind my back at my birth plan?”

Here is where it is most helpful to have a doula; if possible, one who has worked with you throughout your pregnancy and knows your birth values inside-out.

I have taken to emailing mine regularly with updates, and she is able to place my experiences in the context of other women who have had to manage similar situations.

Having someone from my original birth plan and previous labor to bring into the new situation has been invaluable in helping me learn to trust these strange new care providers.

Day 9-Birth: Faith

“This is not what we had planned, but this is doable. I can do this, my baby can do this, and we have the support to have the birth we wanted in the safest way possible.”

It has been tough to realize that I do not have to see eye-to-eye with everyone on my healthcare team. I have had to compartmentalize my relationships with my fetal cardiologist, perinatologist, and even my new midwives.

My care is no longer all-in-one, but it is midwifery, and I can still have a safe, gentle, unmedicated birth. The high-risk committee will not be there when I push my son into his daddy’s hands. I have to get over the fact that some of them will be waiting in the hall to check over my baby, and that hours later my baby will have to go to the NICU with Daddy for testing that I never even knew existed until now.

I just might cry when I go to the breastfeeding boutique to rent a pump in case my breasts can’t handle a few hours of separation. I can do this, and my baby can do this.

We are not high-risk; we are high-touch.

Please share your story!

FAQ, Home Birth Safety

Bring Birth Home FAQ #4: What Home Birth Supplies Do I Need?

No Comments 27 June 2011

Welcome to video #4, “What Home Birth Supplies Do I Need?” in the Bring Birth Home Frequently Asked Questions series.

Kaitlin Rose here of Bring Birth Home. In this video, I reveal and discuss the home birth supplies I have purchased for my upcoming home birth. I purchased these home birth supplies from Mama Goddess Birth Shop, my favorite online birth store. Check out the BBH Home Birth Kit for yourself!

FAQ, Home Birth Advocacy, Home Birth Safety

BBH FAQ #3: What if Something Goes Wrong During a Home Birth?

No Comments 22 June 2011

Welcome to the third video in the frequently asked questions video series, “what if something goes wrong during home birth?”


Good Questions to Ask a Midwife During an Interview:
taken from Part 7 in the 9 Steps to Home Birth Prep BBH newsletter series

  • Are you certified? Certified Nurse Midwives and Certified Professional Midwives should be able to produce proof.
  • If you are unavailable when I go into labor, do you have a midwife back up? If so, can I meet her?
  • Do you work with a doctor? Can I meet that doctor?
  • What is your fee and do you accept any kind of insurance?
  • At what point do you join me during my labor?
  • Do you allow family/friends/doula to be present during my labor and birth?
  • Do you encourage movement and positioning during labor?
  • What is your transfer rate?
  • What is your c-section rate?
  • I have (or if I have) concerns handling pain, how will you help me cope? What are you suggestions?

Home Birth Advocacy, Home Birth Safety, Pregnancy

Pregnancy Update #16: Checking Off the To-Do List Never Felt So Good!

3 Comments 16 June 2011

Now that I’m 37 weeks, I’ve been seriously dealing with my to-do list.

The first task was actually making the list.

That in itself was a duty I’d been pushing off. Once I’d finally written everything down, I began feeling less overwhelmed with those nagging, floating thoughts.

Many of you have asked to see my to-do list. Some are just curious, and some are at a similar point during your own pregnancies. Whatever the reason, here ya go!

My 37 week, get done before baby arrives, to-do list (in no particular order):

  • Lake house  party with all family & friends
  • Mother Blessing ceremony
  • get exercise ball & baby car-seat from Melissa
  • buy new single or full bed
  • order birth supplies
  • ship out remainder of Joan of Arc bracelets
  • make better playroom for Ella downstairs
  • buy another baby gate
  • buy a new fan
  • newborn diapers from Becky
  • publish at BBH
  • email BBH helpers with details
  • one more big giveaway at BBH
  • get the house cleaned!

Not bad, eh? I’m getting there!

And for those of you who are interested in my home birth supplies list, I would be more than happy to share that as well.

  • 24 maxi pads
  • 20 blue underpads
  • 2 waterproof sheets
  • 6 4×4 gauze pads
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • rubbing alcohol
  • 2 mesh panties
  • 2 peri bottles
  • hot water bottle
  • bulb syringe
  • organic cotton nursing pads
  • 2 bendy straws
  • emergen-c
  • lasinoh
  • perineum healing wash
  • candles
  • arnica
  • epsom salts

You can find all these items and more in the custom Bring Birth Home home birth kits at the BBH Store.



Post Archives