If I had not given birth at home, I doubt I would have given birth naturally. Or vaginally.
A common concern about giving birth at home is the limited access to medical help. But what if getting away from modern medicine is exactly what we need to make birth safer?
In some ways, I’ve been reluctant to share this story. The story of what could have been. What could have been didn’t happen. But that doesn’t make it any less important.
Our national cesarean section rate is over 32%.
Broken down, this means 1 in every 3 babies are delivered via c-section. One in three.
This story is about how I could have joined this statistic. But by giving birth at home, I avoided it.
There are three or four times during my labor that had I been giving birth at the local hospital, I would have received some type of medical intervention.
By medical intervention I mean hooked up to some sort of monitor, intervenous drip, or I might have accepted pain medication, (during transition). There is also a strong possibility I would have had an “emergency” c-section.
All that I may have encountered would have been unnecessary.
I know this because I successfully gave birth at home naturally, without the assistance of machines, tools or an iv.
I gave birth at home without medical assistance. It’s a story about power, determination and my gratitude for an experienced midwife in my corner.
Giving birth at home saved me from a cesarean section. Twice.
I had been laboring since mid-Monday.
By Tuesday evening, my contractions had picked up enough in strength to call over our midwife, Linda and Jessica, our doula. They arrived at around 9:30 that night.
Linda asked if I had eaten anything recently. I hadn’t. Didn’t have much of an appetite that day. So she asked Eric to make me a protein shake, which I drank around midnight.
A couple of hours later, Linda noticed something.
Maybe it was the shape of my stomach that alarmed her. She felt my tummy. And then she told me, very calmly and seriously, that Ella was angled in such a way that she was not going to be able to come down the birth canal.
Cesarean Section #1. This fact would have been completely missed in the hospital. I can say this, I know this, because my stomach was never felt by any of the midwives during my prenatal care at the hospital. Ella’s position would have been overlooked. It would have been impossible for us to progress.
I was instructed to assume a position called Open-Knee Chest.
Think of downward dog on your knees. That was me. The pain of my contractions was agonizing in this position. For 45 minutes I stayed like this in our attempt to straighten Ella out.
Ella’s body realigned. She would be able to transcend down. Thank goodness.
I got up from the bed and went to the bathtub where I remained until the morning light shone Wednesday morning.
At 6:30 am, I was checked for the second time since the night before.
I was only 5 cm dilated!
Having not slept in three days, I was very tired. I wondered how I was going to make it. I wanted “out” of the experience. I wanted it to be over.
In that moment, I thought about what it would be like to transfer to the hospital.
The scene played out in my mind…
Cesarean Section #2: Failed attempt at home birth, mother exhausted, not progressing…let’s prep the OR!
Oh, no. I wouldn’t let that happen. No way. I talked myself down, relaxed and decided that nothing was wrong, I was just tired. I accepted the process as normal and natural.
We moved into the birthing room and I laid down on the waterproof covered mattress. Eric fed me yogurt. I rested, closing my eyes as Jessica rubbed soothing oils on my belly.
Two hours later, I was ready to push.
I gave birth to my daughter there in the birth room, surrounded by my family, midwife, doula and Eric behind me.
I did it!
Could I have achieved a natural, vaginal birth in the hospital?
Sure. I won’t deny the possibility.
I could have said, “I should give birth in the hospital, especially considering this is my first.”
The thought of what could have been is still unsettling.
When I think of the probability of my own c-section, I realize how many women undergo this surgery unnecessarily. It’s got to stop.
For some, like me, home birth is the answer.
Did giving birth at home help you achieve a natural childbirth? Do you wonder about what might have happened had you been laboring in a hospital?
Please share your experience!