Photos by Poppy Oakley Photography
On August 11, 2013 I gave birth to my son…at home…on purpose. Yes, that’s right. His birth was quite different from the birth of my daughter in 2010. After my first birth experience, I had the confidence to chose a home birth for my son. Even though I had no drugs or interventions with my daughter, the experiences were much different.
My Hospital Birth Experience
In February 2010, I was due with my first child. My due date was the 19th and I had gone 8 days passed my due date before she was born. I was seeing a Nurse Midwife who delivers babies only in the hospital. On the day I went into labor I was previously scheduled to go into the hospital anyway for a potential induction since I was over a week passed my due date. I wanted to avoid this because I had a natural birth in my plans and did not want any intervention. On that day, my daughter decided to avoid it as well. Read more on my natural birth choices in this post, Why I Opted Out of an Epidural.
My labor started on Friday night at 9 PM and my daughter was born the next day at 7:48 PM – a 23 hour labor. It was 100% natural – with the help of my husband and a fantastic Doula. I took no drugs or pain medications. I had amazing support from my husband and Doula which made the choice to go drug free very easy. They both did a great job keeping me as relaxed as possible. We labored at home for as long as possible and my contractions were inconsistent in time for most of the labor. Laboring at home was very comfortable and relaxing but I had in the back of my mind that I would have to get in the car and travel to the hospital which felt unnatural.
Finally around 4:00 pm on Saturday I knew it was getting close and we went to the hospital. At the hospital, I was not treated with the loving care I was receiving at home. I was rushed into a room, poked with needles for a blood draw and what felt like hundreds of questions were fired at me. I was also reprimanded by the nurses for not coming into the hospital sooner. As soon as I got there I felt like I wanted to cry. Because of this my labor had slowed down and the dilation went backwards. Anxiety and stress were a huge part of the reason why my labor lasted so long. By the time my daughter was born I was starving and completely exhausted. While I was overjoyed to meet my daughter, I was also completely overwhelmed with the need for some rest and something to eat. With that being said, I am very thankful the labor went well and no interventions were needed. I did get the natural birth experience I planned.
My Home Birth Experience
After having my daughter naturally with no drugs or interventions I knew I could handle a home birth. As much as the idea sounded amazing to me the first time I was pregnant – I just wasn’t there yet. The birth of my son went so smoothly and I had virtually no stress or anxiety. This labor was a total of 8 hours with 6 hours of contractions and only 4 hours of intense labor. In comparison to 23 hours for my first this was almost unbelievable. Around 4:00 PM in the afternoon I went for a walk around the neighborhood with my daughter and my parents and shortly after my water broke. At 6:00 PM light contractions started and they grew in intensity starting around 8:00 PM and my son was born just after Midnight. I was not afraid, anxious, or stressed because I knew I could just hang out in my bedroom, be comfortable, and let my body do what it was made to do. I know Mothers who have spent hours and hours pushing during their labor (which I can’t imagine) but my son was born with less then 5 minutes of pushing.
My home birth experience was amazing – so natural, and as relaxing as it could have been for child labor. After my son was born, we held him and my husband and I got to lay with him in our own bed. He wasn’t taken away for testing and bathing as he would have been in a hospital. We were in our own little world enjoying our son in a completely calm environment. It was the middle of the night but I felt empowered and energized by the experience and filled with happiness.
Why I Chose Home Birth
My whole philosophy on health is for things to be in line with Mother Nature. Eating the foods that the Earth provides for us with minimal processing, letting the body heal itself with natural medicine, plants, and herbs, and learning to listen to your own body. Having a home birth is in line with the way I live my life. I had low-risk pregnancies so there was no need for a hospital. Others with potential risks may need to be in a hospital but for me it wasn’t a concern (and I completely understand why some may need to be in a hospital). I was a good candidate for home birth since my previous birth went well and I am a healthy person. To me, a hospital birth seemed more risky. In a hospital I could potentially be exposed to hospital acquired infections or be pressured into interventions if my labor went long. My midwife brought with her all the equipment should would need to take care of me and my baby – which is pretty much everything that a birth center would have.
The care I received at home from my midwife far surpassed the care I received in the hospital. I felt that my baby and I were well taken care of at home and I did not have this feeling when I gave birth the first time. In the hospital, I was worried my baby would receive things I did not want without me knowing but at home there was never any concern because everything was discussed with me before it happened.
I firmly believe you have to chose what is right for you. I am certainly not saying that everyone should have a home birth, there are cases where it is not the best option. Home birth was the right choice for me because I knew in my heart it was how I wanted my experience to be for myself and my son and I was a low risk case. To some, having a home birth might sound outrageous, but I hope my story shows why it is anything but. I share my story in hopes to give other Mothers the confidence to chose a birth plan that is right for them even if it is outside what is considered “normal” today.