Home birth is Do It Yourself.
It's up to you when it comes to preparing for a home birth. This article will outline what you need to do to have a DIY home birth, from hiring a midwife and birth preparation to the big finale, actual labor and birth at home.
But home birth is not for everyone.
If you're not a DIY type - you know, the kind of person who plants their own garden, makes their own yogurt, sews their own cloth diapers and such, home birth might not be for you (or maybe you're NOT a DIY type but you're one heck of an empowered woman and want to give birth at home. Go you!).
This is why I say home birth might not be for everyone: Home birth takes responsibility, organization, self-education and belief in yourself.
DIY Care Provider: Interview & Hire Your Own Midwife
Midwives that attend home births are there assist you at the moment you give birth, and ahead of time to provide knowledge.
Her continuous but subtle monitoring is crucial in determining whether mom's labor is progressing normally and that baby is doing fine. She brings with her the equipment to handle most of your medical needs - to suture tears, provide oxygen to mom or baby, and can administer Pitocin for postpartum bleeding. If something isn't looking or feeling right, a midwife will transfer mom and baby to a local hospital.
Although your midwife is there for you every step of the way when laboring at home, you might not notice.
The best midwives tend to disappear into the walls, granting you the freedom to give birth in your own space, on your own timeline. Laboring women know when they're being watched. Even the smallest amount of monitoring can slow down contractions (our fight or flight mechanism kicks in, releasing adrenaline, which directly opposes Oxytocin, the love horomone that stimulates contractions).
The Midwifery Model of Care states, "pregnancy and labor are normal life occurrences." So why then, would we immediately choose to birth in a hospital for something that is considered an everyday life experience? For low risk women, giving birth at home with an experienced midwife is as safe as hospital birth.
DIY Prenatal Care, Birth Preparation & Education
During pregnancy, your midwife comes to your home for prenatal care. She's going to ask you questions about what you're eating, how well you're sleeping and what kind of exercise you've been getting. She'll hand you a little strip to pee on in the bathroom and check how healthy you are. She'll poke the tip of your finger to check your iron levels and bring along an arm cuff to check your blood pressure.
If you're don't take care of yourself - eat right, exercise, get plenty of rest and drink a lot of water - it is going to show. And if you move out of the low-risk category, you don't get to give birth at home.
Here are a few tips to make sure you're eating right and getting your pregnancy groove on:
Eat plenty of vegetables, fruit, whole grains and lots of water!
Stear clear of processed foods, sugar, alcohol and coffee.
Get moving! Swimming is great, as is prenatal yoga. Walking is also fabulous. It's easy on your joints and is especially great at the end of pregnancy when you're ready to kick those contractions into gear.
Your midwife is likely to give you a reading and movie list. This could include home birth stories, information about the natural progression of labor and videos depicting birth at home. It's up to you to follow-through obtaining this information.
The Act of Giving Birth Is DIY
Even if you hire a midwife and a doula, no one can give birth for you at home. There are no vacuums, forcepts or elective c-sections. It's up to you to get your baby out.
Chances are, this fact has sunk in deep as you've gone 9 months preparing for your baby to be born. I'm sure you've dreamed about this day countless times. You may have created birth art, written in a pregnancy journal and taken photos of your growing belly for each month that has gone by.
Then the first real contraction hits. It's go time. What does that look like?
Labor is different for every woman. Some describe contractions as pressure over pain (which is more likely in an undisturbed home setting).
There are various relaxation techniques you can use to your advantage during labor, including:
Water therapy - get in the bathtub or shower
Hypnosis during childbirth - I recommend The Birth Relaxation Kit
An exercise ball - great to sit on and sway back and forth, keeping your hips loose
Play relaxing music - what music do you play to relax? Create a mix for birth!
Labor massage - massage can ease tense muscles that are working hard during birth
I hope by reading this article you've come to understand more about home birth, and how you can plan the kind of birth you want to have in the comfort of home.
Kaitlin Rose is the mother of two beautiful children born at home. Her birth experiences inspired her to create Bring Birth Home, a website dedicated to empowering, supporting and informing families about the option to birth at home. These days she's busy writing an ebook about home birth preparation and living intentionally in Delton, Michigan.