- Why choose a homebirth?
- Women’s reasons for choosing homebirth are as varied as the women are. Most women planning a homebirth desire autonomy, privacy, laboring and birthing on their own terms, celebrating an event that isn’t necessarily medical in their family space with their family and friends. They feel like they have the best chances for doing so in their own space with a care provider of their own choosing.
- What does midwifery prenatal care look like?
- Although there are several different ways to become a midwife, most midwives follow the Midwifery Model of Care. Standard midwifery prenatal care operates on a similar schedule to standard obstetrical care, including prenatal visits every 4 weeks until 28 weeks, biweekly until 36 weeks, and weekly until the baby is born. Where midwifery care looks different is that most visits can be from 30 minutes to well over an hour, during which time your midwife will really get to know you and your family, prenatal education, nutritional counseling, and lifestyle coaching happens, to help mom and her family and support system get into the best mental/physical/emotional/spiritual preparation for the birth.
- Why would I want midwifery care?
Once you choose a midwife, whether solo or a practice, it is common that your care provider(s) have fewer
than average clients/patients, and you should receive individualized attention. You will get ample time
(sometimes it feels like too much time!) to discuss and review all the issues related to your health and this
pregnancy. Midwifery care leads you to introspection and thoughtfulness about birth choices and health care
and wellness for you and your family. The skills you learn at making choices about your care will be with
you in parenting and health decisions for the rest of your life. As an example, Becky, midwife with Little Star
Birth Services works very hard to learn the names of all members of your family including kids, dogs, cats,
grandparents, everyone. And if you need to transfer out of midwifery care for a medical reason, you will
know the decision was made in collaboration with you, and with a significant amount of thoughtfulness.
- What should I expect when I go into labor?
When you go into labor, it is likely you will not realize it is labor right away. Your midwife will not come
immediately; you may labor on and off for a couple of days. Your midwife usually comes when labor is well-
established, contractions approximately every five minutes lasting a minute long. For a lot of moms, labor
does not look quite so “formulaic,” so an ongoing conversation with your midwife is necessary! We will
We will want to hear from you every 4 to 6 hours. If you are not sure, I frequently will come and check
on things, with the plan in place to leave and return later if things are still ramping up.
- (Dads/Partners) How can I support my partner who wants a homebirth?If you are really unsure about a homebirth for your partner, listen to what she is saying, listen to her reasons for wanting to have a homebirth. Be willing to talk to a few midwives, discussing your concerns about safety, cost, expectations. Once your family decides to hire a midwife, attend as many prenatal visits as you can. Become informed about birth issues, read books, websites, watch birth movies. Attend a childbirth education class with your partner, attend a breastfeeding class with your partner. Support her eating healthy by also choosing to eat healthy. If she says the midwife says to go see a chiropractor or take vitamins or supplements, don’t freak out about the price (not always covered by insurance). If cost is a true issue, talk to your midwife, she may be able to work something out with a chiropractor, etc. She may have access to free samples of supplements.
- Why wouldn’t we just go to the hospital?This is always an option, and after assessing your choices, this may still be the option your family chooses for your prenatal care. BUT, if you feel strongly that birth is a family event, natural, innate, and not necessarily medical, you may be a strong candidate for a homebirth, and you should know it is an option that you can consider! At the end of the day, where you give birth is not as important as whether you felt empowered in your choices about care, and whether your care providers allowed you the autonomy to make as many choices as possible.
- What if I am afraid of natural birth?This is a real, legitimate concern! Modern American culture(tm) has not empowered women to embrace their birth. What women are empowered to do is have a highly scheduled life, instead of learning resilience and the ability to role with the punches that life throws at us. We are acculturated to have fear of pain, categorizing all pain into the same box, without understanding that there are different types of discomfort. Birth is portrayed as scary, medical, traumatic, with people having complications with their birth, so that women have that expectation! (from movies and books, etc.) What you can do is educate yourself. You can attend a birth circle to find people who share stories of safe, healthy homebirth, and you can find a doula and childbirth educator who specifically help people work through fear of birth. Your midwife can help you, and if you need to have therapy, she can help find a natural birth friendly therapist.
- How can I improve my chances of a successful natural birth?Educate yourself Commit to take an independent childbirth class. Choose your care provider(s) carefully, by finding doctors or midwives who really support natural birth. Be as healthy as you can, both diet and exercise contributing much. Rest a lot! Take yoga, meditate, go walking. Do what you can to reduce stress. Use visualization of yourself successfully birthing your baby naturally.
- How much space should I allow in my home for a homebirth?You do not need more space in your home than you already have. If you have a bed, space to walk around a little bit, and the ability to go to the bathroom and get snacks, that is sufficient! If you desire a waterbirth, that does sometimes take extra space to set up the tub and run the hose to fill it over to a sink with hot water.
- Do you support waterbirth? Yes, I support waterbirth!
- What if I have had a previous cesarean birth?Many midwives legally support vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) in the home or birth center in Virginia. The topic of VBAC is fraught with politics in the United States, even though the professional medical and midwifery organizations have indicated that VBAC is a good option for most women, less than 10% of women with one previous cesarean birth have a successful vaginal birth. Not all moms wanting a VBAC are good candidates for one; this would be on a case-by-case basis for even midwives who support VBAC. For an extended discussion about risk and VBAC, see vbacfacts.com.
- What if I am high risk for__________?Please feel free to have a phone conversation with a midwife to share some of your history before ruling yourself out without ever contacting anyone. There are some specific medical conditions that are true rule out for out-of-hospital birth, including heart disease, primary (non-gestational) diabetes, some histories of hemorrhage, etc. A discussion about your medical history and previous birth experiences will be needed to truly determine your risk, regardless of what another care provider has said. Each care provider needs to do an assessment of risk for herself or himself, and if they can’t or won’t support you, to refer you to someone who may support you.