The gentlebirth.org website is provided courtesy of
Ronnie Falcao, LM MS, a homebirth midwife in Mountain View, CA
An interactive resource for moms on easy steps they can take to reduce exposure to chemical toxins during pregnancy.
Other excellent resources about avoiding toxins during pregnancy
These are easy to read and understand and are beautifully presented.
WARNING!!! If you have Aetna health insurance, you may want to change at the next opportunity, when your employer has their annual "open enrollment". Aetna doesn't cover homebirth, citing a single study based in rural Australia which shows that high-risk births far away from a hospital are high risk. They further cite the policies of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, both business competitors to homebirth providers. Their policy statement ignores a mountain of evidence that homebirth is as safe as or safer than hospital birth for normal, healthy pregnancies.. If their policymakers have any integrity, this logic will soon lead to cessation of coverage for planned VBAC's . . . there's no dearth of studies and AAP and ACOG policies proclaiming the danger of VBAC's . . . and then they'll stop coverage for any woman who declines standard ACOG/AAP recommendations regarding routine ultrasound, routine induction, routine IV's, routine use of continuous electronic fetal monitoring, routine administration of antibiotics for all GBS positive women (up to 40% of birthing women), and prompt cesareans for any woman who fails to progress in a timely fashion during labor and pushing. They may also stop coverage for children who are not vaccinated according to the full schedule of vaccinations recommended by the AAP, even though many intelligent parents decline the newborn hepatitis B vaccine and practice selective vaccination according to their child's own needs.
If this is troubling to you, as it should be, let them know. You can easily send e-mail to Aetna's National Media Relations Contacts and simply tell them that they should not be in the business of denying coverage for reasonable healthcare choices, such as homebirth, waterbirth and VBAC. They will especially want to know if you are choosing another healthcare provider because of this unreasonable policy. You might also suggest that they expand their research beyond ACOG and AAP recommendations. They could start at: http:
Indie Birth - an online homebirth magazine. Here's the purpose of Indie Birth:
To fire up the minds of modern-day mamas, so that they are inspired, educated and aware of all the choices surrounding them concerning their pregnancies and births.
To cater to those that are already independent, free-thinking and
maybe a little bit radical... and to transform those mamas not yet
in touch with their instinctive abilities to birth and nurture
a Mother's Journey
did YOU decide to homebirth? - A collection of responses
from the mailing list of homebirth@KJSL.com
Homebirth For You? 6 Myths About Childbirth Exposed
Online version of a pamphlet created by the now-defunct Friends of Homebirth in Texas.
it Happen is a new downloadable e-book that was written to
answer the many questions surrounding homebirth, from choosing
your caregiver to getting the supplies you need to dealing with
the inevitable question from friends and family
Choice by Jill Cohen and Marti Dorsey
Pain Relief and
Home Births from the UK
For You? from pregnancychildbirth.suite101.com
birthing families, there no place like HOME from
www.gjfreepress.com in Colorado
Homebirth - "There are many advantages to giving birth in a calm, loving atmosphere. Drugs for pain relief are not available in the home. Most women do not find a need for medication. They work with their body, relaxing and allowing labor to progress on it's own individual schedule. Comfort and relaxation are increased by familiar surroundings. The mother is able to move around freely, take showers or baths, and to take walks. She maintains the support of her partner and the continued one-on-one care of her midwife." [web page - www.themidwife.org, /home.html - temporarily unavailable.]
I know this may sound silly, but I decided to have my second baby
at home so I could be sure I would love him as much as my first
baby. I knew that my first baby would always be my first
baby, with a special place in my heart because of that; I was
actually a little worried that I wouldn't love my second baby as
much. I figured that if I could make sure there was
something very special about the birth, then my second baby would
always have a special something about his birth, too. It
worked! Now I have my firstborn and my first homeborn
babies, and I'm madly in love with both of them! (I feel a little
sorry for women who had their first baby at home because I don't
see how they could make their second birth any more special.
I guess they could choose waterbirth or unassisted or out in the
Here's an excerpt:
Why is homebirth the "standard of care"? Because it shows us, without sacrificing safety, how birth can and should be physiologically, emotionally and psychologically for the birthing woman, the baby, and her family.The pamphlet has all sorts of statistics and studies showing the safety of homebirth. Here, I'll just list the titles of the articles:/
I am was just sitting here and decided to see what I could find about homebirth and up came your site.
I live in East county Clare in Ireland and I have had my two daughters at home on the bed they were conceived on. The elder will be three at the end of these month and the younger is one since last week.
I absolutely hate the thought of having to give birth in a hospital, but do value the fact that they are there should anything go wrong.
Having my girls brought into this world in the comfort of my own home, with just my husband and two different, wonderful, competent, skilled and truly delightful midwives (and the dog who hung around outside the door waiting for the outcome) was the most wonderful, enriching, empowering and incredible experiences I have ever had. The women who have had bad births in hospitals (without complications) have no idea what they are missing out on.
That's all I have to say.
Brown's Homebirth Page - written by parents who were
surprised to find themselves choosing homebirth as their best
Homebirth - A
source of information for parents planning an alternative birth
of Home Born Babies - This is designed to be a forum for
fathers who have homebirthed their children or for fathers who are
contemplating the homebirth experience.
ehomebirth.com - links,
homebirth and midwifery related news links, a message board, a Q
& A feature, a chat room, a teen page, a birth story page, and
some other stuff.
chose a homebirth - Looking back, we now believe that much
of the pain of labor is brought on by fear of the unknown, being
in a strange place with strangers coming and going and the
pressure of having to perform and produce once at the hospital.
If...? - Questions Commonly Asked of Homebirth-ers by Kim
Wildner - Great list of questions and answers written by a
The Waikato Home Birth
Association Inc (WHBA) is a group of people who have come
together to provide information and support for birthing women and
their families. . . . First and foremost we support
women's choice but we have a special commitment to, and belief in,
the Home Birth option as the optimal choice of birthing for most
well women and babies.
Angela Horn's Home Birth
Reference Page - from the UK
Leighza's page about her hospital birth, unplanned homebirth and
then planned homebirth.
Homebirth Decision - Crystal's very thoughtful writings.
Home Birth Decision - From the Labor of Love site
A Mother's Letter to Illinois Gov Edgar
have chosen homebirth! (Illinois Midwives Page)
Pregnant Mom Writes About Considering a
More Advice From a Mother About Choosing
A Scientist Considers Homebirth
Mother Writes About Her Reasons for
Mother Writes About Her Homebirth
Convincing Oneself and One's Partner
What If Something Goes Wrong?,
including an Interchange
about a Situation where Something Did Go Wrong
About Choosing Homebirth - Just in Case!
General Homebirth Advice
Homebirth Family Compares Experiences with
other Bradley Couples
First-Time Moms Ideal Candidates for
- As faith in both the self, and God/Goddess/the inner self
increases in our society, more and more women and couples are
choosing to give birth at home, without the assistance of doctors
or midwives. And although this may shock and frighten some people,
contrary to popular opinion, unassisted birth can actually be
safer than assisted birth. When a woman is not interfered with,
either physically by the assistant's hand (constant checking,
monitoring, drugs, etc.), or psychologically by her own mind
(fear, shame, and guilt), babies are often born quickly and
Fringe Mothering Page
Wonderfully supportive Web page written by a woman who was transformed by her birthing experiences. It includes her two beautiful birth stories.
One mother's list of links:
Sometimes I think just going to the doctor and having them
just take care of me seems so much nicer.
Well, if the reality was that doctors would "just take care of me", then I would never have chosen homebirth either, probably. In my case, the reality was far different: they took over. And treated me like a faceless patient, a demanding one at that. Not a person with my own vision. And the procedures they followed had nothing to do with my vision of birth. That's why I switched to homebirth at 36 weeks. My doctors and hospital did not act as "mother standings". On the other hand, my midwife was wonderfully nurturing and supportive. She didn't intrude when I wanted peace, and she brought me fruit and drink and hugged me and cried with me over my baby and the love and connection *was* there.
I considered doing a home birth, but when it comes right down to it, I feel safer in a hospital because "what if something goes wrong?"People are funny, aren't they? I don't remember the name of the book, but someone recently published a book about why people believe things that aren't supported by fact. I think one of the common examples of this is feeling safe driving on the freeway but being afraid of flying. This is a particularly relevant analogy as even more people die from hospital infections than from automobile accidents. (See http: and http:
[For people who aren't familiar with the statistics about the dangers of hospital birth, statistics show homebirth to be safer than hospital birth for all risk categories.]
I, personally, don't like all the intervention they do either, but I want to be there in case something goes wrong. I wouldn't want to take the chance that it took too long to get to the hospital and something happened to my baby.It would be wonderful if being at the hospital guaranteed a safe outcome, and it is amazing how we have a cultural illusion that when you're laboring at the hospital, there's a team of anesthesiologists and surgeons all scrubbed up and ready to go in the operating room in case anything goes wrong. After all, that's how it happens on television and in movies. In fact, those surgeons spend most of their time seeing clients in their offices or home sleeping in their beds. Standard recommendations for hospitals are that they should be able to perform surgery within 30 minutes of being paged. ("30 minutes call to cut" is the catchy phrase.)
If you pay attention to the lawsuits about uterine ruptures happening during hospital VBACs, the delay between noticing trouble and getting the baby out was quite long. In the case commonly cited by Phelan, I think it was about 40 minutes. In the recent case lost by LA County Hospital, it was something ridiculous like 4 hours.
As our recent discussion of prodromal labor has highlighted,
birth is much more likely to be a slow process than a sudden
event, and sudden "emergencies" are rare. Here in Silicon
Valley, our homebirth attendants include an MD, a couple of CNMs
and several Licensed Midwives. These are all well trained to
notice the early warning signs that give lots of time to move into
a hospital if it looks as if the mom or baby might not be
tolerating labor well. They are also trained to handle emergencies
themselves, and the only procedure that can't be safely done at
home is surgery. But as long as you can get to the hospital within
25 minutes, you're as safe laboring at home as in the hospital -
you just make "the call" from home, and you may even beat the
surgeons to the hospital.
I went in for my scheduled appointment... we went through the
weighing, measuring, etc. We talked about the GD glucose test.
Then I told her that I was impressed by the quality of care she
gave, but that we had chosen a homebirth. She just stared at me. I
told her about all the reading I had done, (14 different books,
not just about homebirth, but about midwifery, pregnancy, etc. as
well as medline searches of medical literature). I then told her I
wanted to continue dual care with her and use her and/or Dr. for
my backup. She said she would be willing to continue prenatals
with me and back me for a non-emergency, but that for a true
emergency, all the OBs in the office would have to agree to back
me and she would discuss it with them. Since I would still be a
patient of that office, it wouldn't really be a liability issue,
but a philosophical one. She proceeded to tell me that babies can
die at home births and that she couldn't live with herself if that
happened, and could I live with myself? I talked with her about
how we wanted to take greater personal responsibility for this
child and that we would not be placing blame for bad outcomes on
anyone's shoulders. I then asked her, as my mom had insisted I do,
if she had any medical literature saying that homebirth was less
safe, or in support of 100% hospitalization. She said no. I asked
if the OB could give me any literature supporting their
opposition. She said there wasn't any that they could find.
(YEE-HA!) She said in the Netherlands they have a great homebirth
system and that she wouldn't be opposed to it there. I pointed out
that a good deal of the reason it's different is that the doctors
are willing to back up emergencies. She agreed. She still insisted
though, that "When you 've seen the stuff that comes in from
[failed] homebirths, it just breaks your heart because it's mostly
avoidable." Well, whatever. Anyway, it went much better than I
thought and now I have backup for non-emergency transports!
I respect that this CNM is trying to solve the problem of
homebirth transports waiting longer than is optimal before coming
into the hospital. When homebirthers know that they will receive
decent care when they transport, they are much more likely to go
in to the hospital for help sooner rather than later.
This highlights a lot of the problem regarding medical perception of homebirth - they see only the homebirth transports and not the homebirths where there aren't any problems at all. They also have a skewed perception of their interventions; they won't acknowledge the research that shows that they actually cause problems.
A lot of homebirth advocates just shake their heads at all the
hospital moms with bellies that have been cut open and
episiotomies cut through their anal sphincters and think "It just
breaks your heart because it's mostly avoidable."
a Home Birth from babyandpregnancy.co.uk
There's a great video, Homebirth
Dads, made in the Cornell area with some very well-educated
and professional fathers praising homebirth:
of Home Born Babies - This is designed to be a forum for
fathers who have homebirthed their children or for fathers who are
contemplating the homebirth experience.
For dads who are concerned about homebirth safety, I like to ask
if they'd feel comfortable birthing in a hospital with a midwife
or a family practice
doctor, and then I point out that there might not be an OB in the hospital at the time. This often really helps to shift their thinking.
Home birth a family affair - 27.10.2006 - by KATE NEWTON -
Interview with a dad who explains what he liked about homebirth.
What if Your Homebirth Doesn't Happen at
Addressing Partner's Fears about a
One Dad's Advice about Partner's
Resistance about Homebirth
a comfortable empowering alternative to the hospital - nice
page written by a dad. "After talking with some fathers of
homebirthed babies, I found many of them to feel much more
connected to their children and wives as a direct result of being
a "real" part of the birthing process." and "It is almost
impossible to get the respect or the intimacy mothers to be
deserve in the hospital."
Leilah McCracken has collected Responses to: "My husband won't
let me have a homebirth!!!" [Ed: birthlove.com is not
available at this time.]
You may be interested in reading a very interesting book called "Birth and the Dialogue of Love" by Marilyn Moran. Marilyn is the first author I have found that stresses that the father loses too when childbirth goes wrong from mismanagement and overmanagement! She says fathers do not realize they are systematically giving over their rights to catching their own god given babies to some other attendant. The wonder and awe and empowerment that belongs rightfully to the father is transferred to the obstetrician in our standard childbirths in the USA. The father is missing out on this rightful empowering experience. Marilyn Moran says men and women need to take the responsibility for their childbirths back out of medical professionals hands and keep it in their own hands for their ultimate personal and marital fulfillment and happiness.
Doctors have even been known to comment on the empowerment they feel when delivering babies and some have mentioned they feel that they are stealing this empowering experience from the father. Dr. Bradley from The Bradley Method of Childbirth wrote this in Husband Coached Childbirth and the author of A Woman In Residence mentions how she feels very empowered when she delivers a baby via unnecessary cesarean surgery.
Marilyn says we conceive and carry our babies and we can deliver them ourselves too naturally and without interventions and interference.
There is a wonderful unassisted
homebirth group nationwide and on the internet too. I find
it comforting to know that I really can birth my own baby if I
wanted to or needed to.
Some husbands worry that they'll feel shut out of birth. My
husband was awful and not supportive at all during my first two
births at a hospital. I couldn't figure out why this
wonderful man was like this. Our last child was a
homebirth and he was the greatest!! We talked about it later
and he said at the hospital he felt like he wasn't needed, there
were machines and nurses in and out. At home he was my
partner and "man of the house". He felt so much more needed
at home. (I had some friends and such there to help too but
in the long run it was my husband who helped me the most.)
I have encountered women over and over again who have wanted homebirth, and their husbands were the ones preventing them, out of fear!
A few, who finally convinced their husbands several babies later, had the rewarding experience of hearing their husbands come out of the birth as staunch advocates of homebirth, with the common statement, "Why didn't we do this before?"
What breaks my heart is that so many men, (and women) have not
been allowed to make an informed choice because of lack of
education regarding this option, and because of scare tactics
practiced on them by others. It's a shame, really.
My husband read something online from Amy Tuteur, MD, claiming
that homebirth is unsafe.
Dr. Amy Tuteur obviously has some issues with homebirth and with
women's activism about protecting their own bodies. Have you
read what she writes about episiotomy? It almost sounds as
if she thinks women should be grateful to have their perineums cut
up! Anyway, her information is full of inaccuracies and
half-truths. She claims that homebirth activists ignore
scientific studies, when it is *she* who ignores them. Here
you can read a
comprehensive collection of scientific studies and here you
can read lots more information. [Read more about Dr. Amy Tuteur's Issues.]
My husband is very concerned that by giving birth at home, we
won't have access to care for an unexpected emergency. He
understands that being in the hospital increases some risks (risk
of intervention, risks associated with interventions, and
especially hospital-acquired infections!)
Might I suggest that you actually write down the scenarios you
are concerned about?
I don't have a list off hand, but I've seen one that lists such things as:
Baby not breathing
Baby not breathing and doesn't respond to first efforts
Baby not oxygenating well (blue)
Baby has a congenital visual defect, such as a cleft palate or hernia
Baby has a non-visual problem with an organ system
The usual procedures for serious issues take time. For
instance, heart surgery is usually performed several days after
birth. It makes no difference whether the child is kept
under oxygen at the hospital until then, or is kept under oxygen
at home, in the ambulance, and then at hospital. I
personally believe that a gentle birth *at term* is the best thing
for almost any infant with any problem at all.
It's got basic information for diagnosing and managing eclamptic seizures, antepartum bleeding, cord prolapse, twins, malpresentations, shoulder dystocia, postpartum hemorrhage, retained placenta and neonatal distress. It helped us to realize that there are simple, basic remedies to remedy these problems or to forestall disaster while on the way to the hospital. None of them required surgery.
You can order the book the Guide from
P.O. Box 41001
Eugene, OR 97404
It's a little pricey - $22, but I thought it was well worth it.
This is an oldie but a goodie:
Attachment or Loss within Marriage: The effect of the Medical
Model of Birthing on the Marital Bond Love
Moran, Marilyn A.
Vol. 6 (4), 1992, 265-280
This paper compares marriages of couples who gave birth at home
in a private, loving, intimate way with a group who delivered in
the hospital using the customary medical model of birth.
Significant differences were found between the groups at 4 and 12
months postpartum regarding the quality of the love relationship.
Homebirthers revealed far more compatibility in their marriages
than did their hospital-delivered counterparts.
'Em Where it Matters: Homebirthers Enjoy More Postpartum Sex
- Trying to convince your husband that homebirth is the way to go?
The promise of sex might change his mind. In this study,
"Attachment or Loss within Marriage: The effect of the Medical
Model of Birthing on the Marital Bond," a significant differences
between homebirthers and hospital birth couples were found at 4
and 12 months postpartum, with the nod going toward the
Many family members would be quite comfortable with your giving
birth at your local hospital with a family practice doctor, even
though it is less safe than homebirth. Here's an easy way to explain this to
family if you'd like to help them be more comfortable with
your homebirth choice.
HBAC FAQ - Q&A about Homebirth After
Cesarean - This was written specifically for VBAC, but a lot
of it applies quite nicely to homebirth without previous cesarean.
What if Your Homebirth Doesn't Happen at
to Criticism by Marianne Vakiener
Okay, all, I have a response when someone tells you, in response to hearing that you're planning, or have had, a home birth, "You're SO BRAVE!"
Say with confidence and just a touch of attitude: "Actually, I'm
well read, well informed and reasonably intelligent. Bravery has
nothing to do with it."
My family and friends are horrified that I'm planning a
homebirth. They ask, "What if baby stops breathing right
after the birth? or if it has trouble starting to breathe?"
People are so funny, sometimes. They forget that a hospital is simply a building. It is not a temple with some kind of magical power to remove risks and prevent all negative occurrences.
It happens that hospitals tend to be collection points for fancy equipment and people with very specialized training. A hospital is probably the best place for surgery, because those operating rooms are specially set up with good tables and lighting, and the facilities are optimized for minimizing the spread of germs into open surgical wounds.
So, if your baby needs immediate surgery upon birth, the hospital is the best place to be. This would be a very rare situation, and I've never actually heard of a baby taken into surgery at less than 24 hours of age, although you might hear about these sensational cases on TV. In particular, unless the problem was anticipated, it would take some time to assemble the specialized surgical team for a newborn.
So, your baby doesn't need to be at the hospital for immediate access to surgical facilities after the birth.
For most hospitals, the specialized equipment in the Neonatal Intensive Care Nursery simply provides a mechanical version of what midwives do by hand for Neonatal Resuscitation, which is to use a special oxygen bag and mask to "ventilate" the baby, i.e. move oxygen into and out of the lungs. That's all they do. They also have lots and lots of monitoring equipment, and long-term care programs for sick babies usually include the administration of antibiotics and/or narcotics to keep the babies from removing the ventilation devices.
A very few hospitals in the country have a very specialized machine called an ECMO, which oxygenates the baby's blood outside the baby's body. Otherwise, most hospitals don't have anything that's going to help a baby breathe better than a well-trained midwife with appropriate resuscitation equipment.
People who are truly concerned that their baby be born in a facility that has the most advanced equipment available will want to check with their local hospitals as to whether or not they have this rare piece of equipment. If you're comfortable with birthing at a community hospital with only standard hospital equipment, then you should be comfortable with the equipment present at a homebirth attended by a well-trained and well-equipped midwife.
One key exception is the issue of intubation, in which a small speculum is used to open up the baby's throat to pass a tube through the vocal cords and into the trachea, either for suctioning or long-term ventilation. When there is thick meconium that might be mechanically blocking the baby's airway, it might be appropriate to ensure that there is a properly trained person to do intubation. This is a very specialized skill that needs to be practiced regularly in order to be done without damaging the baby's throat, so most midwives do not do intubation. Again, it's possible that some smaller hospitals also might not also have staff on call who are properly skilled in intubation; this would be something to check on if you're counting on this at your local hospital.
Although it might be appropriate to transport to the hospital if that's the best place to connect with personnel who can intubate the baby at birth, it doesn't make sense to plan a hospital birth on the basis of this one factor, because the small increased risk of birthing in a place without intubation available is dwarfed by the enormous risk at the hospital of the baby's being exposed to an antibiotic-resistant or other hospital-acquired infection.
Others have already addressed the issue of all the hospital interventions that might cause breathing problems in the first place. In particular, the administration of IV narcotics to laboring women for pain relief is know to be a major risk factor for respiratory problems at birth.
So, now that you know all this, what's a response that other
people will really understand? I find that the infection
issue is one that people are starting to understand. You
could simply respond that there are risks in any place of birth
and that you'd rather take the lesser risks associated with
homebirth and avoid those nasty hospital-acquired infections that
kill 90,000 people every year in the U.S.
When I was thinking about a homebirth early in my pregnancy, I received a very negative reaction from my family and friends. I am now almost 30 weeks and finally have the full support of ALL of my family and friends.
I remember feeling sad like you do now and I actually gave in and was getting my prenatal care at the hospital clinic, intending n delivering there. Every time I went I knew it was wrong for me. I felt it in every cell of my body. I cried all the way home rom every appointment. All my instincts told me I was wrong but I kept going because I didn't want to upset my husband and family.
Eventually I realized that I was the one having this baby.
I started to trust my body and listened to what my heart and my
instincts were telling me. I decided that I was going to
have the birth that I wanted, and do what felt right for me and my
baby. took on each member of my family one at a time,
and let them tell me what it was that they were afraid of. I
then thoroughly researched and educated them so that they could
see their resistance to homebirth was based on their own fears and
ignorance of the subject.
Several posts recently have addressed what I find a very interesting question -- how to convince others that homebirth is better than hospital birth. I have elsewhere addressed the issue of how I went about telling friends and family about my own decision, but in many ways that's simple -- if they know and love me, eventually they will come to terms with it, one way or another.
The harder question for me is how can you talk to the people who tell you with such conviction that the medical interventions which WE all know to be dangerous and destructive "saved my life". An interventionist hospital experience is so potentially damaging -- who am I to try to destroy the conviction which has made that awful experience bearable for these women -- namely, that it "had to be done". Although I may wish that they educate themselves and take active responsibility for their choices and what happens to them, I also feel that they are heroes for coming through such trauma and torture relatively intact. Is it my right to demolish their coping mechanism? (And could I, if I tried?).
A related issue is how and how much should I try to convince friends and acquaintances who are first timers that homebirth is so much better, or at very least to educate and warn them so they will be better armed to resist the potential pitfalls of a hospital setting. I find myself at risk of becoming that which I generally despise, a proselytizer for a cause, a zealot seeking to make converts. I mean, on the one hand, the entire point of much of the rhetoric of the homebirth movement is that people should be able to make their OWN informed choices -- but to me, the choice is so OBVIOUS! I struggle to dampen my own enthusiasm, and tell people in detail about my own choices only when they actually ask. But sometimes I feel like I am just watching these poor innocent sheep going to the slaughter by not being more proactive -- not giving them unsolicited reprints of articles or books to read; not broaching the subject with them before they ask; not giving them the benefit of my own research and experience before they express an interest in it. Yet I know that doing these things could only serve to alienate, and that the very enthusiasm I feel is potentially off-putting ("what a nutter!").
How do others of you deal with this? Do you give advice
unsolicited? Do you feel guilty when you don't? Is this not a
problem for you?
From the POV of a woman who has chosen to have a homebirth, but has not yet delivered and is still gathering information and learning, this is even a more difficult "argument" to stand up for (homebirth is better). I don't have personal experience or a wealth of memorized knowledge to draw on in an argument.
For now, my standpoint with friends is going to be, "We've done a lot of reading, talking to others with experience, and considering, and we feel it's the best choice for us." I know that it is safe to have a baby at home. I know there are statistics to support that, but I don't want to start spouting them off. Sure I also know there are risks, but I'm not going to get into debating those risks, because there are also risks in hospital births but I don't even want to open THAT can of worms when I already have so many issues in the air right now.
For me, defending a position has always felt like a losing battle. That's because once I take a defensive position on an issue, well, I'm conceding that I'm fighting off an attack, not asserting my own opinions proactively.
I guess I'm seeking not to CONVINCE others at this point in my
journey. For now I'll be satisfied and pleased to have the trust
of my friends that I have made an educated decision, and that I'm
not doing an idiotic thing by choosing to be educated in a way
they consider "outrageous." We shall see how successful I am in
obtaining that respect...
I, for one, bring up the homebirth subject with every pregnant woman, thinking about being pregnant woman, and men who support those women. I let them know that homebirth is THE way to go for most people and that it is definitely worth their while to consider the possibility. I certainly don't push the issue, and if someone says that they feel a lot more comfortable in the "safety" of the hospital, I politely tell them that homebirth is very safe, etc, but definitely give them their space.
I feel that by at least mentioning it, it gets into their brains
and then maybe they rethink things the second time around, or turn
someone else on to it.
I have, in the past, found myself in the zealot position and not liking it.
Usually if people are saying the standard "what if's" I just say that I am doing what's best for me and my family, smile, and leave it at that. Or I say "you know, I'm having a very good midwife there with me." Sometimes I might add "many of the problems that occur in the hospital are caused by the unnecessary routines they foist upon laboring women."
The way I usually handle it if someone tells me "my baby would have died had I not been in a hospital ..." and then seriously questions my character for not submitting to a hospital birth is to say "With my first birth my daughter's head was tilted and my os was swollen. I would have had a c-section had I not been at home, and sections carry a much greater risk of both mother and baby dying." Then I usually say "wow, your baby had decels during a NATURAL labor? There were not interventions up to that point? That's so rare." You can imagine the rest ... "oh. Did you know that epidurals often cause the mother's bp to drop and that's believed to make a lot of baby's go into distress? At home we don't have epis to cause such problems." I know it's a little self-righteous, but I that's usually been my gut reaction. (If they just tell their story but don't have a judgmental tone I usually don't rip into my rap.)
I've had one person really push the issue, and I told her straight-up that she was brainwashed, and that she ought to educate herself, and that her husband could get dozens of journal studies for her if she wanted to know that truth. (This was a woman in her late 50's, and husband is an md and research scientist who invents drugs.) I also told her about my baby's asynclitic presentation and I got really gory about what would have happened instead of my body being allowed to do what it's designed to do.
Of course, this fits my personality. It's not for everyone. It
might not even be the best way to approach it, but you asked what
we do. So there you have it.
These discussion did pop up in my mind during labor. They haunted me because I was not only planning a natural childbirth attended by the midwife for my family but also to PROVE the others wrong. A 18 months later, I realize that I took a lot of anxiety and pride to my labor. I believe it affected my labor adversely.
Please surround yourself with positive people and consider making
some boundaries about listening to others who are not
well-educated in homebirth options. Even if the statistics showed
that not one baby ever died at home - you will not convince these
people!! In some countries, women do not have to deal with these
horror stories or defend themselves at all.
I had suggested that you might consider setting boundaries with your acquaintances who lack a positive attitude or knowledge about homebirth. It certainly is important for you to be aware of the benefits and the risks (realistic) but is your friend the one to do this?. You may already have this information through reading, classes, your midwife and others who had homebirths. If so, then you are not gaining anything by entertaining anti-birth friend's ideas or getting into a debate. If you do not understand the risks and benefits then you need to find someone knowledgeable to provide this information to you.
Yes, my birth was affected by listening to the negative comments despite the fact that I had a tremendously strong network of friends who birthed normally and at home. I did not set boundaries unfortunately before my birth (failure to progress - a homebirth midwife was a bit medically oriented). There was nothing physiologically to do with this - it was my mind over labor (just like the title of the book!)
Guess what happened. You would think that my anti-homebirth friend would no longer be much of an issue once the baby was born ( she didn't even know about my transfer so she thought I was successful). This is what happens next. Since it is not homebirth that is the real issue, you will find that the challenging personality will continue for things like breastfeeding and parenting.
I finally set clear boundaries and I wish I had earlier because I saw my confidence being shaken about things I was doing WITH great confidence. It became obvious that the negative can outweight the positive even if the negative is in small amounts. My boundaries would have prevented her getting to my "weak" sides in birth. I set boundaries when I saw she was also getting to my vulnerable side as a mother. I knew my husband and I were doing what was right for my baby. For breastfeeding, a friend like that plus a misinformed pediatrician with a inaccurate breastfeeding comment may be just the right combination to interfere with the breastfeeding relationship. Your friend and mine, along with a culture of biased hospital based births could be just the right combination to interfere with the mental /subconscious parts of birth (others on this list have stated that as high as 90%). Lets face it, birth is unique and is does not have 100% guarantee. Anti-homebirth individuals may have more influence then we would like to admit on our attitudes regardless of our resolve.
Control is often the problem with friends like yours and mine. It is not about birth. If you have chosen homebirth like we have, then that reflects your parenting, too. You will probably breastfeed and you will probably respond to the needs of your baby as we had others respond to our needs for privacy, support etc. during our births. A controlling person may not be able to "let go to the forces of the body" and imagine a homebirth any easier than feeding a baby on demand (they are schedulers). Your values are likely very different from your friend. These values are what make you feel good about the very homebirth your friend opposes. These values will shape your mothering and may not be respected by your friend. Friends do not try to convince you to change something you really believe in.
My "friend" is now just a neighbor. I told her that I overlooked
our differences in birthing and focused on what we had in common.
My boundary was that I was willing to continue the friendship is
she did the same for me. She felt that she needed to be
controlling and change me. For her to respect my opinions and go
on doing things her own way would have been admitting that maybe
she was doing something "wrong" ( a scheduled c-section around
Christmas company, scheduled feedings, making baby cry it out in
the crib). Others can plan birth in hospital but that doesn't make
me defensive about the desire to plan homebirth, breastfeeding and
sharing a bed (the statistics and our ancestral history fuels my
confidence). I was not a role model to her for natural birth as I
am for others. We do not spend time together anymore and I am a
healthier person for it.
See also: Health Insurance
Plans - Getting Payment
You might do best to get the least expensive catastrophic insurance coverage for maternity care and then plan on paying out of pocket for a homebirth since it will cost less than the hospital birth the insurance company assumes you're planning on.
Sometimes the newer, less experienced midwives charge less, or
your community may have a religious practitioner who works on a
for Dealing with Your Health Insurance Company
My husband wasn't very supportive of a homebirth because it
wasn't covered as well as a hospital birth would have been.
If we had researched the issue, we would have realized that having
to pay 30% of $3500 for a homebirth would still cost less than
paying 10% of the hospital birth costs.
My husband made an angry remark the other day about wishing he
hadn't been so tightfisted about paying out of pocket for a
homebirth. Our sex life hasn't been so great since the
I think that the cost of homebirth in the USA varies. Ours cost $1,900. This included the prenatals and a visit or a call most everyday after the baby was born for at least a week. I heard recently of a couple, who thought they had "good" insurance, who, when their supposedly cheaper hospital birth was over paid $2,500 out of pocket for their cesarean section. I doubt that included prenatals.
The price can seem expensive, but how can you put a price on the value of such a quality experience. My homebirth changed my life; empowered me. I am no longer afraid of birth. I view my body in a positive way now. I am much more confident about my womanhood. I came away with so much more then a wonderful healthy and happy baby.
If it was me making the decision, I would go for the homebirth,
even if insurance didn't cover it. I would find some way to raise
I've heard other parents say that they didn't think about
homebirth because they were told it might not be covered by their
insurance and they didn't want to end up paying for something they
could have "for free" or mostly subsidized by insurance.
Unfortunately, they don't realize that there's no way they'll be
able to have a homebirth experience in the hospital. I guess
it's a little like people saying they don't want to have a big,
fancy wedding party when they could get the same thing for
next-to-nothing by getting married by a Justice of the Peace or a
judge at the courthouse. Obviously, they're completely
different experiences which will leave vastly different memories.
Negotiating for Health Insurance
See also: Miscellaneous
Emotional Issues - Siblings at Birth
See also: Resources for Children
See also: Siblings Adjusting to New Baby
Mama, Talk About When Max Was Born by Toni Olson - A water birth book for children!
Birth from Mothering
Sibling Preparation for Birth
Siblings At a Homebirth - A Parents'
story with photos that shows how a two-year-old can
participate and really enjoy a sibling's birth.
In my experience, children (esp ones 4 and over) simply watch the midwives and watch the Dad and take their cues from that. If midwives and Dad seem to think this is a perfectly reasonable event (Mom making noise, pacing, sweating, turning strange colours) then the children just sail along with it, too. Usually , even the most dedicated, self-sacrificing mothers can not stand the sound of their little darling's voice at 8 cm and that is a very good sign that the baby will be born in the next 1/2 hour.
I well remember my 4 1/2 y.o.daughter saying "Mommy, where's my little blue sock with the white frills" and me spitting out between clenched teeth "Go get your Father!" That little voice that I normally adored sounded like a chain saw in my brain at 9 cms dilation.
I believe that children at births will create a whole generation
of kids who understand the simplicity of birth. I had a
client from Holland who described her experience of her Mom's
homebirth in very kinesthetic terms. "I remember the midwife
smelled very nice. She brought me into the room when my Mom
was ready to show me the new baby and my Mom was sitting in the
bed propped up on pillows and she looked like a Queen. After
the midwife took me out for an ice cream." It's
interesting that, even in a country like Canada with homebirth
largely stamped out, this woman would seek out midwifery/homebirth
care and carry on the customs of her homeland.
Another thing about siblings at birth: often the mother
chooses a child care adult but, then, that adult gets off their
job of caregiver for the child and wants to be a helper/spectator
at the birth. It's hard to find someone who can really stay
focused on making things wonderful for an older sibling. The
temptation is to keep chucking cookies and candies at the older
child to keep them quiet (momentarily). Then, at the birth
and immediately after you have a sugared-out cranky beasty. I've
learned to really go over the role clearly at the prenatal home
visit. I ask the mother to make a list of protein rich foods
her child will eat and make sure the caregiver is aware that
buying the child off with junk food will undermine the beautiful
experience that the family has planned.
I just realized that I didn't mention that my older son was in attendance at the birth of my newborn. I can't believe I forgot to mention that, because it was part of what made it such a family event.
He was nearly four at the time (two months shy). He was
involved in many aspects of the prenatal care: always came to
midwife with me, listened to the baby's heart, helped measure
etc. And on the day of the birth, his job was to announce it
the baby was a boy or a girl (got to look and figure it out
himself!!!) Immediately after the baby was born, he started
to say over and over (and over and over!) "I like him! I like
him!". I wouldn't have had it any other way!
Our oldest was one month shy of three when his baby brother was born. He was in and out of the room throughout labor, but by the time of the birth was sleeping (3:27 a.m.), so my husband immediately went and got him and brought him in. I will never forget the look of awe and wonder on his face as he took in the scene: Mama fresh from pushing, sweaty and red holding a goopy, red and squawking baby on her naked tummy/breast. It was priceless. He had always gone to prenatals with me too and we had read books and watched videos with him to prepare him.
My 5-year-old is very excited. I promised him that IF he happened to be sleeping when it was time for the baby to be born one of his grandparents would come in and wake him and tell him his new sibling was about to come out and would he like to come watch and tell everyone whether it is a brother or sister. He says he doesn't want to cut the cord, but we're just going to play it by ear at the time and see what he wants to be involved in and go from there.
My younger boy, who is two months shy of three for this baby's birth, has seen the videos and knows Mama's going to push a baby out and that it is hard work, etc., but it is hard to say how he will interact. If he's sleeping, we will also give him the opportunity to wake up and come watch the baby be born, but if he doesn't wake easily, we will just wait and Daddy will wake him after the birth and bring him in.
Honestly, I'm really hoping they will both be awake and witness the birth. I think it will be powerful and bonding for them to see it happen and relate to that.
We have tried to be very open and reassuring with them to prepare
them for all that will be happening, and we plan to have at least
grandma with them/in charge of them during labor etc.
When we could actually see a little of the head I told him to get
up and look and when he did, he stayed by the bed the rest of the
time. He loves his new brother sooooo much and he's so kind,
gentle, and loving to him.( I know he's quite a bit older than
yours and probably passed the age of sibling rivalry.) He also
seems to have more respect for me actually. I don't think seeing
our birth affected him negatively at all; I think it was totally
We have noticed this about our three year old who watched his
sister being born. He loves his little sister sooooo much too. It
is really sweet.
Our two children ages 5 1/2 and 2 1/2 attended our recent homebirth. They have very positive feelings about the birth and their new sibling. I couldn't be happier with the way they have bonded with him!
To prepare them for the big event, I rented a movie from our local library that portrays a homebirth, birthing center birth and hospital birth. When our daughter saw the first baby being born she was so thrilled she wanted me to stop it and rewind it. I had to assure her that if she could wait patiently, she would soon see the other mommies having their babies ;-) I also read them books about childbirth and showed them pictures of what the baby looked like in the womb at the different stages.
My husband had made many of the same comments that you have mentioned. I read him everything from the web I could find, testimonies from e-mail that related, books, magazines, etc. It did not come easily and the money was always an issue considering that if I would have chosen a birthing center or hospital birth, our insurance would have covered it in full. We had to pay for the homebirth out of pocket, but there is still a slight chance that we'll get reimbursed.
It was a wonderful experience for all of us.
My son was 16 months and was right there when his sister was
born. I don't think he actually watched. He had just
woken up and was looking the other way, but the aftermath didn't
seem to bother him a bit.
My four-year-old was very well informed and really into the birth
of his sister.
My daughter had just turned 2 when my second was born. I
was very casual about whether I wanted her with me or not.
In the end, she was with me for part of my labor, down the hall
with my husband pretending to push babies out when the baby was
born, and back in the birth room less than a second after baby was
born (it was too irritating to have her with me after a certain
point in labor -- I couldn't concentrate). I don't think she
had any issue with the blood as she didn't know what it was at
that time. My husband explained my pushing sounds to her by
demonstrating the kinds of sounds one might make when pushing a
heavy piece of furniture.
My mom was there to look after my 2-year-old daughter when I gave birth at home. She was in and out as i was in labour, imitating me on hands and knees doing pelvis rocks, swaying, etc., eating popsicles with me, bringing me her bath toys to play with when i was in the tub, etc. She only worried a little when i was in transition, since my moans were higher pitched. We explained mommy was 'roaring like a lion' and asked her if she wanted to roar too, but she didn't.
She was fine during the birth, and one of my most treasured memories from that day is her little squeal "oh i love her so much! can i kiss her?" the moment she was born. She was *so* fascinated by the placenta, the 'baby's house', and examined it in great detail with our student midwife who explained it. She didn't like it when i latched the new baby on to the breast, despite not nursing since she was 7 months old, defiantly saying "that's mine!" So i let her latch on whenever she would ask, but she only suckled for a second or two and soon stopped asking altogether.
The only preparation we did was watch 'a baby story' together, and more graphic birth videos i borrowed from our midwifery office lending library.
She now routinely has a baby in her tummy that likes to come out
whenever i change her - 'my baby is coming. can you see the
head? baby is coming out my bagina'.
There are at least a couple of books about siblings at
birth: Children at Birth by Marjie and Jay Hathaway, and Birth
- Through Children's Eyes by Sandra VanDam Anderson and
has lots of great homebirth books for siblings: it's got Waiting
for the Sun, Runa's Birth, All the Places to Love and Welcome with
Love. It's so nice to have them all in one place!
Can anyone suggest books for children that feature homebirths? We
are preparing for a new baby and tired of reading "when mom came
home from the hospital..."
There's a beautiful European book that has just been printed in
an English edition - Runa's
Check out Mom and Dad and I are Having a Baby by Maryanne
Malecki. This is very nice and my kids loved it. I also have
one called Gabriel’s Very First Birthday but it may no longer be
in print. I think that if you check the Birth and Life Bookstore,
ICEA bookstore or such you should have no problem finding books of
Try "All the Places to Love" by Patricia MacLachlan. It's a
lovely book and readily available. This book brings tears to
my eyes everytime I read it to my toddler, and in the end he
always hugs me and my bulging belly.
Welcome with Love by Jenni Overend (originally available as Hello, Baby)
It is the story of a family getting ready for the homebirth of their newest child. I guess when the babys head emerges, the little child looks down and says "hello baby".
It seems very sweet to me.
Being Born by Sheila Kitzinger
Inside? by Jeanne Ashbe - 'If you are seeking a very
easy book for toddlers expecting a new sibling, this is it.'
It also depends on the time of the day. We had a very pleasant
birth with a kindergartener who came from school and was hanging
in the room watching videos while mom was laboring. I also
remember a very upset child who was woken up and "forced" to give
mama a hug to help her labor... did not help anybody :-(
The key is too watch a bunch of birth videos and observe the child's reaction to them, and not make any definite plans, but go with the flow and see if the labor circumstances seems like a good set-up for child participation.
Home Birth Announcements from creations-heart.com.
They also have Delivered
Midwife cards, although I quibble with the use of
"delivered" when the mother's doing the delivering.
announcements, plaques, personalized blankets from
Home Birth /
Attachment Parenting Baby Book from Blue Sky Mama
How about these announcements:
Happy & Warm...
We're proud to announce the arrival of a new family member ...
(I got this out of Tine Thevenins book "The Family Bed")
The home we first knew on this beautiful earth,
The friends of our childhood, the place of our birth,
In the hearts inner chamber sung always will be,
As the shell ever sings of its home in the sea.
Francis Dana Cage, Home
(add your own...) We are happy to announce the arrival of....
On our birth announcements we wrote:
Our precious <baby's name> was born in
our living room in the quiet
morning hours. Only her
parents were there to greet
her! The other children were
asleep upstairs. It was a beautiful
On the opposite page was all the normal birth announcement info.
We did our own bith announcements and included the wording..."born at home, naturally!" We also did a "theme" announcement like A Star is Born with mom as producer, dad as director, and named the midwives and childbirth assistants as the "supporting cast"
Many people did not know we were having a homebirth, and this was
a great way to brag about it.
There's a list to discuss postpartum issues of concern to mom, caring for your home birthed baby, breastfeeding, natural parenting issues and alternative healthcare, among other topics. If you are interested and would like to subscribe, please send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org and in the body of the message, type SUBSCRIBE.
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