Although I will happily attend births in hospitals, I certainly enjoy being witness to the magic of a home birth.
When I work with clients who wish to birth at home with their Midwives I usually spend time helping families prepare in advance for this event. One of our sessions will be spent organizing what is needed in the home for the upcoming birth. We will discuss what props/supports you may want, whether you will be renting a pool, and prepare the necessary household items to have on hand. We will also talk about who will be present at the birth and what their roles will be.
What does a home birth look like?
For people that are unfamiliar with the idea, it can seem quite far-fetched that having a baby in the privacy of your own home is even possible. You may ask. is it safe? What are the risks? Who is involved? Well, let me tell you!
Primarily, in Canada, midwives are the only health care providers trained and licensed to offer home birth services. They have extensive training and are qualified to handle any emergencies that may arise during a birth. Midwives continually re-certify in Emergency Skills, Neonatal Resuscitation, and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).
A study that took place between 2000 to 2004 in British Columbia, Canada compared the outcomes of planned home births attended by midwives with those of planned hospital births attended by midwives or physicians. The outcome of the study showed that the rate of perinatal death per 1000 births was 0.35 in the group of planned home births; which was fewer then the group of planned hospital births which was 0.57 among women attended by a midwife and 0.64 among those attended by a physician. Women in the planned home-birth group were also significantly less likely than those who planned a midwife-attended hospital birth to have obstetric interventions.
Another argument that is widely utilized by home birth enthusiasts and is concisely put by Dr. Sarah Buckley is that the “lack of disturbance associated with giving birth at home allows the full expression of the labouring woman’s “ecstatic hormones”. These four critical hormone systems — oxytocin, beta-endorphins, epinephrine/norepinephrine and prolactin — act to enhance ease, pleasure and safety for mother and baby in labour and birth, and give mothers and newborns an optimal start to breastfeeding and bonding. Successful breastfeeding (which is more likely after homebirth) and mother-infant attachment give irreplaceable and life-long health advantages to both mother and baby”.
In a home birth you have the choice to move freely about your own safe space. Some women choose to keep busy in the early stages of labor, by baking a cake (a “groaning cake”) or cooking or preparing their space in whatever way it takes to slightly distract from the sensations coming on. You have access to your bathtub or shower, or your bed or living room floor. Many families rent birth pools to set up in their living space. You have the people in your home that you want there. Whether it’s your whole family or simply your partner, midwife and doula.
As long as you are a healthy low risk individual, and you have a midwife that you are working with, the risks are very low. Remember, women have been birthing with midwives or in the company of mothers and other women for millennia.
Let me know if you have questions!
Sadie is an amazing, compassionate and very knowledgeable doula! Throughout my home birth Sadie encouraged me to dance, move and work with my body and my baby. When my daughter‘s Head was tilted Funny during labour Sadie knew just what to do to get her in the right position. During my postpartum period she was a wonderful help bringing me tea and snacks when I needed it and listened to my exhausted, ecstatic, hormonal mind rant and rejoice. I would highly recommend Sadie as a doula!! -Marika Hall
Sadie was our doula for our first baby and she was terrific. She has a beautiful energy and lots of ideas, not to mention knowledge! She really knows her stuff. She made helpful suggestions both during pregnancy and labour, but didn't push anything if I didn't feel comfortable. She was there to support me no matter what, not push any kind of agenda or opinion.
Our labour was long and I was so grateful to have her on our team - she was helpful and resourceful and cheerful and supportive. She danced with us to help labour progress, walked up and down the halls a million times, spelled my partner off so he could go outside or just take a break to clear his head, and was right there holding my leg when it came time to push. I felt surrounded by care with her and my partner on either side of me - I think i would have felt much more fearful without her.
As helpful as she was to me, she may have been even more helpful to my partner - she helped him to see where he could fit in to the whole process, relieved his fears and gave him breaks to take care of himself. He had this to say about her "she was so cool and easy to get along with. She really met us where we were at and instilled confidence in the process. She was calm and helped me feel empowered at the hospital when I was unsure how to help. I was initially skeptical about hiring a doula, but I was absolutely grateful she was there." -Jessamy