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Deciding to Have a Home Birth

Jul 25, 2014

More and more women are going back to the basics and choosing home births over having their babies in a hospital. There are many reasons that someone might choose to give birth at home, and its important to consider your own unique circumstances before deciding whether a home birth would work for you. You should also consult your current health care provider in case there are specific reasons that a home birth may not work for you.

Benefits of a Having Home Birth

Comfort — One major benefit of having your baby at home is the comfort factor. Many women simply feel more at ease in the familiarity of their own home. You may like the idea of being able to lie in your own bed with your favorite pillows and blankets.

Freedom — Home births allow for a level of freedom that cannot be achieved in a hospital setting. While most labor and delivery units try to be as accommodating to a mother’s wishes as possible, there are limitations to what you can do there during childbirth. At home you can eat and drink if you want to, or move to different locations within the house. You can also adjust music, lighting, and temperature as you see fit.

Intimacy — At home, you can control who is present during your childbirth. Some women prefer to have only their partner and health care providers there, while others enjoy being able to have friends and/or family present. It’s comforting for some mothers to be able to have their other children attend the birth. For some, home birthing simply feels more personal. At a home birth, baby is given initial checks (height, weight, APGAR) and then given right back to the mother.  This practice promotes bonding and encourages breastfeeding.

Calm — For some women, the hospital delivery room is simply too chaotic. Having people coming and going, listening to the beeps and buzzes of various machines, and hearing the background noises of a hospital can be nerve-wracking. The home environment can be more closely controlled. You can dim the lights, light candles, sing songs, or do whatever helps to reduce your stress levels.

Cost — Since there are fewer staff and less equipment involved, a home birth typically costs far less than a hospital birth. A hospital stay alone can cost thousands of dollars above and beyond any delivery-related charges.

You can talk to a midwife or physician about creating a home birth plan that works for you. Certified midwife Naomi Hannah says that it’s imperative for parents to meet certain requirements in order to have a safe and orderly home birth experience.

Who Shouldn’t Have a Home Birth

While it’s a perfect choice for some, home births are certainly not for everybody. Consider the following before making your final decision.

Access to Medical Care — If complications do arise during a home birth, you won’t have immediate access to specialized medical equipment and care. This is why it’s important to have a backup plan in place that includes rapid transfer to a hospital if the need presents itself.

No Special Care for High Risk High-risk pregnancies carry an increased likelihood that intervention measures, like emergency C-sections, will be needed. They may also require the use of particular equipment and expertise. Home births are not ideal if you are diabetic, suffering from preeclampsia or anemia or have had preterm labor before. Additionally, women who are pregnant with multiples are generally advised against home births.

Uncomfortable With the Idea — How smoothly your labor will go can depend largely on how stressed you are. If the idea of giving birth somewhere other than a hospital causes you to feel anxious or nervous, don’t force yourself into it.

The bottom line is that you need to consider your own unique circumstances in deciding whether home birth is the right choice for you. Actress Ricki Lake chose to have a home birth and experienced many benefits from that choice. If you have a low-risk pregnancy, there is no reason why you can’t also choose to have your baby at home under the care of a certified midwife or doctor.


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My wife had a home birth and she said it felt much more relaxing and comfortable for her.

I thought about having a home birth but decided I would feel more comfortable in a hospital.

It's definitely not for everyone. You have to see what goes with your personality and your birth plan.

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