My husband and I recently gave birth to our first child(well, I did all the hard work during labor) and I wanted to share a little bit of the story behind why we chose to have our baby at home with a team of midwives.
In 2014, while enrolled in graduate studies, I chose to take an elective course about the impact of birth and early experiences on childhood development. One of the books I came across was called The Secret Life of Babies(by Mia Kalef). The book was incredibly interesting and presented a thoughtful reflection on the development of consciousness and physical development in the womb. The author presented research that suggests medical interventions during birth–like forceps–can negatively impact growth and development across the lifespan. My experiences in the course led me to start exploring prenatal and perinatal psychology, and after devouring a few more books, I knew that when I decided to have children, I wanted to do my best to make sure their earliest experiences were healthy, nurturing and natural. However children seemed very far off in the future, and I tucked all my books and research away to move on to other things.
Fast forward 2 years and I found myself pregnant, sitting in my doctors office while he advised me that any 1 of 12 obstetricans on rotation at the hospital would deliver my baby. My husband and I left the appointment feeling anxious and more than a little perturbed by the swift and dismissive nature of our Dr. Becoming parents was already an overwhelming prospect, and our Dr was simply not interested in spending time answering our questions and guiding us to resources. The hospital didn’t seem like the best place for a natural, low-risk birth. I was concerned about unnecessary interventions and we both wanted a caregiver who would be with us through the entire journey. Suddenly I recalled all that research I’d done on pre and perinatal experiences and I turned to my husband and told him I was going to find a midwife! He’d never heard of midwives before, so we had a steep learning curve together. We dove into research together and learned quite a lot about midwifery and birth.
In most cases, birth is a natural, normal and healthy process. Women with low-risk pregnancies have the ability to give birth without intervention. There is a lot of research that shows that fewer interventions in pregnancy and birth lead to healthier physical and mental outcomes for mom and baby.
We choose midwifery because it felt safer, more natural and more human. My prenatal visits with my midwife could last up to an entire hour as all my questions and concerns were explored in detail. Contrast this to visits with my MD: 5-10 minutes of brusque questioning, short answers to our own questions and the most useful information he gave us was to ‘not eat sushi’. Our midwives counselled us on nutrition, supplements and exercise. They talked us through what labor looked like, provided access to great learning resources, addressed our emotional and physical concerns, no matter how many times we asked the same questions. We have been able to get to know the midwives, to become comfortable with them. We worked with a team of two midwives, with years of experience and qualifications behind them–and they had something else my Dr didn’t have–they had both given birth before! Their lived and learned experience made both myself and my husband feel safe, supported and confident in our ability to begin a family.
Childbirth is an incredibly vulnerable moment for a woman–being in the comfort of home surrounded by people I trusted sounded much better than being in a hospital with strangers coming in and out of the room.
We chose to have a homebirth so that we could have choices. At home, I would be able to labor at my own pace, to be able to move around the room, to labor in the shower or in the bed as felt best. I would have excellent medical care provided by my midwives, and I would have the privacy of being at home. I would be able to minimize interventions and be able to eat and drink as needed to keep my energy levels up. I would be able to help my baby have positive early experiences that will help him develop and grow in healthier patterns.
We chose to have a homebirth to lower stress levels by keeping birth intimate, private and in a place that felt safe. Choosing a homebirth meant labor could progress on our timeline, without hospital staff pressure to progress according to their timeline. (Hospital timelines often lead to more interventions than are needed).
We chose to have a homebirth because we wanted to give our baby boy a peaceful and natural introduction to this wide and wonderful world, while feeling safe and supported.
And look to my next post for our birth story!