Homebirth Gives Mothers Freedom to Create Their Own Birth Experience

Picture two different mothers in labor. One is confined to a hospital bed, forced to be checked internally on a regular basis, hooked up to IV’s and monitors, an oxygen mask on her face, and kept from family and friends. The second mother is sitting at her kitchen table, playing cards with her family, pausing to breathe through contractions, and eating a ham sandwich. Which woman would you rather be?

More mothers are making the choice to birth their children in the comfort of their own home.

Lauren Cooper, (Syracuse chapter of ICAN International Cesarean Awareness Network), gave birth to her third child, Brayden, at home. This birth was a miracle for the family, after Lauren was forced to have c-sections with her first two children, and was deceived by the hospital staff leading up to the second surgery. Lauren was told that her body was not capable of delivering a baby vaginally. Brayden was born with his hands by his face, to a mom who had something to prove. Lauren attributes her ability to safely birth her son to the homebirth environment. Think about it- In the hospital, they don’t ever give you a chance to relax and let your body do its thing. They poke and prod and force you to lay in certain positions even if you are not comfortable. They increase the risk of infections with numerous internal exams. They expect you to have the energy to push a baby out after 20 hours of labor when all you’ve ingested the whole time is a few tablespoons of water in the form of ice chips.

Later, Lauren told the story of Brayden’s birth. She reflected that being in a comfortable environment and having the freedom to move around wherever she wanted, and even spending time in the shower, helped her to relax and allow the contractions to move her son through the birth canal. It's amazing the difference when a mother is made to feel like she has control over her birth experience- eating what she wants, setting lights and music to her liking. Lauren did not have any of these luxuries, or any sense of control, in her previous hospital labors.

Homebirth gives mothers the ability to ensure that their labor, and the birth of their child, happens in the most natural way possible. Homebirth does not negate the need for good prenatal care. It also does not mean that parents should deliver their own babies. Unassisted deliveries, called freebirthing, are different from most homebirth in that there is no doctor or midwife present to assist in the delivery. This process can be much riskier and requires a much higher level of training and education for the parents.

For mothers who chose to have a homebirth, there are a few of Lauren's tips to help make the process the most enjoyable, satisfying, and safe experience possible:
• Become educated as much as possible about the natural process. The more you know, the more comfortable you'll be with what's to come, and the more confident you'll be in your body's abilities.
• Surround yourself with nothing but positive support. Wave away the nay-sayers, and dismiss anyone that makes you feel uncomfortable. Birth is a private process, and too many people involved, and unfamiliar settings with excess noise and bright lights can impair our abilities and disrupt the natural process.
• Choose the setting that is most likely to ensure that your wishes will be respected and that you and your baby will be given the safe, evidence based care you deserve. 'You can go to McDonalds and order steak, but it's just not on the menu!' meaning: if you choose a doctor and a hospital with high intervention rates, you can go in there and ask for support for a natural birth until you're blue in the face, but it's just not on going to happen.
• Learn your care provider's intervention statistics, and shop around. Interview a number of care providers and keep your options open until you find the support team and care providers that truly fit you.
• Hire a doula. A doula can be wonderful support, encouragement, and reassurance during labor for both mom and dad.
• Have a variety of coping techniques in mind. Different things may or may not work for you during labor, and you won't know what will work for you until the time comes. Be armed and prepared with lots of different ideas and techniques for coping. Some ways to work through contractions are (but not limited to): Tub/Shower, Breathing, Focusing, Massage, Accupressure, Music, Birth Ball, Birth Stool, Walking, Squatting, Swaying "Slow Dancing", Sitting on the toilet, Affirmations, Prayer, Hypnobirthing, Moaning or vocalizing, and/or Visualizations.
• Don't make pain relief an option. Don't say, "I'm going to try, but we'll see if it gets too bad." Simply say "I will have a natural birth, this is what I was made to do." Believe it, because you can do it, and you will!
• Journal. Write down your fears. Research those fears: how often do they truly occur, how to avoid them/minimize the risk, how to handle the situation if that problem occurs. . . While sometimes things that happen in labor have no cause or cannot be prevented, being prepared for the possibility and knowing what to expect, how to handle it, and how to minimize the chances of it will help you maintain a sense of some control should it happen, which can be comforting leading up to birth as well.

Remember, woman’s bodies are designed to give birth. Women have been doing this for all of existence. We don't need anyone to teach us how to do this, we need to simply follow our instincts. Modern medicine can save lives, but these interventions are extremely overused. It is best to have a supportive care provider who will intervene only if absolutely necessary, and someone who will discuss with you what your choices are and what the risks and benefits are to each risk, and who will respect your decisions. We all deserve a beautiful birth, and our babies deserve to be born in a safe, positive environment without being drugged or put in danger's way unnecessarily.
(Thank you Lauren!!!!!!!!)

Expectant mothers who are interested in homebirth should begin educating themselves about the process. Don’t be discouraged if friends and family, or even your obstetrician, are not supportive right away. Contact a local midwife and ask questions. In NY, the local HONEY (Homebirthers of New York) chapter is a great place to get information about local midwives and homebirth.

Slideshow with permission from of ICAN of Syracuse, and Lauren Cooper (That's Lauren and Brayden below :D )


Princess Chelsea said...

what a great post! i loved reading it all. If i am ever blessed with another pregnancy and birth i would do things a lot different.
i would love to labor more at home and use water to help labor and pain.
Great info, thx again!