Sunday, February 20, 2011

33 Weeks and the Top 5 Reasons I'm Having a Homebirth with a Midwife

Hello greenies, I’ve had a bit of a rough week as I battled a cold that I mentioned last week in this post. But after trying a few homeopathic meds, and eventually some Robitussin DM as prescribed by my midwife to ease the coughing that was causing me a lot of rib pain, I am feeling much better now. My workouts took a bit of a hit this week, but I thought it was better not to push it and let my body recover. Let's just say I did a lot of yoga and napping this week. Here I am at 33 weeks and growing! Avery has been moving a lot lately, and although the sciatic hip pain still lingers around from time to time, I’ll take it over being sick any day! Also, check out this funny pic we tried below it shows just how far out my belly has been sticking out out for this belly coming through!

33 weeks
Starting to really
stick out now...
Onto way more fun baby stuff! Let me tell you about the homebirth I’m planning and preparing for with my midwife. This may seem a bit out of the norm for most people, but after a lot of research and thought, Brandon and I are confident that is the best way for us to bring our baby girl into the world. Also, since less than 1% of all births in the United States take place at home, I guess it’s pretty fitting to me, because I like to do my own thing…however different that may be! I’ll get to more specifics of how this will look later, but here’s the basics of how it will go down: I go into to labor, I stay at home, my midwife and a birth assistant come to my house, Baby Avery is born, midwife and birth assistant leave, then we relax and enjoy our time with our new little baby.

Now since home birthing is such a unique way to have a baby, let me fill you in on the nuts and bolts of how it works. The first and most important step of turning my homebirth dream into a reality was to hire a midwife. Midwives view pregnancy and birth as a normal process of life, not as though there is something wrong with you that they need to “fix”. They simply support and monitor women during their pregnancy, labors, and births among other things! Our midwife’s name is Lisa and here is a link to her website. Now although there are midwives in hospitals and birthing centers, my drive to have a homebirth was pretty strong, so I made sure to find a midwife who does homebirths. Although I could write a whole post on why I chose a midwife over an obstetrician, one of my favorite features is that she comes to our house for all our prenatal visits.

During a prenatal visit with my midwife.
There's a pic from my most recent prenatal appointment, which took place on the couch in my living room. Usually we spend the first 30 to 40 minutes of our appointment chatting, and then it's time to check on Baby Avery! Here's my dogs watching as Lisa feels to find where Avery is positioned in my uterus. You can see two more pics below of her showing me how to feel where Avery is (this is usually followed by showing Brandon how to feel where she's at, but I didn't get a pic of that because he was my photographer for this appointment), and then there's another pic below of Lisa checking Avery's heartbeat using a handheld Doppler. The total fee for her services (including prenatal appointments, birth support, and postnatal visits) is $2,800 and although that may sound like a lot, I feel it is a well-worth it price to pay in order to have the birth I’ve dreamed of without the hassle of “fighting the system” at the hospital.

When you think of the word midwife some people have this image of some old lady coming to a birth with a towel and a bunch of snake oils to treat the mom and baby. When in reality, they are very well trained and prepared medical professionals. You can click on the “Informed Consent” link on my midwife’s website to see her qualifications and training. She also has a list of “Transfer Criteria” linked on her website, which lays out in detail anything that might come up during my pregnancy, the labor, or with the baby that may cause for us to transfer to a hospital…a common question that is often asked of me. Granted there are some women out there that are considered “high-risk” and their circumstances are such to where they need to be at a hospital. But for about 80% of pregnant women, who are considered low-risk, why get treated as though we are sick or at risk? With each prenatal appointment, my midwife tracks my progress, checks my vitals, and the baby, and goes over a number of health questions with me. If at any time she were to see something that signaled a complication, we would then discuss the possibility of moving the birth and the remainder of my prenatal care to a setting that would more appropriately support it. But until then, all is well, so we’re staying chill and staying at home! With these things in place, I feel at peace and excited about using a midwife and preparing for Baby Avery’s home birth.
Showing me how to feel where Avery
is positioned.
Now that you know some of the basics of using a midwife, here’s my Top 5 Reasons Why I’m Having a Homebirth with a Midwife:

1. Less stress. Hospitals and doctor offices stress me out. Maybe it’s the sounds, smells, and formal-ness of it all, but all I know is that I don’t like it. Even back before I was pregnant, I would stress out about going to the doctor, even if it was just for my annual checkup. So when it came time to think about my prenatal care and my baby’s birth, I knew I’d be most comfortable outside of the hospital. I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of a more relaxing place than my own house. How about being in your living room for your prenatal appointments...can't be beat!

Using the doppler to hear Avery's

Now after reading this book, Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth, I had a whole new reason to feel relaxed during my labor and birth, and it’s because of something called “Sphincter Law”- which is the idea that your cervix is like a sphincter, the same kind that you use when you urinate or have a bowel movement. Can you imagine doing either of those things in a setting other than a private room where you feel at ease and stress-free? I know I couldn’t! Here’s a video of Ina May Gaskin explaining the concept.

Don’t have time to watch this video…then here’s my favorite thing she says, “If you can’t poop and have a whole group of people watching you, it might be a bit difficult to have a baby in that same atmosphere.” I can’t even imagine being spread eagle and naked on a hospital bed with various doctors, nurses, and interns filtering in and out… there’s no way this sphincter of mine would open one bit! Ina May says that sphincter’s are shy, and if the owner is scared, they will close right up…exactly the thing you don’t want your cervix to do when you are trying to have a baby! So how do you avoid that? Go where you’re comfortable, relaxed, and your sphincter feels safe. For me, that place is at home.


2. Choices- For a long time I thought that when you have a baby you just have to go with the system in place and hope it works out for you. Little did I know… you can take control of your birth and choose exactly what it is you want. After watching dozens of birth videos on YouTube and reading several birth books, I started developing several strong preferences for the kind of birth I wanted to have. Some being: to try birthing in water (check out this birthing tub I will be purchasing soon to have at the house for my birth), have dim lights, quiet voices, relaxing music, as few people present as possible, to wear my own clothes and not a hospital gown, the freedom to move around wherever I wanted…whenever I wanted, and uninterrupted bonding time right after birth, just to name a few. Pretty lofty goals and ideas right? Yes, maybe if I wanted all this to take place at a hospital, but change the setting to my house and it all becomes a little bit more realistic.

3. Having my choices honored. Just a few weeks ago, I remember sitting in my HypnoBirthing class as we went through some “Birth Preference Sheets” first, so that we could decide what type of birth we wanted and second, so that we could give them to our birth providers at the time of our labor to ensure that we could have the kind of birth we wanted. At that moment, I remember thinking how I lucky I was to be having a home birth, where I knew that most, if not all of my birth preferences would listened to and supported by my midwife. I am not so confident this would be the case at a hospital.

Here’s an analogy I’ve found to help me explain hospital/homebirth scenario. Having a hospital birth to me if kind of like someone with all my dietary needs (gluten-free and vegan) trying to eat at Bob Evans or Smokehouse BBQ… I could go in there and say, “Yeah I’d like something gluten-free, vegan, and preferably organic, low in sugar, and minimally processed, do you have anything like that?” What do you think they would say? Probably nothing…they’d probably just laugh. That’s what I think it would be like for me to go to a hospital. I could go with my “Birth Preference Sheets” of this nice, calm, relaxing, quiet, private, water birth I would like to have and their response would probably be about the same…"Oh okay, that’s nice lady…now lay down and lets’ get you hooked up to the electronic fetal monitor, start an IV, and this nurse is going to check your progress…by the way, put down that green smoothie! There’s no food allowed while you’re in labor.”
Let’s change the scenario and go eat at my one of my favorite restaurants…Genghis Khan (ha! I think this is like post # 5 in a row where I’ve mentioned this restaurant!) . As I’ve blogged about many times before, I love Genghis Khan Mongolian BBQ because, despite all my food restrictions, I can go there and happily eat a delicious gluten-free, vegan, healthy meal because I am the one who picks out the food that goes on my plate! I pick out the veggies, the noodles, and the kind of sauce or spices I like…and better yet, I stand there and watch them cook it for me. This to me is kind of like a homebirth, in how I can choose the lighting, the sounds, what I’m wearing, and who will be there, what I want done or not done to me, etc. I kind of see my midwife as the chef who will “cook” my food for me, honoring my requests if need be, not doing anything secretly or changing things behind my back. Not sure if this analogy will make sense to everyone, but it works for me! favorite Genghis Khan!
4. Safer. While most people may think a hospital is the safest place to have a baby, I disagree because my home is cleaner than a hospital, not because I am a super-green cleaner, lol, but because my baby and I have already been exposed to all the germs currently present in my home, thus decreasing the risk of infection. Put me in the hospital where there are diseases, viruses, parasites, you name it…and no matter how many chemicals they use to kill all those germs, there’s no telling if they got them all. I just feel better staying out there in the first place. Even better, I can be as green as I want- no toxic cleaners, soaps, lotions, and other products I use.

5. Avoiding the Cascade of Interventions. This ties right into the “safety discussion” I had above, in how I also feel safer having my baby at home because the chances of me being given common labor drugs like Pitocin, having an epidural, or having c-section are greatly reduced. Granted if those are all things that you want to have, by all means…go to the hospital. But, for me personally, I want to have my baby as naturally as possible, so drugs and major abdominal surgery are out of the question for me. Now if an emergency were to come up and I have to have these things for my health, or to help Baby Avery, I would do it in a heartbeat, but I prefer to go into the labor as optimistically as possible and not seeing these things as an inevitable part of the process.

One of the main reasons, I have higher chances of avoiding this cascade of interventions is that there is much less pressure to “make progress” when I’m at home, as compared to being at a hospital on their time schedule. “What! You’re only at 4 centimeters dilated?! It’s been 7 hours…we better start you on some Pitocin to speed things along!” That is a conversation that will not be taking place at my birth! Say I am at 4 centimeters and it’s been 7 hours, if I’m at home that might be a good time for my midwife to head home for a bit and for me to rest. I would then call her to come back when things pick back up again. Oh and it probably helps to not have the anesthesiologist popping by every hour, seeing if I am ready for my epidural yet! Now if I’m at home and it’s been 48 hours since my water broke and still no sign of Baby Avery’s arrival, I would probably take some antibiotics and my midwife would keep a close watch on me. But if everything was alright with me and Avery, there would be no need for the interventions that would have been started a long time ago if I was at a hospital. Here’s an interesting discussion of the increased time restrictions, pressure on birthing moms, and chances of interventions that take place at a hospital from “The Business of Being Born.”

Now I’m going to leave you with one last quote that sums up my choice to have homebirth with a midwife, as opposed to a hospital birth with an OB…“I am the hero of my birth, not the doctor.” I feel that giving birth can be a transformative experience for the positive or negative, and by putting myself in a situation where I am treated as the “hero” of my birth, not just a victim to be “fixed” I feel it will increase my odds of having a birth that will leave me feeling strong, empowered, and proud. Have any questions about the use of a midwife or how to prepare for a homebirth? Post them below and I’d be happy to answer them!


  1. Hi, I love your blog. It's a great example of how to live a greener life. I just thought I'd comment since I used a midwife to have a home birth for my second baby (The first was hospital). While I ended up at the hospital for the birth of my son because I complications I was able to labour at home and was able to leave the hospital 5 hrs after his birth to rest and recover at home. Midwives are amazing women. Within the group of mom's I know from baby groups etc, 6 plus myself have used midwives with 4 having homebirths and EVERY one of them had a beautiful, safe and empowering experience. You are making a great choice having a home birth!

  2. Congratulations on making such an empowering decision!

  3. Ash I LOVE this post! I love how you've opened up your reasons for a home birth. I think it's great that you've done the research and feel so confident with your decision. Way to go girl :)

  4. Thank you all for sharing your stories and for your positive support! It's greatly appreciated...I'm sure I'll be blogging about how it goes afterwards so stay tuned! ( :


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