I spent the first 18 weeks of my first pregnancy at a big box hospital and I was miserable … so miserable that after those 18 weeks my husband and I made the decision to transfer care to an out-of-hospital birthing center. We paid out-of-pocket because it wasn’t covered by our insurance — that’s how important this was to us.
I ended up having the all-natural birth I had hoped for and a wonderful experience. And this time around we’ve decided to take it a step further and have a home birth. Home births are becoming more and more common, but they still aren’t the norm by any means, and I’ve definitely encountered a few naysayers about our decisions. But, we’ve thought this through and are well-informed.
A home birth is the right choice for me and my family, and here’s why …
1. This isn’t my first time giving birth 1 of 10
This ain't my first rodeo. I've given birth before and have the almost-2-year-old to prove it. I know that every birth is different and there are still unknowns, but I also know my body and know what to expect a bit more this time around. My first birth was a vaginal delivery with zero intervention, so I know I am capable of it.
2. My first birth was practically a home birth already 2 of 10
I had my daughter at an out-of-hospital birthing center. If anything went wrong I would've had to be transported to a hospital. The only difference between the birthing center and a home birth is that I won't have to leave my house. My midwives have all the necessary medical supplies just as they did at the birthing center, and I'll have a portable tub set up at my house and any other items I'll need. Pretty much the same thing, right?
3. I hate hospitals 3 of 10
I hate (seriously loathe) hospitals. I spent the first 18 weeks of my first pregnancy receiving care at a hospital because we were on an HMO plan that didn't allow us to choose where I gave birth. I left my first appointment in tears. There was a serious lack of respect for my wishes, the environment was sterile and the doctors and midwives I met with were never very friendly and always rushed me through my appointments — my longest lasted a mere 12 minutes. It was apparent that I was just a number to them, especially when they handed me a restaurant waiting list style pager to buzz me when it was time for my appointment. I get it, I'm not the first person on the planet to ever be pregnant, and they have huge patient lists. Some people may be OK with that, but it just wasn't for me. I always checked in and left my appointments in a state of anxiousness and never felt truly "safe" at the hospital.
4. I’ll get to pick care providers I know and trust 4 of 10
To me, one of the most important aspects of birth is being surrounded by people I know and trust. At the hospital it was going to be a crap shoot which doctor or midwife I would get when I actually went into labor. It's possible I could've ended up with an amazing care provider who would have empowered me and helped me to have the birth I really wanted. But I also could've ended up with someone who made me feel anxious and made my skin crawl — the last thing any laboring woman wants. In choosing to have a home birth I got to hand-pick my midwives, and I know and trust them. They will get to know me and will be able to better assess my needs during labor because they will have met me more than once in their lives. This will help me feel comfortable and safe, which is a main goal during my birth.
5. No temptation for invervention 5 of 10
I'm not gonna lie ... natural birth isn't exactly a walk in the park. I know there are super-zen birthers out there who might beg to differ, but in my experience, birth is freaking hard work. After doing it once, I get why someone would want an epidural, but I also know how amazing it was to go through labor and birth without any interventions. My body gave me what I needed and my baby arrived awake and alert, and it was the most empowering experience of my life. If I were at a hospital, I would be super tempted to take the epidural. At home it's not an option, and I'm thankful for that because I really did love my birth experience.
6. I hated being in the car during labor 6 of 10
This wasn't one of my top reasons for having a home birth, but I really did hate being in the car when I was in labor. Every bump and red light felt like torture when we were on our way to the birthing center, and having to drive home when I was still in recovery mode was less than awesome. I'm pretty stoked I don't have to get in a car unless an emergency should arise.
7. Comfortable surroundings 7 of 10
Home is my favorite place to be, so it only makes sense that I would feel the safest and most comfortable here. I will get to labor and birth in my own surroundings with my own bed, my own food, and my own people. No one else in labor around me — no one coming to check my dilation progress every five seconds. Just peace and quiet in my own space.
8. Respect for my wishes 8 of 10
I felt so incredibly disrespected when I was in a hospital setting during those first 18 weeks of my pregnancy with my daughter. Anytime I questioned a test or a procedure I was belittled and when I told the doctor that I didn't need any of the tests for STDs she basically told me I was stupid because I didn't know if my husband was sleeping around on me. Who says that? Especially to a hormonal pregnant woman. I realize that my experience is not everyone's, but I want to be surrounded by people who I know will respect my wishes and who won't bully me into procedures and interventions that aren't necessary. I know that the midwives I've chosen for my home birth will do exactly that.
9. I have a great support system 9 of 10
Giving birth at the birthing center was awesome, because it was kind of like being at a bed & breakfast. You could order in takeout for meals, the room was cozy and cute, they cleaned up after you and even brought in a masseuse the day after I gave birth! But, I have plenty of people in my life who will be around to help take good care of me and our little ones postpartum. Aside from my husband, we both have parents who live nearby and who would be more than happy to make us a meal or do a load of laundry. And I'm still totally hiring someone to come give me that postpartum massage!
10. Expense 10 of 10
When we had my daughter we were on an HMO. I couldn't choose a different hospital to give birth at, because I was limited by my insurance coverage. We paid out of pocket for my daughter's birth at the birthing center, because it wasn't covered and I really and truly felt that strongly about not having a child at that hospital that it was worth it. This time around we have better insurance, but when we weighed the costs and benefits it just made more sense to go with a home birth. The cost of paying for a home birth out of pocket will be about the same as a hospital birth covered by our insurance. If it was substantially cheaper I probably would've considered it, but for the same price I will get to have a water birth (you can't have a water birth at most hospitals in Portland), and have care providers that I know and trust in an environment that I love. It was a no-brainer for me.
Lauren Hartmann is the founder of The Little Things We Do, a blog about life and adventures in Portland Oregon. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram or catch up on all of her posts here on Babble.