Every year in the United States over 3 million babies are born. And more and more mothers are carefully considering their birth place options. While the majority of those births will happen in hospitals, for about 1% of the population, home is where they choose to birth. The reasons for choosing an out of hospital birth are varied, but it is very important to be prepared.
Interview and Choose your Midwife
I recommend researching about midwives, what they do, and what to expect. Midwives Alliance of North America, MANA, is a fantastic resource for this. To find a certified midwife, you can visit Citizens for Midwifery. Doing an internet search for “homebirth midwife” and your area will also bring up results. Once you find some midwives, it is time to interview them. Just as you wouldn’t choose an OB without meeting and chatting with them in person, you shouldn’t choose a midwife without an interview.
Some questions to get you started in the interview process could be;
- Find out their fees and what that covers; birth kit, birth pool, blood work and labs? Those are just a few of the items you might consider.
- How many prenatal and postpartum visits will you have?
- What is their certification and training?
- What items do they bring to a birth (oxygen, pitocin for hemorrhage, IV supplies, etc.)
- Who is their back up midwife and will you have an opportunity to meet them?
- Do they have an apprentice? If the apprentice is not at the interview, set up a time to meet with them as well.
- What is their transfer rate and why do they typically transfer?
- Are they comfortable doing sutures should you tear?
Talk to other people who have had homebirths. It is not hard to find a homebirth community. In many areas there are homebirth meet up groups. If you can’t find one of those, talk to your midwife or doula and they can help you.
Read birth stories and listen to podcasts. There are many great books out there that will help you to prepare and understand what to expect from your homebirth. One of my favorites is Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin. A great podcast is The Birth Hour with Brynn Huntpalmer. This podcast focuses completely on all types of birth stories.
Get your supplies! If your midwife does not supply a birth kit, they will likely tell you what items you will need to buy.
It is a good idea to get 2 waterproof mattress pads for your bed and have 2 sets of sheets. In your last trimester, double make your bed. This way if your water breaks in the night, you can take off the top layer and still have clean sheets underneath!
Depends; these can save you in labor if you have broken waters. Much easier to wear and less cumbersome than changing pads every hour or less. They are also great for postpartum.
Herbal Sitz Bath; Earth Mama Angel Baby makes a lovely herbal bath. This is filled with herbs to help heal your perineum and be very soothing after you have given birth
Birth Tub; if you are choosing to have a waterbirth or just want to labor in the water, this is essential. There are several types of birth tubs to choose from. You just want to be sure you will be comfortable in whatever you choose.
You will also need a hose for potable water (available at a hardware store) and an adaptor to hook the hose up to your sink faucet.
Have towels that you don’t mind getting bloody, clean and ready for birth.
Interview and hire a Doula. Many people think that a doula is not necessary at a homebirth because the Midwife is with you the whole time. While it is true the Midwife is there and you are getting more attentive care from them than an OB, there is still a lot of charting, observing, and tasks that need to be done by the Midwife. Having another set of trained and confident hands at the birth can make all the difference. Find a Doula who is familiar with homebirth and understands the intricacies of this type of birth.
Finally, be confident in your decision. You have done the research, you trust your body, your baby, and your birth team. Download our Labor Affirmations for some words of confirmation. Now go forward with confidence that you will have the birth you are meant to have.