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5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Choosing a Home Birth

Deciding where to give birth is a big deal. If you’re considering a home birth, ask yourself these 5 questions before choosing to make sure it’s the right thing for you.

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If you’re considering a home birth, you’re probably wondering if there’s anything you need to think about before making a final decision.

While home births are safe for most women, most of the time, it is a good idea to ask yourself a few specific questions before planning a home birth. While some are easier to answer than others, all are important.

I provide context for each of the questions, but if you want to know more, check out the blog posts I link to in each section.

With that said, here they are: 5 questions to ask yourself before choosing a home birth.

1. Am I high-risk?

The first thing you need to know before choosing to do a home birth is whether or not you are high-risk. Only 6-8% of pregnancies are high-risk, so chances are you fit into the low-risk category, which is where you want to be if you’re considering a home birth.

Pregnancies can be high-risk for several reasons. Some of those reasons are pre-existing conditions that the mother has, such as cancer, diabetes, lupus, or heart problems.

Other high-risk factors develop during pregnancy, such as preeclampsia, infection, or problems with the placenta.

Fortunately, many complications can be avoided. One of the surest ways to decrease your chances of pregnancy or birth complications is to eat a nutrient-dense and protein-rich diet.

Dr. Thomas H. Brewer, who created The Brewer Pregnancy Diet, found that the root cause of preeclampsia and most other complications is food deficiency and low blood volume, both of which are resolved by following his (or similar) healthy diets.

If you are someone who is high-risk for reasons out of your control, you will likely need to be cared for by an OBGYN. If you were considering a home birth because you want more holistic care, you may be able to find a midwife who works closely with an OBGYN and thus get the best of both worlds.

Note: If you want to learn more about prenatal nutrition, I highly recommend Real Food for Pregnancy by Lily Nichols.

2. Am I preparing so I can prevent complications?

As I alluded to above, we have more control than we sometimes think over how our pregnancies and births go.

Obviously there will be times when things happen that we never could have planned or prepared for, but there is so much we can do to influence our experience.

In this way, a safe home birth starts long before labor begins.

There are three main components of our preparation: physical, emotional, and mental.

Physical Preparation

Obviously, pregnancy and childbirth are very physical experiences. You can prepare your body by exercising regularly and by eating well.

I recommend that pregnant women follow The Brewer Diet. It’s a good way to make sure you’re getting everything you and your baby need.

Exercising during pregnancy has two purposes: to keep you healthy and feeling well and to prepare your body for labor. Any exercise is good for you and your baby. But you can also do specific labor prep exercises to make sure the muscles that will be called upon during labor are ready.

READ MORE >> The Best At-Home Pregnancy Workouts

In addition to caring for your body, it’s important that you have regular visits with a qualified care provider.

At prenatal appointments, your midwife or OBGYN will check your blood pressure and do other physical tests to make sure you are staying healthy. They’ll also monitor your baby’s development.

Emotional Preparation

Less obviously, pregnancy and childbirth are very emotional experiences. And I don’t just mean pregnant women cry more. All of our physical experiences are tied to our emotions.

Emotional preparation might look like asking yourself if you feel ready to be a mom and working through those feelings. It might be addressing your fears about birth and how painful you think it might be.

It could be discussing how you’d handle a birth that doesn’t go the way you’d planned.

In addition to those things, you’ll find that labor is much easier if you are calm and in a good mood. Though that mood will be challenged, things will be much easier if you are able to stay in a good space emotionally.

Having a support person, like your husband or partner, who knows how to help you stay in that space during labor can make a big difference.

Mental Preparation

Most women who have experienced labor and birth unmedicated agree that labor is 90% mental. That’s the answer to how anyone can go through labor without pain medication. It’s really not about the physical sensations; it’s about how you handle them in your mind.

Because of that, mental labor preparation starts with examining your own paradigms about birth and about pain.

What we experience is more a result of what we believe than anything else. I think that’s true of life and I think it’s true of birth.

Mental labor preparation also looks like researching ways to cope with labor and figuring out which you think will work for you. (That’s a good idea even if you plan to get an epidural eventually.)

Another part of mental preparation is educating yourself. Learn everything you can about your body, labor, and birth. As you educate yourself, labor changes from some unknown, scary thing to something you understand and something you’ve practiced for.

READ MORE >> Home Birth Prep: 7 Steps to Make Sure You’re Ready

3. What qualifications do my midwives have?

The next thing to consider when choosing a home birth is who your midwives are and what education and experience they have.

Some of the sad statistics you hear about home births are skewed because not all home births are planned and because not all home births are attended by a certified midwife. Some women may prefer that, but I don’t recommend it.

The truth is that studies have found that the rates of perinatal death (the baby dying) at home are not any worse (if not better) than those at the hospital IF those home births are planned and attended by a certified midwife.

Even with preparation and trust that your body knows how to give birth, it’s a really good idea to have someone there who knows all the warning signs of something going wrong, just in case.

Because of that, it’s important to know that not all midwives are the same. Actually, there are four different types of midwives.

The Different Types of Midwives and How to Choose

Three of the four types are certified and have years of education and experience that make them well-qualified to attend births: certified professional midwives (CPMs), certified nurse-midwives (CNMs), and certified midwives (CMs).

These kinds of midwives will know what to look for so that, if need arises, they can transfer you to a hospital. They’ll also know the best ways to help you manage labor in a safe, effective way.

One type of midwife – a lay midwife – is someone who attends births but does not have any official certification or education. Be sure to ask each midwife you meet with what her background is. If she’s not certified, I recommend you hire someone else.

It’s also worth considering that some midwives may be more comfortable than others with doing stitches. If you were to tear during birth (which is fairly common), you’d want someone who can stitch you up there at home so you don’t have to go to the hospital just for that.

READ MORE >> 65 Questions to Ask a Midwife Before Hiring Her

4. Am I close to a hospital?

If you’re planning a home birth, it may be because you specifically do not want to be in the hospital. But it’s a good idea to be close to one in case you want or need to transfer.

Though emergencies are rare, if one does arise, time is often of the essence. You’re going to want a short drive to the hospital.

5. Have I asked God?

Now, you might be someone who prays or you might not be. Maybe you call that higher power the universe. Maybe to you it’s your gut feelings that provide confidence in your decisions.

But I believe that we can talk to God through prayer and that He’ll answer. For me, this was the ultimate deciding factor in choosing to give birth to my daughter at home.

I knew the stats and the facts about hospitals and home births, and I knew that I’d be more comfortable at home than in a hospital. I wasn’t high-risk. I did what I could to prepare and prevent complications. I had good midwives who I trusted. I lived close to a hospital.

But all of that was secondary to the fact that I was sure God had led me to the knowledge I’d gained about birth. And I was sure He was telling me that it was the best choice for me and my baby.

It very well could have been that I knew all those same things and found myself in all the same circumstances and yet felt that I should go to the hospital. I would have (gone to the hospital, that is) if I felt like God was directing me to.

It also could have been that I chose a home birth trusting that it would be a good thing and then had it end in a very different way than I had planned. Either way, I trusted that things would turn out exactly how they were supposed to because I was following God.

I believe you can have that same confidence in your choice to do a home birth, and I recommend you do everything you can to seek that confirmation.

Conclusion

With those 5 questions, I hope you feel more confident in choosing to do (or not do) a home birth. How you give birth matters, and where you give birth will affect your experience more than almost anything else.

At the same time, you know what’s best for you and for this pregnancy. If you feel, for whatever reason, that a hospital birth is the right choice for you, go with that!

If you do choose to give birth in the hospital, you can still labor unmedicated if you want to.

No matter where you give birth, remember that birth is natural. It’s beautiful. And you were created to do this.

Until next time,

Allison

READ MORE:

Home Birth Myths: Busted

Birth Center vs Hospital: What They’re Like and Factors to Consider

Birth Center vs Home Birth: Similarities and Differences

How to Prepare for a Natural Birth (In the Hospital or Not)

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