I didn't think home birth was for me until I had one and it rocked

April 30 | Guest post by Kayla Richmond

We're celebrating all kinds of births this week, so we've dubbed it BIRTH WEEK. Today we'll be focusing on the power of home births.

Photo by birthersage, used under Creative Commons license.

I was always intrigued by the idea of home birth, but I always thought it was for people who were spiritual or connected to the universe — or something that just wasn't me. I'm agnostic, sarcastic, and my husband and I laugh at super inappropriate things. My fear of hospitals was a big push into me doing the research and realized it really was the most logical course for us. It really ended up being the best choice I ever could have made.

I woke up at 1:30 in the morning with contractions. Timing them, they were three to four minutes apart — I thought we were timing them wrong. There was no way I could be this far along without any prior symptoms. I called my midwife, and she was skeptical as well, though I did have to stop talking mid-sentence to breathe through a contraction. She said she thought I was pretty early, but she would come down anyway to check. I then called my mother who was a good two hours away so that she could start making it down, and my doula. I almost felt bad rallying the troops, as I was sure it was going to be a long ways off. There was no way I could be lucky enough to be this far along, right?

Wrong. When the midwife showed up to check me I was already four cm. dilated. Bryan and I exchanged an "Oh, shit" look and he got busy with setting up the pool. Still, I wasn't in any unbearable pain yet. My mom and our doula showed up while I was still in pretty high spirits. Still, it wasn't a walk in the park, so as soon as it was ready I got in the pool.

Once I was in, they had to force me out to go to the bathroom and check my dilation. Seriously, I can't imagine going through that without the pool; those few minutes here and there being out of it were awful. I was progressing pretty quickly, and the contractions really weren't too terrible. I wasn't screaming or in agony or anything; I knew when they were coming, and when they were going to end. I always had someone's hand to hang on to, and I'm sure I broke a few fingers. I didn't even swear as much as I thought I would, having the mouth of a sailor and all. In fact, I was in the pool watching "The Birdcage" in between contractions. Nathan Lane in drag turned out to be just as good as medication for me.

And then transition hit.

I didn't scream or cry, but it sucked. A lot. For me, it started out like a normal contraction, and then when it would normally dissipate, instead it gave an extra kick. When these set in, I had to completely focus on holding it together. I completely lost track of time, which is probably a good thing because they told me I was pushing a lot longer than I remember. I do remember that the last few contractions were the only time I had thoughts to the tune of "I don't think I can do this. I don't think I can make it through one more contraction like that."

I remember that he was crowning for a while. I could feel his head come out a bit, and then recede when the contraction was over. There were several times I heard "Oh, with this contraction his head will stay out!" only for the little bugger to go back in. Finally after a few of these I muttered through clenched teeth "Can't you just pull his fucking head out?" He finally got his head out, and after that all I can really remember is a rush for relief that I imagine was his shoulders being pushed out.
Then, there he was. I'm pretty sure my first thought was that he was larger than I imagined. Then I felt my dog's head on my shoulder; he was totally thrown by what I was holding.

I didn't get to hang on him for too long, as they could tell by the pool that I was bleeding and wanted to get me up. I stood up, birthed the placenta, and I was still bleeding quite a bit. Even though it was serious, I never once felt worried; my midwife and her assistant handled it so well. They moved me to the couch, and she stitched up my several tears right there after the bleeding had stopped. There was talk of possibly having to go the hospital for stitches if the tears were bad enough, but thankfully it never came to that.

I have to make a side note here: the thing that I was most afraid of through my whole pregnancy was tearing. I was sure it was going to be the most painful thing I had ever experienced. And I didn't even notice it happen. There are a lot of painful things about birth (99% of them come after the fact) but that wasn't one of them. I felt a little silly.

The coolest thing about all this was that while they were fixing me up, I got to watch while my mom and husband cleaned off and took care of the baby. I didn't get to hold him too much that first hour or so, but watching them bond with him was one of the sweetest things I can remember.

The whole thing took eight hours from start to finish. I can't even tell you how lucky I feel that it went so easily. It wasn't completely complication free, but my midwife and her assistant were so absolutely amazing handling everything, I never once felt worried.

I understand home birth isn't for everyone, and I try not to bring it up or sing its praises around random people, but if someone asks me about it I can't stop gushing. I'm not a very emotional person, and I don't really describe it as a "transcendent" experience or anything, but being able to stay in my own home was beyond comfortable. And the end result wasn't too shabby, either.

  1. I'm glad this week is birth week. I was due yesterday and we're expecting the baby some time this week. :) these stories will be good for my morale.

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  2. It is always nice to hear about a positive birth experience, wherever, and however, it went down. I had an amazing home birth experience but oftentimes I keep it to myself because it seems like those around me have had kind of crappy experiences. I hate to seem like I'm rubbing it in!

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    • I know what you mean! I had a "textbook" home birth and I often feel like others will be offended if I talk about how great it was to give birth at home or will feel judged for taking a different path.

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  3. For me it wasn't the tearing that hurt, it was the stitches afterward! There's so much pressure during birth that the tearing doesn't even register, but then come the stitches…OH, the NEFARIOUS stitches…

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  4. I'm having a hospital birth in around six weeks, but I loved this birth story. I also really appreciate your paragraph on tearing. It's also been the only thing I've been really terrified of and you made me feel much better about the possibility of it.

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    • Seriously. If I am ever talking to an expectant mother who I feel is open to the topic of, well, vaginas I make sure to fit that in. There are WAY too many horror stories, and not enough positive examples. The after care is less than fun, but manageable.

    • Yep, another mama to be here (7 months along, today!), who is completely terrified of the possible tearing.

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  5. "I was always intrigued by the idea of home birth, but I always thought it was for people who were spiritual or connected to the universe — or something that just wasn't me. I'm agnostic, sarcastic, and my husband and I laugh at super inappropriate things."

    I loved this, and it totally echoes my sentiment. I'm NOT doing home birth, but sometimes I feel like I'm not earth-mother enough for some of the things I really want to look into — like hiring a doula, for example. It's good to be reassured that even sarcastic, inappropriate parents might want to have the full range of birth options available to choose from!

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    • It's hard being in between! I highly recommend a doula; she was super helpful for my husband, who sometimes got a little lost as to what he should do. she also did lots of things that he would have had to do if she wasn't there, and it was much better to have him holding my hand than getting me juice or holding my puke bucket. :)

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  6. I'm sarcastic, inappropriate, and swear a lot. I didn't think I'd be comfortable at all with my very religious, very old-fashioned midwife. But she was also gentle, knowledgable, über-experienced, and made the whole home birth experience not only possible for me but incredible as well. Having the right person to assist you makes all the difference, I think. I have to admit I've been pretty vocal about my birth story because I wish everyone could have the experience I did! It blows my mind to watch medicated "baby factory" deliveries on tv, where the women have to be told what to do and when to push. I had one of those births with my first and i felt like i wasn't even present for it. I know there isn't a right or a wrong way to have a baby and I try not to be obnoxious about "my way" because I don't want to turn people off to it (I was almost turned off to breastfeeding because the moms I knew who advocated it were SO self-superior and overbearing about it–but I also knew it was the best option and something I wanted to do). I'll just say that even if you don't have one at home, having one medication-free is extremely empowering. And I get a whole range of reactions to the home birth, that's pretty entertaining.

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    • "And I get a whole range of reactions to the home birth, that's pretty entertaining."

      What a good way to look at it! Sometimes I feel around in a conversation to see if I should disclose facts about my birthing options, my awesome midwife or the fact that I am a midwife's assistant. Some people just think I am plain crazy, so I get self conscious about it. But I also want to be honest and advocate for unmedicated birth if given the chance, it is a fine line. That would be a relief if I could just look at people's reactions as "entertaining"

  7. Home birth is something we might look into for our next child, as driving hours to the closest birthing facility is not as attractive an option. My husband works in the medical profession and feels wary of non-medical settings sometimes. Hearing positive stories about capable midwives and their support staff is great for giving us a different point of view. Thank you for sharing!

  8. I am not giving birth (or planning a baby anytime soon), but boy do I want one of them home-birthing pools and just juse as a pool ;0)

    They look fantastic!

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  9. Hi! I was wondering what pool that is in the picture?? Thanks!

    Beautiful birth story, btw! :)

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