Home Birth

by Pregnancy.org Staff

For centuries giving birth at home was the normal thing to do, but by the 1900's women slowly began changing their birth setting by going to hospitals. Before the days of modern medicine childbirth could be a very frightening event for women.

Times have obviously changed. As our understanding of anatomy, modern medicine, the mechanics of childbirth, and technology have significantly increased, more and more women are exploring the idea of a home birth with trained midwives or nurse-midwives for low-risk, healthy, normal pregnancies. As the curiosity in home birth grows, the number of studies and statistical data will continue to grow and give us a greater understanding of the risks and benefits.

The information below will help increase your understanding as you move toward an informed decision.

Could Home Birth be for Me?

Home birth might be an option for you if:

  • You are having a healthy, low-risk pregnancy
  • You want to avoid episiotomy, cesarean section, or epidural
  • You want to be surrounded by loved ones
  • You want to be free to move around, change positions, take a shower, and eat freely during labor
  • You want to enjoy the comforts of home and familiar surroundings

Home birth is not for you if:

  • You are diabetic
  • You have chronic high blood pressure, or toxemia (also known as preeclampsia)
  • You have experienced preterm labor in the past, or may be at risk for preterm labor now.
  • Your partner does not fully support your decision to give birth at home

What do Nurse-Midwives Bring?

  • Oxygen for the baby if needed
  • IV's for mom if she becomes dehydrated or needs additional nutrients
  • Sterile gloves, gauze pads, cotton hat for the baby, drop cloths, waterproof covers for the bed, a thermometer, a pan for sitz baths after birth
  • Fetoscopes or ultrasonic stethoscopes
  • Medications to slow or stop a hemorrhage
  • Special herbal preparations, homeopathic remedies, massage supplies/techniques and even acupuncture needles
  • Items for suturing tears

What Would Cause a Home Birth to Move to Hospital?

Approximately 25% of first time moms and 4% of women who have previously given birth are transferred to the hospital for delivery. The following are some of the reasons women are transferred:

  • Mom decides to go because she feels exhausted and does not want to continue
  • Premature rupture of membranes
  • High blood pressure
  • No progress
  • Fetal distress
  • Cord prolapse
  • Hemorrhage

Pointers When Considering a Home Birth

  • Compile a health care team by hiring a midwife, and an obstetrician to anticipate, recognize, and prevent potential problems throughout pregnancy.
  • Make sure your midwife has a working relationship with a doctor and hospital
  • Have an obstetrician available in case of an emergency or if the baby will need to be delivered at the hospital
  • Write out a plan B or back up plan in case home delivery is not working for you
  • Remember that your goal is the delivery of a healthy baby, so going to the hospital is never a failure
  • The responsible thing for you or your baby may be going to the hospital
  • Choose a pediatrician to see the baby within 24 hours of delivery

Perks of Home Birthing

  • Home birth may be significantly easier on your pocket book. An average uncomplicated vaginal birth costs about 60% less in a home than in a hospital.
  • Home birth provides immediate bonding and breastfeeding. Early breastfeeding helps mom stop bleeding, clear mucus from the baby's nose and mouth, and transfer disease-fighting antibodies in the milk from mother to baby.
  • Home birth allows you to be surrounded with those you love. When you include children, family, and friends in the birth process, it provides you with many helpers and allows a very intimate bonding experience for everyone involved.

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