When I was pregnant with my son, I wanted a home birth. I had a few friends who had their babies at home before me, and their experiences were by and large always better than the collective experience of friends who’d had babies in hospital settings. Early on in my pregnancy, I called a few homebirth midwives and was about to set up in-person meetings when I realized that my husband did not love the idea of having a baby at home.
He had no real knowledge of pregnancy or birth before I got pregnant with my son, as I suppose many men don’t. His frame of reference was mostly what we see on TV and in movies – women lying down on their backs in hospital gowns with their feet in stirrups, screaming at their husbands, and maybe doing some Lamaze breathing exercises. This was not my vision for the birth of my child.
We lived in the city at the time, and I was happy to discover a midpoint between hospital and homebirth – birthing centers. So I called the midwives who practiced at these centers and made an appointment with the one I liked best over the phone. It turned out to be a great experience throughout both pregnancy and birth.
At 7 months pregnant, we moved to Westchester. The weekly midwife appointments in the city weren’t a big deal because they were a quick subway ride away from my office. I also knew getting to the birthing center itself wouldn’t be an issue because even though it was 45 minutes away, first babies rarely come that fast.
But now I’m pregnant with my second child and am rarely in Manhattan anymore. Seeing my old midwives wouldn’t be convenient. After my son’s birth, I told my husband that the next one would be born at home. Having now seen first hand that birth needn’t be a major medical event (at least in most cases), he agreed. Happily, we live ten minutes away from Westchester’s only home birth midwife practice, Journey to Birth. I’m so glad that I don’t have to travel far for my prenatal care and that I won’t have to go anywhere but the comfort of my own home to bring my baby into the world.
For many home birth mamas, the motivation to avoid a hospital is about the American medical system’s real and present dangers. C-section rates are astronomical in most U.S. hospitals, and our area is, unfortunately, no exception. Finding a provider you trust is the most important aspect of maternity care, and for me, that definitely translates to choosing a midwife. I’ve just heard too many stories about doctors jumping the gun with unnecessary or over the top interventions related to birth. Everyone I know who’s seen a midwife during their pregnancy has always reported feeling seen and heard, not co-opted or blindsided by their prenatal and birth experience. My midwives take their time at my check-ups. They present options, explain them thoroughly, and guide any questions or concerns I bring.
But mostly guys, I’m lazy. I want to relax during my birth, not rush to the birthing center or hospital. I want my husband to take a nap someplace comfortable should contractions go through the night. If I get hungry, I want to make myself some soup or a smoothie. After the baby comes, I want to drift off to sleep with her in my own bed and take a shower in my own bathroom. I want quiet and peace, and where better to find that than in my own home?
Ok, I may have to compromise on the peace and quiet with a two-year-old running around, but you get the idea.