Six years ago, I found myself planning my first ever homebirth. A little over six years prior to that, I was being induced with my firstborn that later resulted in a near-death emergency cesarean.
Talk about an eye-opening experience! Not only did it change my perception of giving birth, but it also left me with PTSD that I didn’t realize at the time. And after that, I didn’t want more children.
Of course as year passed my desires of having more children changed, but the fear of the unknown lingered. Once Bryan and I conceived and decided to have a home birth, the search began. There was a lot to navigate, understand, and weed out; hence, why I want to share the 10 most commonly asked questions by new homebirthing moms.
Is homebirthing legal?
Because homebirthing takes place worldwide, I will always tell mamas to check with their specific states, providence, and/or country laws first and foremost.
Living in America, I can tell you that giving birth at home is legal in all 50 states. Where legality comes in is if you plan to hire a midwife. Each state has their own midwife certification laws (or not).
Some states allow both direct entry and nurse midwives to practice and be licensed. Some states, like Alaska, allow Medicaid to be billed and give CNMs prescriptive authority. Other states like Connecticut do not have licensure available and direct entry midwives are not regulated by the state.
Unique states like Georgia actually have direct entry midwives that practice “illegally” because certification that is required by state law in not available. Adding to that (in GA), CNMs are only authorized to practice as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs).
My advice: Check with the laws where you live IF you plan on hiring a midwife. Other than that, you are safe to deliver your baby at home. Click here for more state-by-state information regarding midwife laws.
Do I need assistance?
Simply answered, the preference is yours. In depth, there are a lot of factors to consider when choosing the route to have an unassisted homebirth (also know as freebirth).
Speaking from personal experience, the biggest determining factors are confidence, informed decisions, and planning. Whether you choose to have assistance or not, I highly recommend getting the aforementioned under control.
The midwife we had for our first homebirth helped me realize that I had PTSD that wasn’t dealt with from my first labor and delivery. I’m thankful for that breakthrough because I do believe it was a determining factor in how we have handled every pregnancy, labor, and delivery since that.
I also believe that assistance goes much further than the hiring of a midwife and/or doula. Assistance can be in the form of supportive family members, a support group, or even supplements.
My advice: Whatever assistance route you plan to take, be confident, informed, and secure in your choice(s).
Can I have a hombirth after having a cesarean?
This was one of my biggest questions because as I mentioned before, my first delivery resulted in an emergency cesarean. I even had to get put to sleep and receive a couple pints of blood due to the doctor’s cut.
The research I found was terrifying – at first. Once I navigated what “they” want you to see to keep you blind and dependent on “the system,” I started coming across non-biased information (puts tin foil hat away).
First and foremost, cesareans are considered a major surgery. The procedure in and of itself can be life-threatening to both mom and baby, but as with most things in the modern medical world, procedures become second-nature and the norm once performed a certain amount of times.
I say this next part very lightly because I don’t want to put possibilities in a box… however, there are some things to consider if you are planning to have a VBAC, especially an HBAC:
- Have you had previous vaginal deliveries?
- What type of incision did you have?
- How many c-sections have you had?
- When was your last c-section?
- Are there any health concerns?
With those questions also comes understanding the huge difference between having a cesarean and vaginal birth. If you’re like me, I wasn’t sure what to expect pain wise (or healing wise). My firstborn was induced almost 2 weeks before his actual due date (doctor convenience), and I had the routine meds and epidural. The recovery pains were masked by prescribed drugs and all I had left were horror memories and a scar (and my baby, of course).
Having my first HBAC was a unique, scary, and empowering experience all wrapped up in one. The pain was there but bearable. The labor and delivery was new, but happened comfortably at home. Although I had to transport after this particular delivery, it was not due to any VBAC issues whatsoever.
My advice: Take into consideration the questions mentioned above. If you have any concerns, speak to a healthcare professional that is not biased and will genuinely share true information and suggestions.
Are health checks necessary?
I believe this is totally dependent upon your health history. It is probably not smart to not have a few checks if you have a history of health issues. However, for the mostly healthy mama, checks may not be necessary.
I’m an unassisted pregnancy and homebirther so my checks come from intuition. It may sound crazy but I’m super in tune with my body and can tell when it lacks something. I also have a history of low iron, so I take an herbal iron tincture to help with that.
During my first two homebirths we had a midwife who did the bare minimum. She would check iron levels (because of my history), blood pressure, and fetal growth. I never received vaginal checks unless it was show time.
My advice: The choice is yours if you prefer prenatal checkups. Consider your health history and listen to your intuition.
Homebirth & Motherhood
Find a variety of resources for your homebirth and beyond journey!
Do I need a certain birth space?
Take one look on Pinterest or Instagram and you can find everything from decked out birth spaces filled with candles, flower petals, and a bath of warm water to women giving birth in the bathroom or on the bed.
I personally and naturally navigate to the bathroom and end up birthing on all fours. This has been the case two births in a row. Environmentally speaking, nesting always kicks in a few days before birthing day so having everything clean is never an issue. As for creating a tranquil birthing experience, we play music and may diffuse an essential oil or two.
My advice: Plan for the birth space you’d like to have and do it!
Is there a certain method that makes it better?
Yes and no. Do another quick Google search and you can find all kinds of methods that women will swear by. Others will testify and say their method of choice went out the window when it was labor and birthing time.
Methods are certainly there for a reason and you may very well find one that works for you. If you’re like me, I have my own method, which is not really a method at all. I let nature take its course.
I stay in tune with my body… listening, watching, and feeling for any cues that need my attention and go from there. When labor starts, I remain calm and go with the flow. When its push time, I release and push!
My advice: Research the different methods women have tried, then decide if one of them is something you’d like to incorporate into your birthing experience.
What if something goes wrong?
This is another top question, although it’s further down on my list. Regardless if you’re giving birth at home, a birth center, or even a hospital – every birth is different. Some unexpectedly end in complications while others are anticipated.
In my honest opinion, this is a no-brainer. If you find yourself in a life-threatening emergency, seek medical attention and help immediately. If you have a midwife and/or doula on board, they should know what to do.
Taking the unassisted route? There are some great support groups (like this one for Unassisted Pregnancy/Birth moms) that give a wealth of advice for non-medical emergency situations. There are supplements, herbs, tinctures, and old school ways of handling non-life threatening issues that may arise.
My advice: Do your research. Become familiar with what’s available and how to handle non-life threatening situations. Have a plan in place in the event of a life-threatening emergency.
What if I get to the end and can’t do it?
That’s okay! It happens, and you certainly won’t be the first or last that this could happen to. The biggest obstacle to overcome if this happens is self-guilt, doubt, and depression.
As a mother who had not one, but two births not go quite as planned, I can tell you that the guilt, doubt, and depression are very real. If not dealt with, they can certainly lead to depression and a number of other issues that can affect having future children and/or current parenting.
My advice: Be okay with your choices. Get the necessary help you need to overcome and/or conquer anything that arises from things that may happen out of your control.
What supplies do I need?
This totally depends on your choice of assistance. Most midwives provide you with a supply list that can be purchased through them or their go-to resource.
If you’re choosing an unassisted route, there are a number of things you can have on hand. At first I thought I needed everything under the sun. When show time came, we used two towels, a bowl, some scissors, and an umbi-ring (cord clamp). That’s it.
Some moms feel more comfortable having extra things on hand like a plastic liner (if birthing on a bed or carpeted surface), mini pool for water births (if not using bath tub), extra towels, gauze pads, gloves, and more.
I have several blog posts that can help give you an idea of supplies and products to consider (yes, they open in a new window):
- 12 Must-Have Products for a Healthy, Holistic Pregnancy
- My 7 Top Must-Have’s for Labor & Delivery
- Getting Ready for Baby the Frugal Way
My advice: Get with your midwife about supplies she’d like to have on hand. If going unassisted, research and decide what products you’d prefer to have on hand.
Planning Your Homebirth
I know how overwhelming it can be when deciding to have your baby at home, especially if it’s your first. I’ve made it super easy to help you plan your special experience with my Homebirth Planning Pack. It’s absolutely free and you can snag it below!
Psst… if you would like help with planning your homebirth I’m available to serve you! Fill out this form and I’ll get back with you within 24 hours!
CHIME IN: Not your first homebirth rodeo? Tell me (and other mamas) about it in the comments below!