Well, I’m almost 40 weeks pregnant and pretty much ready for baby to make her arrival! With my first, I planned a birth center birth but this time around I knew I wanted a home birth. I will say, preparing for a home birth has definitely been more work but I’m really excited about it and thought I’d share some tips on getting prepared! Also, if you’re freaked out by the idea of a home birth maybe this will help calm you a bit haha
With the birth center, they really took care of EVERYTHING which was awesome especially for my first labour and birth experience. I have zero regrets and am so glad I chose the place I did (Babies in Bloom in Vista, CA if you’re wondering!). I was a little intimidated by the thought of a home birth at that time plus we lived in a very small apartment so I really couldn’t picture myself giving birth there. But once I had my son, I felt SO empowered and I just knew I had to try for a home birth next time! The only two things I disliked about my birth center experience were driving to and from the location so the fact that a home birth takes those out of the equation was definitely appealing to me. I always want to labour/give birth where I feel most comfortable… I mean, who wouldn’t right?
Hiring a midwife
Find out what your insurance will cover. Mine covers Certified-Nurse Midwives only. Unfortunately I couldn’t find one locally so I hired a place in the state next to me. It’s a 25min drive, not too bad. Prices will vary. I paid $500 out of pocket the first time where as this time the cost was $1000. First time I had the same midwife the entire time where as this time there are three of them so I have had appointments with them all and whichever two are on call when I go into labour will be the ones to deliver the baby! Biggest thing is just to find a midwife you’re comfortable with. I know some people interview many but honestly I felt like I clicked with them all right away so I didn’t need to “shop around”. I can’t imagine not birthing with a midwife, personally. I feel like my idea of what labour, pregnancy, birth etc should be like align with what midwives believe as well. Not to say that there aren’t doctors who also feel that way but I think they’re harder to find plus in a hospital setting they have to follow certain guidelines.
At the birth center, newborn and birth classes were included in the price so my husband and I took both. I think if it’s your first baby or first natural birth or you have a new partner or it’s just been a while… classes are a great idea. I didn’t feel the need to do them this time and would have had to pay out of pocket but I definitely recommend doing it at least once. The class we took covered both Bradley and Hypnobirthing methods which was great! So decide if this is something you’ll need and factor in the cost. I also took prenatal yoga classes last time. I wish I could have again this time but it wasn’t convenient enough. I did join a gym my second trimester and went for a few months though. I definitely recommend being active during your pregnancy! It will help with labour and post partum recovery.
Books + Video
Books are another great way to learn. My favourites are Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and Mindful Birthing. Ina May’s book is full of birth stories and I loved that it gave me such a wide view of what labour and birth could really look like! That book along with watching natural birth videos on YouTube really helped calm any fears of the unknown that I had. People always ask me for advice on giving birth naturally and I always say the biggest thing is… mindset! It’s believing you (your body) can do this. Mindful Birthing is a very helpful book for just that (there’s also a guided meditation which I recommend.
Another thing to think about is what you want to do with your placenta. At the birth center, encapsulation was included so that’s what I did. This time I’m going to have the midwives cut it up for me to use in smoothies. I’ll probably make a tincture too. You can also choose to bury it, make art, make a tincture etc It is said to help greatly with post-partum depression.
I had my son in a birth tub at the birth center and knew I for sure wanted to have that option again the second time around. Even just laboring in the water was great because it relieved the back pain I was feeling! You have a few options with birth pools. You can buy new, buy used or rent. I chose to buy a used one from a mom who had delivered with the same midwives I’m using (Vivante Midwifery in Portland OR). She even had some of the accessories you need (like a little fishing net) so all I had to do was purchase a new liner. Total cost for me was $170 but I can re-sell the birth pool later for about $100. The pool is HUGE and I’m really excited to use it haha It actually seems more comfortable than the bath tub I used last time (which was like an oversized porcelain tub).
Doulas are amazing and I do recommend them but I actually didn’t hire one either time. I think because I had midwives and my husband (my mom was also there last time and hopefully will be this time), I felt I had enough support. My husband was amazing and I felt like he really did the job of a doula (although a doula would obviously have more experience and knowledge haha). I think if you feel like you need more support or guidance, definitely look into hiring a doula.
Post Partum Care
This was the part I sorta overlooked the first time and now I know better! Post partum recover was no joke! I definitely recommend having frozen pads (I made my own last time but this time I have some pre-made ones), mesh underwear (really helps hold the pads in place and they’re comfortable), bottom spray, sitz bath (I got an actual sitz bath for my toilet this time; last time I just took a shallow bath with herbs, lots of pads, a peri bottle… I ordered a kit from Radiant Belly that had a lot of this stuff in it so that was easy.
This is stuff I wouldn’t have thought of but it’s things the midwives want to have on hand for the birth. Again, it was included in the kit I purchased here. Stuff like gloves, lube, puppy pads and other medical type things.
Preparing Your Home
Another thing you’ll have to do for a home birth is prepare your home. A lot of this is about protecting your furniture and floor. I made a birth blanket which is basically a blanket and shower curtain (or any plastic) sewn into a duvet cover! The midwives can move it to wherever I am to avoid any messes. I was also told to purchase this sticky floor stuff to cover the floor in our room. We’ll also put glow sticks outside of our house if it’s dark so that it’s super easy for the midwives to find. You’ll also want to have snacks and drinks on hand for both yourself and the midwives. You’ll need lots of towels handy, including some for the baby. Oh and bins for garbage/laundry!
So there you have it! It might sound like a lot and at times, I felt like it was, but if a home birth experience is what you want then I think it’s all well worth it. Out of pocket expenses really aren’t too bad. Assuming I have the home birth, I think my total cost will have been under $1500. The birth center I chose last time was only $350 and included SO much, it was a crazy good deal. Even with the cost of the midwife it was still only $850. I think that’s just because it was in a different state. Where you live and what insurance you have will definitely affect the costs but ultimately, you aren’t choosing a natural birth for cost-reasons right? So try not to let it be the deciding factor and just plan ahead. The great thing is you have around 9 months to get it all taken care of 😉
I also wanted to address some specific questions I’ve gotten! Obviously I’m not an expert on this matter by ANY means but this is just my experience/opinion!
How did you get your husband to agree to a homebirth?
Well, I think the fact that *I* am the one pushing a baby out gives me a little more say in the decision, haha. Honestly, my husband is pretty open to “natural” things as long as I provide him with the facts, pros/cons etc The risk factor for home births and birth center births is SO low, lower than hospitals. My husband was 100% for a natural birth already and his only fear was what we would do if something went wrong and of course the answer was we’d transfer to a hospital. We talked to the midwives about risk and how often transfers happened etc which made him feel better. After the birth center, he didn’t even question my decision to have a home birth. He’s very supportive.
How did you find a midwife that would do a home birth, living in the small town I’m in, it doesn’t seem like any of them do home births, they all are based out of the hospital, and the nearest birth center is almost an hour away.
I’m lucky in the sense that the West Coast in general tends to be very midwife-friendly. I had my son in Southern California and this baby will be born in WA State (but my midwives are from Oregon since I live right on the border). Plenty of people travel up to an hour for a midwife! It makes me cringe to imagine being in a car for that long while in labour though haha I was only in one for 10min and it felt like forever! Still, if that was my only option I’d probably choose it. I just love having a midwife so much. You can try using a website to help you find one, asking in local FB groups, asking your insurance company etc
Do you have to be a candidate to give birth at home?
You just have to be considered a low risk pregnancy! I was healthy my first pregnancy and everything went great so I was low risk both then and now. Things that can make you high risk include age, prior C-section, prior preterm birth, previous pregnancy complications etc
Have you ever had a home birth or birth center experience? Would you consider it?