I can’t believe we are on week 39 of this pregnancy! This last trimester has flown by! As some of you may know, we switched from an obstetrician office over to midwife about halfway through the pregnancy. You can read more about that here. We decided that home birth would be our best option this time around.
Over the last several weeks I have dedicated a ton of time to educating myself about home birth. It was a completely new concept to me. As a trained Registered Nurse, I have always been interested in modern medicine. However, due to recent events in the world, I find myself more drawn to a holistic health approach. This is why learning about natural and home birth has become such a passion of mine.
In this post, I will share all of the books, podcasts, documentaries and studies I have used to help inform and encourage my decision to have a home birth.
You can read my home birth story here.
Who can have a home birth?
The first thing I wanted to know before making the decision to have a home birth was if I was even eligible. Home birth isn’t necessarily for every woman. But, if you are healthy, have a a low risk pregnancy and haven’t had any complications then you should qualify for a home birth. Some things to consider are:
- you’ve had a healthy pregnancy, meaning no blood pressure issues, diabetes, HIV or any other infections/complications
- some midwives deliver twins at home but if you’re having two or more babies that is definitely something to consider
- make sure your midwife is comfortable with VBACs if you’ve had a previous c-section
- you have a hospital nearby just in case a transfer needs to happen
- look at the laws in your state – here in North Carolina, certified professional midwives are not permitted to deliver babies at home. Technically, only certified nurse midwives can. NC is one of four states with this law. If you live in one of these states, it doesn’t mean a CPM won’t deliver at home, but there are extra hoops you have to go through. **if you have more questions about this feel free to email me personally.
Midwifery care vs medical/interventionist care
The more research we did, books we read and documentaries we watched, the more we could recognize that there was a major difference in midwifery care vs medical care.
I want to make it clear that I am not anti-obstetrician or anti-medical intervention, I am for women knowing their options, feeling safe and having confidence in their birth plan.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I just went with what I thought was my only choice. I did what my doctors told me, never questioned anything, and unfortunately it ended in a birth that I didn’t walk away empowered from. It’s amazing how compliant you realize you are after you learn more about the choices you have.
I have outlined in the graphic below the main differences between midwifery care vs medical/interventionist care.
Home birth educational books
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth
I highly recommend this book for anyone who is pregnant, regardless if they plan on having a home birth or not. Ina May Gaskin is basically the pioneer of modern midwifery. She explains the birthing process, different types of medical interventions, how to have a natural birth and shares positive birth stories. Definitely a must add for your reading list while pregnant.
Childbirth Without Fear
Some might consider this an old school book because it was written many years ago, but it still very relevant and remains one of the most popular birthing books. Dr. Dick Read discusses the fears western women have about childbirth and why. He also goes into detail about how to change your mindset so that you can have a natural birth.
I’ve taken a deep dive into learning about hypnobirthing this pregnancy, especially in these last few weeks. This book is a great place to start if you’re considering using hypnobirthing as a relaxation method during labor and delivery. Hypnobirthing has been shown to eliminate the need for drugs, can shorten birthing/recovery time, reduces need for c-sections, and can help promote the bond of mom and baby.
Home birth documentaries
The Business of Being Born
Again, this is another must watch for any new mom. Watching this documentary might have been the most eye opening and educational resource for birth I have come across so far. It talks about the insane history of westernized birth, some mind blowing statistics and is just overall such a great film.
Why Not Home?
This was a fascinating documentary that told the stories of healthcare providers that choose to have a home birth. Even though these women work in a hospital setting, they still feel called to give birth at home. The documentary goes into the polarization of home birth and examines the hardships women go through when it comes to having limited birthing options.
If you’re interested in learning more about the ins and outs of midwifery, this is a great documentary to watch. It shows you all of the hardships and obstacles they go through, especially when it comes to delivering babies at home. The documentary also looks into the states that have restricted home birthing laws, so I found this part fascinating as well since I live in one of those states.
Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin and the Farm Midwives
As I continued to learn to and read about midwifery and home birth, I became fascinated with the life of Ina May Gaskin, who I mentioned is a pioneer for today’s midwifery. Her and her husband created a community called “the Farm” where women could come and give birth in a safe place in a home environment. The documentary delves into her life and explains how she got to where she is today.
Childbirth education courses
If you enjoy being taught by someone else or just want to learn more, there are a ton of childbirth educational courses you can take. While I am already pretty familiar with the birthing process, I knew I wanted to have some tools to use to help me cope with a natural labor and birth. I chose to take an online HypnoBirthing course called Better Birth Stories.
Melanie, the teacher, is actually based out of London where she does in person classes, but she also teaches online. She does an amazing job of teaching all about the birth process, breathing techniques, visualization techniques and more. The class also comes with access to a private Facebook group where you can safely ask questions and have discussions about birth.
The course is desktop and mobile friendly. There are also audio clips you can download to your phone to practice the breathing and visualization skills she teaches in class. And the best part is it’s way more affordable than a lot of other classes out there. Highly recommend!
Home birth research studies
If you are a person who needs to see the data and the actual risks of having home birth, then research studies would probably be good resources to check out. These two studies are ones that stuck out to me the most:
Outcomes of Care for 16,924 Planned Home Births in the United States: The Midwives Alliance of North America Statistics Project, 2004 to 2009
I like this study because not only does it take place in the United States where I reside, but it also studies a large cohort of women. The results concluded there was not an increase risk in outcomes for the women who had a home birth.
Perinatal or neonatal mortality among women who intend at the onset of labour to give birth at home compared to women of low obstetrical risk who intend to give birth in hospital: A systematic review and meta-analyses
This is a meta-analysis which looked at 14 different studies to look at the neonatal mortality of home births. The 14 studies combined studied about 500,000 women who gave birth at home. The results showed the risk of perinatal or neonatal mortality was not different when birth was intended at home or in hospital.
If you are a huge podcast lover like me, then you’ll be happy to know there are some great birth/home birth podcasts out there to listen to! These podcasts not only provide birth education, but also birth stories. Listening to positive birth stories is so important when you’re pregnant to help boost your confidence! Too often we hear of all the negative and traumatizing birth stories which can make us anxious and fearful of birth.
So, be sure to check these podcasts out:
Knowledge is power
If there is one thing I have learned, it is that we as women need to take back our power when it comes to our own births. We have unfortunately put all of our trust in medical professionals, who a lot of the time don’t really know us. No one knows us better than ourselves, therefore we are the only people who can make the best decisions when it comes to our health.
I have met some incredible obstetricians and doctors as a nurse and a patient. I have the upmost respect for all healthcare providers who put their patient’s wants, needs and lives first. The purpose of this home birth series is simply to inform you of your options. Especially during these weird times.
You have options. You have a choice.
Stay tuned for part 2 of the home birth series coming soon!
Definitely an informational read. My wife and I have had two children and the topic of a home birth had never come up, but definitely something for future parents to consider.