Before we decided to have children, I had never really considered homebirth, I had always just assumed that I would head to the hospital to have my baby, I had never met anyone who homebirthed and my own mother had all four of her children in hospital, in fact I even remember hearing about a hospital when I was a child who let their women birth in a pool and I distinctly remember being absolutely disgusted at the idea, all that goo floating around??? Ew!
I remember the exact moment homebirthing became a consideration for me. We had just decided to start talking seriously about the possibility of having a family, and (not yet) Doting Dad – my now husband who was then just the hottie I was dating – had done his weekly library run and brought me back a couple of books about pregnancy and birthing. I’ll be eternally grateful that the two books he picked up weren’t stock standard mainstream books like “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” but were “Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering” By Sarah Buckley and “Spiritual Midwifery” by Ina May Gaskin. I picked up Gentle Birth Gentle Mothering first and I was hooked. I had never before considered the possibility but as soon as I did, it felt like it was the exact right choice for us. I remember broaching the subject with Doting Dad that night, treading carefully because I didn’t want him to be freaked out by the idea, but he only hesitated for a moment before he was on board.
So the decision to homebirth was made really quickly, intuitively it felt like the right decision for us, it wasn’t until later when I was researching, that I learned more about the hospital system and about the appalling treatment of women during birth. The more I read, the more convinced I became that homebirthing was the right choice for us. It took a long time to get from deciding to homebirth to actually having our homebirth, because we were part of the unlucky percentage of couples who have problems conceiving. It took 26 difficult months to finally fall pregnant but in a way I am grateful for those months because it really allowed me to educate myself about birth, about the risks of homebirthing, and the risks of hospital birthing, it allowed me to become part of an online community of wonderful homebirthing women who supported me through the TTC journey and then through my pregnancy and birth. It allowed me to really come to terms with taking the road less travelled, so that when people questioned me about the choice, I was prepared to answer their questions.
So why was homebirthing the right choice for us? First and foremost I really wanted my birth to be gentle and calm. I am a calm person, and my husband is a calm person, we take things in our stride and our home is a quiet, calm and relaxed place so doing everything we could to make sure that our child’s first journey was calm and peaceful and gentle was a huge consideration for us. We didn’t want her to be born amidst noise and light and strangers in a cold room, in a hospital filled with sick people. The idea of her being born instead into a warm, quiet, dimly lit room with only her family and a midwife present was much more appealing, we loved the idea of her being born into our arms instead of the arms of a stranger. We wanted her entry to be beautiful, not filled with fear or confusion. Secondly, I was very aware that by going to a hospital I would be giving my body to the system. There is a lot of talk when it comes to birth about choice, but I strongly believe that the choices presented to women during birth are not true choices at all and that in most cases women are bullied into fitting into the system, they are coerced into giving up their rights for the sake of the convenience of the hospital staff in the name of policy. They are taught to fear the process of birth, to distrust their bodies and to believe that birth is dangerous.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for hospitals in birth, sometimes there are emergencies, and sometimes women – and babies – need a little help, but it is far from the commonplace occurrence that doctors will have you believe and in most cases women CAN do it on their own. I have heard stories from SO many women who found themselves in the midst of a crisis during the birth of their child while they were in hospital and in most cases the crisis was not averted by the hospital staff but instead was created because of their procedures, this is often referred to in homebirth circles as the cascade of intervention. Babies come in their own time, and messing with the process only causes problems, which is why when you are induced you are WAY more likely to end up with a C Section. Messing with the natural order of things only makes things worse, but a lot of women are lead to believe that the hospital is what SAVED them from disaster instead of being a big part of the problem.
But I digress – In the end deciding to homebirth was the best thing for us, my birth was everything I wanted it to be and Juniper’s entry into the world was just as I imagined it (if a little more intense!) and we were lucky to have made that choice for ourselves because as it turned out I didn’t go into labour until I was 42 weeks and 5 days pregnant which in hospital land is practically unheard of and would have earned me an induction well before our beautiful girl was ready to join us. As it turned out Juniper was born in the middle of the night, into an inflatable kiddie pool covered in fish in the loungeroom of our house-on-a-hill in a country far away from home, with my husband and mother there to hold my hand and a midwife who walked in the door with only 15 minutes to spare.
I’ll tell you all more about that beautiful day in another post, but for now, let me say that homebirth was absolutely the right choice for us and that I would choose it again without a second thought.