Birth evokes varied emotions, opinions and expectations. Whether it’s medicated or cesarean at the hospital, with a doula, at a birthing center, or at home, choosing where to birth is one piece along the journey. People often appeared surprised to learn we chose home birth since I work as a labor and delivery nurse and my husband is an anesthesia provider. We asked these six big questions before making our choice:
WHY do I Want a Home Birth?
The big question. I had to ask myself if there was something I was trying to prove in an non-medicated delivery at home. In the end, our home provided the space I felt most at peace and able to do the work of labor. I felt empowered choosing the place to birth and knowing it was right for our family. Bringing my daughter into the world right in our bedroom transformed my life forever.
Am I a Good Candidate?
I held the concept of home birth lightly, knowing each pregnancy unfolds differently. After our twenty-week anatomy scan, I felt more confident about our choice. I chose only to proceed with birthing at home if everything was normal and healthy for both baby and I.
Do I Have a Team I Trust?
Portland offers great options for maternity care providers. We chose Catherine Schaefer, CNM, ND as our midwife with A Gentle Beginning. In Oregon, there are several types of midwives offering home birth. It was important for me to choose a certified nurse midwife that had a lot of experience. To be totally immersed in my labor, I sought out a provider I could fully trust with the decision making.
Am I Prepared?
Every woman’s experience of birth is different. While there is little that we can control in this miraculous process, I wanted to put in the work to make the experience as smooth as possible. We chose to take hypnobirthing classes. Afterward, I practiced my relaxation and verbal affirmations everyday for the last half of my pregnancy. Envisioning a smooth, quick and easy birth became part of my preparation.
Can I Afford a Home Birth?
This one brings in the practical piece of birthing. At the time, my insurance partially covered out-of-hospital births. In addition, we used our health savings account to cover the rest. Knowing our insurance coverage, payment options, and creating a plan for payment can eased the stress of covering unexpected costs.
What if it Doesn’t Work Out?
Having a clear transfer plan ranked high on our importance checklist. We lived less than ten minutes from OHSU in case of an emergency. Being close to a major medical center allowed me to relax into the setting of our home. If we were farther from a hospital, I might have considered a birth center instead.
Regardless of how and where we birth, becoming a mother is a powerful transition. When expectations shift during pregnancy and birth it provides yet another opportunity to practice flexibility, acceptance and non-attachment. I would love to hear more about your birth stories! Feel free to share them with us!