As I wrote about in Emery’s birth story, we decided to have a home birth for her. This decision was made after quite a bit of research, so I wanted to share some of the reasons that home birth was the right decision for OUR family (very important- since I don’t believe home birth is necessarily the right decision for everyone!)
The top reasons why a home birth was right for us were:
- COVID (although now I don’t think I would ever give birth a different way!)
- Hospital Interventions/ Policies
- Low Risk
- Quality of care with a midwife team
- Birthing in the comfort of our home
- Postpartum services
I found out I was pregnant with Emery at the beginning of the COVID pandemic. While I had in the back of my mind I would consider a home birth if COVID was still bad, I started my prenatal care at Mount Auburn in Cambridge again since I figured everything would be back to normal by the time I gave birth to her in November (unfortunately this was not the case!) Overall, I had a great experience at Mt. Auburn for my prenatal care/ birth with Maddie, plus they took our insurance with was very important.
Hospital Interventions/ Policies
However, from the beginning things looked different. Appointments were spread out to every 4-8 weeks instead of the more typical schedule, appointments seemed shorter and there were additional precautions that had to be taken to go inside the hospital, and I started to worry about what birth would look like in this setting. Hospital policies seemed to be constantly changing regarding being allowed to have a support person or two (and it was VERY important to me to have both Erik and my doula there), needing to be tested for COVID upon arrival, laboring in a mask, and if for some reason you tested positive, they would advise you to be at least 6ft apart from the baby except for feedings.
Once I hit around 20 weeks and had my ultrasound showing that everything was going well, I started to think about what kind of experience I wanted for my birth this time around. Many of the hospital policies (or the unknowns about what they would look like come November) started to make me really anxious and I started to wonder if the hospital was the best place for me to deliver Emery. I decided to start doing some research into home birth and setting up calls/ interviews with different home birth teams. This made a HUGE difference- once Erik and I were able to chat with some midwives and ask them all the scary/ “what if” type questions (very important!) we felt that if we decided to have a home birth, we would feel comfortable in that decision.
It really took though until my 28-week prenatal appointment for us to finally make the switch. I was getting increasingly frustrated with the spread-out appointments, not being able to have Erik come to anything (except one ultrasound), and some of the pressure I was receiving about prenatal/ newborn interventions. After I left my hospital appointment, we knew without a doubt I wanted to have my baby at home with a midwife team.
I also did talk to my OB at that appointment and she said I was an excellent candidate for a home birth given that I was low risk, had a previous vaginal delivery without complications, and didn’t opt for medication the first time. I was happy to have her blessing and we decided to schedule an appointment around 36 weeks back at the hospital “just in case” the baby was breech, etc. (however I never ended up going to this appointment as we knew Emery was head down). Also, if during the birth I needed to make a transfer to the hospital I could have gone back to Mount Auburn.
Quality of Prenatal Care
Once I made the switch to home birth care, the differences were immediate. Erik was able to come to the appointments (at least in the beginning) which made him once again feel part of the team/ process. Appointments were at least an hour and were much more comprehensive encompassing mental health, postpartum planning, health and nutrition, etc. I also developed a great relationship with my primary midwife, as well as with the other midwives on the team who would be there during the birth/ postpartum period.
Birthing in the Comfort of our Home
The home birth team I went with, Embrace Midwifery, are certified nurse midwives so they have a background in nursing as well as midwifery, which made me feel extremely secure. As I said, we talked through all of my questions and “worst case scenario” planning of transferring to the hospital. By the time of Emery’s arrival, I felt completely confident and prepared in our arrangements. We knew where to go if there was a non emergent transfer, if there was a more “immediate” transfer need (my local hospital is only 5 minutes away), and where a NICU was if Emery needed to go. I also really loved how my midwife team didn’t have a “home birth or bust” mentality- we would proceed with a home birth as long as everything was safe, and they looked out along the entire way for any sort of “yellow” flags, not waiting for any red flags.
We also had plenty of time to make sure our house was fully prepared for the home birth. My midwife gave me a list of everything we would need and we practiced setting up the tub in advance to make sure we had all the correct connections (unfortunately I never got a chance to use it because she came too quickly!)
I already wrote out Emery’s entire birth story, but one of my favorite parts of having a home birth has been the postpartum care. The night of her birth the midwives stayed for almost five hours, cleaning everything up and making sure we had time/ space to ourselves while checking on me and Emery, then visits at 1 day, 3 days, 7 days, 2 weeks, and 6 weeks all in the comfort of our home. I only just finished our last meeting and am so sad it’s over! But we have a great relationship and should anything come up in the future I am confident in reaching out to the team.
Please reach out with any additional questions about home birth!