Homebirth with a licensed midwife is a safe alternative to hospital births for many women. I worked with homebirth midwives during both of my pregnancies and had incredible experiences both times. My first delivery took place in the hospital. We planned a homebirth, but 24 hours into labor, the midwife made the call to transfer to the hospital. I am grateful that I got to labor in my home and that my son Birch was born vaginally with the assistance of my midwife and a very caring hospital staff. My second delivery, 4 ½ years later was at home. It was amazing. Bliss was born peacefully into the world and shortly after his birth, we moved from the bathtub down the hall to the bedroom, where we snuggled in bed together as a family.
Homebirth is not for everyone, but I firmly believe that it ought to be covered by insurance, just like any other medical expense. In states like Vermont (where Birch was born) and New York (where Bliss was born), health insurance companies are required by law to cover homebirths.
One of the reasons I enjoyed my experiences with homebirth midwives so much, is because I had the opportunity to grow and learn about my body, nutrition, and mental health. Each of my prenatal appointments were a full hour long and the midwifery model of care is a holistic practice that nurtures mind, body, and soul of the whole family.
Here are 5 things I learned through my homebirth experiences:
1) A healthy body requires good nutrition. During my first pregnancy, the first question my midwife would ask at every appointment was, “Tell me everything you have eaten for the last two days.” Every good midwife knows that a healthy pregnancy starts with a healthy diet, but it this isn’t just true for pregnancy. Human bodies thrive on a diet of whole, fresh, organic foods.
2) Emotional health and physical health are interdependent. Both homebirth midwives I worked with took time during every appointment to delve into my emotional state, helping me to uncover fears, discuss stressors, and work through all the complexity that comes with bringing a new life into the world. The reason for this is that fear and stress are powerful emotions that have real physical consequences including compromising the immune system, the heart, blood pressure, fertility, and childbirth.
3) No woman is an island. We are only as strong as our community bonds. The family and friends we surround ourselves with will be our strength when times get rough. It’s worth every ounce of energy it takes to nurture those relationships and maintain healthy boundaries.
4) Birth is not a medical emergency. As a culture, we have forgotten how to trust the process of birth. It can be scary, but it is not something to fear. Most women are fully capable of giving birth to healthy babies without intervention in the vast majority of circumstances. We need to trust birth.
5) Women are strong and beautiful creatures. Every single human being on this planet was grown inside of and birthed by a woman. Women have been giving birth to babies since the beginning of the human race. How amazing is that?!
Want some more inspiration, here are some great quotes from the queen of all midwives, Ina May Gaskin.