Advice about Home Birth
Berkeley Parents Network >
Health & Medical >
Advice about Home Birth
We are expecting our 2nd child in June and will be having a
homebirth. Our first daughter will be 3 yrs old. We'd like for
our daughter to be present/at home during the birth. I'm
wondering if anyone out there has been in this situation, and
can share their experiences. I'm worried about having someone
present that she and I feel comfortable with so that she can
choose to be with us or to play in another room. I know I will
most likely need my husband by my side the whole time. Another
option for us would be to have a doula with me so that my
husband can come and go as needed. The problem is that I can't
think of anyone else that I would feel very comfortable having
around while I am in the throws of labor. I guess I'm just not
sure how to handle it and would love to hear how others have
made this work.
Having just had a wonderful home birth, I would urge you to find someone you
feel comfortable with to care for your 3 year old. If you are like me, and like
numerous other moms I know who had home births, you will want and need
your husband by your side for the whole birth. It is also an experience that he
will treasure and not want to miss.
Hi! Yes, i can tell you my experience, I've had a few:)
First, we had a homebirth with both my second and third. My
daughter was 3 for the first, and it was the single best
experience of my life! (don't tell my husband!) We were
lucky enough that her ''Aunt'' Jen was there, for two days!
She is my wonderful friend, whom i felt was intuitive enough
about my daughter, even though she had no kids of her own,
or any birth experience. We arranged that she would make the
call, if it got too much for my girl, Jen would take her to
her own house. But, she was more than fine, and there for
almost every second, though looking back, there were times
she got bored, and they went on walks, etc.
We did the same for my third, though the middle one was only
18 months and couldn't handle it. We had another friend take
her to her home, and Aunt Jen came again and took care of my
oldest. This time she was almost 5, and was there every
single second, soothing me, wiping my brown, catching the
baby and cutting the cord! It was magical, and she is now
blessed with a perception of childbirth most people never get.
On the flip side, I'm a doula, and have done many
homebirths, in that very situation. Especially people who
are not from here, they don't have anyone close enough to
help. So, my experience was, we meet asap, and I visit
several times, simply to get to know the family, esp. the
child. We go to parks, cafes, whatever the child is used to,
so they get acquainted with me.
Then, when the time comes, I come at the same point any
doula would, and when the midwife is called, that's when I
take over for the child, because dad's getting busy, things
are bustling, etc.
That's how I've done it from both perspectives. I'm sure
experiences vary greatly! Feel free to contact me directly
if you want to hear any more stories! All in all, it'll be
Get somebody that your daughter already has a trusted
relationship with to come take care of her in your home. or
hire a doula to do this. They will provide as much info as
she wants and can also play with her at home or take her out
to the park if she needs a break. She'll be fine as long as
somebody's job is to take care of her needs. Of your doula
and your husband can take turns caring for your daughter...
i had a homebirth 2 months ago. My second child. First is
going to be 3 in March. I went into labour at night while
he was sleeping so he woke up to a little sister so have no
advice as to what to do with a first kid. I think that the
first kid just finds their way. I'm not sure if this is
your first homebirth but in my case my husband could have
done all the work with the 1st kid. I didn't need him at
all. Every experience is different but once i w as in
labourland i didn't even know who was around me. Other
than my midwife i don't think i needed anyone else!
Perhaps between a couple of good kid movies and your
husband you don't need anyone else. i didn't want anyone
else around like people next door or brother in laws...
We just had our 2nd child at a birth center. Our first child
is 4 years old. We told our daughter that the birth room was
just for grownups until the baby is born, and of course the
baby isn't a grownup, so she could come in when the baby was
there. She played with her grandmas in the birth center
playroom, until the baby was born - then she came in to the
birth room and announced the sex of the baby (we all
pretended we hadn't already looked!). She then went back to
the playroom and told the grandmas about the baby. After the
placenta was delivered and I was modestly in bed under the
covers, the grandmas came in and our daughter showed them
the baby. This arrangement worked out well for me, as I
could labor without worrying about her worrying, and she
felt she was being helpful, and the grandmas were clear that
their role was to help the older grandchild.
I hope your birth goes smoothly and that you find a way to
arrange your support people that works for you. Good luck!
-MIL doesn't need to see me naked!
I just found out I'm expecting a third child in 2009. I've
always said ''that if I have a third, I would like to birth at
My first 2 pregnancies is everyone's dream. No problems,
except swollen feet for the first, and itchy skin for the
second in last month of pregnancy. Both births were short and
natural. Less than 3 hours for the first and less than an hour
for the second.
As both births have been straight forward and simple, I was
thinking of staying home might just be easier. I've never seen
a real home birth or really know what goes on. I'm more
concerned about what happens to the baby after labor, as I've
gotten used to the hospital letting me hold my baby for a few
minutes and then whisking of to check health, etc..
I'm aiming for a natural birth again. I have a gut feeling I
should work with my midwife and just stay home instead of going
to the hosptal, which seemed a waste of time and money last
time. My HMO paid most of the cost of the 11k natural birth I
had at Alta Bates, but I feel I will be just fine at home.
I'm still young, not a high risk pregnancy, etc..I'm looking
for advice on any of you who decided to stay home and how it
worked out for you, and what the procedure was for baby and you?
I look forward your advice!
Don't hate me, made to have babies!! :)
I've had two straightforward homebirths, so can't give you
hospital vs. homebirth perspective, but here's my experience.
Specifically to answer your question about what happened after
I held baby about 10 minutes (in birthing tub / on bed) and the
midwives checked baby briefly in my arms. My husband held baby
while I delivered the placenta. Once I was settled in bed, baby
had a full checkup while laying next to me. Weighed baby and
then I had help nursing her while midwives/doula cleaned my
kitchen, hauled away dirty laundry and made me something to
eat. Family cuddled in bed and midwives left once we were
settled and secure. I recall feeling relieved we didn't have to
go anywhere. Pediatrician dropped by to check the baby a few
hours after we called to let them know the baby was born.
Midwife came back to check on me the next day, then several
times over the next few weeks.
I was expecting (and got) a very fast labor for my second, so
called my midwife as soon as I realized I was in labor. Worked
out fine. Congratulations on your pregnancy!
You should rent the movie ''The Business of Being Born'' It was a great
movie and will
most likely solidify your desire to have a home birth. I did not have
one, but after I saw
this movie I wish I had. It documents a few women (one being Ricki
Lake) and their
home birth experiences.
We've had four homebirths, and I cannot imagine doing it any
other way. The older siblings were always at present, and all the
kids are extremely close; each other's best friends. We believe
it's mostly because of the homebirths. Our #4 wasn't covered by
insurance, but we decided that the new baby deserved an equally
wonderful beginning as his siblings. We paid the midwife little
by little after I had seen a doctor (a good friend of our
midwife's) at a clinic for prenatal care (covered by insurance).
After the birth, the midwife checks the baby, and you make an
appointment with your pediatrician to take the baby in. Our
youngest was a day or two old when we took him in for a check-up.
never a hospital-patient mom (knock-on-wood)
If your last birth took only an hour, you might be having the
next one at home regardless of whether you had planned to go to
I would recommend waiting to make a decision until later in your
pregnancy when you and your doctor are sure that everything still
Also, check how much your HMO will pay toward your home-birth
expenses. Sometimes, HMOs function better in assembly-line
fashion than in handling special needs.
I know that you are going to get many supporters of home birth on this
please reconsider the hospital. At Alta Bates you can get little to no
intervention, but if
you needed it, there are professionals there who can save the life of
you and your
I had a home birth at age 41, and I am so deeply grateful for
that experience. My sister-in-law is an obstetrical nurse and
says that, knowing what she knows, she'd be crazy to give birth
in a hospital. She's had all 3 of hers at home too! She is back
in school now to become a certified nurse midwife because she is
so uncomfortable with the aggressive hospital interventions she sees.
My midwife's name is Mason Cornelius, and you could probably find
her contact info. online. In 2004, the cost was $4000 for very
consistent, competent, and educational home visits throughout the
pregnancy, and for the delivery. The cost is the only downside as
far as I'm concerned.
My labor was not easy (3 days) and those midwives were pro's. My
husband was in awe of them. Their depth of knowledge, creative
problem-solving, and wisdom are just phenomenal. I have no
question that if I had needed to go to the hospital, they would
have erred on the conservative side and taken me right in.
I researched exhaustively before making my decision, and the
upshot was that infant/mom risk is about the same with
professional midwife homebirth as in a hospital. The causes
differ, but the statistics don't much. In a homebirth, issues
arise, not surprisingly, from a lack of medical technology in a
crisis. At the hospital, the dangers are exposure to infection
from being in a sickhouse, basically, and from interventions that
If you have any questions, feel free to email.
You might want to check out the film ''The Business of Being
Born''. It's a wonderful documentary put on by Ricki Lake who
explores having your baby at home.
The USA has the 2nd highest infant mortality rate in the
developed world for hospital births and an alarming maternal
death rate related to medical interventions. Some of the most
prominent medical doctors in the U.S., among them, Christiane
Northrup and namely, Marsden Wagner, who served as the Director
of Women's & Children's Health for the World Health
Organization (WHO) for 15 years, agree (and Wagner is quoted
as saying): ''If you want a safe, humanized birth, get the hell
out of the hospital.'' I'm not trying to scare you into having
your baby at home, but these are the real statistics on these
issues. When I start to build my family in 2-3 years, if my
baby is healthy and a homebirth is indicated, I will definitely
be having my babies at home. Best of luck to you! I know
whatever you decide to do will be a wonderful experience!
Hi! How wonderful, congratulations!!! I have three kids, too, and
my last two were born at home. I will tell you, it was amazing.
Neither would I call ''easy'', my third being extremely trying (3
days of labor, 10 pound baby, etc. ), but healthy and normal.
Rather than tell you all the details here, i would really suggest
you start contacting midwives in the area. They are happy to come
to your house for an interview, you can ask them every ?? you can
think of, and all of them understand there's a good chance you
won't hire them (you can only choose one, and there are alot of
them!). They'll leave you with pamphlets of info, and you can
choose the one you connect with the most. Two that I will suggest
is Ellen Levitt in Alameda, her website is wombservice.com , Also
there's the well known Awakenings with Debrah Simone and her
clan. Both are freaking great! Also, look up some birth videos on
line, or Natural Resources in the city rents birth videos of
homebirths. It really is a completely natural process, it sounds
like you already have great faith in yourself and your body, and
birth in general. I would just suggest you start doing some
research. (BTW, the midwives come fully prepared to do all the
newborn checks that are necessary.)And please feel free to
contact me personally, it's good to be with people that can
relate!! Best of luck to you in making the choice right for you
and your family!!
You might really enjoy watching ''The Business of Being Born,'' a
movie about birth, including homebirth, that came out last
year. My experience of homebirth was that I could hold my baby
as long as I wanted. The midwife did the health checks when we
were ready. In fact, my baby didn't even leave the house for
two or three days after he was born.
I had both of my babies at home and it was the best decision for me.
I worked with a wonderful midwife, Amrit Khalsa, and was so well taken
care of and supported and I cherish that. Each one of us needs to
choose where we feel the most comfortable and for me it was definitely
at home and not in the hospital. I was able to labor in familiar
surroundings, have family close by (and a midwife who could manage
when I needed to be surrounded or not surrounded) and not have to move
during labor. After each baby was born I could relax and enjoy being
cozy at home with a wonderful home cooked meal and feel all the
amazing energy that comes with a birth emanating from our home. The
midwives came by to visit regularly after the birth and checked in on
us and helped in so many ways.
My son, who is a teenager, loves to drive by the house he was born in
in San Francisco and just see where he was born. We live in the home
my daughter was born in and she jokes that is why she loves to play in
Have your baby at home!
I can go on and on and I would be happy to talk more about it with you
if you have any questions.
You should totally go for it! I had my first baby six months
ago at home and it was so wonderful for many reasons. I can't
compare with hospital birth, but being home was comfortable and
relaxed. All the people who were with me were loving, trusted
friends and family and skilled practicioners. If you want more
information please feel free to email me.
My midwife is Judy Luce. She lives in Berkeley and is amazing!
She has a website you can look at. Have you seen the
documentary, ''The business of being born''? You should see it!
How exciting that you are expecting your 3rd baby.
I just had my 3rd baby and had him at Alta Bates. Our first two
were home births. My home births were beautiful (except for the
pain, which is why I decided to have baby #3 in the hospital
with an epidural.) With my first two births I decided to get a
birthing tub, which was a wonderful experience. I labored with
my first in the tub, but she was born outside of the water. Our
2nd child was born in the water, which is truly magical. Our
midwife listened carefully to what we wanted and let me hold
the baby for as long as I wished. Unfortunately, I was pretty
much out of it from the extreme pain and my interest in the
baby at that time was fairly low. The midwife caters to YOU.
The aftercare at home is 100% different from that in the
hospital. In the hospital I was just pretty much dumped in a
room and I was instantly a statistic. Our vitals were checked,
but there was zero care given. At home you are in your own bed,
the baby is with you and there is no interference whatsoever.
I was also much more relaxed because I was at home. I wasn't a
patient. I was a mother giving birth. It wasn't invasive with
monitors, etc. Just my husband and I sharing the moment of
It sounds like you already made up your mind, so I'd say: GO
FOR IT! Have a wonderful birth and enjoy your new baby when
By all means, yes! Have your baby at home! I had three children, two
babies were born in my bed at home. I cannot speak highly enough of the
experience, the midwives and the after birth care. I loved not having
to go anywhere
for check-ups. I found the midwives to be experts at what they do, for
they really know how to help you get your baby out.
Some things that really surprised me about homebirth-
1. It's all you baby. Depending on how much you want the midwife to be
it's really you who are having to push that baby out. I spent most of
my labor alone
in my bedroom because that's how I felt most comfortable.
2. Even though you might be dialated to a ten and through transition,
HAVE to push the baby out. This happened to me, and I tryed to push the
for at least an hour to no effect. Because I was so tired, my midwife
advised me to
take a nap, I said,''can you do that?'' She said ''that babies gonna
come out of you at
3. The after birth was wonderful! The midwives immediately placed the
me and didn't take it off until I was ready- or in the case of my last
listening to him breath she felt it necessary to take him into a steamy
help him breath and clap a special cup several times firmly on his back.
NO SUCTIONING! I thought this was necessary, but that is not always
nurses in the hospital did this to my first baby and I thought it was so
4. With the help and constant supervision of your midwife you can
shower after the
birth- meanwhile, the other midwife will change your sheets and make
perfect for you and your new baby to get cozy and rest. I was treated
like a queen!
Huge glass of fresh squeezed juice and whatever else I needed.
I suggest reading lots of books. I read Misconceptions by Naomi Wolf,
by Peggy Vincent, I can't remember the other ones, but they were about
as well. I think that this is the most peaceful wonderful way for a
baby to enter this
I had a great homebirth in Albany - much more pleasant than
going into Alta Bates. My daughter was born in our living room
in front of a cozy fire. I took an herb bath afterwards. The
midwives cooked my husband and I dinner and tucked us all in
bed before they left. I think that was a little unusual,
though! This was Madres widwifery in Berkeley with Lucero
Dorado. Work with a midwife you trust and respect - it was a
beautiful experience for us.
What a wonderful question. My most heartfelt advice is to give
yourself and your whole family the lovely gift of a homebirth.
I work in a Bay Area hospital birthing center, so I am very
familiar with hospital birth, and I gave birth to my own child
at home. Many hospitals will ''allow'' you to labor as you
wish, especially in the case of someone like you who has
relatively easy labors and births. But what was so radically
different at home was what happened AFTER the birth. There was
no rushing, no whisking, no timetable, no obligatory hospital
routines, no frequent interruptions. Just me, my partner, and
our baby gazing at each other, snuggling in our own bed, eating
our own food, using our own shower, being dressed or naked as
we felt like it, resting when we needed to, and with the
incredibly loving and constant attention of our midwife. It was
truly magical. And, with two older siblings, I think that it
can be an incredible way to include children in the birth (to
the extent that they and you want them involved). There's
really nothing like it. Of course, pregnancy can bring
surprises, and the best laid intentions to birth at home don't
always work out. Your baby could be breech, you could have a
placenta previa, or any other number of factors could
necesitate a hospital birth. During the birth itself, there are
a number of situations that would require transport to the
hospital, and then of course you would just go. No one is so
committed to homebirth that they would jeopardize a mother or
baby just to give birth at home. That said, most of the time
pregnancy and birth proceed normally and can happen quite
safely at home. I think the best approach is to set your
intention to birth at home, work with a reputable midwife whom
you trust, make your plans, and then be flexible and willing to
let it go if need be.
Logistically, there are a few things that happen after the
birth that you need to make arrangements for: 1) the newborn
screening blood test (PKU, etc.) -- most midwives will do this
for you, so that you don't have to take your newborn to an
office or lab to get it done. It should be done sometime
between 12 hours and 7 days of life. 2) a pediatric exam --
midwives will do the initial assessment of your baby, but you
should probably have a pediatric exam within 24 hours or so
after the birth. Your pediatrician may be willing to come to
your home to do this, or you can pay any number of
pediatricians in the area who will do this. Much nicer than
having to go in to the office. You must make arrangements in
advance for this. 3) the birth certificate -- your midwife will
give you the necessary paperwork and information. Then, on your
own sweet time, you need to make an appointment at the county
records clerk office and go down in person to fill out and sign
their paperwork. An easy visit, I think we did it when our son
was about 6 weeks old. It was sort of fun to have him ''off the
grid,'' so to speak, and not known to any bureaucracies for
that small window of time.
I hope this answers some of your questions. As a medical
professional who is involved with birth, and especially as a
mother who gave birth at home, I truly do not see any downside
to homebirth. And the upside (well, there are too many to
mention) is a beautiful, transformational experience for the
whole family. Best of luck to you!
I decided to have a home birth for my second child and it was great. That was eight weeks ago and I am so glad that I went that route. You are the perfect candidate: low-risk pregnancy with easy, fast births. The midwife will give you a list of supplies that you will need for her to use and to keep your house clean. My midwife's priority is to let the family bond with the new baby right after the birth (provided everything goes fine and mom or baby don't need extra care for complications). So, I actually pulled my baby out myself (about 1/2 to 2/3 of my baby was out). I scooped her up under the shoulders and pulled her onto my tummy. My baby stayed on my tummy/torso until the placenta was out, I believe. They wrapped her up at some point and I nursed her fairly soon after the birth. They don't weight the baby for an hour or two (or give the baby its vitamin K shot, etc.), and they didn't give me my three stitches that I needed for about three hours. My midwife really believes that if everyone is healthy, bonding takes priority and that these other things can wait. They clean up and make sure I get a shower before they leave, and also make sure that we are all OK and settled in. It is so nice after the birth to be home and not in the hospital in their uncomfortable beds with constant interruptions from nurses and other staff members, and no roommates! The atmosphere after the birth is calm and warm. I suggest that you seriously cosider this option.
Congratulations on your pregnancy! It sounds like your first two
births were ''easy'' and fast. I have had two homebirths and am
planning our third. Here are some facts for you to consider:
Midwives who attend homebirths are either CNMs (like the ones at
your hospital) or LMs; both have had extensive training, just
different routes. Both are certified by the State of California.
Homebirth midwives are trained for emergencies and what to look
out for and would never keep you at home if they sense something
is not right. They carry oxygen, are neonatal resuscitation
certified and almost always work in pairs (one midwife for the
mother, one midwife for the baby). The cost of homebirth in the
bay area is about $4000.00 and HMOs will NOT pay for this. PPOs
would consider this as outside of their provider network and
usually pay up to 70% of the cost after deductibles. Homebirths
are wonderful and I believe you get more care and one on one time
with the midwife than you would at the hospital. First of all,
most midwives will do home visits with you and they will last up
to an hour each time. They first come once a month or once every
3 weeks, and then every 2 weeks, and then every week. AFter the
baby is born, they do a complete check of the baby and there are
even some pediatricians in the area who have worked enough with
the homebirth community here that they trust the midwives'
judgement enough to not ''require'' the families to come for a 1
day or 3 day appt. with their baby. Some pediatricians will even
do a home visit after the baby is born! One of my favorite
things about the midwifery care is that the midwives will attend
to you after the baby is born, 1 day, 3 days, 1 week, 2 weeks and
and then 3 weeks later, checking both YOU and the baby. You do
not get this from a hospital birth. Most doctors require that
you come in only at 6 weeks to get a check and you need to take
your baby to the pediatrician yourself. Also, midwives can do
all lab tests or sign off of them if you need them during
prenatal/postnatal visits. Midwives will do the Vitamin K shot
and the eye antibiotics if you choose for your baby. Midwives
can even perform IV lines for you during labor if you are GBS
What they will not do is strap you to a continuous heart rate
monitor throughout your pregnancy (they will check at appropriate
times with their doppler) and they will not make you stay in bed.
They will not deprive you of food or drink; in fact, they will
encourage you to eat whatever you want and to hydrate yourself. They do not care how many people are in your home, if you don't
want the cord to be cut right away, if you don't want the cord
cut at all (called a lotus birth)!! All decisions are mutually
agreed upon; they will advice you but you have the final say of
anything (unless of course it's an emergency during pregnancy -
say, preeclampsia - or during labor/birth). You will need to be
aware that you are fully responsible for all decision making,
more so than at a hospital. Midwives usually don't carry
malpractice insurance because 1) it is cost prohibitive and 2) it
may not be offered to them, so be aware of this. Also remember
as I already said, midwives are trained to know what are unusual
or abnormal pregnancy symptoms; they will only offer homebirths
to low risk women. If symptoms arise that cause a woman to be
high risk, they will refer you to your OB/GYN or hospital based
midwife for a hospital birth. Lastly, you live in a great area
where there are so many wonderful, experienced midwives
available. Call SOON because most midiwves are booked 9 months
in advance!!! My favorite is Cindy Haag, of the Homebirth
Collective, www.bayareahomebirth.org. She has a fine balance of
alternative and western medical knowledge and is respected by
midwives, doctors and hospitals throughout the bay area, inc. SF.
She is often booked though!! I can compare hospital and
homebirth care because I have been a birth doula at hospitals and
also a homebirth apprentice midwife, as well as having had
concurrent care for my pregnancies. You can post a reply with
your email address if you need more information or want to talk.
3rd timer homebirther
I realize that there can be many beautiful aspects to a homebirth and
I see all the positive feedback regarding choosing that path, but here
is my 2 cents...I had two midwife attended, intentional drug free
hospital births. There were about a dozen times that I thought to
myself during labor how glad I was to NOT be at home. They were...that
birth is messy! How nice to not even think about that aspect and who
was dealing with the mess, the endless hot water the hospital had for
6 hour showers, the birth/toilet seat, the comforting knowledge that
IF something should go wrong, I was where I needed to be, the team
behind the scenes making sure I and baby were fine, all the paperwork
that was just handled, and the feeling that I was NOT at home...with
the phone, doorbell and other daily interruptions that I would find to
be intrusion. My second child did wind up getting stuck and it was an
intense few moments, but the right Dr was called and there in a
second. I was able to breathe through it and the midwife coached me,
but the knowledge that SHOULD the baby or I need
immediate intervention, we would have been okay was worth more that
what I perceive to be the pluses of having a home birth. If we had
crystal balls that would be a different story, but we don't and why
risk it? I don't mean to be the lone fear monger here, but things can
and do go wrong in childbirth and if you can still have a positive
natural birth experience with support there in case of an unforeseen
circumstance, why wouldn't you?
Pro natural hospital birther
I'm planning a quite late switcheroo to a homebirth (32nd week)
from Kaiser. I was hoping to get some advice about all the
bureaucratic stuff that is typically done for a birth. I.e. the
pregnancy disability paperwork, birth certificate, etc. I know
at Kaiser, they usually help you with all this stuff. Is it more
of a hassle when working with a midwife? Anyone with experience,
I'd greatly appreciate your advice.
Congratulations on your baby. We also switched to a homebirth
from Kaiser, but ours was at 16 weeks. The midwife was wonderful,
really helping us a great deal, and she handled all the paperwork
for tests and screens she did through her. We took care of the
birth tub ourselves (midwife had a list of renters), and ordering
our birth kit, for which the midwife provided the info as well.
There was a Labor and Delivery form Kaiser had for us, as they
were our backup.
We did have to fill out a couple Government forms ourselves. To
get pregnancy-related disability, I had to fill out a claim form
for State Disability Insurance (SDI) benefits. I sent it in the
day I stopped working. Here's a link to SDI phone numbers:
Then for paid family leave, California state's EDD automatically
sent me the form ''Claim for Paid Family Leave (PFL) Benefits -
New Mother, DE 2501FP'' when my SDI claim was ending. I sent the
form back with the documentation it asked for. They phoned me to
verify the info was correct and they phoned the midwife to verify
the birth. PFL kicked in when the SDI ended. My partner was able
to claim PFL as well.
For the birth certificate, our midwife gave us the number to call
for birth certificates at the county health department. They set
up an appointment for us to come in with the baby. At the
appointment, the midwife met us there, so we could all sign the
form and certificate at the same time, and it was all easy and
friendly as they knew the midwife well. We were in and out in
about 20 minutes--not a hassle for us. Much joy to you on your
Good for you for choosing a homebirth! You will be so thrilled.
From my own experience, there is no hassle about any of the
paperwork. I filed for my maternity leave/disability with no
problem, and the birth certificate is something you and your
midwife do at your convenience with the county. As I recall, we
waited several weeks to file it. Good luck!
we did just this! because of open enrollment timing, we switched
insurance at 36 weeks (jan '05) from kaiser to a PPO. and the
baby came so fast that she beat the midwife by half an hour (so
she did not sign off on the birth cert).
the paperwork isn't that difficult.
SDI: midwife (hired when i was ~3mos along, and still with
kaiser) filled out/signed the MD portion, i mailed it in. my PFL
was automatically extended afterwards (ie forms sent to me by EDD
when SDI was due to run out). when my husband applied for PFL, we
didn't have the ''required'' paperwork for proof of birth yet
(hospital D/C record, birth cert), so we sent in copies of the
midwife's affadavit of pregnancy and the preliminary application
for the birth certificate. no questions asked, checks started
birth cert: took midwife's affadavit of pregnancy, and the
application forms she had given us to fill out, to alameda co.
registrar (?1100 broadway). had to call for an appt, and there
was supposed to be a lag time of several weeks, but when i
explained we were going to need the birth cert in order to apply
for PFL (which i later turned out not to actually need, but
didn't know then), and were having $ difficulty waiting for PFL
benefits, the registrar kindly fit us in that week. we had to
take the baby to the appt (required, ?so people don't scam?), and
since my huband and i (and our 3yo daughter) were the only
witnesses to the birth, my husband signed as attendant/witness
(where the midwife/OB would usually sign). the hardest part was
getting out the door (with a 2 week old), and sitting in the
registrar's office for an hour (with a restless/whining 3yo),
while he filled out the computer fields. i can't recall his name,
but he was very nice, and told us that he was born at home, too!
he does all the birth/deaths in alameda co (mostly sent in by
hospitals), except for some reason berkeley is separate.
have a great birth!
signed :done it, it's not so bad.
a home birth is worth it! there may be a little more effort on
your part, and your midwife will help steer you, but having
your newborn, snuggling in your bed, having your family around
and not having any unneccessary prodding or poking is way worth
it! i've had a hospital birth and home birth, and although
both experiences were great and fortunate, home is the way to
go, no matter what the trade off.
My sister is having her first baby. She announced to the rest of
the family that she and her husband decided to have the baby at
home. We are very concerned about it. She says that she has done
a lot of ''research'' about it, which I think means that she's
surfed the internet and found postings about how horrible
hospitals are. She hasn't visited the hospital and is somewhat
unwilling to hear other points of view. I did some basic internet
searching and found that most of what is out there is very biased
towards home births. Even statistics like ''40% of first time moms
end up having to go to the hospital anyway because of slow
progression'' are presented with a more positive slant.
I have known lots of moms who have had successful home births for
their second, third or fourth child. My main concern is that it
is her first baby so no one knows how it will go.
Another sister and I both have been able to have normal vaginal
deliveries but we each had significant tearing and two of the
four babies we have between us had some complications during
delivery (umbilical cord around neck and one was a ''floppy baby''
and needed to be resuscitated).
Please be kind in your responses. I'm just looking to hear
experiences, positive and negative and maybe some suggestions on
where to find information that presents both options(hospital and
home) in a non-biased way.
I think you'll be hard pressed to find non-biased information for both
sides in the same publication. We all suffer from confirmation bias -
ignoring data that doesn't support our pre-conceived notions and
overvaluing data that confirms what we already believe. As a woman who
had her first baby at home and is planning the second in a couple
months, I'm biased toward home birth.
My pregnancy and birth progressed differently than my sister's; each
woman and each birth is different. I got flack from my family for
choosing home birth. I wish they had been supportive. I had a short
birth with a healthy alert baby. Her cord was around her neck, but it
was not an emergency that TV shows portray. Midwives have the training
and equipment for handling minor complications. Those requiring
additional care are transferred to a hospital, and how wonderful it is
to have that resource when needed. Transfer to a hospital is rarely an
emergency; usually evidence of midwives being cautious.
Each woman has to make her own decision. I think each of us will birth
best wherever we feel safest. I can tell you love your sister and are
worried about her, but challenging her first major parenting decision is
not helpful in the long run. If she appears headstrong about it, I'd bet
she's just bracing herself for the reaction she anticipates from family,
not that she is uneducated. Buy her a copy of "Ina May's Guide to
Childbirth" and tell her how excited you are for her.
Hi Sister of First time Mom,
I had a wonderful home birth for my first son and didn't tear at all
because I labored in a tub and birthed him in a tub (not allowed in
hospitals). it was a wonderful joyous experience with almost no pain
(fear but not pain) and without drugs.
I've never met anyone who felt bad about their homebirth but many many
moms who do about their hospital births.
The research i've read, and i've read a lot, is very clear-- healthy
moms are better off at home.
As someone who's family didn't origianlly support my home birth but are
now very happy I chose it, I hope you can slow down and recognize that
this is your sister's birth to plan. She will feel more loved by you if
you respect her choice then if you challenge it.
BTW, my midwives let me have the 45 minutes it took for me to birth the
placenta (my baby wasn't latched on correctly so I didn't have enough
nip stim) but in a hospital they would have separated me from my son and
given me a dnc-- and that's really painful without anastegia but with
anastegia I'd be giving it to my newborn in milk.
I am so glad for the loving home birth I got to have.
Thanks for listening
I am the mother of one child and I had an absolutely beautiful home
birth. There are a lot of books that have been written that include
real research based on birth experiences in other countries (see
''Gentle Birth Choices'' by Barbara Harper as an excellent example) that
show that home birth can be a safe and positive alternative for those
who choose it. I don't think home birth is for everyone, but for me it
was an important choice. I knew that I would feel most comfortable if I
had control over my environment. I took a birthing class specifically
designed for people who intended to birth at home. I hired a team of
highly experienced Certified Nurse Midwives who came to my home to guide
me through my birthing experience and who I trusted implicitly. I knew
that if I or the baby faced any serious danger they would not hesitate
to transfer me to the hospital (Alta Bates was about a 10-minute drive
from my house), but I also knew that as long as everyone was healthy and
looking good I would be able to stay at home.
In the end I needed an episiotomy, which I didn't mind having at all in
part because I knew that my midwife would not have suggested it if she
didn't think it was important to do. If I had been in the hospital I
might have second-guessed whether it was really necessary, which might
have made me feel bad after the birth about having an unnecessary
intervention (something I very much wanted to avoid). Even with the
minor procedure, I healed up in no time. My baby had the gentle
entrance into the world that I wanted for him and I have a very postive
memory of an empowering, beautiful, even fun (at times) labor and birth.
I have a graduate degree and I know how to do research, and I also know
how to follow my gut. Home birth was absolutely the right choice for
me. I would do it again in a heartbeat. If it's right for your sister,
please find a way to be open to her perspective if you can. If you do
some reading about the statistics of home birth in other developed
countries you might be surprised to see how safe it is (particularly if
an experienced midwife attends the birth). Good luck to you and to her.
Happy to have had #1 at home
I'm not trying to be unkind, but this is not your birth. You've made
your decisions and now your sister is making hers. If you've told her
your point of view and she has not been receptive, you should drop it.
Ask yourself if there is any statistic or fact she could have given you
to make you change your mind and have a homebirth for yourself. If the
answer is no, then why do you think you can convince her against
something she feels is right for her?
I've had both a hospital birth and a home birth. My homebirth midwife
spent several hours with me talking about risks, and I really liked the
way she summed it up: some risks are greater in a homebirth, some risks
are greater in a hospital birth:
what set of risks are you most comfortable with? All sorts of educated,
rational, reasonable, informed, and cautious people prefer the set of
risks in a homebirth.
I asked my midwife LOTS of questions about what would happen if
something went wrong, including worst-case scenarios i.e. what could
happen that would cause the baby or me to die before we could get to the
hospital? With that information, I felt that I could make a responsible
and considered decision. I had a high degree of confidence in my
midwife's expertise, including medical expertise (she had been a labor
and delivery nurse, and a neo-natal ICU nurse)-- certainly, a
highly-competent midwife is essential.
I guess it's hard to describe why giving birth at home is so important
to some of us. My hospital birth experience wasn't
horrible: unmedicated, no interventions, and of course the
indescribable joy of a healthy baby. But, giving birth at home was...a
truly spiritual experience, like a veil opened up in our house, an
incredibly deep peace, even in the midst of strong labor.
Perhaps you could embark on your research project with a truly
open-mind, with the intent of educating yourself instead of convincing
your sister-in-law. Then, you might be able to share in the joy of her
pregnancy, and truly support her.
Happy and healthy at home
I had a homebirth with my first child, and the research does support the
idea that, for a normal pregnancy, homebirth has equally good outcomes
for the babies, and better outcomes for the moms. I also had an
excellent midwife, which is important. You might want to watch the
excellent PBS video ''Born in the USA''. I showed it to my mom and to
anybody else who had misconceptions about homebirth, and it seemed to
work really well. In fact, my mom ended up realizing that she would
have been a perfect candidate for a homebirth, and would have had a much
better experience. Here is a link to a page about the video--I think
you can order it there, also.
I hope you end up being able to support your sister in her choice.
Hope This Helps
I just had to write to your post, and I'll try to be gentle. I had VERY
strong opinions towards having a home birth though my family was very
worried about it. I had a wonderful experience as a first time mother.
My midwives were amazing, and I am totally sure that I would have had a
c-section if I were in the hospital because my labor was very long. My
midwives not only skillfully unwrapped the umbilical cord from around my
baby's neck without my even being aware of it, but also helped my baby
who wasn't breathing in a way they felt comfortable with. Midwives,
especially around here, are very careful when it comes to the health of
their clients, and will recommend a transfer to a hospital if they have
concerns. If I were you, I would celebrate my sister's choice to have
her baby in a way that feels the best to her. She most likeley will give
birth in a natural and loving enironment, and best of all after the baby
is born, she will be able to curl into bed with her new little one, in
the peace of their own home.
I know someone who had a home birth (first child) in a rural area and
the baby died of complications that could have been handled at a
hospital. Another mom with a first birth had to call 911 to have the
baby resuscitated; the umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby's
My first birth had complications and only quick action by a team of
specialists prevented my son from having possible brain damage.
For a home birth it is good to have a well thought out emergency plan.
Did you know that women in many European countries always have their
births at home? That is the norm. They are moved to the hospital when
there are complications. The reason for this is that women generally
feel much more relaxed in their home environment which often results in
a more relaxed birthing experience and less complications.
I'm sorry that you're so fearful about home birth for your sister.
Here's my bias up front: I had a first-baby home birth in Berkeley in
2004 and could not have been happier. Prenatal visits were one hour, in
my home. I was required to do a lot of homework with my husband
regarding our hopes and expectations; also about complications and their
outcomes. My midwife provided educational books and videos and wanted
us to visit the hospital and take a childbirth course. In other words,
she strongly encouraged us to learn about the reality of birth in
general and home birth in particular. All standard medical tests were
available and discussed extensively. She and her team came to my home
five hours before my delivery (when I called) and stayed for six hours
after, then visited my family many times in the days and weeks following
She did an excellent job with the 13 stitches I needed (with local
painkiller) and had oxygen on hand. My son was born totally healthy and
we were all unexpectedly happy not to be stuck in the hospital AFTER
It turned out that 3 of 12 women in my Mom's group had successful home
It's true that no one knows what will happen with a first -or second,
third or fourth birth. But home birth midwives are obligated to turn
down women who have medical reasons not to give birth at home. That's
why their morbidity and mortality statistics are better than doctors and
midwives in hospitals.
A 40% hospital transfer rate for first time births is much higher any
I've seen, though it is true that some women go to the hospital.
Remember that few of these women transfer because of medical emergencies
and very few of these transfers result in poor outcomes for mother or
Are there risks in home birth? Yes. There are also real risks in
hospital births, resulting from the hospital setting. I wouldn't
recommend home birth for anyone who has not chosen to learn about birth
and pain management - you really need to train for it. It sounds as
though you AND your sister could both learn more about the realities of
home and hospital births. Maybe buy her the book ''Birthing from
Within'', which has accurate information about preparing for hospital
and home birth and is ''alternative-y'' enough that you may be able to
slip it past your sister's defensiveness. For you I'd recommend reading
Ina May Gaskin's most recent book about home birth - the back of the
book has outcome statistics about thousands of home births.
You'll probably get a lot of responses to this question and I'm looking
forward to reading all of them.
Would Do it Again Tomorrow
I had both our children at home. There are two midwives present during
the birth and they are highly trained and will also know when to make
the decision to move the mother to the hospital if that is necessary.
Both my births were wonderful. No complications and I received wonderful
after care at home.
I realize that it seems controversial to have your child at home, but it
is a very normal, beautiful experience. Good for you for trying to get
more information about this, though.
I understand and appreciate your concern for your sister. I had a
homebirth three years ago and was so happy we were fortunate to birth in
our own bedroom and spend the night in our own bed with our new baby.
Ultimately, this is your sister's journey and her experience, while
possibly similar to yours, will be her own. In our situation, I found
that those who were supportive, even if they wouldn't choose it for
themselves, were the most helpful to me during my own decision- making
process and the birth itself. I know that a few of my sisters and my
parents never really got on board with the idea (and definitely none of
my in-laws did), but they were respectful and caring throughout the
process. That meant the world to me. You might be able to find comfort
in the research that indicates that homebirths are as safe or safer than
hospital births for a non-high-risk pregnancy, but even if you can't
come to a place of total confidence for yourself, you can provide loving
support and back-up to your sister during this important time.
happy homebirth momma
I have three friends who had successful home births for their first
pregnancies. This is actually quite common and most births turn out
fine. If your sister has a competent midwife, she will be fine, even if
she ends up with complications.
Have you read the study ''Outcomes of planned home births with Certified
Professional Midwives: Large Prospective Study in North America'' from
the British Medical Journal?
It will help you to be informed. I had a homebirth with my first and it
was the best thing I've ever done. I hope you can come to support your
sister and her decision--it is a great one for her and her baby, a safe
choice (far safer than hospital births according to studies that have
convinced European nations to advise homebirth for low-risk pregnancies
to increase the safety of birth there...a little research will point you
there (most of this is on my computer in .pdf form and you didn't leave
your email address)).
If your sister is in the Bay Area, point her to the Bay Area Homebirth
Collective for support. http://bayareahomebirth.org
I could go on and on about the upside of homebirth, but I will let
others sing that song. Suffice it to say, the interventions regularly
used in hospitals (induction, etc) inevitably lead to even more
intervention (epidural, episiotomy, etc) and doctors will tell you this
(if you have x, you are more likely to have y as well). As a doula, I
have seen this up close.
Your belittling of your sisters research seems to indicate that you
generally don't trust her; that seems like a bigger issue to me than her
choice of venue for her birth and one better resolved directly rather
than indirectly through dissuading her from a safe choice around her
labor and delivery.
Best wishes to your sister and her husband!
proud and informed homebirther
I was a two-time homebirth mother and know many others. In fact, I
would suggest that you go to one of the Bay Area Homebirth Collectives
potlucks. They are very informative and new parents will talk about
their experiences, whether they had a homebirth or a hospital birth.
And you would get to talk to many homebirth midwives. The potlucks
aren't just for expecting parents: http:
You may also want to read this very recent study, published in the
British Medical Journal regarding homebirths in North America. Most if
not all of the homebirth midwives in our area were part of this study:
Lastly, no one knows whether a first time or a second time or a fourth
time labor and birth will be ''normal''. But, licensed midwives, like
certified nurse midwives (who mostly work in hospitals) are trained to
screen out mothers who may have a high-risk pregnancy, so chances for a
normal birth at home are optimal. And licensed midwives are trained in
neonatal resuscitation, carry oxygen and other such medical devices.
They also know how to suture most tears if that happens.
Umbilical cord around the neck is actually not so rare and often OBs and
midwives just take the cord off when the baby's head comes out - true
umbilical cord wrapping that creates a serious problem is not as common.
And yes, you're right - many first time mothers end up transporting to a
hospital - but for NON- EMERGENCY reasons, the main one being for ''lack
of progress'', meaning that labor may have stalled and the mother is
exhausted. There are definitely times when a hospital birth is
necessary or advised, and homebirth midwives know when this is so
- they are not going to keep you at home just for the sake of a
Unlike hospital births, homebirth midwives visit their mothers and
babies the day after birth, three days after birth, 6 days after birth,
10 days after birth, 3 weeks after birth, and then 6 weeks after birth -
and are on call 24 hours a day. They check on the mother AND the baby
AT HOME. Care with a homebirth midwife is like being pampered, and
rightly so as a new mother!
Like you would interview for an OB - which is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - you
should interview for a midwife. I hope your sister has done this. I
think you would benefit from going to one of the BAHC potlucks.
Good luck and please keep an open mind and most importantly, support
your sister in whatever decision she makes - she is already stressed
about all of the decisions she has to make as a new mother.
i can understand your concerns around a first-time mom having a home
birth, but speaking as a first-time mom who wanted an unmedicated birth,
i wish i had given birth at home instead of the hospital.
i labored at home with the support of my husband and doula. i actually
handled labor so well (walking the entire time, which probably
progressed labor faster, and just riding each wave as it came) that i
was ready to push when i was still in our bathroom. i was waiting for
this horrible pain and experience to consume me. i figured it must be
horrible if most people in our culture talk about labor so negatively
and use drugs with little hesitation. but it wasn't that way at all. to
my surprise, i was ready to push after only 4 1/2 hours of labor.
although i was ready to push, i felt going to the hospital was the
''responsible'' thing to do, so i held my daughter in for an hour until
the nurses let me push at the hospital. HELLO!!! i held her in for an
hour! we'll never know what caused what, but our daughter was EXTREMELY
colicky and suffered from reflux for months. colic is still one of those
baby mysteries (which some attribute to digestive issues), but in our
experience it wasn't that cut and dry. we tried every remedy, between
alternative medicine and conventional medicine, and nothing worked. to
this day, we can't help but think the trauma of holding her inside of me
for so long contributed, if not, caused our daughter's colic and reflux
so all of that was a long way of saying that no one can predict (whether
first-time or not) what will happen in labor. it's most important that
the mother and partner choose a provider they're absolutely comfortable
with and trust completely.
complications usually present themselves with warning signs, so there's
time to get to a hospital, if the provider knows what to look for.
to address a couple of other points you mentioned...
tearing is less likely if the mother is unmedicated and pushes when she
feels she's ready (not when she's ''coached'' to do so).
resources on this matter are never unbiased, especially if you ask my
husband, who has come a long way in his views on childbirth. during
pregnancy, i enjoyed reading _birthing from within_ by pam england and
rob horowitz and especially _ina may's guide to childbirth_ by ina may
gaskin. ina may's book is rich in information and is supplemented with
inspiring stories about women who birthed in a home-like setting.
I want to be clear that I am not being judgemental. This is a very
personal decision. But, let me not mince with words, my son would be
DEAD, not sick, not ill, dead, if we had chosen a home birth. He was
our first. I had no complications during my pregnancy, was extremely
healthy and carried to term. We had no inkling, I repeat, no idea, that
the baby was sick until the moment he was born, with acute pnemonia and
unable to breathe on his own. There wasn't even time for the doctor to
call for a crash cart, he simply took the baby off of my chest and
literally ran him to the intensive care unit. During his stay in
intensive care, there was at least one more baby born with identical
circumstances. I feel for you as you worry over her decision,
especially in light of your own family experiences. Just the chance
that this could happen to anyone else, and that they could be far from
help, makes me cringe. The possibility that my baby would not be alive
today because of a decision I made is not something I could live with,
maybe your sister-in-law is a stronger person that I am.
Grateful to be a Mom to a Healthy Baby
We recently had our beautiful baby girl at home. It was a peaceful,
quiet, joyful first birth.
There two websites I would recommend for information on home births and
why they are safer than hospital births (for 'normal' pregnancies).
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth book may help you understand more about
home births and the birthing process.
In addition, there was a midwife on KPFA's Your Own Health and Fitness
(2/27/07) The show was called Cesarean Epidemic. Here is the link:
After our homebirth experience, I couldn't possibly imagine having a
birth anywhere else, especially in a hospital. And as a doula who has
assisted in numerous hospital births I can attest from personal
experience that a hospital is the least conducive place to give birth.
I wish your sister all the best in her home birth and that you will be
able to support her decision.
I may not be the person you are looking for to answer this question,
since my homebirth was with my second child. But I did have one hospital
birth and one homebirth. I was initially very skeptical about a home
birth and very worried that a complication would force me to go to the
hospital anyway, or that there would be a medical emergency. I had a
very stress- free experience with my homebirth. My hospital birth with
my first son was in general fine, but I did have significant tearing and
there was some stress around getting him out because of a dropping
heartrate. For several reasons, I have come to the conclusion that my
stressful experience at the hospital was actually CAUSED by things that
the attendants at the hospital did and didn't do, and if I had been at
home, that birth would have gone completely differently.
While I was laboring at the hospital, the nurse on duty made me stay on
my back with the monitor on for several hours because the baby's
heartrate was dipping. I had a very strong urge to get onto my hands and
knees, but they wouldn't let me. My labor slowed down. Once the shift
changed, the new nurse put in an internal monitor which allowed me to
change to hands and knees.
As soon as I made that change, his heartrate was absolutely fine and my
labor sped up again. When it was time for me to push - inexplicably -
they made me go back to being on my back.
As soon as they did that, his heartrate started dipping. They didn't let
me change position - instead, they decided to use suction. He came out,
and because of the suction, I tore considerably. Right after that, the
doctor said that she regretted they'd used suction, because he came out
pretty easily, he would have come out in time anyway, and the suction
really made me tear. I had a very long recovery period (it was
3 months before I was walking right again) and some depression issues
that I am fairly certain were related to that.
4 years later - my homebirth was entirely on my hands and knees, and
that position worked so well for me that between when my contractions
started to get strong and when he came out was about 20 minutes tops.
Yeah, some of that had to do with the fact that it was a subsequent
birth, but I really think that the atmosphere at home and the fact that
I was really self- directed in my laboring made a huge difference in my
Another thing that I want to say... midwives KNOW when there is a chance
someone will have to be transported to the hospital.
They are not waiting and hoping situations will improve - they transport
right away if they think there is a need. They are also fully trained in
resuscitation, handling hemorrhages, etc - all the common complications
that can arise. The midwives I worked with had plenty of first-time
parents as clients. When I asked them about transporting to the
hospital, they said that they would not hesitate to do it at all, and
that in 10 years of practice they had not had a single medical emergency
at a home. So if your worry is that she will have a medical emergency
and she or the baby will be harmed - look at the statistics about how
often that happens at a homebirth vs. a hospital and I think that will
ease your mind.
I also want to say that the quality of care given by midwives is really
unbeatable. For this last pregnancy, I changed to a homebirth very late
in the game (36 weeks) so I experienced Kaiser care vs. midwife care. I
can't tell you how different it was. At Kaiser I didn't see the same
person twice for my appointments, which were all of 5 minutes each, and
no one paid any attention to my state of mind (which I was worried about
because of previous PPD), my other child, my knowledge of caring for a
newborn - they were only interested in the baby.
After one or two weekly hour-long meetings with the midwives, I felt
very different, and much better, about my pregnancy. I didn't realize
before that how much the tone of the care you receive really influences
how you think about yourself, your body, your baby.
Anyway - please don't take this as propaganda or dismiss this as biased.
Actually, I AM biased but it is thoroughly based on my experience. I
hope you can let her make her decision and stand behind her.
Like you, I support homebirths but am a bit more nervous for
first-timers. At any rate, midwives do carry resuscitation equipment.
They also sew tears and have the same medicines to stop hemorrhage that
the hospital uses.
I don't think it's really your business to pass info along to her. This
is her body, her birth, she knows what she wants to do and she doesn't
need your approval. Though, showing disapproval will add to her stress.
So, do everybody a favor and be nice about it.
maybe homebirthing next time
I'm sure you'll get plenty of responses, so I'll try to make mine short.
I think most people consider home birth because
(ironically) they are scared of the birth process (aren't we all?)/and
or hospitals/doctors, and are trying to exert any kind of control they
can on an unknown situation. If I were you I would try to get your
sister to open up about her specific fears or concerns. Most of them
can be addressed with a good birth plan/doula/midwife in a hospital
In my own birth experience, after a completely healthy, uneventful
pregnancy and labor, my daughter got stuck in the last phases of
pushing, and her heart rate was dropping with each contraction. It
turns out her cord was also around the neck (very common). My ob
suggested using forceps to get her out (and then gave me and my husband
time alone to discuss it, btw) and if she hadn't, I don't know what
would have happened.
To be more on the direct side, you could always use this approach:
''If your baby stopped breathing when it was one day old, would you
insist (s)he be treated at home, or would you take them to a hospital?''
and then assuming she says she would go to the hospital, ''So what
difference does that one day make?''
Sure, a lot of babies are born at home and MOST of them do okay, but do
you want your baby (or yourself) to suffer what could be irreparable
damage if something should go wrong?
And lastly, in the words of a (young) pediatrician I know....
''My grandmother gave birth to all 10 of her children at home, and
8 of them lived''
If your sister does decide on home birth, I wish her all the luck in the
world, she'll need it.
Expect the best, but prepare for the worst...
Believe in the Boy Scout Motto
when i was pregnant with my first, i wanted completely natural
childbirth. i was going to, however, have a tub birth with a midwife in
a birth center with docs on site. much to my shock (having an
unbelievably great pregnancy) i ended up with a cesarian. it turns out
my uterus was abnormal (bicorunate) and i couldn't give birth naturally.
we didn't find out until they noticed my baby was breech - which they
didn't find out about until they went to check something else on
the reason for my story? i thought everything was going to be perfect
with my birth. but the truth is, birth isn't perfect. if i hadn't gone
in to the hospital, either i or the baby could have died. now, tons of
women have successful home births, but i don't know if i would risk
finding out that i am the one who will have a problem. that is why we
wanted natural birth in the hospital in the first place.
I have had TWO successful homebirths! My first child was born after 17
hours of grueling back labor at home. She was positioned funny as well
(hence the back labor), but heart tones were always great and she was
born completely pink. I stalled for several hours at about 7 centimeters
and we did begin talking about transfering to the hospital because I was
so exhausted. But, I really wanted this baby at home, so we prayed hard,
worked together, and had a baby!! It was amazing! I tore very badly (I
think the worst my midwife had seen) and needed lots of stitches which
my midwife did. I attribute the tearing to the transverse position of
the baby. I did take months to heal. But, this could have just as easily
occured in the hospital.
I was one of 3 women in my childbirth preparation class who had
successful homebirths, all of us first-timers. I did lots of research as
well (including a research paper on homebirth vs.
hospital birth in nursing school) and it all points to the fact that in
the presence of a qualified practitioner, homebirth is as safe as
hospital birth. I think she should go for it! As long as she is close to
a hospital and has a good midwife, she will most likely be fine. She
will most likely also have a much much more positive experience as well.
an RN who chooses homebirth
sorry if this is ''biased,'' but really, 99% of pregnancy/birth info in
the US is biased towards the ''necessity'' of hospitals and
interventions that disturb the automatic unconscious efficiency of
birth. i am a PT, i work in a hospital, and was pretty mainstream UNTIL
i gave birth in a hospital. mine would be considered a ''natural birth''
(no drugs, 7 hrs labor, 2 hrs at alta bates), but i felt bossed around
and ''processed'' by the system. they even gave me pitocin WITHOUT
TELLING ME (found out later when i got my records) to speed delivery of
the placenta, which left me with terrible afterpains. i felt so strongly
about my needs/feelings being ignored the first time, that i started
researching. when i read about ''undisturbed'' birth (=unassisted
childbirth) it sounded like heaven!
i chose a homebirth for my next birth. i now know many women who've had
first babies at home. it was like night and day how great the care of my
midwives was. they came to my house, spent 1 to 1 1/2 hours with me each
visit, gave me tons of info, and really dealt with finding out what i
needed. i'm sure i would have had a great first labor with midwifery
care. in fact, my 2nd labor was so easy (and quick, ~4hrs) that i had
the baby shortly before the midwives got there, no active pushing, just
the strength of the contractions doing their job. i felt so empowered by
this experience because I myself delivered my baby. women's power is
co-opted by the medical industry that distrusts our bodies, and thus we
have insane C/S rates.
so if you distrust the internet, read some books, anything by:
sheila kitzinger: http://www.sheilakitzinger.com/BooksUSA.htm
ina mae gaskin: http://www.salon.com/people/bc/1999/06/01/gaskin/
Michel Odent: http://www.michelodent.com/section.php?section=odent
or contact the Bay Area Homebirth Collective for more resources.
please educate yourself to allay some of your fears, and allow your
sister to make her choice without trying to scare her. as you read, ask
yourself if some of the problems you and your other sister had were
CAUSED by the hospital model. were you given freedom of choice in
positioning? or did you deliver in stirrups for the convenience of the
doctor, like i did, which is much more likely to cause tearing than any
other position, such standing, all fours, sidelying (where i wanted to
be), or squatting. were you monitored, and thus expected to stay still
for the convenience of monitoring, then saw your labor slow? there's a
lot to learn about birth, and most of what conventional OB's and ''birth
classes'' teach is geared towards teaching women to be expectant and
accepting of medical intervention. i hope you can learn to trust your
biased: wish i'd homebirthed the first time
I hear that you feel concerned for your sister out of fear for her and
her baby's well-being. It's truly a big unknown.
Personally, I had a planned homebirth for my first baby that turned out
fine, and we'd do it again. When DH and I were trying to make our own
decision, it was by talking to a friend who was a homebirth mom, then
reading ''Having a Baby, Naturally'' by Peggy O'Mara & ''A Thinking
Woman's Guide to a Better Birth'' by Henci Goer (I recommend the above
Henci Goer book as it wasn't biased against hospital birth), touring the
L&D ward at a hospital, talking to three hospital doulas, then
extensively interviewing three homebirth midwives. After that we made
our decision, by which time I was 18 weeks along. When I told my OB, she
said, ''How exciting that must be for you.'' I still kept going to the
OB for tests and cursory exams.
However, factors influencing one's decision to plan a homebirth differ
for each individual. For example, does your sister have diabetes or high
blood pressure? If there are things in her medical history that would
make her pregnancy high risk, then a midwife could not work with her in
a homebirth setting. Has she interviewed many midwives? To ease your
mind, you could ask her to find out the midwife's history re: number of
births attended, number of transfers to the hospital, how deliveries
with high risks, wrapped cord, neonatal resuscitation and other
complications are handled. My midwife had been trained to deal with
those kinds of eventualities. I found her through the California
Association of Midwives. http://californiamidwives.org/
One thing I tell people is that even if I had ended up being transfered
to the hospital, the prenatal and postpartum care I received from my
midwife was much more comprehensive than what I would have gotten from
my OB. We formed a close relationship with her and her apprentice and
backup midwife. Each prenatal visit was an hour or longer to include the
exam, educational information, and question-and-answer sessions; she was
on call 24 hours for me from the moment we hired her. I was able to call
her anytime with questions, and when I suddenly started feeling an
intense back pain at week 26, she even came over at 4am with her fetal
heart monitor. The care during labor and postpartum was also of the
highest quality, exceeding our expectations.
That's just my experience. Best of luck to you, and hope that eases your
Is it your *younger* sister who's considering a homebirth? I'm a big
sister myself, and there's something familiarly condescending about your
attitude -- no offense intended, and your heart is in the right place,
but it's so hard for us big sisters to stop trying to take care of the
little ones, even long after they've grown up and no longer wish to be
taken care of!
I know you're worried about her, especially as it's her first birth.
But whether it's a first or a fourth birth, no one knows how it will go
-- birth is always unpredictable.
But reputable studies (not just Internet opinion) have shown that for
uncomplicated births, homebirth is as safe (or safer) as hospital birth.
So despite your sister's lack of experience, homebirths aren't any less
safe for a first birth.
Unless she's planning an unattended homebirth, she'll have trained
medical professionals monitoring her throughout her pregnancy, as well
as at her side when she delivers -- if needed, they can deal with cords
wrapped around necks, resuscitate the infant, stitch up tears, etc. And
unless she lives way out in the middle of the woods, it's just a short
journey to the hospital should anything more serious go wrong. (The Bay
Area joke is that if a C-section is needed at a homebirth, it's
''decision to incision'' in 30 minutes, same as in the hospital.)
My family has a tradition of homebirth (one cousin had babies #1-3 at
home, another cousin had #2 at home, and another cousin is planning #1
at home) and although the extended family was worried at first, now
everyone thinks it's the way to go. I gave birth to my son in the
hospital, barely -- I labored at home right through transition, then
went to Alta Bates as I was pushing -- and I wish I had planned for a
homebirth all along. It would have been much easier and more pleasant.
You asked for recommendations -- you might read ''Born in the USA: How a
Broken Maternity System Must Be Fixed to Put Women and Children First''
(UC Press, 2006) or ''The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth'' for
two scientific, evidence-based examinations of the issue.
Check out The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer.
While certainly biased toward natural birth (which it sounds like your
sister is anyway), it gives a very informative view of hospital
procedures, expectations, risks, etc., and it helps prepare you for how
to advocate for a natural birth in a hospital setting. While it may not
sway your sister away from home birth, it does provide a very realistic
view of what hospitals will want to do and what it will mean. (I wavered
about birthing at home myself, decided on the hospital, and hated the
whole experience, wishing instead that I had stayed home.) I can say
that we pulled out this book many times in the course of our
26 hour labor and it helped us get as close as we could to the birth we
wanted to have. I will read it again when it is time for #2.
Best of luck.
wish I had birthed at home
I had a home birth for my first child and do not regret it. I did have
complications with my delivery. I don't know of any specific impartial
resources, however, mothering magazine covers alot of issues around both
home and hospital birth. I know that they support home birth ,but also
feel that they mostly support every woman being educated and comfortable
with her birth decisions. I personally could not have imagined going to
the hospital. I think it is important to respect the wishes of your
sister. I suggest that you ask to meet with the midwife and share your
fears and ask her how she deals with complications. I think, that as a
first time mom, i didn't know what questions to ask my midwife before
the birth which resulted in a less than ideal birth. As an experienced
birther you could help your sister ask questions. I suggest that the
midwife is very familiar with your sisters home before the birth, asks
specific questions about how your sister sees her birth, talks about how
present she will be durring the birth and for how long she will stay
after the birth. We do not live in a rural area and a hospital is never
too far away. I think that every mother knows that to give birth is to
be on the brink of life and death.
Choosing the right midwife is very important, as well as ensuring that
your sister is
in good health and recieves a lot of support from her family I have
home birth and hospital birth and a home birth can be an amazing
experience, if everyone is prepared. P.S. most births are without
complication, If at you look at statistics from holland and other
european countries many people choose homebirth and the rates of
complications are much lower.
hard happy home birth
One of the biggest dangers in birth is mom's anxiety. If she will feel
most comfortable at home then that's where she should be. Birth can be
overwhelming, but having a calm familiar atmosphere can help a lot. When
women are in labor, it tends to slow down if we are not where we can
relax or at least feel safe. I think this is a major reason for the lack
of progress many have in hospitals (that and some overly optimistic
stats on how fast labor should progress).
I think there are many problems which are caused directly or contributed
to by hospitals which are then ''solved'' by them. For example,
according to medical journal articles I've read, almost all severe tears
(3rd and 4th degree) are associated with episiotomies. this may or may
not jive with your personal experience, it certainly does with mine (no
episiotomy, very small tear (one stitch).
Also consider that hospitals and much more germ-ridden than homes so not
really the best place for a newborn in general.
Of course hospitals are great places to be in case of an emergency but
if a woman is healthy and has had an uncomplicated pregnancy there's no
reason why she shouldn't be able to have it at home if she wants.
My advise, support her in her wishes and have a wonderful, if different,
mom and nurse
with all due respect, you should really consider leaving your sister and
her husband be on this matter. unsolicited input creates wedges between
people. think about it this way--how would you have felt as a
first-time mom if someone tried to pressure you into giving birth at
home when you were committed to a hospital birth? another point--those
two will be parents soon enough and will be making all sorts of
decisions about their child. why undermine their confidence in deciding
what is best for their baby/family? even though you think your sister's
choice is risky, it's her life and i'll bet she will appreciate your
support and respect a lot more than your well-intentioned effort to
change her birth plans.
--your sis is a grown up now
Please do not assume that your sister's only research has been internet
surfing on the evils of hospitals. There is significant and mounting
evidence that homebirth is not only as safe or safer than hospital birth
for low-risk pregnancies, but that women who choose homebirth have a
much higher rate of satisfaction with their birth experience, which in
turn eases mother-infant bonding and the transition into motherhood. I
assume your sister and her husband have hired a midwife - if not, then
you might have reason to be concerned. However, under the guidance of a
midwife, your sister has a very good chance of "knowing how it will go"
10-15 minutes a nurse practitioner or OB/GYN would spend at prenatal
visits with your sister is nothing compared to the hour+ most homebirth
midwifes will spend at every appointment - for my homebirth (which I
decided on in my 5th month of pregnancy), that totaled more than 20
hours spent with my midwife BEFORE the birth, going over all the
mechanics, emotions, and expectations of birth. In the five months
prior, pretty much all I had learned from my Kaiser practitioners was
that the fetus growing inside me had a heartbeat. Also, a qualified
homebirth midwife is amply prepared to deal with any of the
complications you mentioned, as well as many others. My own baby was
"floppy," and my midwife, Judy Luce, handled it beautifully, having
oxygen at the ready, but also encouraging my son to take his first
breath naturally by massaging his chest. A homebirth midwife will also
be experienced in sewing up any tears, although it is possible that in
an unmedicated birth with skilled and patient coaching, your sister's
tearing will be minimal. As for doing research on your own, I highly
recommend Ina May Gaskin's ''Guide to Childbirth.'' If your sister is
open to the idea, you might ask to accompany her to one of her prenatal
visits with her midwife.
Instead of grilling your sister, you can ask your questions of the
"neutral" midwife, and if you can enter that meeting with an open mind,
you should find all the answers you need. And then, the very best thing
you can do is stand behind your sister's decision, and support her to
her face, and to your family. She will have many people questioning her
decision - she deserves to have the support of those closest to her.
Homebirth Was One of the Best Decisions I Ever Made
I have a question about home birth and medical insurance. I met
someone (with Aetna insurance, not a UC employee) who had had a
home birth and said that her insurance covered it; she said they
paid the midwife bills and didn't ask any questions about the
fact that there were no hospital bills. Has anyone tried this?
Do you think it would work better with a PPO? It seems to me
getting the birth paid for would cover the excess cost of paying
for the PPO for that year. I have looked at the archives on
home birth, but if anyone can give me a name to get in touch
with to ask this question that would be great.
thanks for the help,
We did get about 70% of our expenses covered with PPO Blue Shield. I
would be very surprised if any HMO plan accepted homebirth. There are
specific codes to put in not only for the services, but for the licensed
practitioner, and direct-entry midwives don't have those numbers, unless
they are CNM's.
Anyhow, if you have a PPO, that's great. It is outrageous to me that
homebirth is not covered, when in fact it is sooooo much cheaper than
the hospital route for the insurance companies.
Good luck with your home birth plans!!!!!!!!!
It might be worth checking if your friend's birth was before Aetna
banned any coverage for homebirth. Most PPO's *do* reimburse for
homebirths but Aetna is the exception. I don't think HMO's cover
homebirth. I had a homebirth 2 years ago, using Beah Haber and had Blue
Shield PPO. I called them ahead of time and they said that they cover
homebirths with a CNM and gave me the ''allowed amounts'' for the birth
itself and for the prenatal visits (you get the best deal if you bill
these as separate items). The allowed amounts were so low that when I
did the calculations it seemed that I would only be refunded about $1000
of my midwife's total fee of $4000. But, when we actually submitted the
bill to them after the birth we got a check for over $3000! Beah had
broken down the bill into 13 or so prenatal visits at
$125 each, 2 postnatal home visits at $125 each and lumped the remainder
under the birth itself. Blue Shield paid for 100% of the prenatal
vists, none of the post- partum visits (I think because they were listed
as home visits) and some of the birth. I am now pregnant again and have
Aetna insurance. I called them and they very rudely told me that
homebirths are NOT covered. I asked whether I could get
my prenatal vists paid for and they said only if the bill comes from an
We will go ahead and submit the bill anyway and see what happens. I
will be very interested to hear if anyone has had any luck getting any
money out of Aetna for a homebirth in recent months.
I had a home birth with a midwife years ago and our insurance paid for
all prenatal care, and at that time we paid out of pocket for the home
birth. Being very familiar with a local labor and delivery unit, I knew
it was worth paying for the home birth, and we didn't have a lot of
money, either. It was worth every penny.
Grateful we had the courage
Unless things have changed recently, the law in California is that if
your insurance allows you to use providers other than theirs (i.e. you
use a PPO rather than an HMO), then they *must* pay the bills of an LM
or CNM. The catch is that, as with any other out-of-plan provider, they
can reduce the bill to what they consider to be a ''customary'' amount
before they give you your percentage.
With a hospital birth you have two bills, the doctor's bill and the
hospital bill. This adds up to much more than a home birth, but in the
latter case the insurance company sees only the midwifes bill which is
typically much higher than what a doctor charges (forget that the
prenatal visits are in your home, much longer, more comprehensive, that
the midwife will be there for a much greater amount of time at your
birth and then do home postpartum visits).
One midwife I spoke to said she had a client who was a lawyer and
challenged the ''customary'' amount that his bill had been reduced to by
surveying all the home birth midwives and showing that they all charged
much more. He lost. Most midwives use a billing agency that knows how
to work the codes and most folks on a PPO plan get a half to three
quarters of their money back.
To the person using Aetna, they are not above the law. Many of the
folks you speak to at insurance companies don't know that homebirths are
indeed covered. Call again and instead of using the word ''homebirth'',
talk about a bill from a Licences Midwife.
Checked It Out
I am new mom to be (currently 5 months into healthy pregnancy).
I have a good OB, but I am feeling concerned about the prospect
of giving birth in a hospital, where the tendency is to
medicalize the process, and where I may or may not be attended
by my OB, if he is not on call at that time.
So: I am looking for a way to have a hospital birth (probably at
Alta Bates, but I'm open to other facilities nearby) that as
closely as possible replicates the benefits of homebirths (e.g.
known/trusted attendant, minimal interventions, birth positions
according to how I feel, birth as natural process, etc.)
Any advice or recommendations are much appreciated, particularly
for how to create that kind of atmosphere in a hospital setting,
plus any recommendations about OB's or midwives that are
committed to being the one who delivers their patients.
New Mom to Be
I just had a great homebirth with my 3rd. I had a medicalized
hospital birth with a midwife with my first (epidural and 10 med
students watching the birth!), and a somewhat medicalized birth
with my second (induction for low amniotic fluid, but they
started the pitocin and since they thought it would take a while
they didn't check in with us for 2 hours, so my midwife was with
me only for the last hour of labor, lights were low, no
complications, only my husband, my midwife and my mom were there)
but that practice (at Stanford) closed.
What you are asking for is very difficult to achieve, but here
are some things you can do.
1. Get a doula. She can be with you at home---where you want to
stay as long as possible---and go with you to the hospital. She
can be your advocate for your desires.
2. Resist the medicalization. If you get an epidural, then they
have to monitor you and your baby and your dreams of an
unmedicalized birth are over. If you are exhausted that may not
be so bad! But you will then have a necessarily medicalized birth.
3. Your doula has to be really upfront about what you want. For
instance, I asked both of my midwives (in the office at
appointments) to delay cord cutting for a few minutes and both
times that clamp was on the cord before you could say umbilical.
If you want or don't want something, like cord cutting or an
episiotomy, you have to remind them just before the birth,
because most often they don't remember and don't ask. They just
do what they are used to doing.
4. The hardest thing about the hospital is that there are no
distractions. The only reason you are there is to have a baby.
When things get long or slow down for a bit, everyone wants to
keep that freight train rolling. At home you can just relax and
put on a movie if your contractions space out. At the hospital
they are hovering and always wanting things to speed up. So,
stay at home until you can't smile between the contractions. At
that point things are really happening. You'll hate the drive,
but your birth will be better. Oh, and don't take your labor
seriously too early. Use distraction and putter about for as
long as possible. First labors can be long and if you start
doing breathing and deep relaxation from the getgo you can get
bored and exhausted and be so discouraged if you arrive at the
hospital and find you are 3cm or less. A doula can really help
you to m! anage your labor well.
Congratulations and good luck!
I sought a midwife because I really wanted to know the person who
would deliver my baby. I have an HMO and it was pretty easy to change
to a dr group that had midwives. I ended up with a midwife who assured
me that she delivered 98% of her babies. I told her my delivery date and
she said she was sure she'd be around. I liked her during my prenatal
care. We talked a lot about my birth and what I wanted and she was
supportive. I wanted the least medicalized, most natural birth possible. I
had a doula -- something I highly recommend. I took natural childbirth
classes and hypnobirthing -- also highly recommended. At my last
prenatal apt (10 days before my due date) my midwife told me she was
going out of town for 10 days, but was sure I wo! uldn't have my baby
early. I was devastated. If I went into labor before she came back, I
would be delivered by ''whoever'' is on call at Summit. She was sure I'd
be late. I wasn't. My baby was 7 days early and ended up being
delivered by c-section. I was devestated and felt abandoned. In the
end, however, he was perfectly healthy and in many ways it was a great
My advice -- get a doula! They are not as expensive as you think. There
are many who do sliding-scale or even free births, especially those who
are just starting out. Mine was just starting but she was wonderful. I
labored at home for 15 hours before going to the hospital -- I felt like
between what I knew and her help I KNEW I had done everything
possible at home to stall the interventions and control the process. I
wouldn't have felt this confidence had it not been for the doula and my
When I got to the hospital it was pretty medicalized. I had pretty much
every intervention that I'd feared. But it was ok! I was in so much pain
that it a great relief. It was good to have this acceptance rather than
dispise the medical establishment that I'd rallied so much anger
towards. And I was able to have low lights, my music, my family, and all
the comforts that I wanted in my little room. I felt like my knowledge
allowed me to understand everything they wanted to do. I was also
tremendously grateful to my doula who helped me understand
everything and who in the end agreed that the c-section was necessary
and that it wasn't just the industry wanting to cut me up and make more
money. I felt in control of the whole birth and by the end, I felt like a lot of
my fear and anger at the hospitalization/medicalization of birth had
disipated. I really learned that the pr! ocess of birth (and now
motherhood) is so much about letting GO. And I coudl do that because
of the knowledge I had. If I hadn't had the knowledge and preparation
then I could have felt like it was forced as opposed to me letting go.
So you can prepare a lot. You can get a midwife, which USUALLY
ensures a much higher possibility that the woman who has seen you
and known you for all those months will deliver the baby. There are
some great midwives out there. Lindy Johnson has a great reputation,
as well as Sho Li (that's not how you spell her name, that's phonetic.)
They are recommended in the archives here. I would definitely try for a
midwife If I have another baby -- I really didn't like the on-call OB who I
had to deal with at Summit.
Most Bay Area hospitals are so open to letting you deliver any way you
want -- in the dark on your hands and knees with your whole family in
the room. Stay at home and labor as long as possible -- and be
prepared for that. Labor was 1000 times harder than I expected! But
take classes, take prenatal yoga (check out Cynthea Denise at
Piedmont!) get a doula, learn relaxation techniques, and you'll be ok.
The later you go to the hospital the better.
Good luck! It's a wonderful, liberating journey you've embarked on..birth
is only the beginning.
happy new mama too
I, too, wanted a home-birth setting, but being my first delivery,
I wanted the comfort of being in the hospital to ease my fears.
I started with an OB, and was so disappointed with the lack of
compassion, time and insight provided. In my seventh month of
pregnancy, I found a wonderful midwife, Lindy Johnson. Lindy
delivers only at Alta Bates, and has a midwife's approach of
putting the mother first (rather than other appointments,
medication, etc.). Because she delivers at Alta Bates, she knows
all the staff, procedures, etc. Although I was induced (at 15
days post due-date), Lindy was flexible about the frequency of
use of the fetal monitor - I could walk around, take a shower,
squat on the floor in between being checked.&nbs! p; If I had had an OB,
I think I would have been much more restricted. I absolutely
loved my birth experience and look forward to having Lindy
deliver our second baby someday.
I too tried to do everything I could to have a more natural
birth setting in a hospital. I had a doula, knew I didn't want
any sort of pain medication or intervention, and had prepared
ags of stuff I wanted to bring to the hospital. I just assumed
I would have an easy, and late, delivery.
Instead, I had an emergency induction a few weeks prior to my
due date. I left the house a mess, and could barely get in
touch with my husband to tell him to meet me at the hospital,
let alone remind him to bring all my birthing aids.
I was still able to give birth without pain medication, but I
had every other intervention known (breaking my water, IV,
internal fetal monitor, etc.). The moral is, you can prepare
all you want, but you can't control your baby's entrance! The
one recommendation I have if you don't want pain medication is
to get a doula. I had a great doula (Judy Ballinger - 510-536-
1543) - I left all the thinking up to her, and I focused on
I delivered at Alta Bates twice with completely natural births
(no drugs, no enema, no episotomy, no epidural, etc.). The first
time I was told I had the option of taking drugs but actually
recommended not to do so because I was very dilated. The second
time the process took longer and I spent the night in the
hospital (I was asked to check in as soon as contractions
started, given the rapid birht of the first baby), a! nd felt that
my choices where always respected, although not always with a
full heart. My advice is to have a clear birth plan, give copies
to your OB, but most importantly, give copies to the nurses and
to the Physician assisting you (which may not be your OB if
he/she practices solo and is not on duty -which happened to me
both times). Also, I was told by the nurses themselves that
different nurses have different approaches, and that if one nurse
does not fit your style, you are completely welcomed to go to the
head nurse and request another nurse. You are allowed to bring
your CD player and music to the room, and any other tools that
help you relax. Also, they do have some bouncing balls and other
things that may help you during labor. Oh! When you check in, ask
for a room with a bath, some only have showers and a bath can be
very relaxing (a hot shower is not bad, if there is nothing
better) and not all rooms ! have baths.
''Home-birth'' style mom @ AB
You don't mention why you aren't having an actual homebirth
but you sound like a good candidate to me.
As far as Alta Bates goes- its more up to your doctor than
the hospital itself.
If you feel unsure about your OB, I would check out DRs
Arnesty and Deandrea. They are both women who work
together and are commited to providing as low intervention
a birth as safety allows.
You could also see if Midwife Lindy Johnson is available
(although she usually books up pretty far in advance and I'm
not as fond of the two other midwives that she works with.)
Now that Summit is merged with Alta Bates I'm assuming
that the Summit Midwives are there too. Can anyone
recommend one of them?
Birthing in a hospital does not have to be as ''medicalized'' as
you may think. I too wanted what you want, and have had two very
satisfying births in a hospital. First, read as much as you can
about all that can happen in a birth. Then, I recommend having a
birth plan. In it, say what you want in an ideal situation, and
then what you want in case of unplanned events. Talk about your
birth plan with your Ob, and ask that he share any details that
are particularly important to you with his group. Bring the
birth plan to the hospital and give it to the check-in nurse when
you arrive. They do read them. As an example, I did not want
drugs and asked in my birth plan that they not be offered. I
also suspected that I would ask for them, so told the staff what
to do when I did (check my cerix, wait through three
contractions, see how I feel). I also recommend having someone
knowledgable that you trust as an advocate, and for the first
birth this should be so! meone in addition to your birth
partner/husband, who may be too close emotionally to feel
comfortable advising you. I had a doula, and she was a great
support in helping me and my husband make decisions when things
came up that we had not planned for. For my second birth it was
just me and my husband. This time he knew more and was great in
speaking for us. Birthing can be intimidating because there is
so much at stake and you know so little compared to the
doctors/nurses. Hence, read read read. The bottom line is that
the hospital cannot make you do anything you do not want, and
most are open to birth balls, tubs, doulas, etc. Good luck.
I too had concerns about giving birth in the hospital, and had
really wanted a homebirth, but it was just too expensive. I gave
birth at Alta Bates last summer and was so pleased with my
experience! I was actually really glad I was in the hospital.My
suggestions for making it amore comfortable experience are to
take the tour early and maybe go back a couple of times. I ended
up up having to do a lot of Non-stress tests and going to
triage a bunch, so Iwas really familar with thspace and friendly
with the nurses and security guards, somethin that I think
really helped me ( & my husband) feel comfortable at the
hospital. good luck!
happy at the hospital
I gave birth at Alta Bates in 2003, drug-free and with minimum
intervention, and the best advice I can give you is to learn
everything you can about the birth process, the hospital's
practices, and your options at each step of the way. That
knowledge will give you the confidence to advocate for what you
want. The nurses espec! ially are pretty flexible and respectful
of your desires, but you have to make them clear. I think too
few people are willing to challenge the medical staff,
especially during labor, when your mind is busy elsewhere. I
imagine that's why a doula can be valuable, although I didn't
have one. Good luck! It can be done.
Have you looked at the Birth Home in Pleasanton? I know it
seems far away but I live in Berkeley and had my son (1st
child) there last spring and I highly recommend it. We wanted
a homebirth-like setting with all the benefits that you
mentioned. I labored in the birth tub with music playing and
candles lit, I had a midwife, nurse, doula, and my husband and
the two friends I had brought all to myself. The atmosphere
was so relaxing and intimate. The staff were wonderful in not
only caring for me but caring for a! nd involving my husband as
well. The only drawback was the distance. It usually took us
45 minutes to get there, although the night I was in labor we
made it in 30. I figured, though, that I had never heard of
anyone giving birth (at least for a first child) in less than
an hour start to finish, and the time it took us to get there
was totally worth it for the experience of avoiding the typical
hospital birth. I'd be happy to talk to you more about my
experience there if you're interested.
Having experienced Alta Bates, one good thing about Alta Bates
is that, giving where it's located, they've seen everything in
terms of what people want in giving birth. They should be
pretty open to whatever your wishes are. My sense was their
goal was to have a ''natural'' process, but also that delivering
a healthy baby was the priority.
Make a birthing plan that details what you're expectations are,
but also remember the birthing plan is really just a ''wish
list'' as things often happen as they happen.
Take a tour of the facility where you plan to deliver. Ask
questions about what you can do/bring to make it more ''home''
When it's time to deliver, go to the hospital as late as you
safely can. The earlier you go, the more likely there will be
Get a doula or someone who has gone through the experience to
support you through the delivery. While the hospital staff is
there for you, their interests and motivations are not
necessarily aligned with yours. Having a doula or someone
there giving you support and looking out for your interests is
great since you'll be focused on delivering a baby.
And for postions, you do what you want. The postion that felt
comfortable was squating on the bed using the ''lean'' bar. I
wanted to stand up on the bed between contractions, the nurse
kind of freaked out a bit over that, but ended up saying ''okay,
I gave birth at Alta Bates with a midwife. I was also concerned
about the hospital setting, and my husband prepared a large
suitcase full of goodies intended to make me feel 'at home' in
the hospital (a portable CD player and some music, favorite
stuffed animals, favorite pillow, small lights to make the room
dim, a birthing ball, some favorite snacks... I don't remember
everything anymore, but it was a lot of stuff). Well, you know
what? We never even opened that suitcase. I got to the hospital
in late labor and by the time I got there, I could care less
where I was: I just wanted to get the baby out!
So here's what I think: the most important thing, if you want to
try for a natural birth experience, is to have the right
attendant. As I said above, I went with a midwife (Nancy
Barnett-Moore, who was great). When I first arrived at the
hospital (a few minutes before the midwife), the nurses
immediately got ready to do all the usual 'medical' things, like
setting me up with an IV. But as soon as the midwife walked in,
they stopped and switched modes, and let me do it 'naturally'. So
make sure your Ob is with you and really believes in natural
childbirth (and that anyone else in the practice does too). If
not, find someone who does. I think it's also really important to
feel very comfortable with, and have full trust in your Ob or
midwife, and to have one or two other support people to help
encourage you through the rough parts. And finally, stay home as
long as possible, where you would hopefully truly feel 'at home'.
All that said, it may make you feel better and calmer if you do
pack a big suitcase full of goodies, as we did...
If you are really committed to natural childbirth, two great
books that may help you get ready and that discuss many of these
issues are 'Birthing from Within' and 'Ina May's Guide to
Good luck! I hope it all goes well for you.
did it naturally in a hospital
(1) Hire a doula to attend you while you labor, and (2) labor at
home as long as you possibly can, before heading for the
hospital. If you have a normal, uncomplicated birth, you won't
actually spend very much time at the hospital, so you needn't
worry too much about trying to modify the atmosphere there!
As a general rule, midwives almost always attend the births
of ''their'' patients, and most family practitioners do also. OBs
are more likely to work in groups where whoever is 'on call' at
the time will the the one at your birth. But of course,
individuals vary. This is a question you simply need to ask any
doctor or midwife you are considering.
My sister has decided to have a home birth which I fully
support. She moved last year to New York though, and has no
close friends or family who can be there during it. I am
looking for advice from moms who have had home births about
some things I could mail to her that would really show her how
much I love and support her even though I can't be there. I
guess I want to try to give her things that will make the whole
process easier. Any suggestions?
I had a wonderful home birth in August -- if your sister likes
water, you might offer to contribute to a birthing tub rental
(here, it costs something like $300 for a three-week rental). I
did end up laboring in it, which was lovely, but best of all was
floating in it for the three weeks before my little one arrived.
(When I knew I was in labor, we drained the tub and filled it
with fresh hot water.) I spent many, many hours in that tub -- it
was the only place I was comfortable during the last month.
Something else I loved: my midwife made something she calls
''Padsicles'' - which were sanitary napkins with an herbal tea
poured on them, and then frozen for use in the days after the
baby arrives. Oh my, I was very sorry when I used up the last
of those! (e-mail me if you'd like the herbs used.)
And lots of receiving blankets are needed -- atleast six or so.
You could make them quite easily from flannel or other soft and
warm fabric (just need to be a big square of material, say 42'' x
42'' or so).
Best wishes to your sister!
I have a lot of family and friends far from me. My friends and
family provided beads and a ''wish'' for the baby and family. Each
bead was lovingly strung on a necklace which I wore from the day
I received it (shortly after my shower) until partway through my
labor (when I could only hold it b/c it bugged my neck). This
necklace was very important during my natural labor and delivery
as I was able to concentrate on the wishes, etc that everyone
had made for us, all the love surrounding us.... I will cherish
that necklace forever......
It is a common practice at a ''blessing way'' for each person to
string their bead and state their wish, however, my friends and
family being mostly far away, sent the beads with the wishes
written down. I still have the wishes so I can never forget AND,
a beader-friend put the necklace together very nicely and she
added many beads to make it absolutely BEAUTIFUL! It meant the
world to me, really, and still does.......
Also, I sent candles with little heart candle holders. I asked
each person with one of these candles to light it when they
heard we were laboring and to let it burn until it went out.
There was a lot of love and light around us. We felt it and had
a wonderful (albeit 50 hours of labor!) birthing experience!
As a homebirth mom myself, I can say that the best thing you
can give your sister is unconditional verbal support. Educate
yourself about the facts, and make sure she knows (and the rest
of your family knows) how much you support her decision. While
homebirth in low risk women is just as safe as hospital birth,
the larger community is not aware of this, and often demonizes
women who decide to birth at home and the midwives who help
them. Other than that, I don't think there is any special thing
you can send her to make the process ''easier.'' Birth is hard no
matter what, and in a lot of ways, it may in fact be easier at
home because of the comfort level, the intimacy, the full
support of a birth team that loves you (rather than cynical or
drug-pushing or overworked hospital staff). While you're in the
process of educating yourself about homebirth, you can help
your sister (and homebirthers in general) by communicating your
support to the wider community, engaging in conversations and
debunking myths. If your sister knew that you were doing that,
I think she would feel like you really backed her (more than
any material gift).
Hi there- your feelings on supporting your sis are so important!
I would suggest that you possibly offer to help her find or pay
for a doula who could be there to support her during her
homebirth. While the midwife would be there for a longer period
than any doctor in a hospital birth, she still has specific
duties that she has to perform at certain times and
cannot ''mother'' the mother the whole entire time. I think
getting your sis a doula would be a wonderful gift. maybe you
could hold a long distance shower with people here who could all
chip in for the cost...
Good luck- if you need more info, let me know.
Despite the fact that outcomes are better for the mom and the
same for the baby for a homebirth (with a midwife) than they
are in the hospital, people still freak out if you tell them
you are having one. So good for you for supporting her--I'm
sure she is running into people who are less supportive. So my
suggestion for you is to ask your sister if she has the
excellent video documentary ''Born in the USA'', and if she
doesn't, send it to her. It follows 3 births: one in a
hospital with an OB/GYN, one in a birth center with a Certified
Nurse Midwife, and one homebirth with a midwife. I found it
very useful to have to show people why I wanted to have a
homebirth. It's not heavy-handed or anything--the OB/GYN seems
like a nice person and she's very well-meaning--but even my mom
understood after watching it. I would loan you my copy, but I
can't find it. I bet if you post here, someone will have one.
Happy with my Homebirth
How wonderful that you want to support your sister! After my
homebirths, what I needed more than anything was help, not
stuff, so while you can't mail her any of the following,
hopefully some of these ideas will be useful.
Arrange for a postpartum doula. These wonderful women can do it
all---dishes, laundry, meal prep, baby cuddling, and most
importantly, they offer understanding of the physical and
emotional rollercoaster that your sister might be on after the
birth of her little one. Having a doula come once or twice a
week can also help your sister catch up on her sleep, which she
will likely need. Your sister's midwife certainly knows many to
Ready-to-go meals. While you're not there to cook for her, you
can talk to her midwife and find out if there's a casserole
circle you could tap into for your sister, so folks bring a
wholesome prepared meal every other day or so. I bet she could
hook you up. There are often services that provide food
especially for postpartum women, keeping in mind their special
nutritional needs. The midwife could also tell you about any of
these in your sister's area.
Diaper service. If your sister's planning to use cloth diapers
and hasn't set one up for herself, this is a thoughtful gift.
Grocery delivery. Is there any in your sister's area? Your
sister's partner or doula could give you an idea of what they
need and you could set it up.
An available ear. For me it was helpful just to have someone
listen when I needed to gush, cry, complain, etc etc. Your
sister is lucky indeed to already have a sister who wants to
support her. She'd surely appreciate hearing that you're open to
hear whatever she needs to share with you
Those are just a few thoughts. I'm sure you'll get many terrific
suggestions. Congratulations on your impending aunt-hood!
If she doesn't have a doula for the birth and postpartum, get on
the internet, help her find one, and share the cost or make it a
gift. My doula absolutely saved me during unforseen
complications. The support is priceless. In my case my doula
didn't participate that much in the weeks after the birth, but a
doula who does help around the house in the weeks afterwards
would be fabulous. It's the next best thing to being there -
providing someone who will be.
Grateful for the Help
I'm interested in possibly pursuing a homebirth for my next
pregnancy. I have heard and read about so many people raving
about their own homebirths, and have never heard of anyone
having a homebirth and then opting for the hospital for the next
one (except for medical necessity). But there have got to be
some people out there who didn't enjoy the homebirth experience
and wouldn't do it that way again. Am I right? I'd like to
know if these moms exist and I'd like to hear why they now
believe that homebirth isn't right for them.
Thanks so much.
I gave birth at home five weeks ago, and don't have any regrets,
(it was, in fact, empowering and peaceful as hoped) but I
thought I'd share with you my awareness sometime into the pushing
phase of labor that it would be really horrible to have to go to
the hospital at that point. I definitely had a moment of panic
about feeling like there was no way out: the pushing seemed
impossible (OK, so he turned out to be an eleven pound baby, and
my first was a five-and-half pound baby...), moving to the other
side of the room let alone into a car and across town seemed
impossible. Of course, it wasn't impossible and my supremely
caring and extremely competent midwife (Amrit Khalsa!) knew that
this baby was coming out and that the birth was going just fine
(even if I didn't quite believe her...).
So for a few days post-partum, I was rolling over in my mind how
wonderful it is that births usually go normally and naturally
given the right support and environment, and also very aware that
if you started labor at home and had to transfer to the hospital
for some reason it could be a really big deal (and likely a
bigger deal the farther on you are in your labor).
Best wishes for a healthy baby, and a healthy birth -- whereever
you decide to do it. Feel free to write if you'd like to hear
more about homebirth, or about Amrit's midwifery skills.
I afraid I can't give you exactly what you asked for: an
instance of someone regretting homebirth. I'm writing anyway to
say that, for me, the circumstance that I thought would occasion
regrets, a complication (specifically, hemorrhages after two of
the births), did not. The emergencies were very capably
handled, and I remained grateful and happy that I had been able
to give birth at home.
There are, of course, downsides to homebirth. For me, they were
the expense, and the recurring need to defend my decision to
people who simply hadn't informed themselves on the issue.
I have an online friend who fits this description. If you send
me your email address I will try and get you in touch with her.
She had an extremely difficult first labor at home with a
not-so-helpful midwife. Her younger two children were born in a
hospital and I know she had an epidural the second time around
(not sure about #3, may have come too fast). I'm not sure how
much of her decision to go to the hospital had to do with choice
of midwife though, you may need to ask her about it.
We are planning our second child and considering birth options
and I am confronting a dilemma. My husband and I have agreed
that we would like to have a homebirth, but we are also really
broke and the cost of doing it at home rather than taking the
insured-hospital option makes a meaningful difference to us. I
am looking for advice to help me weigh the costs and benefits of
choosing a homebirth or a hospital birth.
Here are several factors entering into my decision:
(1) the labor with my first child was relatively short and
uncomplicated; since second children are routinely born in half
the time, my next labor is likely to be about four hours. Is it
really worth several thousand dollars to have those hours at
home vs. the hospital? Or should I be looking at this dilemma
over a longer span -- i.e. comparing prenatal care styles.
(2) my husband and I are both strong-willed people and I feel
confident that we can stand up for our interests in the hospital
(3) The homebirth option is attractive because you don't have to
stay in the hospital, but considering that we have a two year
old, might not a night at the hospital actually give me an
opportunity to have one-on-one time with the new baby?
(4) The cost of using a doula and midwife at the hospital would
be almost as much as a homebirth, so if I took the hospital
route it might make sense to go cheap and use an OB and no doula.
I guess the question that is nagging me is, why spend so much
money and make such a big fuss when the next baby is likely to
be born quickly. Maybe it would be better to go the cheapest
route and use the ''saved'' money to hire someone to clean the
house during the first couple months. Or maybe having a home
birth will be special wonderful and invaluable? Help! I can't
make up my mind.
You mentioned a bunch of factors entering into your decision,
but you didn't mention whether you have insurance. If you have
a PPO, California Law (unless it's changed recently!) says that
you can use a Midwife for homebirth (CNM, CPM or LM - but I'm
pretty sure not lay midwives) and your insurance will pay for
it - some, most or all of it, depending on your insurance. A
homebirth in the bay area costs somewhere in the $3000.00 and
$3600.00 range. And, you'd be in the comforts of your home,
with your family. Your midwife would visit you at home for your
prenatal AND postnatal appointments.!
On the other hand, it may be nice for you to stay overnight at
hospital; if you were to use Alta Bates, bear in mind that you
will have to pay out of pocket (somewhere less than $300.00) for
a private room. If you don't choose a private room, you may
have to put up with a noisy neighbor.
You mentioned that the costs of a doula and midwife in hospital
would cost as much as a homebirth. I don't know about this, as
it may depend on your insurance. I thought that if you went the
hospital route, it wouldn't matter cost-wise whether you used a
CNM or an OB. The Doula may be extra, as not all hospitals
provide doulas. It doesn't sound like you're particular on
which OB or CNM would help you deliver, but just remember that
at hospital, there is no real guarantee that the one you want
will be the one assisting you on that day.
Also, bear in mind that just because you had a quick and easy
labor/delivery the first time, it doesn't really guarantee an as
quick and easy or easier labor/delivery the second time around.
So, where would you rather be - in hospital or at home, if your
labor were long? (Most complications, other than long labor
which isn't really a complication, can be diagnosed prior to
labor. So if you had true complications, your midwife would
send you to hospital anyway).
You sound like you are just thinking out loud for now and not
really hedging one way or the other. Good luck with whichever
decision you choose.
doing it at home
Lots of good questions. I had my baby at home and am very happy
that I did. I am committed to homebirth for many reasons, but
particularly I liked not having the hospital routines interfere
in any way with my time with the baby once he was born. If you
are a good advocate for yourself, or if you have great support
from others who can advocate for you, you can usually labor how
you want to in a hospital. But once the baby is born, it is
VERY difficult to bend the rules so that the baby isn't bathed
right away (i.e. within that first hour or so) or taken to a
warmer (even if it's in your room) to be examined, etc. So,
that was very important to me to be able to linger and take my
time and nurse him and be with him exactly as I wanted to be.
On the other hand, the cost of a homebirth can definitely be
prohibitive. Some thoughts: you could get your prenatal care
through your insurance (visits, all the tests, etc.) and maybe
work out a deal with a homebirth midwife to lower her fee? Or,
perhaps have your baby in the hospital but choose a nurse-
midwife to be your provider. Or, have you checked out The Birth
Home in Pleasanton? You can give birth in a home-like
environment, attended by nurse midwives, and many insurance
plans will cover it.
I have been to many beautiful births that took place in the
hospital. If you choose a hospital, I think the most important
things are to: a) have a health care provider who will respect
your wishes for the birth, b) request a labor and delivery nurse
who is comfortable with your birth choices, and c) have a great
support system to be there with you.
I love the idea of paying a housekeeper with the saved money. A
great idea. Also, as far as needing a night away from your
toddler, I've worked with women who have felt both ways: some
wanted to get home from the hospital asap in order to be with
their whole family; others relished the relative peace and quiet
and time alone with the newborn. I think that's really a
Good luck with your decision!
I had a great experience both times doing a natural,
unmedicated birth in a hospital with only a doula to support
the OB/mid-wife (I got whoever was on call). My first birth was
8 hrs. and second 6 hrs. I liked having a natural birth but in
the comfort of the hospital in case something went wrong, which
happened with my first child. We had a stuck shoulder with my
first where the baby's air supply was cut off from her shoulder
pushing against the cord. Within seconds, the UCSF neo-natal
team was in my room. Oxygen mask and all. I highly recommend
our doula, Ellen Klima, who offers reasonable rates and is also
the Bradley Birth Instructor in Oakland. You can get her number
through the Bradley web site.
It seems as if you have really thought this through and have a
picture of how you want your birth to be. I'm wondering if
you've checked out any of the midwives that do hospital births.
We went with that option for both of our children and our
insurance paid for both. You could do that and then hire a
doula to get the kind of midwife support you would have received
if you had chosen a homebirth. Unfortunately, many of the
hospital midwives are not with you the whole time like homebirth
midwives are. On the other hand, you would save quite a bit of
money to do other things. Also, you will most likely have a
very successful birth with a healthy baby but if there is a
problem, if you are at the hospital then you will have emergent
care. Good luck deciding. I'm sure your next birthing
experience will be an amazing miracle regardless of where it
I had my second child in the hospital and looking back I think
it was nice to have 2-day break from being at home and worrying
about my then 14-month old. Yes it will give you precious one-on-
one time with your child and will give you a break from life. I
felt like I was in a hotel!!! no kidding. They took care of me,
of my daughter, no meal to cook or plan, no bath to take, no
noises. It was great. I also made the decision after talking to
my friend who is a emergency pediatrician. And you're probably
right about saving the money and spend it on a housecleaner
instead, or meal delivery, or home massages.
My two cents (after just having had my second child in the
hospital (very very quickly)) :
I agree that it would be a waste of money to pay thousands of
dollars for a very quick homebirth. These days you are given a
good deal of freedom at the hospital to ''customize'' your birth.
Plus, you can leave as soon as it is over (or stay if you like). I
like your idea of using the saved money to hire someone to clean
the house for the next year!
I paid $2,000 to have a homebirth and ended up in Kaiser for 5
days with a c-section. With my second I went to Hsieu-Li
(pronounced Sho-Lee) Chen at Summit. She is a nurse-midwife
who has had a lot of happy clients. Ironically, I could have
had a homebirth with my second child who came fast and furious,
but I was happy with Hseiu-Li and the nurses at Summit
(insurance covered everything). I delivered at 11 a.m. and
left at 6 p.m. the same day. I knew I would be happier in my
own bed with my own food (I had a voracious appetite after
birth). I did like that the option was there for me to stay if
I needed it. Hospitals don't let you sleep any more than your
toddler so don't count on more sleep. If you don't have the
money for a midwife there really are plenty of good hospital
options. Know that if you want to stay you can and if you
don't want to you can leave. I played it by ear.
We are facing your exact dilemma. Here's what we decided: I
switched medical group to Hill's physicians, because they
authorize abd cover prenatal care, delivery at a hospital and
postpartum care by a midwife (unlike Alta bates medical group,
for example). The bad news are that you are not at home but at a
hospital (Alta bates, in our case) and you have to be checked by
monitor every hour for 15 min. The good news are that if all
goes well you don't need to wear a hospital gown, you don't need
IV, you can eat and drink, and a Dr is not in the room, only the
midwife. She has to be from a specific list of midwives, but if
you find there someone you have a click with, then it certainly
seems like the best option.
Ah, and you can go home in 6 hours, not 24, if you want to.
I am in a similar situation as well (but not yet pregnant as far
as I know-- hoping to be very soon). Two things struck me about
1) There are no guarantees as to how long your labor will be.
You say 4 hours, but I am betting it won't be that at all. Yes,
you're right, statistically speaking your second labor will be
easier and faster than your first, but I know several moms where
that hasn't been true at all. I wouldn't even be considering
labor length as a factor in deciding to have a homebirth.
2) You say insurance won't cover any portion of a homebirth.
Now this I know nothing about, but I am seriously hoping that
it's not true. When I spoke with someone at Blue Shield
recently she told me that my medical group has to approve it
first and then I have to use a midwife who's part of that
medical group. Now because I'm not pregnant yet, I didn't
continue with the research. It could be that the medical group
won't approve it at all. I just have no idea. But the
conversation with the BS rep gave me hope that a homebirth is
possible for me...I could just be naive.
I am really looking forward to the responses you'll get. I
would have been posting this exact same thing in a few months
myself (fingers crossed!).
I personally hope you end up with a wonderful homebirth
experience. Good luck to you!
Why not use a midwife in a hospital? Seems like that might be
the best compromise for you. I found with my second birth (with
midwife Tsui-Li Hseng-sp? with East Bay Perinatal Practice,
birth at Summit Hospital) that once the baby was born we were
pretty much left to our own devices--it seemed that since it
was our second child the hospital staff trusted us to know how
to care for the baby, who nursed and slept with me just as he
would have at home. Insurance paid for pretty much everything,
certainly the same as they would for an OB. Good luck!
Hi- I wanted to say something about your indecision whether or
not to have a home birth. Homebirth is exactly that: in your
home- and you have control completely over what you want to do
in labor w/out worrying about when you need to go to the
hospital. If you have a midwife who is willing to do a
homebirth, she should be very knowlegeable about things to look
for in emergency situations and also about normal things. My
first son was born in a hospital and although I had a great
experience, I have vowed that my second will be born at home. I
want my son to be able to participate int he birth of his
siblings, watching or not and also to feel like I have control
over my situation and what I want during labor. Here is a good
site that might help you.
Good luck- and if you are interested in having a birth doula,
please check out my site and email or call if you have any
questions. I am a fairly new doula, so I don't charge quite as
much as others, but I am eager for the experience and would love
to help you! Thanks!
The main benefit I see in a homebirth is preventing unnecessary
interventions that may lead to greater physical and emotional
risk for baby and me, but know firsthand how expensive it is
compared to an insurance co-pay. I can recommend some books that
discuss the pros of homebirth: Birthing From Within, Ina Mae?s
Guide to Childbirth, Immaculate Deception II. Either way, you
may be able to find a doula-in-training who will attend your
birth for free, in exchange for writing up feedback that she
needs to become DONA certified. There are free ?doula nights? at
the Nurture Center in Lafayette (www.nurturecenter.com) and
Birthways in Oakland (www.birthways.org) where you might meet,
or find the names of, doulas.
I had a wonderful experience at the Pleasanton Birth Home. It's
in between a home birth and a hospital in that it is in a
craftsman home and not a hospital setting, but is a couple of
miles from the hospital. A nurse, midwife apprentice, doula--as
well as the midwife or doctor on call- attend you, and there's
lots of flexibility about how you give birth. I had a short labor
as well, about 5 hours of active labor. The policy at the birth
home is that you stay 6 hours after delivery, or until morning if
you give birth at night. Many insurances pay at least part of the
service as an out-of-network cost. If you call them, they can
tell you what the cost would be based on your insurance. Email me
if you want to discuss further.
I've had 3 homebirths and 1 hospital birth. I'd never go back to
the hospital and once we had our first homebirth my husband
decided he'd never want me to go back.
I believe it doesn't really matter how well you think you can
advocate for yourself in the hospital; you shouldn't have to and
it takes a LOT away from laboring and birthing.
We're on foodstamps and found midwives to work with us. It is
more than a financial issue to us - it is a safety issue (safer
at home) and respect issue (OBs and nurses as a whole simply do
not respect parents who make their own decisions and do their own
A few thoughts...I would check with your insurance regarding
their coverage. My recollection is that hospital bills are
based on procedures done, supplies used, and the ''24 hour
clock'' ie, who is admitted at 11:00 pm. Also, I'd look into
any ''early discharge'' programs that your hospital has. Way back
when I worked in L&D, we had a program for discharge 6 hours
after delivery. In other words, you aren't required to spend
the night. One-on-one time with your newborn can be
accomplished many ways (your toddler sleeps through most
nights, right?!). Another option might be a birthing center: a
nice intermediate. Personally, I had my babes at home, and it
was exactly what I wanted. I think it's really important that
you pay to labor and deliver where you feel the safest,
wherever that may be. And lastly, wherever you deliver, your
toddler will need his/her own support person, whose only
purpose is to meet your toddlers needs and is not invested in
coaching you or being present at the birth.
I had my first child at Summit, and my second at home. I
had planned to have the first at home, but he showed up
early. I had short, uncomplicated labors with both kids. I felt
guilty spending the money on my homebirth for #2, but now,
15 months later, I'm very glad I did. Having my first child at
home with us was important, and he played with friends
while his brother was born upstairs. It was a very low-key,
pleasant day. However, I think with the right OB your
hospital experience can be almost as good as a homebirth,
from the point of view of limited interventions and plenty of
bonding with baby. I found a great OB when I had my first
child (he just happened to be the doctor on call) and wished
that he did home births when I had my second child. You do
need to be prepared to stand up for yourself with the
hospital staff (we did not want our baby taken to the nursery
and separated from us for any reason) and we left the
hospital as soon as possible because it was not a pleasant
environment to hang out in. Blah, blah, blah...this could go
on and on. Mail me if you want more details, and good luck!
You might try going to the Birth Home in Pleasanton as an
alternative. Many insurance companies will cover the charges
but it is more of a home like experience than a hospital. You
can check out their website at www.birthhome.com. If my father-
in law wasn't the doctor there that's where I'd be in a second!
I gave birth twice at home and had some of the same
concerns that you have. My case is unusual in that my first
labor was five hours and my second was twenty-four. I did
feel a bit let down the first time because it all happened so
quickly and I had paid so much. But that feeling didn't last.
Within months I began to appreciate the beauty of the birth
as I had wanted it. Clearly my decision to give birth at home
a second time proves the lasting value to me of that first,
short delivery at home. I was delighted with my prenatal care
both times, and consider the counseling I received
absolutely beneficial. The second labor was very long, and I
got more than my money's worth from my midwives. I was
nearly transported to the hospital but managed to give birth
at the last minute. Homebirth requires the parents to
assume more responsibility for the safety of the mother and
baby. The pain after the birth was much worse the second
time, which is typical, so I was grateful for a lot of support
from friends and family for bringing food and watching my
I would be happy to talk with you in person about my
I find it makes me at first sad, and then rather angry, to see
so many hospital births where there is a need to 'have an
advocate for you in labor' or to 'avoid unwanted intervention'.
It is incredible to me that the hospitals should make mothers
feel like this!
Home birth is wonderful, for positive reasons, as well as
avoiding intervention. I do think it's important to become very
informed about the birth process, so that you really know what
is happening (as much as is possible for an experience that is
way out there away from ordinary life!) - and to supplement
your intuition (which is your strongest ally) with other
women's experiences and tales, and also with knowledge, for the
birth partner too, of what are real signs of problems, and what
is just(!) the normal fear and extreme experience
of 'transition', for instance.
It is wonderful especially after the birth to be at home, in
your known environment, and to relax and sleep in safety with
the new baby.
The birth process seems to have a mind of its own, and is very
sensitive to surroundings, environment and people present. It
can be that entering a hospital slows contractions - many
mothers say this. At home, a good midwife, reassuring and
helping, is a treasure.
My ideal birth, should there be a next time (I have five
children) would be with a water pool at home, with a trusted
midwife, and music, and some gas-and-air(nitrous oxide) on
hand, if I chose to use it for transition. And a good hospital
within quick and easy reach in case of unforeseen difficulty.
And someone in another room to look after my toddler.
The most helpful thing to do in labor is to keep upright -
letting the body find the positions it wants to for labor, and
eventual delivery, is far easier at home. Maybe I just feel
inhibited being watched, but it does feel like such a private
thing to give birth! Somehow it can be quite sexual at times,
and it's good to be at home for those moments. There's a lot
about birth that isn't found in the mainstream books!
Good luck with your choices.
I have read ALL of the recommendations for midwives on the P-
Net site. I'd like to know if folks know of any homebirth
midwives who do [or would possibly] charge less than $2500 for
a student family having a second child. My last homebirth, in
another state ofcourse, cost $1200 for EXCELLENT service over
9mths++. While I realize that EVERYTHING is more expensive in
the Bay Area, I couldn't believe that the going rate for a
homebirth here [according to one midwife I contacted from the P-
Net recs] is $3500- on the low end! talk about a middle-class
luxury. ANY LEADS will be a God-send.
sincerely, natural-ly broke
Consider reposting your message, but including contact
information for yourself. My homebirth midwife cut me a deal,
but I'm not sure she'd appreciate my telling the world, including
her more prosperous clients, about it.
Even so, I'm not sure you'll get a much better price than you've
been quoted. I believe we paid over $2000 for the birth, but
some of the discount was an allowance for a reduction in the
number of prenatal care visits (because I had gotten some of my
prenatal care elsewhere).
If you truly cannot afford $2,500, then you are certainly
eligible for MediCal. Not all midwives take it, but some do.
Some who say they don't can be prevailed upon to change
their minds if you discreetly offer to (illegally!) top up
MediCal's shockingly low reimbursement rates with cash. Unlike
much private insurance, MediCal does pay for homebirths.
You may also be able to negotiate a discount for payment in
We have spent a shocking amount of money on homebirths, and it
was the one expenditure that was worth every cent and more.
Homebirth midwives work hard for what they earn. Consider
whatever extra you pay a contribution to keeping *real*
reproductive choice alive.
Love my midwives dearly
this page was last updated: Nov 1, 2013
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website!
Read more, and see how you can help:
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2014 Berkeley Parents Network