home birthAre you thinking about having a home birth? I had two magnificent planned water births at home that I cherish so very much. Here are some things I learned during my home birth journey.

Rule 1: You are a grown woman.  

I remember being apprehensive about making a choice that was different from my friends. What would everyone think? It is hard making an unusual choice, but listen, sister. You are about to become a MOM. You are a grown woman! This is your body, and your baby, and it is the beginning of making hard, albeit unpopular decisions. Go with your heart on this. I was very lucky to have the support of my husband and family, but this is not always the case. You are the one who will give birth to this baby, remember that.

Rule 2: Trust your prenatal care provider.

This goes for any mom: You need to be 100% comfortable with the person who is going to care for you, your baby, and your new family during your birth. My midwife and I have the most amazing relationship, which allowed me to challenge her on occasion, and she certainly challenged my thinking on many subjects. Through our relationship of openness and mutual respect, I know my husband and I gave our daughters the best care they needed.

Rule 3: If you are going to talk about it, know the research.

Home birth is a safe choice for healthy pregnancies! Read and know your stuff. Start here. And choose the right books, like “The Other Baby Book” or “Ina May’s Guide to Pregnancy” rather than “What to Expect When You are Expecting” which basically suggests you have an ambulance in the yard waiting for you. Prepare yourself with lots of research-based information. Because there will be people who challenge your thinking, you want to know in your heart that you’ve made the right choice for you. That is, if you choose to talk about your home birth (leading us to rule #4).

Rule 4: Haters gonna hate, hate, hate.

Every single person who has given birth, known a person who has given birth, or has been born has an opinion about your birth. They will start sharing horror stories and saying things like, “I would have died if I was at home.” My midwife’s response was my favorite, and I used it a lot: “Please don’t tell me this — my baby is listening.” Surround yourself with people who can give you positive messages, love, and support, or choose to talk about something else.

Rule 5: Birth is natural.

The biggest fear I had about home birth was the mess. I like my stuff — my couch and my rugs and my tile in the bathroom. What would happen? After two home births in my living room, I learned that my midwife and her team took care of everything, and I was treated like a princess. Do you like having your back rubbed and your house cleaned immediately? I was treated like the true birthing goddess I was — and was able to bond immediately with my babies.

Also, I had always wanted to feel everything while giving birth. Of course I was scared… with the way the media teaches young women to be afraid, it is hard not to be scared! But after surrounding myself with strong women (including my mother and my midwife as mentors and guides, and pregnant peers with like minds) I learned that birth is a natural part of life. Each contraction brought me closer to my sweet children.

This “rule,” or lesson, was really important for me to teach my daughter. I was lucky enough to have her present at the birth of my second daughter. She was standing along side me as I pushed, singing, “Go Mommy, go!” and pretending I was a mommy tiger. I hope that this memory of her sister’s birth will serve her when she is ready to become a mom. 

Rule 6: You are not that unusual.

In today’s America, you are definitely making an unusual choice — just 1% of births take place at home. But remember, people have been giving birth at home since the dawn of time (and many people around the world still do). Arm yourself with information about the safety of home births and discover how some countries are encouraging home birth. Plus, you are in some very elite company — Gisele Bundchen, Cindy Crawford, Julianne Moore, Alyson Hannigan, and of course “The Business of Being Born’s” Ricki Lake. But for real, there are women giving birth in every corner of the world as you read this. And while it is, of course, a life-changing experience no matter where you are, child birth is not exclusively treated as a medical procedure in many parts of the world, but rather a beautiful life cycle event.

Rule 7: Don’t assume.

This is a big one for me. I actually really love hospitals… when I am sick. I have a long list of my favorite doctors at Beth Israel. I just knew that when it came to birth, I wanted my births to be healthy and free from unnecessary interventions for my babies. It was much less about me and my comfort, which is a common assumption about home birthers — that we prefer to be home because we are more comfortable there. Of course, there is truth to this. I was able to roast a chicken, clean my closet, and even watch a little SATC while laboring. But, ultimately, I chose home birth because I thought it was the safest for my babies. This does not mean that if I needed to be transferred to a hospital I would have denied it!

Last, don’t assume anything about another person’s birth. I have the most amazing friends from all different walks of life. Whether I hear a birth story from my circle of my fellow home birthers or my friends who gave birth in hospitals, each one is special, unique, and beautiful, resulting in the loveliest of babies I know — and that is what matters.