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the haas machine: Why we're having our baby at home

Monday, June 13, 2011

Why we're having our baby at home

Reader beware: These are simply our opinions! We don't think that anyone who has had their children in the hospital are lesser of parents in any way-- this is simply the way we have decided to have our children & because I've been getting so many questions about it, I wanted to share this all with you! 
Even before getting pregnant, John & I decided that we would like to have our children at home & ever since then, I have been surprised by how many people have an opinion about that-- usually a conversation (with people we know & don't know) goes something like this:

"So how far along are you?" 
"I'm at 32 weeks, due August 7th." 

"Did your ultrasound show that you're having a girl or a boy?" 
"Well we actually haven't had an ultrasound, & we want to be surprised anyway, so we're not going to find out what our baby's gender is." 

"Which hospital did you decide on?" 
"We aren't having our baby at the hospital-- we have decided to do a home birth." 

"Wow-- I'm not that brave. Hope it goes well, though." 

If there's one thing that makes me giggle/get annoyed, it's when people say that last line. A dear friend of mine (who also has had a home birth) suggested that I start responding with, "Well I think you have to be brave to have your baby in a hospital!" That usually brings on a bit of awkward silence... something I'm getting more used to these days :)

John & I did not decide to have our baby at home because we want to "buck the system" or even because we think there's something inherently wrong with hospitals/the medical field. We just like to think through every decision we make & not just do things the same as everyone else because that's the way it's been done. We decided to have our baby at home because it fits us the best. We've prayed about it & have combined that with what would seem to fit us & here we are!

Here are some of the deciding factors that led us to choose home birth:
  1. We believe that hospitals are for people who are sick or are in need of medical care due to emergencies. The vast majority of women who give birth don't need any kind of medical intervention if they are given enough time to labor in their own way. I didn't want to have to fit into a mold & go through labor in a certain amount of time to fit the doctor's schedule & because I want to deliver naturally, I didn't trust that I would be strong enough to resist/fight for what I want when I'm in that vulnerable of a position. Don't get me wrong-- I have loved the help I've received at hospitals for ailments/accidents that I've had. I just don't think that the hospital is the place I'd like to go to give birth.

  2. We want to have the most gentle possible birth for our child, so we've decided to have a water birth. No, I'm not having our baby in our bath tub. Nor a kiddie pool (although you definitely can do either). I have a sanitary eco-friendly inflatable pool that comes with a liner that we will fill with air when the time comes so I can labor & give birth in the comfort of water. Whenever I'm in pain or not feeling well in general, water has always soothed me, so I expect it will be similar when laboring in the pool. Plus, it will be a gentle transition for our baby as s/he is born. There will be no butt slapping, bright lights, head vacuuming, or large crowd surrounding me as I give birth. Instead we will be in a place where we are always at ease-- in the comfort of our own home. We might even have a little Bob Dylan playing in the background...

  3. We want to have a lot of uninterrupted bonding time during labor & after the birth. Like hours of it. I don't want to have to tell anyone to keep my child with me or to let me breast feed immediately. I don't want to be away from my child so s/he can get cleaned up & be "presentable" (another benefit of giving birth in water!) We're also not sure what we think about circumcision & some of the other "routine" procedures that take place after birth, so with our midwife we are given the freedom to explore those procedures. Often times in the hospital they are just routine & if you choose otherwise, you might be labeled as "those parents." And like I've mentioned before, we're really not hippies (although because we're having our baby at home lots of people think we are).

  4. Call me selfish, but I want constant care. The beauty of having a certified nurse midwife is the fact that she comes to our house & stays with us all throughout labor, the delivery, & afterwards to make sure everything is ok & that the baby is feeding well, etc. I'd rather have that than a doctor whose attention is (rightly) shared with many other patients. Side note: our midwife is able to hook the baby up with a fetal monitor & can tell if the baby is in distress, contrary to popular belief (if it's one thing that people have questioned it's "what happens if something happens to the baby-- how will you know?" as if midwives just show up to our house with towels & incense.) Midwives aren't from the stone ages-- they have lots & lots of medical equipment & are prepared to do all kinds of procedures in the event of an emergency.

  5. I want to be able to eat & drink when I want & get up & move around whenever I need. Gravity is a beautiful thing when laboring & it doesn't make any logistical sense to me why anyone would want to be laying down in a bed to have a baby. It just seems harder to me. Instead, I want to be able to move around, go for a walk, stretch, & be in whatever position is the most "comfortable" to have the baby.

  6. I am a good candidate for having a home birth. I am healthy, haven't had any problems with this pregnancy, John & I are completely on the same page, & we trust that God will take care of us & our baby. We also really, really trust our midwife & if she thinks it will be best for us to go to the hospital at any point, we will listen to her. Our hospital is also 1/2 mile from our house, so if we do need to get there quickly, we can. However, most of the time there is an emergency, our midwife will be able to tell before the last second.

  7. The majority of women in Europe & Asia give birth with midwifes whereas fewer than 10% of American women employ midwifes. While the United States has perhaps the most advanced health care system in the world, it also has the second-highest infant mortality rate of any industrialized nation...
  8. The prenatal care that I have received has been out of this world. The average length of appointments with our midwife is over an hour long. We don't feel rushed. She welcomes us with a hug. We drink tea. We have lengthly chats & we get down to business. Our midwife is very thorough. I have homework that I have to do, I have to chart my food, she asks us all kinds of personal questions. We talk about natural remedies for any challenges that I've had. She gives us great scholarly resources/books that have helped us make decisions. It's fantastic. My first two appointments after I found out I was pregnant were at a clinic in La Crosse-- they lasted about 20 minutes, I didn't get in on time for either appointment because they were "so busy." I was told to quickly pee in a cup. I got weighed, we heard the baby's heart beat, & then I was asked if I had any questions. IF?! Of course, I had like 293 questions! With out midwife, we can take our time to thoughtfully chat about our baby's future. Plus, hugs, tea, & baby chat all goes together so well! 
A facebook group that I joined is called "I gave birth at home. Not brave. Not crazy. Just educated." says "Giving birth is a normal, natural process, not a sickness to be treated, nor a consequence to be feared. Giving birth at home has nothing to do with bravery - on the contrary many home birthers report being scared of birthing in a hospital! When we say educated, it does not mean we are elitist or condescending. It does not refer to a specific level of formal education. Home birthers come from all walks of life, and the reasons for choosing home birth range immensely. It is not intended to infer or assume that those that choose otherwise are "uneducated," but rather to dispel the myth that home birth is dangerous and only chosen by the foolish and/or "brave." 

Since we have decided to have a home birth, I've been pleased to discover that it is a whole new community of people for us to get to know! It's like this whole new world we didn't even realize was there because we didn't think that home birth was that "out there" or "different." I guess people need to stick together because it is different than the norm, but it's what we have decided & I'm so looking forward to going through this process with John! 

A video that we've really enjoyed is "The Business of Being Born." I've got a link to the trailer here. We found it to be very well done & informative. 

Like I mentioned before, I believe that wherever a mother & father choose to have their baby is right for them-- but when you've discovered a great secret, you want to share it with everyone! Of course I haven't had our little one yet, but I am anticipating a fabulous birth & will definitely share my thoughts after the arrival of little Haas.



At June 13, 2011 at 6:28 PM , Blogger Shannon Anderson said...

Love you!

At June 14, 2011 at 8:04 AM , Blogger Kathy said...

Gillian - This is a great post! I know we've talked and I mentioned the 'what if something happens...?' aspect simply because of my birth experience with Micah, so I love #4 "Midwives aren't from the stone ages..." =0) I guess I've been told! Really, thanks for dispelling some of the mystery! I am (was?) 'someone who didn't think through every decision we made & did things the same as everyone else because that's the way it's been done...' and that first birth experience was really something done to me rather than an event we actively planned and participated in. So, I DO think you are brave - not for having a home birth, but for thinking outside of the box!

At June 14, 2011 at 11:25 AM , Blogger Amanda said...

I'm so glad to see you feeling confident and comfortable enough in your decision to write this! I do agree, the brave comments irritate me. If people only knew..... :)


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