Many of my clients feel one of two ways on the subject of homebirth: they’re either all for it or all against it. This blog post is not for those people. It’s also not an endorsement of a certain way to give birth, despite the fact that people often seem apologetic when we’re chatting about their hospital birth. I promise, there is nothing I want more than empowering my clients (and anyone else reading this, for that matter) to have the birth setting they want. Whether it’s hospital, home, or in a tidepool on the Adriatic Sea with dolphins jumping over them! What matters most is that families feel supported with good information to make confident choices. That’s why I wrote this blog post on how to decide on homebirth, because there’s a third, less vocal group who doesn’t really know what their options are and needs a little more information before deciding.
How to Decide on Homebirth
- Do you have a midwife? If the answer is no, stop reading. Currently, obstetricians and family doctors are unable to attend homebirths. Midwives in Nanaimo also have hospital privileges, so if you’ve just found out you’re pregnant and you’re figuring out how to decide on homebirth, seek the care of a midwife so you have the option to decide later!
- Is your pregnancy low risk? Your care provider will assess your level of risk and give you suggestions on how to decide on homebirth or hospital birth. Depending on your and your care provider’s comfort level, you may still be able to have a homebirth even with certain risk factors at play. Some risk factors include existing health conditions (like autoimmune diseases or high blood pressure) and other pregnancy-related conditions like preeclampsia and gestational diabetes.
- Is an epidural something you plan to rely on? This may be a deal-breaker for some. Midwives cannot administer epidurals, so birth must take place in the hospital if you’re planning on having one. You can, however, see how labour goes and transfer to the hospital if you decide you’d like to have an epidural. Transferring to the hospital is ALWAYS an option during a homebirth.
- Have you done the research? The newest studies say that, for low-risk pregnancies, giving birth at home with a registered midwife is as safe as giving birth in the hospital and choosing homebirth means fewer intrapartum interventions. After you’ve gotten past what your risk profile and care provider dictate with regard to your birth setting, ensuring you’re informed on the pros and cons is the first step in figuring out how to decide on homebirth. Here‘s a recent Canadian study to get you started.
- Do you feel confident and calm about this decision? Do you feel reassured with more technology around to monitor you and your baby? Does it make you feel nervous to think about being surrounded by machines? Have you had largely positive or negative experiences in hospitals? Do you associate hospitals with healing or illness? It’s very important to examine your own thoughts and feelings about your birth setting, because attitude and mindset both have a huge role to play.
- Is your partner on board? How your partner feels about your chosen birth setting will affect her/his attitude and behaviour during labour and birth, which will affect yours. If you’re not on the same page with this, you could be in for a rough time. Some suggestions to open up dialogue about this are: attending a check-up with your partner and your care provider to discuss the decision together, reading/videos/research on your chosen birth setting, and having some non-judgemental conversations about her/his fears.
For some, the choice on where to give birth is as easy as breathing. Others may find themselves downright stumped about how to decide on homebirth. Evaluation and discussion of this flowchart with a trusted care provider, partner, or friend might help those on the fence gain more clarity. No matter where you choose to have your baby, your doula will be there every step of the way to give you the unbiased support you deserve.