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My Homebirth Choice

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I talked about it a little bit earlier this week, but when I deliver my Baby Boy this Fall I am planning to do it at home.  Yes, I’m having a Home Birth!  If you’ve been following this blog from the beginning, you already know that I had a Home Birth with Marlowe as well, and that it was a really interesting, challenging, and very rewarding experience for our family.  And by challenging I mean the hardest and most intense freaking thing I’ve ever done in my life, obviously.  But what I haven’t talked about a lot is why I chose Home Birth, what I thought about the experience, and why I’m doing it again.  A lot of you have expressed interest in how I chose this less-common birthing choice and so I thought I’d share my experience and thoughts with you today!  They probably aren’t what you’d expect…

Just as a little FYI, what you are about to read isn’t a medical opinion or a statistical stance.  I’m not a Doctor or a Mathematician or a Judge.  I’m not interested in making you want to birth a certain way or to think that my way is “the right one”, or even a “good” one.   This is just my own personal journey, so please understand that and respect it as such:

I guess I’ll begin by saying that before I got pregnant with Marlowe, I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would be birthing her at my house.  On my own bed, to be exact! In fact, I hadn’t really given much thought as to how I would birth my babies, or more specifically how I wanted to birth my babies.  I just figured that my OB/GYN would pick up where my pre-pregnancy self left off, and get my baby out however he wanted to.  I really didn’t know I had options! And I had definitely never heard of a Home Birth before.  Then, a little while before I became pregnant, I saw Ricki Lake’s documentary “The Business Of Being Born” and it really started to change the way I viewed pregnancy, birth, and prenatal care.  Even more than the Home Birth aspect of that documentary, I was so interested in the perspective of a drug-free labor and the experiences of those women who had their babies on camera.  It was so different than how I’d seen labor and delivery in the movies– so much more centered, grounded, feminine, and so NOT scary.  I didn’t make any declarations at the time about my own future, but it definitely got my wheels spinning about the fact that different people birth differently.

When I became pregnant for the first time (with Marlowe) I just started down the traditional OB/GYN path.  I adored my doctor in Los Angeles  (I still do, we were just emailing this weekend!) and things were progressing really normally and well.  As I got more and more pregnant, I became more and more passionate about birthing naturally at the hospital.  There’s literature available where you can read up on the benefits of natural birth for baby and Mama (if you feel so inclined), but my bigger point is just that I felt really connected to that choice (for me) and I decided I wanted to do everything in my power to have a drug-free delivery.  And so I started doing research.  I ordered some books on Amazon about Natural Delivery in the hospital, and read as much literature and as many case studies as possible.  I’m “a studier” by nature (also read: Nerd)– it makes me feel more comfortable to accumulate a lot of information before I do anything that I haven’t done before.  During this research, I found out a couple things that starting really concerning me in my quest to have my daughter drug-free in the hospital: The first is that when you release adrenaline (i.e. when you’re scared or uncomfortable) it actually halts your labor.  This reflex obviously dates back to a time when our kickass female ancestors were out in the wild and might need to run to safety from a predator without, for example, their baby falling out of their body during their escape plan.  I also found out that the moment you check in to the hospital, they put you on a clock, and after a certain amount of time (24 hours for most places) they request to intervene in your delivery in some way in order to get the baby out.  This can lead to administration of Pitocin, a Cesarean Section, or other methods of intervention that I wanted to avoid.  You see my conundrum.

Here’s the part where I mention how terrified I am of the Hospital.  It’s been a lifelong phobia of mine, and it’s real.  To the point where I almost always (and I’m a grown-ass woman) start to cry when I step foot in to a hospital, and I sometimes have panic attacks.  I wish I could explain to you where this phobia comes from, but I truly don’t know.  All I know is that when they talk about “adrenaline being released” and impeding labor, they are basically putting a picture of me crying in a hospital on the page of that textbook.  It’s no joke.  Since I had become pregnant, I had just assumed (wishful thinking) that while I was in labor and forced to go in to the hospital, that I would be so distracted by my labor that I just wouldn’t care that I was in the hospital hooked up to machines.  But my research was now telling me differently, and I was quickly learning that labor is as emotional as it is physical.  Forcing myself to confront my fear of hospitals in my most vulnerable moment would almost definitely make my labor halt, thereby extending it and threatening my dream of having an intervention and drug-free delivery.  And so I started to problem solve.

 

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At this point I was already five and a half months pregnant.  Interestingly, my good friend Bianca had just had a Home Birth with Midwives that she loved.  I called her and we chatted on the phone for two hours about her entire experience.  She was so open with me, and told me the good, the bad, the ugly, and the excruciating about her Home Birth.  After those two hours I realized that it definitely might be an option worth looking in to for me.  Besides the Hospital-lessness of the experience, I also really connected with the idea of laboring in the comfort of my own home, and being able to be private and without outside distraction.  The fact that Kyle and I would instantly be in our bed with our baby daughter after delivery also really resonated with me.  I loved our home in L.A. and it always made me feel really safe and protected, which is a great feeling to have while your entire life is about to change! Kyle and I immediately started interviewing Midwives.  My OB/GYN was really supportive of the switch and became my “back up doctor” in case any problems happened to arise or if I ever wanted additional ultrasounds. I also will take the time here to say that I was extremely lucky to be having a totally normal, low-risk pregnancy that allowed me the ability to make these kinds of choices.  Obviously there are some types of pregnancies that require a hospital for a safe delivery, and these pregnant women do not qualify for Home Birth.  It’s important to assess your own pregnancy before deciding what’s best for you and your baby.

So, what’s a Midwife? A Certified Nurse Midwife, or CNM, is a registered nurses who has graduated from a nurse-midwifery education program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME) (formerly the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) Division of Accreditation (DOA)) and have passed a national certification examination to receive the professional designation of certified nurse-midwife. Midwives can practice in a hospital setting or in your home.  During a Home Birth, they are the people who deliver your baby at home the way that a doctor would deliver your baby in the hospital.  They come with supplies that include fetal monitors and IV’s with fluids etc, but do NOT administer epidurals or other drugs.  They do not perform Cesarean sections, but they do have the necessary equipment to stitch you up if you tear during delivery. They also are certified to perform all of the newborn tests on your baby after delivery, as well as administer the Hepatitis injection or Vitamin K just as your newborn might receive at the hospital.

When you have a Home Birth it is also advisable to have a Doula on hand.  A Doula is basically a labor coach.  He or she is there with you through the experience to guide you through delivery, monitor you, make sure you are as comfortable as possible (they can use massage and body work techniques for this), and to facilitate the birthing relationship between the birthing Mama and her partner.  When you Home Birth, your Doula is the one who is there with you and your partner the majority of the time, and then the Midwife shows up to check on you from time to time and at the end to deliver the baby just as a Doctor does in a hospital birth.  In fact, more and more women are choosing to have Doulas even for their hospital births because of how helpful it is to have somebody by your side during your birthing journey, advocating for your birth plan and showing you the ropes.  I adored my Doula, and had already started my relationship with her thinking I would be birthing in the hospital!

So anyway, when Kyle and I met with these Midwives, we asked a ton of questions.  Kyle was especially nervous at first since nobody in his family had ever had a Home Birth, and didn’t have any friends who had done it either.  I think he imagined I would be in like a metal tub in the woods, pulling my baby out of myself and crossing my fingers– Ha!  Once we started asking all of our questions– and some of them were dumb questions– we started realizing how much more comfortable we both felt with the Midwifery process.  Any fears or concerns we had were quickly assuaged– but more than that, the experience we had with our prenatal care was really different! Our appointments always lasted over an hour and were super comfortable and really personal.  We sipped tea and laughed or cried (me)– we talked about the baby, how we were feeling physically and emotionally, and what our concerns were that week about the pregnancy, or Motherhood, or life after baby.  Our team of Midwives really got to know me as a Woman and got to know us as a couple, and we never felt rushed through the process.  As I geared up to have the most intense experience of my life (LABOR, hello) I began to feel so empowered and strong, and just ready.  Before I got pregnant, I had always anticipated being afraid of the unknown of labor, but now I was feeling just the opposite.  I couldn’t wait to birth my baby– not only because I got to meet my daughter at the end of it, but also because my curiosity and respect for the process was so piqued.

I won’t go in to Marlowe’s whole Birth Story here, it’s a long one (36 hours of intensity to be exact!) but I always tell people the same thing when they ask about my Home Birth: it was a revolutionary experience.  It changed my entire life.  And NOT in some kind of sappy, emotional way at all.  It changed my life because it was molecule-splicing, sea-parting, tornado-blowing, hands-down the absolute hardest, most intense, most surreal, and most challenging thing I have ever done in my life.  And it taught me so much about myself, about my relationship with my partner, and most of all about my baby.  It transformed me, and at that time in my life I was needing that kind of transformation.  I will always be grateful to my daughter for hanging in there with me, partnering with me through her birth, and allowing me to guide her in to the world in that way.

And I think that all births change you like that.  I think that welcoming your child (especially the first one) is an absolutely life-changing experience no matter where or how you do it.  Watching a perfect little person come out of your body is nothing short of a miracle.  If you’re expecting me to get on a high horse and preach the gospel of Home Birth, I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed.  Did I love my experience? Yes. Am I happy I chose Home Birth for my family? Yes.  Am I planning to do it again? Totally.  But do I think it’s the best way to have a baby?

No.

I think the best way to have a baby is the way that you, as a woman, feel the most empowered, the most supported, and the most respected.   And different women feel that way in different settings.  There are many different ways to safely have a baby– what is safe and normal for one family may not be the same for another.  That’s what’s amazing about Birth, Motherhood, and Life in general: we are all different, and we all bring a different perspective and a different set of experiences to the table.  Don’t let anybody diminish your journey because they took a different road.

What I am passionate about is making sure that women are heard, respected, and valued in their birthing process.  I think every Mother deserves to feel great about the birth of her child, and to know that within any framework of labor and delivery there are always choices.  Bringing your child in to the world should feel like the gift that it truly is.  No birth, including mine, is exactly how you envisioned it (I think this prepares us for Parenthood, which calls for a similar level of release and acceptance) but I feel strongly that we should all be able to look back and be able to say with certainty that we did our best to make it how we had always dreamed.  Those are truly the moments in life that we never forget.

 

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Photographs (with Marlowe bump!) by Nina Suh for Love and Lemonade Photography

 

 

 

 

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36 Comments

  1. Rhianna says:

    I had both of my girls naturally at a birth center with a midwife. It was amazing! If I have a third, I’m doing it again. I originally wanted to have a homebirth but where I am located it was significantly more expensive with more hoops to jump through than going to a birth center 35 minutes away. I still got a natural birth in a home setting – it was peaceful and calm and amazing. I’m so glad I did it.

    I’m so excited for you! Bringing a new baby into the world is just the greatest feeling. Best wishes to you for a wonderful rest of pregnancy and childbirth.

    07.07.16Reply
    • Hi Rhianna!
      That sounds like a great experience! I’m so happy that you were able to find a compromise that felt good for you

      xx
      EAM

      07.12.16Reply
  2. Flora says:

    What an incredibly articulate, eloquent and honest post! I’m not pregnant (but love to read about pregnancy and parenthood…it’s my guilty pleasure) and I really, really enjoyed reading this. x

    Flora

    07.07.16Reply
  3. Nicole says:

    This was written so well. I love that you make it clear that this was YOUR experience. I had two hospital births and one home birth. While my experience was that the home birth was the absolute best for me…I would never judge a single mom for choosing to give birth the way SHE felt destined to do. You’re incredible and I heart you!! Good luck mama!!! I can’t wait to hear your birth story with your son.

    07.07.16Reply
    • Thanks, Nicole! Yes, it is always my goal to share my experience without judgment (and hopefully not receiving any…or much…in return).

      xx
      EAM

      07.12.16Reply
  4. Andrea says:

    Thank you, this was great and respectful! I too watched that documentary and felt it looked down upon women who choose to use hospitals and medication. I’d never thought about hospital phobia, I can definitely understand how a home birth would be the best choice for you.
    Coming from a family of pediatric doctors and NICU nurses I felt strongly to have my son in a hospital. I’m very grateful to have been in a hospital because unseen complications arose. I WISH, wish I had taken the time to find an obgyn with a better bedside manner. I didn’t realize what a deeply emotional experience pregnancy and childbirth is and that a close relationship with my doctor would be something I needed. My doc got the job done, my son and I are alive and well, but it’s not an experience I look upon with any fond memories.

    07.07.16Reply
    • Hi Andrea,
      Yes I agree, how we feel about our practitioner is everything! I always tell my girlfriends that it’s never too late to switch doctors (or midwives) if they aren’t totally comfortable with them!

      xx
      EAM

      07.12.16Reply
  5. Awesome post! It’s a bit different in Canada, but a lot of the underlying similarities and reasons are there.

    Just wondering if you could post or link to the titles of some of the books you read when you were doing your initial research? I’m doing a bit of that myself at the moment (I’m 23 weeks with my first!) and I’d love to check out a few more books (I’m a nerd as well, haha). I’ve been reading through Ina May’s “Guide to Childbirth” which I’ve LOVED, but would love a couple more to pore over and increase my own knowledge 🙂

    Thanks!! And thank you for letting us follow along on your pregnancy journey. It’s really helpful for us first-time mamas.

    07.07.16Reply
    • Hi Jess!
      I LOVE Guide to Childbirth. This is the book I mentioned in the article above, about natural birthing in the hospital. It’s what “got the wheels turning” for me. I also adore this book. It’s written by the woman who owns the yoga studio I attended while I was pregnant with Marlowe, and I just love her perspective on pregnancy, birth, and motherhood.

      xo
      EAM

      07.12.16Reply
  6. Britta says:

    It’s funny to me that you didn’t give birth in a hospital because you are scared of them. I was scared at the thought of not having my babies in a hospital!

    Thank you for always sharing your personal, honest opinions. It’s so refreshing to have a mommy space where opinions might differ and it’s ok. I love to see things from different sides, I love that every person is unique.

    07.07.16Reply
    • Thanks Britta!
      Ha! There you go, we really are all different 🙂

      xx
      EAM

      07.12.16Reply
  7. Pam says:

    I was a happy hospital mom, epidural and all. I toyed with a natural hospital birth, but after 12 hours of constant vomiting, diarrhea and contractions every three minutes, I wanted my boy out! And I had an amazing experience.

    I have friends that have had homebirths and those who have had natural hospital births – and all of us were confident in our decisions and completely non-judgemental towards each other’s choices.

    If I were younger and got pregnant again I think I’d definitely consider a homebirth. It’s an amazing thing.

    I look forward to you sharing your experience the second time around. And I so admire you for your strength!!!

    07.07.16Reply
    • Thanks, Pam!!! (ps, I puked the whole time too. Not the most fun)

      xo
      EAM

      07.12.16Reply
  8. Maria says:

    Beautifully written article, Eva! I love reading everything you write. Thank you for always being so open with us.

    07.07.16Reply
  9. Areth Tsouprake says:

    This is a very informative and supportive article. I am not pregnant, however I always want to know more about the birthing process to inform future choices I may make. I was born in a birthing center with a midwife, as was my brother, then my mom had my sister in a hospital. It is so interesting how different each birth can be. I watched most of that same documentary in a sociology class, it really made me think about the whole thing differently. I love hearing how your experience was and wish you all the best with the birth of your son.

    07.07.16Reply
  10. Kiki says:

    I love your blog. This a great post. I’d like to suggest that you review the rules of capitalization. Words like midwives, fall, home birth, mother, parenthood shouldn’t be capitalized. You have wonderful taste and great content. The capitalization errors really detract.

    07.07.16Reply
    • Sandra says:

      THANK YOU!!!

      (oops, I forgot the rules of capitalization here 😉

      01.04.17Reply
  11. Leslie says:

    I’m not very far along in my first pregnancy but I’m at the stage where I am trying to gather as much information as I can about midwives/birthing options. Just hearing another woman’s honest experience is so nice. I’m not sure I would want to give birth at home, maybe some day though, but I am really interested in the advantages of having a midwife. My first appointment is with one next week and I can’t wait to learn more about them!

    07.08.16Reply
    • Oh cool! I’m interested to hear what you think! Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy and your delivery!!

      xo
      EAM

      07.12.16Reply
  12. Carol says:

    Thank you for this post it was very informative and to read all of these made me realize all the choices women have when they have their babies.
    I’m not pregnant rigt now but planning a family in the future and reading this post made me think of the options for birth.

    I admire you for your sincerity in this matter and by sharing your story you open our eyes to other posibilities that many dont know.

    I hope the birth of your son goes as plan since that day is getting closer.?

    Xoxo a friend from Puerto Rico☀️

    Xoxo

    07.08.16Reply
    • Thanks, Carol! I just want women to know that they are more powerful and important than they realize. How they “wish” to give birth DOES matter!

      xo
      EAM

      07.12.16Reply
  13. Alicia says:

    I love that this was your experience with childbirth! I too watched the Bussiness of Being Born before giving birth, it completely changed my outlook and I fell in love with Ina May Gaskin’s teachings. For my family, we went with the Bradly Method of Childbirth and it was an amazing education on how and why women birth they way we do in the US. Unfortunately, I passed my due date with low fluid levels and had to induce. However, my hospital in Virginia was amazing and my midwives gave me all the time and options I wanted to get the baby here naturally. Regardless of how my birth went or what my plan was, I was so grateful to have all the information and options from a community who supported my journey to motherhood.

    07.08.16Reply
    • Hi Alicia! What a cool story! I also love Ina May Gaskin 🙂
      You’re amazing for going with the flow and finding so much positivity!

      07.12.16Reply
  14. Lauren R. says:

    So well written! While home birth is not the right option for me, it clearly sounds like it is for y’all. It all goes back to, “whatever floats your boat!” Congrats and good luck!

    07.08.16Reply
  15. Heather M. says:

    Eva!! Thank you so much for sharing such a private and personal experience with your readers. I am SO jealous and would love to have an at home water birth (if I ever have a 3rd child). Unfortunately, my body does not go into labor on its own and I developed pre-eclampsia with my first (4 days past my due date) and PIH (pregnancy induced hypertension) with my second just one week before his due date. I had to be induced with both and therefore my options were immediately limited and I hated not having control of my labor and birth. I’m now (obviously) considered high-risk and so I love to read and hear stories and live vicariously through them <3 I wish you another safe, healthy and happy home birth with Baby Boy Martino 🙂

    07.09.16Reply
    • Hi Heather,
      I totally get that– you are such a trooper for getting through your labors that were so challenging! Great job, Mama!! I always say that each of our own labors teach us lessons we need to learn. Maybe not being in control and having to make peace with that was yours? I love looking at labor that way because it really helps heal from disappointments. Maybe one day I will write a post about all of my preconceived notions of my labor with marlowe and how they did NOT go according to plan…LOL. We all go through it in some way or another, but I do feel fortunate to have been able to accomplish my general “birth plan” last time. We shall see with Mr. Martino!!! 😉

      07.12.16Reply
  16. Tiffany says:

    Can you share the books you’ve read and what other types of research materials you’ve found about home birth? Also do you have advice on how to locate midwives and doula? Or even places I can check into to find them? I just want to do research thoroughly to assure that my partner and I have made the right choice for my future children and I.

    Thanks!

    07.11.16Reply
    • Hi Tiffany!

      This is the book I was talking about that deals with Natural Birth in the Hospital. It has some great info. In terms of homebirth resources, start going online. Join online groups, search “Doula” and your zipcode, just anything that will bring up groups or practices that you can call. That’s what I did when we moved! Ask around if you know anyone who used a doula or midwife. You can also just go to meet with midwives in your area without committing to go there. Ask questions and see how you feel.
      I highly recommend getting tapped in to the Doula community in your area if you’re interested in Homebirth as an option, because they oftentimes know all of the popular midwives in the area as well. That’s how I found mine!

      Good luck!

      07.12.16Reply
      • Tiffany says:

        Thank you so much! I love the youtube channel! You are an inspiration. I’m working on launching my own blog next year. Love the new layout of this blog. Great to have women encouraging each other to be the best self they can be. Wishing you health and blessing on the new addition to the family. So exciting!

        07.22.16Reply
  17. FRANCKIE DIAGO says:

    Thank you for this very unstressful Point if view On home birth!
    As i am ready to become a grand mother for the first time , I respect my daughter choice to give birth the way she wants to & where she wants to , and just appreciated to be able to share with her your experience to give her inspiration on how any choice is the right one if you are comfortable and relax with it .
    Enjoy your pregnancy and will look out of Marlow little brother arrival ❤️?

    07.19.16Reply