17 answers

Homefirst Anyone?

Hi Moms,
Just wondering if any of you used Homefirst for your home birth? I am looking for people who have had first-hand experiences with them. How does the practice work? Who comes to the birth - do they make you use their staff only (specifically doulas)? My understanding is that most of the doctors are men - how did you feel having a man come into your home to deliver your baby? How did your husband feel about this? Was your experience with them generally a good one and would you use them again?

I have been contemplating having a home birth since finding out about my pregnancy but had a c-section with my first (placenta complication, sectioned before labor had a chance to start). The only practitioner (besides Homefirst) that I can find in the area who does home VBACs is going to be on vacation around my due date (Sarah Simmons). If anyone has any information they could pass along it would be much appreciated!

Thank you!

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We use Homefirst as a family practice, & I have to say I LOVE THEM! I was a little wary of them when I was considering a homebirth, b/c they didn't have a midwife on staff at the time (I think they do now). But Mayer Eisenstein is a very gentle, funny, and considerate man. He has several speeches on his website, so you can get an idea of his personality. In retrospect, I would've loved to use them for a homebirth (we have an HMO, & it doesn't cover home birth). Good luck to you!

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While I understand and appreciate your desire to have a home birth, there are very good medical reasons do be in the hospital. A previous c-section does increase your chances of uterine rupture during delivery. Uterine rupture can occur without warning, and is catastrophic if you are not (and sometimes even when you are) in the hospital where a skilled surgeon (your O.B.) can immediately attend to you. That is why very few reasonable, reputable doulas will assist in home VBAC.

Most hospitals will now be very, very accommodating in helping you to create whatever type of relaxed, drug-free, natural experience you want. I know its not home, and I'm truly sorry for that, but ask: is a home birth so important that you would take on the increased risk to your life and that of your unborn? While VBAC are by no means considered "high-risk," nor are they "normal-risk."

If you, or your husband, are uncomfortable with a male physician, there are female O.B.'s in most places. I've had three different male O.B.'s involved in my pregnancies/deliveries (one I didn't even meet until I went into labor) and have had nothing but great experiences. Just find one you really like and trust, and usually you'll end up liking his partners, too. Most doctors now have you do your last 6 weeks of appointments with each partner so you have the chance to at least meet them before delivery in case your primary O.B. is not on-call and you deliver in the middle of the night. The most important thing for me was to find someone I liked and trusted; their gender was really irrelevant.

I wish you the very, very best in whatever you decide.

1 mom found this helpful

As far as I know they are good. The founders of the practice attended my mom's birth of me 31 years ago. I do have a friend who used them and I think she was satisfied. She did have her own doula that was not a part of the practice.

I also used Sarah Simmons for the birth of my son 6 years ago and it went beautifully. I couldn't have asked for a better birth and would have her attend my birth again. Sorry she is gonna be out of town. One of my sisters had that problem too. I would suggest ask Sarah for some recommendations of other Midwives who may attend VBAC's.

I don't know where you live but I live in the Lincoln Square Area and I know on Rockwell right next to the train stop, literally, is a practice and they have about 3 or 4 midwives who attend homebirth's. I don't know if I helped but I just wanted to let you know you are amazing and I am happy to hear you want to have a home birth. I wish you all the blessing's and a safe happy journey for you and your new baby.

My sister is training to be a midwife in NM and is on many boards and has a lot of information, so if you need anymore help on who to find she can give me that information.

I've had a positive experience at HomeFirst, but only used them during a miscarriage and a follow up.

I had a VBAC in Evanston Hospital with Kathy Puls. www.kathypuls.com. Very positive experience!

I hope that I am wrong, but I have heard that Homefirst only attends VBACs if you have already had a VBAC. Definitely call and set up an appointment for a consultation if you have not already had one (they're fee).

We use Homefirst for family medicine and really like the doctors. I did not choose them for my birth because I wanted a midwife, but I have heard wonderful things about them. My midwife does not do HBAC or I would definitely recommend her. My experiences with the doctors at homefirst have all been very positive, they are very caring people. The only downside would be their additional fee of $2000 per birth that is not covered by insurance.

As far as the man thing, the majority of women having babies in hospitals have male OBs and no one thinks too much of it, so I wouldn't worry about it outside of your own personal comfort level. I think they have a few midwives who attend births for them that are outside of their usual area- if you are near me I think they have a midwife out of Rockford or McHenry who attends the births so that might help the situation.

Does Sarah Simmons have someone providing backup for her around that time that would be willing to take you as a patient? Chances are slim that you would deliver right on your due date. Debbie Boucher is another wonderful midwife (CNM) doing homebirths in this area, but I don't think she does HBAC. It wouldn't hurt to ask, though. Her website is www.yourbirth.com . My midwife is Jennifer at A Woman's Place (www.awomansplacechicago.com) . She does not do HBAC but she does do hospital VBAC if you choose that route and is super fantastic-ly awesome:)

There may be some certified professional midwives out there who are working "under the radar" due to Illinois licensing restrictions- I would try making contact with local childbirth educators, lactation consultants, etc and see if anyone has any recommendations.

There is a Grayslake Homebirth and Midwifery Meetup next Thursday (in Libertyville). If you go to Meetup.com you can join the group and come to the meeting or at least e-mail the members and maybe someone will have some recommendations for you. It's a very friendly group and most have had homebirths or are birth providers of some sort.

Editing: Good luck with your birth!

I had a VBAC for my second birth, but at a hospital. I think the other poster is right about Homefirst not doing primary VBACs, but check. As for the man thing... due to the circumstances of my birth, my family practice doc was out of town and I ended up with the doc on call, who happened to be male and who I had never met before. Know what? It was fine. Great even. In fact, we've switched our care over to him. I think it has everything to do with how your doctor makes decisions and how he or she explains things to you to let you make decisions. If you feel good about this, you will be comfortable with this person, male or female.

Good luck with the VBAC!! Definitely head to an ICAN meeting if you haven't already. Lots of support there.

Hello T.,
My family goes to Homefirst. I have not had my children with them though. My chiropractor has. I can pass along her info,I am sure she would not mind speaking with you she is very kind. her name is Dr. Olga Roshior http://www.cchirocare.com/ phone number ###-###-####

Hope this helps

First off kudos to you for exploring a homebirth! As a doula, I have attended many homebirths with homefirst.
If their rule is still the same- they will only attend a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) if you worked with them during that cesarean.
However there may be other homebirth midwives who would help you.

Hi T.,
I was also considering Home First for my second birth which I hope to have at home. Here are a few of the reasons I decided I will be going with Sarah Simmons instead:

1. The $2000 out of pocket expense (not covered by insurance) is just more than I can afford and justify at this time.
2. My midwife brought up a lawsuit the Dr. Zumhagen was involved in about 10 years ago. It was the biggest medical lawsuit in IL history ($30 million) and resulted in the wrongful death of a newborn- http://www.hegartyandheath.com/general.php?category=News&.... I understand malpractice lawsuits happen all the time, this one just was a bit too scary for me to ignore.
3. A friend of mine is a doula and has attended several Home First births. Although she said they have always gone well, she also mentioned that the doctors tend to shout religious prayers and readings during the actual birth. I am a Christian, but that is just not what I am looking to have during my birth.

If you decide to meet with Home First, I would ask them about the things above and see what they say. I think they are just things to be aware of in making your decision.

Good Luck,

Dr zumhagen has delivered several of my friend's babies. My girlfriend who was delivered by him also used to work as a nurse for homefirst and has delivered babies on her own. The do have female nurses who assist in the births. Dr rosi also delivered six of my mom's friends when i was little. Overall everybody that i meet through lll seems to really like them. I don't believe it would be weird at all to be delivered by a male doc at home. Everybody said it was such an intimate family affair, and they would definetly do it again. I was a patient of homefirst when i was little. I wanted to do a homebirth, but i had several complications and had my son 1 month early by c-section. Good luck in what you choose.

T., I don't have anything to add. Are you on the ICAN Yahoo Group? ____@____.com would be a great place to ask this question.

Before I moved out of state, I was one of Homefirst's Home birth nurses. I loved working for them. As a nurse I was treated with the utmost respect which I was never shown in the hospital setting. I would suggest that you make an appointment with them and ask them their position on any issue that concerns you. I never witnessed any of their doctors shouting scripture or praying out loud. They are very respectful of your beliefs. As for the lawsuit, I know nothing about it; however, I know of no OB doctor that has not been sued. There are no guarantees in life, but I believe it is safer to have your baby at home than in a hospital. I have seen many scary thing done by OB doctors in a hospital that the doctors at homefirst would never do. The homefirst doctors do not take any "chances." They never "promise a home delivery. It is a wait and see if everything is ok when you go into labor. If at any time during your labor, the doctor feels you need to be transported to the hospital, they expect you to cooperate. I would not hesitate to have my daughter delivery with them. Thank you, J. S.

We use Homefirst as a family practice, & I have to say I LOVE THEM! I was a little wary of them when I was considering a homebirth, b/c they didn't have a midwife on staff at the time (I think they do now). But Mayer Eisenstein is a very gentle, funny, and considerate man. He has several speeches on his website, so you can get an idea of his personality. In retrospect, I would've loved to use them for a homebirth (we have an HMO, & it doesn't cover home birth). Good luck to you!

Hello, I am not sure about this, but you can try a group that is based out of Chicago called ICAN-Chicagoland. It is a group of women and professionals who have experience or had a c-section and are going for a VBAC. I belong to this online group and they have been so supportive and full of resources and info on many, many questions. I think they can help answer your question! You can email me if you have trouble signing on and I can help post your question too. ____@____.com

Birthing topics are available at www.birthlink.net
Doula - Stephanie Eby has supported women during birth and had her own home births. Her web site is: www.korubirth.com
Doulas provide emotional support during your birthing experience. A second expert (ob gyn and/or midwife) is typically present at birth.

I just delivered a baby with Homefirst last June. Dr. Zumhagen and Christina, CNM came out for the birth. They were absolutely wonderful! Christina pretty much did everything except checking the baby's vitals after the birth. She is great, and so is Dr. Zumhagen. They are very laid back and make you very comfortable. I highly recommend them!

I don't know much about VBACs, but a good friend of mine just had one at home in Texas. She said it was a great experience. I wish you all the best!

T. I go to Homefirst, but did not have a home birth (you are so brave!) you may want to post this question on mothering.com . Also I font know where you are located, but the La Leche League in Mount Prospect has a few moms who have done homebirths and actually one of the Homebirth Nurses from Homefirst goes and she is the sweetest girl you would have ever met. From what I understand though the nurses seems to be like midwives who do most of the work...I think the doc is there as a formality in case anything goes wrong. The next LLL meeeting is this tuesdat from 7-8:30 and a ton of pregnant moms come so you should come too! If you live far just go to your local LLL group and I am sure you will find a few moms who have done a homebirth...good luck!

Courtney gave you some good info; I am using Debbie Boucher for my third birth (first homebirth) but all of mine have been vaginal births (in a hospital with epidurals, which I don't want this time). I started going to Homefirst since it was one of the only practices I found doing Homebirth, but their $2000 fee was what would have broken the bank for us so it forced me to seek out other care- which I'm glad it did because I really like Debbie. It's worth asking, but she is up in Libertyville so hopefully she'd be close enough to you if you decide to go with her (if she does VBACs at home). Best wishes to you! I'll have three under 4 when we have this baby in May, and 2 under 2 will just be a little tricky for a few months, but it's great. Don't worry.

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