Home Birth Mamas? Any Suggestions?

Updated on April 30, 2010
T.B. asks from Westchester, IL
14 answers

Hi Mamas!
I am one month away from my due date, and looking forward to our home birth. Please share with me your experiences, and give me any advice you have that made it more comfortable, special, or better for you. We are hoping to have a waterbirth. Did you have your other children there for the birth? My son is 2.5 years old and I'd love to have him there. What do you think?


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So What Happened?

Thanks those of you that gave me feedback on your home birth experience. I wasn't looking for "horror" stories, and we have weighed all our options and possibilities. We know the risks, but are also very aware of the (often overlooked) risks of delivering in a hospital and have made this choice for a reason. We had our first son completely drug-free at West Sub, the ABC room. Even after four days of labor, I had the natural birth I wanted, and we feel confident now in having a home birth. :)

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answers from Pocatello on

I have a really hard time with home births, I know that they happen all the time and that things turn out fine most of the time but the other small percentage of the time is the part that I have the problem with, because chances are if you had been at the hospital things could have been fine. My sister in law had her children at home, water births, and the first baby was suspected to be around 8 pounds. She labored for 12 hours and started to push, things got a little complicated and the midwife opted not to do an episiotomy to quicken the delivery. He was born naturally after 2.5 hours of pushing and a broken collar bone. He weighed 10pounds 6ounces and was 22 inches long. If she had been at the hospital, chances are she would have probably had a c-section because they would have done an ultrasound and discovered that he was too big and it was risky to mother and baby for him to be born naturally. Baby had a broken collar bone and mom had stitches from here to eternity trying to repair 2 openings that had become one. Her second baby was also born at home, water birth and within the first 24 hours she was rushed to hospital by ambulance because she aspirated and stopped breathing, which later led to a lung infection and she was in hospital for over a week. Now this could have happened at the hospital as well, but had she been born at the hospital, she would still have been there recovering and the baby would have had immediate response time instead of waiting for the ambulance to show up. Scary. She did have her older son with her for the delivery of her daughter and said that she would do that again if she were to have more children but after what she has been through, I am pretty sure they are not having any more. Her son was almost 3 when his sister was born.
I considered having my first baby at home but had complications with my pregnancy and had to have him at the hospital and then after what happened with my sister in law, I was glad to have him at the hospital. Besides, when else do you get catered to that much and get to rest. Sure the food sucks but I would trade bad food for help and sleep any day. Thats my story, sorry its a bit of a downer but thats the reality of it.. Congrats on your little one. My niece and nephew are both just fine now, both happy and energetic, no lasting effects. Best of luck to you, whatever you decide!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Spokane on

Hi T.,

I have never had a home birth, but my hubby and I are planning one for my current pregnancy. We would also prefer to have a water birth. It is my 4th baby, and at this point, I feel I could give birth unassisted, but I prefer to have my midwife by my side, to keep my wits about me. My hubby will also be there, but what does he know about giving birth?!!! Anyway, I just want to encourage you to do what your body knows how to do! Please do not take to heart any negative responses, or anything that discourages you. You know your body, and you know what you want. You were created to do this! And if you want to have your little one with you, then do that! I think it's an awesome opportunity to include him. After all, this will be his baby too. Congratulations, and good luck! Let us know how it all turns out.


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answers from San Antonio on

If you have pets, do remember to have them boarded. My dog freaked out.

I watched birthing videos with my dd, who was 4.5 at the time. When I asked her if she wanted to be there for the birth, she said "no." I'm glad she wasn't. I had a 44 hour labor, 18 hours in transition and all the focus was on me. No one would have had the strength to take care of her needs, too.

You never know how birth is going to go. A child that small can't really express himself or his feelings and it might be scarey. It might be fine, but it is possible that it might not be. Is it worth taking the chance?

I'm really glad my dd was not there. I had wanted her to be, but no one could have predicted how difficult the birth would be. At the end I bled a lot, too, and everyone looked scared. They kept telling me to stay awake because they were afraid I would not come back if I let myself drift off. I was awake for three days!

I wouln't have traded the home birth for the world, but my dog was traumatized and I personally am glad my daughter was safely having fun with grandma.

I definately advise having a doula in addition to a midwife. My doula was the greatest. So was my midwife.

Happy birthing.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

I don't have any experience with home birth, so I can't speak to that. But you might try reading Children at Birth by Marjie Hathaway and Jay Hathaway. They are the directors of the Bradley Method of natural childbirth, and I believe they had their older children at the births of their younger ones. The book is old, but should have some good advice to help you decide if your son is ready to be present at your upcoming birth.



answers from Chicago on

Have a back-up plan. I cannot stress this enough. Even at this late stage, it is a good idea to not leave emergencies to the whims of the rotating staff at the hospital. Most OB are relieved that you have a back-up plan, but if not, look again. Usually your midwife can recommend a good OB for back-up.
I had a Direct-Entry Midwife who insisted upon this. She worked with my family Doc, and he recommended the most incredible female OB/Gyn, and she was amazing and understanding, and so helpful with all the little worries I had.

I was fine, doing well with my exercise and nutrition, then at five weeks before my due date, All Hell Broke Loose.

I had a grand total of 48 hours of on/off labour. I rushed to the hospital, dilated to nine, and was greeted by my OB. She had to break the water, as he held it shut with his wee head, and 45 min later, I had my son. He was jaundiced and a teeny 5 lb 11 oz 19 in. long bundle of OMG can they project their voice! He is now 5 years old, 3'5" and about 38 lbs(skinny, but it runs in my family). I doubt I'd have been so fortunate if I hadn't had a back-up plan.
I found out later, she was a Midwife turned OB to help more women, and has a wellness center dedicated to such.
If I am fortunate enough to get pregnant again, I definitely would try for a home birth, and depending on how my son reacts, I may or may not have him there. It's all up to him really.



answers from Chicago on

I didn't have a homebirth but had my son at West Sub's ABC room with my then 22 month daughter present along with my mom, sister, husband and midwife. We were just going to play it by ear and see how she did. She did amazing and the timing turned out to be great. We got to the hospital at 6 pm after dinner and I had my son at 9:12 which is conveniently just about her bedtime so my husband took her home after and put her to bed and someone must have stayed with her and then he came back. I'm guessing every kid is different and will handle things differently. She handled it great and now at 4 still talks about his birth and will point out my midwife's office when we pass it.


I didn't have a homebirth but had my son at West Sub's ABC room with my then 22 month daughter present along with my mom, sister, husband and midwife. We were just going to play it by ear and see how she did. She did amazing and the timing turned out to be great. We got to the hospital at 6 pm after dinner and I had my son at 9:12 which is conveniently just about her bedtime so my husband took her home after and put her to bed and someone must have stayed with her and then he came back. I'm guessing every kid is different and will handle things differently. She handled it great and now at 4 still talks about his birth and will point out my midwife's office when we pass it.



answers from Chicago on

That's so exciting! I had both my daughters at home through Homefirst ... the last was just over 8 years ago. I was blessed in that I was good friends with one of the Homefirst nurses and she was at both births. She was (and still is!) awesome!

My first daughter was about 3 1/2 when my second was born ... it helped to have my sister there to be her sitter during the birth. She kept her occupied, letting her be with me when she wanted, but ready to take her into another room for a story or some coloring or whatever if she wanted or if there were any complications or "scary" moments (though, thankfully, my births were relatively textbook). She was not actually in the room during the final push because she'd fallen asleep during a story, but she happened to wake up just after and she cuddled up next to me while I held the new baby and we waited for the cord to be ready to cut. She just soaked it all in. I guess my best advice for your son is to not pressure him to be there, but let him come and go as he feels comfortable, and assign a relative to be his "buddy" for the duration. Blessings to you!



answers from Chicago on

I'm sorry but please consider a birthing room in the hospital most have them these days. Even though this is your second child you never know what could happen and you may need a emergency c-section to save both you and your baby. Yes there are problems in hospitals like spreading germ and such but they are much better than your home. St. Francis in Evanston IL even has a tub if you choose to have a water birth and you can have anyone you want in the room with you. I don't think a 2.5 year old should be in the room because he maybe thinking that he is going to loose his mommy when you start feeling those labor pains and begin to look like your in pain. Also if it takes a while he may start to annoy you since he is a 2 year old and won't be sitting still all the time.



answers from Chicago on

I had a natural delivery, but at Prentice. We have explored the idea of having a homebirth for our next delivery. I am sisters with Maria P, who responded to your post. I was there for the birth of my nephew, who came out in the water. It was such an amazing experience! Best of luck to you. If you get a chance, can you send me a message and let me know who is assisting you in your homebirth. Thanks and happy laboring!



answers from San Diego on

Good for you!

We had a planned homebirth, but he remained breech and we did an exhaustive u/s and found an extremely short cord, so my midwife recommended a c-section....bummer, bummer, bummer.

But, we had planned to have my 2.5 yr old there. I had arranged to have my dad come to be my son's assistant so that he could do whatever he wanted to...play outside, go to the park, etc. I recommend having an extra person there just for him.

My dogs weren't going to be boarded, but would be outside at the time.

I wish you luck and know you will have a fabulous birth experience!!!



answers from San Diego on

We had our baby in the hospital (through the midwife group)... and there were 4 kids in the room for the actual birth. Ages 1-6, and one young adult (16). A few of them were there for the entire labor, but not actually in the room... popping in from time to time to say hello and visit. The adults in the room ticked me off (I swear there were 20 people in the room at one point and I sent them all packing with threats that didn't make a lot of sense -like "this birth has been cancelled, and will be rescheduled next week", a few choice swear words, and something I think about a buffet table (there wasn't one, but I remember thinking maybe the idea of food would get them out), and one eye level to my mum that I would turn this car around if she didn't start behaving... PREFERABLY down the hall. Yeah. I wasn't super with it at that point. But SHEESH. Over 20 people? My DH had lost his mind and called his entire phone book inviting people down for the birth. Most had enough sense to realize he's lost his ever lovin' mind. About 40 didn't... but didn't actually come and try to hang out with me.

Back on target.. the kids were fantastic. And they were all being watched by others, so they were actually pretty calming. Ordinarily a screaming person would be kind of scary... but since everyone (including me) was also EXCITED they were all just wide eyed and curious and GRAND.



answers from Chico on

Hi T.,
Congratulations on your upcoming birth.
I've had two homebirths. Both were water births.
My first homebirth was my third birth, it was my husband's first. My first two births were natural births in hospitals (first with an OB/GYN, second with a Certified Nurse Midwife), no drugs and little interventions.
My third birth was planned for the hospital with another CNM group until about 6 weeks before my due date, my husband and I found a hospital policy which we didn't like and upon discussing it with our midwives all of us agreed that the policy didn't make sense in our situation so we interviewed a homebirth midwife and changed plans (the hospital has since changed that policy). Our homebirth midwife has a relationship with the hospital midwife group so we could see both throughout the pregnancy, that way if any complication were to arise we already had midwives who were familiar with us and would take over care at the hospital and call their back-up OB/GYN if necessary. Both of my pregnancies and homebirths remained in normal low-risk parameters and we had two successful homebirths.
In addition to our midwife and her assistant, my husband and I chose to have my sister and my 11 1/2 year old daughter present at our first homebirth. My daughter was given the option of being present or not. She orginally thought she wanted to be close by but not IN the room. As labor progressed she acutally came closer. She napped on the couch so she wouldn't be to far away in case I needed her (so sweet, and completely her choice). By the time the midwife was on her way my daughter was very involved, rubbing my shoulders/giving me sips of water/wiping my forehead. She asked whether I was o.k., when I said yes I'm o.k., it's hard work she responded, "I can tell by your swearing"! LOL! The baby was born with a low APGAR, but the midwife was experienced, calm, focused, and skilled as she worked with the baby, everything was fine within minutes. Despite their age difference my girls are very close and I'm glad my older daughter was present for her sister's birth.
My second homebirth was 22 months later. My older daughter was at her dad's house (it happened to be Father's Day). We had the same midwife, this time she had a new assistant. My toddler accompanied me to all the prenatal visits, the midwife involved her in measuring my belly. By the time the midwife came for the homevisit and for the birth my toddler was familiar and comfortable with her presence. This time my sister, a cousin, and dear friend (who is an RN interested in becoming a midwife and curious about homebirth) were present for the birth along with my 22 month old daughter. My toddler did show some concern at times when I became vocal, she was never truly upset, she spent time in the arms or lap of all the women present including the midwife, and stood next to daddy sometimes. My friend was holding her during the actual birth and explained in simple terms that mommy is doing some hard work but that everything is fine and the baby is coming. When she saw the baby in my arms she was genuinely surprised and happy, "A BABY" she exclaimed! This labor was quicker than hers had been and she napped through the early part. My sister pushed her in a stroller as we went for a walk in the neighborhood to speed labor along (short, effective walk!) when she got up from her nap. She played in the other room for some time during labor too. She had plenty of attendants and was free to come and go as she was comfortable. She was curious about the birth tub in the kitchen and stood next to it splashing the water once or twice. I'm not really sure what she remembers from the experience, but I know she remembers some and that it was an overall good experience for her. A few weeks ago out of the blue she happily stated that her brother was born "right there, in the bath, in the kitchen". She's now 32 months old and he's 10 months old. He was born with an even lower APGAR. The midwife was again focused and skilled as she worked with him, he too was fine within minutes. I was bleeding, the midwife was skilled and focused as she assessed me, got me out of the water to better assess the situation and worked with the baby. The midwife has discussed the low apgar's with other midwives, they all agree that would have happened in the hospital too and that the outcome was the same. No one really knows why but one theory is that some babies born in the water are sometimes very relaxed and need to be encouraged to breathe, so the midwife has suggested that if we have another baby (we're done though) we should use the tub for labor pain relief and comfort but get out for the birth. I've witnessed other water births where there were no problems with low apgar.
I really enjoyed being home for my births.
I would encourage you to only have present those who can support you through birth. I didn't allow my mil to come to the births because we have a strained relationship and I knew I'd be tense with her present. She was mad at me for it but I didn't worry about it during the hard work of labor. She was allowed to come visit about an hour after my son's birth, she fixed me something to eat.
The midwives took my husband, toddler, new baby and I to my room for some "immediate family" bonding time and kept everyone else out for at least an hour before they even weighed and measured the baby.
The Midwife and assistant were wonderful "keepers of the space". Very quiet and unintrusive while being completely aware and present.
They did a newborn exam, got breastfeeding started, made sure I had something to eat, and went over "after-birth" instructions with my husband before they left. Follow-up visits were in my home at 1, 3, 5 day and two weeks postpartum and in the office at 6 weeks. The midwife informed the back-up midwives and our family Pediatrician of the baby's birth.
My husband too is very pleased with our homebirths.
This has been a long post but I hope to have addressed your questions. I hope you'll message me with your birth experience.
Best wishes, K.



answers from Chicago on

I loved my homebirth. You are in for a real treat! I did a water birth. My first child was 21 months at the time. She went over to grammie's for a playdate and came home an hour after the baby was born. I sent her to my mom's because I didn't want anyone there save for hubby and my midwife (and her assistant), and I wanted hubby with me, not having to take care of her.

The labor was a joke and everything went so smoothly! Fingers crosses you have a similar experience. I see that you are in Westchester --I'm in Wheaton. Who are you using?



answers from Chicago on

Do you have a doula that will attend? I think having the right support people can really help the overall goal!!! Please keep me posted. I am a natural childbirth education and love to share homebirth stories with other mamas!!! ____@____.com luck I hope to hear your birth story soon!

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