Home Birth Pros and Cons

Updated on May 04, 2009
A.W. asks from Woodridge, IL
41 answers

I'm committed to a natural delivery. I always thought I'd deliver in a hospital but recently watched The Business of Being Born and it really changed my view of home births. How messy is it really?

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So What Happened?

Thanks to everyone that responded, I really appreciate the honesty. I've decided to stay at the hospital but with midwives and the Bradley Method to help me along with little (if any) intervention. The most important thing for me has been finding the right caregivers to support my decisions. If all goes well I may think about a homebirth with my next baby. Have a great weekend everyone!

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M.I.

answers from Chicago on

I would urge you to not give birth to your first child this way -- wait for subsequent births, when youand your doctor/practitioner know your body better. Incidence of preeclampsia is also higher (high BP leading to seizure if nottreated - can also happen immediately following birth).

Also remember ... You can have a natural birth (no mess, etc.) in a hospital. And guess what ... They clean upafter it AND cater to your every need for aday or two after. :-)

Philosophically ... As an older (40s) mom with now 3 school age kids ... I'm concerned that women are using childbirth as yet another arena on which to compete or guilt themselves. In days of old women gave birth in the fields, cutting the cord with a reed. Is that next year's trend?

Give yourselves the comfort and care of a clean 21st century hospital. You can have anyone you want there, labor nurses are as good as doulas in coaching, you can even do water birth in some hospitals, and just refuse drugs on your own. Furthermore, you will never regret birthing 20 steps from a NICU (may you never need one) for the baby. Most births only require a catcher's mitt, I agree (women ARE wondrous and powerful creatures!), but moments in a crisis can cost brain damage (special education for your child), infection or death.

Prudence. With the right practitioner you can still have a she-Ra birth in a hospital.

3 moms found this helpful
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D.L.

answers from Chicago on

I think the mess should be the least of your concerns. I would not take the risk of home birth. Both of my children would have died if I had done a home birth. I probably would have as well after the 1st birth. Both of my sisters would have bleed to death if they had done home births. My cousin & her baby almost died doing a home birth (both had to be rushed to the hospital). My brother has Downe Syndrome & I have countless more stories of children I have met that are mentally handicapped from birthing complications (many from home births). I know there are many people that are huge advocates of home birthing & will be angry with this post, but I'm equally angry that they are ignoring the dangers that can occur. I know that being at home is more comfortable, but you're only in the hospital for a couple of days. It is true that many people have home births with no complications, but there is also another side to that coin. Is it really worth it to take that risk? The goal should be having a healthy baby & momma.

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D.G.

answers from Chicago on

All natural births are beautiful and I am so glad that I did it with my first child; I had complications with the second so I could not. I delivered at a hospital with a Midwife that worked with Northwestern. I have had many friends that did home births. Yes it is messy and yes it is much more comfortable than being at the hospital. I have to tell you this story though and you may not like it but I am trying to be an advocate for my friend. I had a friend who had a home birth and she had a case of which was 1 in a million; she delivered her uterus after delivery. You have only about 10 minutes to get to an operating room or you bleed to death. She is gone now and her beautiful son does not have a mother anymore. The doctors said if she had delivered in the hospital she would have lived. I know this is a very rare case, but do you want to take the chance of your child growing up without you. I am proud to say that I told this story to another woman and she followed my advice and she had the same complication and lived. The doctors told her if she had her baby at home, then she wouldn’t be here today. She sent a dozen roses and said thanks for saving my life with your story. There are beautiful home birth experiences, but delivery is filled with the unknown of complications. Do you really want to take that risk? Thanks, I am sorry to be such a downer but I am a big advocate now of having your baby at the hospital.

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J.K.

answers from Chicago on

It's not bad at all. I had both of mine at home. This is what you do - make your bed and then, put a shower curtain or vinyl sheet on top. Then, make your bed again with some cheap dollar store sheets. Buy a package or two of underpads and cover your bed with them. We also got some carpet saver from Menards and covered about 2 feet out from the bed because after the first birth, there was some mess on the floor (I never made it into the bed and gave birth standing next to it). All the garbage was taken care of. I never saw any mess with my second birth. Feel free to ask me any questions.

Here are some other suggestions that I gave someone else:
For postpartum ice packs, saturate sanitary pads, wring them out so they aren't dripping, put a few drops of tea tree oil in the center and then shape into a curve. Put individually into freezer. Once frozen, pile them up into a zip lock bag. After birth, wear depends pullup style underwear and slip in an "ice pack". It feels really nice on tender nether-regions.

Have a slow cooker ready to go for warming wash clothes for hot compresses. If you have back labor, you are gonna want them! If you do have back labor, any time you have a contraction, have someone push kind of hard on the small of your back with a hot compress, it makes all the difference!

If you have an acupuncturist, see if they will come to the house when you are in labor. There are acupuncture points that stimulate birth and endorphins. It really helps.

Make sure you have lots of protein and OJ in the house. Homefirst likes you to have eggs and a large glass of OJ after the birth to replenish your sugars and protein.

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J.K.

answers from Chicago on

A., both my kids were planned home births that ended up in non-emergency transports to the hospital and c-sections. The home birth part really helped in accepting the c-sections since I know the midwive was committed to a natural birth and there weren't other hosptial staff around imposing their opinions or pushing an epidural. So, I felt the c-sections were necessary. It can be messy but there are tools and tricks for that. Plus, midwives & their assistants usually help clean up. Your baby will have a much happier entry into the world if she/he is born at home. There are not many homebirth midwives and docs in the Chicago area, so if you decide for sure, start making phone calls!

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E.B.

answers from Chicago on

The midwife or doctor and your doula should do the clean up. You will be focusing on breast feeding and resting and eating. oh yeah...and taking the very important first poop after giving birth.

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T.C.

answers from Chicago on

I had my daughter at home and for me, there was no clean up. The nurse did it all. I had my son in a hospital and would never do that again, which is why I went with home birth for my daughter. I used Dr. Elvove, ###-###-####. I don't believe he is still delivering, but I am sure his office will give you the name of a dr. who does. The care I received from the home birth was SOOOOOO much better than that at the hospital.
Good Luck!!!

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S.S.

answers from Chicago on

I just had a natural birth at Prentice. It can be done!

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K.S.

answers from Chicago on

I've attended a home birth- no mess, really. You put a shower curtain between two sheets and use towels as well. When all is 'done', I helped by pulling up the curtain and top sheet! You just have to soak them and wash, even if you plan too throw em out---can you imagine bloody sheets in a dumpster? not good!
I delivered with Debi Lesnick out of Evanston Northwestern (now NorthShore) and had THE best experience--a home-type birth in a hospital. I love the midwives I worked with, and if you'd like the number just contact me.

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G.H.

answers from Chicago on

Extremely messy. When water breaks, it's like your whole insides flood out. Be prepared to toss any towels or linens. Let alone the possibility of infection or germs. It's risky and messy.

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A.S.

answers from Houston on

I will be having my first baby/first home birth this July-ish. I was told over and over again by everyone I talked with and my midwife that the midwife/apprentice pretty much leave the house just as clean , IF NOT MORE, then when they got there! Plus I'm also going with the tub option so that should help even more in keeping things clean!

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C.S.

answers from Chicago on

I would recommend Karen and Noreen out of Copley Hospital, if you are in the Naperville area. I prefered it there over West Suburban Hospital in Oak Park. I also think Carol Chamblin, with breastandbabyproducts.com is a great lactation consultant. Hope all goes well.

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S.S.

answers from Chicago on

I'm 37 weeks with my third, and am all set to have a midwife-assisted homebirth with Debbie Boucher, who just partnered with Christina Oser as someone mentioned below. You can check out her site at http://www.yourbirth.com/ . She can answer any of your questions, and gives a detailed list of what need to be prepared and purchased ahead of time, as well as what to expect at home. I am not nervous at all about the mess and unknowns of birthing at home, and the more I read the more certain that this is what I want to do (after having two hospital births with epidurals).
Debbie also works as a nurse part-time with Dr. Elvove, our family doctor, who stopped delivering babies recently (but still practices in his office). They are very naturally minded, and Debbie assisted with many of his births before he stopped delivering.
I also started going to Homefirst, another place that people mentioned, but for us (we have a high insurance deductible) their extra $2000 not-covered-by-insurance fee was going to break the bank for us, so I started seeking out a midwife. I'm glad I did!
Feel free to message me if you want more info.

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L.B.

answers from Chicago on

Both of my kids were born at home and there was next to no mess that wasn't easily caught by underpads or the tub. Both were relatively quick births and for the first I labored mostly in the tub and then birthed on the bed, for the second I never made it into the bath because things went so quickly and birthed on the bed again.

We bought a bunch of cheap plastic or plastic-backed tablecloths at the dollar store to put down under the sheets and on the floor in case i was wandering back and forth a lot, but my water didn't break till late in the labors for both kids so i was never leaking or anything during labor and we only ended up using one on the bed just in case.

Any towels that were used went into the wash almost immediately (husband, midwife or doula did that, I'm not entirely sure since I was busy with the baby!) and nothing stained at all. The time I did use the tub, I think the doula drained and cleaned it out for us (we have a big jetted tub, so we didn't use a rented aquadoula or anything like that).

If you have any questions about anything, feel free to send me a note directly. Best of luck making your decision!

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K.M.

answers from Chicago on

You are worried about the mess? I'd be more concerned that if something were to go wrong during your delivery you were not at a hospital so you could get some help QUICKLY. I had a friend that delivered at home with a midwife. My friend is a Bradley instructor. The baby wound up born with a fractured skull. And this was with a very knowledgeable midwife and a Bradley instructor. He has problems to this day. She has had two children since then and she goes to a hospital now. Why would you risk it? Seriously. Yes, there are hospitals that you can go to and have a midwife, a Bradley instructor, whatever you want. That is where I would go if I were you. If something (god forbid) were to happen at least you are in a hospital where help is close by.

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S.G.

answers from Bloomington on

I have had two homebirths and it wasn't really messy at all from what I remember. I know my caregivers do clean after ward. The hardest it gets, is with laundry right after. If a friend would commit to helping do a load of laundry a day that would really help. We have managed though.

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J.W.

answers from Chicago on

Probably no more or less messy than delivering at a hospital, I imagine. It will be good practice for when Little Junior reaches toddlerhood and can take his/her own diaper off in the middle of a nap:^)

Oh, and while I don't endorse or condemn home birthing either way, genetic birth defects aren't caused by the delivery. Plenty can go wrong or right on both ends, so the most important thing is to do what's right for you and your partner.

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S.M.

answers from Chicago on

Hi A.,

I had my second child at home with the midwives of A woman's Place. The experience was so much more relaxing and comfortable than at the hospital and I delivered with the same midwives at the hospital. So it is worth any mess. But the good news is you won't clean it up! They will have you make your bed up a head of time (as others suggested) so it can easily be changed over. I went into labor at around 11Pm, rolled out of bed on to my knees and leaned against the bed and had the baby a few hours later. I was kneeling on a pillow so that pillow was beyond cleaning and we threw it out. After delivering my daughter I got up on the bed to deliver the placenta and stayed on the bed for an hour or two. The midwives then had me go to the bathroom and when I came back the bed was completely changed and the floor cleaned up and it looked like I never had a baby in there! It really isn't as messy as you think so don't let that hold you back. The midwives at A woman's Place are amazing if you're looking for a provider. Good luck!

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J.V.

answers from Chicago on

I just decided last week to have my second child at home. And, the mess was one of my biggest concerns! I remember, after my first, feeling sorry for whoever had to clean up the birthing room!

After meeting with my midwife, and hearing her say they would help to clean up and even get a load of laundry going, I stopped worrying about the mess. Between my husband and the midwife and her assistant, I think the mess should be covered.

If you are at all interested in a home birth, do some interviews of midwives. I found that to be the best way to get pass any hesitations I had. (I have a list of midwives if you want it).

And you know what else sent me over the edge? The thought of not eating terrible hospital food after giving birth. Think about how nice it will be to have your own kitchen, with your own food?!?!

Besides, no visiting hours, and no nurses drawing blood at 3am. No hospital rules. YEAH!

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C.G.

answers from Augusta on

I am a labor and delivery RN and student nurse-midwife. I gave birth to two of my children in a hospital and the last one at home and have worked in several hospitals. Without a doubt I would never give birth in a hospital again unless there was some sort of medical complication.

Most of the problems in birth are CAUSED by the hospital- inductions, breaking your water, epidural, multiple vaginal exams, internal and external monitors, IV fluids, pitocin, all contribute to complications in otherwise low risk women. To say nothing of the incredible rate of unnecessary c-sections which are not only unhealthy for mom and baby but contribute to future health problems for both.

As far as the range of responses here- many are from a position of ignorance. For those urging you not to take the "risk" keep in mind that as you already know, the risk of maternal or fetal death at home is the same and the risk of morbidity is actually LOWER at home- including infections, episiotomies, tearing, etc.

In terms of an emergency arising- keep in mind that most hospitals in this area do not have 24 hour in house OB and anesthesia. That means that when your "emergency" happens at the hospital you have to wait for the OR team to arrive from home. If you are at home and have to transfer you simply call en route and there is no delay.

As for the mess, there was really no mess at all. I gave birth in a tub so it was contained to there. I have been at many, many hospital births and I can tell you that they are kind of gross. Most women have their water broken early on and have many vaginal exams so lots of discharge due to that. Since many women are confined to bed they are stuck sitting in the yuck. There is more likely to be tearing or cutting resulting in bleeding and somehow there always seems to be blood on the floor (still not sure about this, it even happens in my own deliveries). My midwife, her assistant, and my doula cleaned everything up. I didn't lift a finger. I think there was a load of towels to throw in the wash, a bag of trash, and my husband drained and cleaned the pool (a La Bassine, very highly recommend it).

The care you get with a homebirth is exceptional. Home visits after delivery, phone calls, etc. Much higher quality than what I receieved in the hospital.

Good luck with your decision- if you choose homebirth you will frequently run into ignorance like you have seen here. Just be thorough in your research and sure of your decision and no need to worry. Keep in mind that the US ranks 27th in perinatal outcomes compared to other developed nations where maternity care is much more low-tech, delivered by midwives, and often at home or in birth centers.

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K.S.

answers from Springfield on

My husband was not comfortable with a home birth (he's a nurse), so we birthed naturally at Prentice. What you need to do if you're going to do this in the hospital is be prepared to be firm with the medical staff. I think the first person after the L&D nurse who came to the labor room was the anesthesiologist wanting me to sign the consent forms. The most important thing to do is to be very clear to the nurses that they should not offer you drugs.

Have you checked out the Bradley Method of natural childbirth? Their classes (12 weeks long, so don't wait) will help you to be a good consumer of the birth process. I liked our Bradley classes so much that I am going later this week to a training to become an instructor. It's the way to go for natural childbirth. Go to bradleybirth.com.

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J.F.

answers from Chicago on

I also gave birth in the ABC room at West Suburban Hospital with the midwives from West Suburban Midwives. It was a great experience. There is something to be said about surrounding yourself with people that support natural child birth. They support you and your abilities to give birth naturally. I gave birth to my daughter without an epideral. People kept commenting on how alert she was. I believe because she was not drugged during birth. Is it painful? Of course. But you can deal with it. An epideral never crossed my mind once during labor. I thought to myself "This is what labor is and I have to deal with it." I had such a natural high afterwards. I will never forget. The nurse came in after the delivery and asked me what was my pain level. I initially told her that I had no pain. The high did wear off, and I did need some Motril later.

You can do it. Do what you feel is right and comfortable for you. Good luck!

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R.R.

answers from Chicago on

That is awesome that you watched that video; it is amazing. I am a natural childbirth educator and feel that homebirths are completely safe and can actually cause a quicker birth as you are more relaxed in the comforts of your own home. I would not get hung up on how messy it is. If you are nervous about that have you considered a water birth at home? My suggestion would be to first find a midwife and practice that is supportive of homebirths, I would then look into natural childbirth classes such as HypnoBirthing or the Bradley method, and just have all the positive support around you. Feel free to contact me should you have any questions!

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M.P.

answers from Chicago on

I had a natural birth in West Sub's ABC room with Julie Marks, CNM. I wanted a homebirth but my husband wasn't comfortable with it so this was a great compromise. If I ever had another though, I would do it at home. It wasn't too messy although I delivered in a tub so I guess most of the mess went down the drain. :) You would probably have a midwife and I assume they do the clean up just as they would in the hospital. I didn't tear at all so I guess there was probably less blood then there would have been with a tear. I was at my nephew's birth 12 days ago and she tore and needed stitches and it was pretty messy and bloody. I'm not sure I would have wanted that mess in my house! But overall, I've never heard of anyone having a bad experience at home. I feel like I practically had a homebirth since I labored at home til the end anyway. As long as the baby isn't breech, you don't have preeclampsia, are full term, etc it should be no problem doing it at home with absolutely no more risk than in a hospital.

S.A.

answers from Chicago on

A.,

The mess should not be your main concern. Home births can be very dangerous. If something goes wrong, there may not be time to rush to the nearest hospital. Do you really want to risk possibly harming or even losing the baby's life or your own life? You should deliver in a hospital that allows natural births with midwives instead of doctors and nurses. This way you can have the best of both worlds and not take a gamble with yours and your baby's lives.

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L.W.

answers from Chicago on

Anne Marie's friend's experience is the exception NOT the norm! I get angry when I hear how home birth is perceived as less safe than a hospital birth! Home birth is statistically SAFER, as you probably know by watching the Born documentary. I've gave birth to both of my perfect healthy sons at home attended by certified nurse midwives and I speak directly from my experience. I was weeks away from my 40th birthday the second time. It is very worth while and not nearly as much mess as you might be imagining. Educate yourself and believe in your choices. Have a wonderful pregnancy and glorious birth experience!

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C.B.

answers from Chicago on

I've given birth twice and all I can say is it's very very messy. From the amniotic fluid that comes out after they break your bag of waters to the blood and fluid that comes out during child birth...there's a lot going on there. The delivery room basically looks like a crime scene. With my first child, my parents came in to the delivery room to see the baby moments after she was born, and they were hard pressed not to slip on the blood that was still on the floor. It's pretty gross.

If you do decide to try this at home, be sure you are prepared for the mess. Good luck and congrats on your pending arrival!

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E.N.

answers from Tampa on

My natural birth was a water birth, so that may have contributed to less mess, but it was all about the midwives that were there to help me. They kept things very clean and sanitary during the delivery and immediately afterwards, transferring the afterbirth into a tub and then a sterile bag very quickly. It was so much nicer to have that comfortable home setting - dim lights, a bed to relax in after the birth, comfortable chairs, etc. I highly recommend it. I think I would've stressed out more in a hospital setting, and perhaps would've chickened out on the natural route.

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S.U.

answers from Chicago on

I agree with Courtney! I have been a Labor & Delivery RN for the last 12 years. But I think mostly the question is not where you deliver as much as who is your midwife/doctor. Hospitals can be scary places with technology ready at hand which can be good and bad. Home is a great place to deliver when you have a low risk pregnancy with a trained midwife (certified nurse midwife). I think I choose the best way to deliver, which was right for me! BUT this is a very personal decision that only you can make and only YOU need to be comfortable with you decision. I delivered both my kids with a fantastic midwife (Fox Valley Women's Healthcare) at a hospital (Sherman in Elgin) but it was us working together that made it a fantastic and safe delivery. We decieded together how to procede during my labor and delivery. Just be educated and informed. I had a very low-tech delivery with her at my side. I still am happy to this day how I chose to deliver.
As for the mess... yes it is messy. But a disposable/waterproof mattress cover or pad will be enough. Unless you decide to get inflatable tub.
Good luck!!

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T.T.

answers from Chicago on

you need to go to the forums on mothering.com. They are full of home birthers. I have never met a single person who has had a home birth that regrets it. I cant say the same for hospital births. Good for you in looking at your options!!!

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A.M.

answers from Chicago on

It isn't the mess but one of my friends did a home delivery recently in Baltimore and her babies heart stopped beating for a minute. It was all very scary and I don't think she would ever do that again.

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E.A.

answers from Chicago on

I've had all my girls at home and wouldn't trade it for anything. I've had four five different midwives over the years and their model of care is fabulous. I would never subject myself to a surgeons care without the need for it and most pregnancies do not fall under that need. This is a brand new study release april of 2009. It a fabulous homebirth studyand has 590,000 subjects of the study. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7998417.stm
I had the actual jounral article. I'll keep looking for it, but this is surfice for now. Do check out the boards on Mothering.com

Oh and for the mess. My midwives have always left the house cleaner than they found it.

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N.P.

answers from Chicago on

All I can tell you is that after being head down for 3 weeks my first turned when my water broke and became breech. Luckily her butt was right at the opening and the maconium was shooting out instead of being in the fluid, but it could have been bad. I can't imagine what would have happened if we hadn't been in a hospital. Not a risk I would ever take and I'm a pretty lenient person.

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C.J.

answers from Chicago on

it's not really that messy. my husband and the midwife had everything cleaned up within an hour i think...maybe less time than that. it was a very beautiful and rewarding experience. i used a midwife in a hospital with my first child and a midwife and doctor at home with my second. the homebirth was soooo much better. much more laid back and it was focused on me relaxing and taking my time. i used homefirst. they are a group of doctors who do homebirths. they are very good. but the midwife that use to work for them, she was AMAZING, has now started her own practice...genesis family midwifery. you can google that. her name is christina oser. we will be using her for our 3rd child. good luck!

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C.B.

answers from Chicago on

As many others have stated, home births are statistically safer than hospital births and your midwife will leave your house spotless ;) Also, I wouldn't take advice from people on this board who think Down syndrome is brain damage caused by lack of oxygen during the birthing process. Too many times people give advice with emotion and not fact.

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E.M.

answers from Chicago on

I birthed both of my kids at home. Both were water births so the clean up mostly involved draining the tub which my husband said was very easy with the tools we had. For my 2nd birth, we had the "Birth Pool in a Box" available at www.waterbirth.org which has an inner liner. It was VERY comfortable for birth. After it was drained, my husband and miwife just pulled out the liner and clean-up was done. We used chucks in bed and I put a plastic shower curtain under a blanket so I could lay on the couch. I used a waterproof crib pad under my sheet in the last month or so of my pregnancy just in case my water broke in bed.

As for home birth, I couldn't give birth any other way. I spent most of early labor kneeling on the floor and resting my head on our ottoman with my dog laying next to me. I had a certified nurse midwife for my first and a traditionally trained midwife for my second. I am in the heatlh care field myself and was completely confident in the abilities and knowledge of the traditional midwife. She was actually better than the CNM I had for my first!

Whatever you decide, surround yourself with positive, supportive people. Get help, especially a lactation consultant (I recommend Carol Chamblain www.breastbabyproducts.com). If you don't have family close or if your husband/partner is not the most helpful around the house, get a post-partum doula.

I have lots of resources if you're interested in more. Feel free to contact me directly!

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J.D.

answers from Chicago on

Hi A.,
I'm glad that you watched The Business of Being Born. It is an amazing film and does exactly what it did for you.....makes you think about choices! I have not had a homebirth myself, but I am an experienced doula from Washington state, where homebirths are easy to have and I've attended many. They are not messy for you at all. Your birthing team is very tidy and will clean EVERYTHING up for you before they leave. There are a few things that you will need to have around, but once you find your midwife, she will make sure that you know what you need and where to get it. Home birth is a wonderful way to start your journey into parenthood. Please feel free to contact me offlist if you'd like any information at: [email protected]____.com.
Happy Birthing
J. Dowers

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K.

answers from Chicago on

Birth is pretty messy. Then again, I've always been told that any midwife worth her salt will help with the cleanup :) I had a great natural VBAC in a hospital instead of at home (I felt medically that I wanted to be in the hospital just in case, plus in my case there was a 2-year-old in the picture). It certainly can be done if you choose the right care provider and a hospital that is generally supportive of this. For example, West Suburban has the Alternative Birthing Center, where midwives attend births.

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C.C.

answers from Chicago on

Additional resources are available to you at www.birthlink.com
One of my prenatal yoga students who is also a doula recently had a home birth - you can get more details from her at www.korubirth.com - her name is Stephanie Eby.
I recommend her doula services - explained at her web site.

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L.A.

answers from Chicago on

You can have a natural birth at the hospital. I had my first, and my twins, natural with no pain meds, and only some pitocin to get the labor going. I had planned to get a epidural with the twins just in case one of both had to be born c-section, but it worked out that by the time I was ready for one it was to late. I delivered at Central DuPage.

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R.M.

answers from Chicago on

I watched the Business of Being Born too, awesome documentary.

I believe when you have a home birth, the midwife cleans up the mess, that's part of what she gets paid to do, so you don't have to worry about that part.

If you're concerned about the mess you can always deliver in a birthing center.

I can't believe that people are trying to talk you out of a home birth when it doesn't relate to the question you asked. Do what "you" want to do. As you saw from the Business of Being Born, there is usually a backup plan for hospital transport should you even need it.

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