My wife and I knew long before her pee said pregnant that we were going to have a home birth. That is to say, we were planning on a home birth. We all know birth plan ≠ birth story. More on that below.
We chose a home birth for many reasons. My wife is a free spirit, most comfortable barefoot, in love with the woods and old stone walls, still believes in faeries, makes her own tinctures, self-medicates with organic tea, uses tarot cards regularly, and is a legitimate descendent of a witch. Sounds like someone who might choose a home birth, right?
I think she also knew deep down that if she delivered in a hospital, she would be more likely to succumb to the pain and request an epidural. And she didn’t want an epidural. She didn’t want intervention. She didn’t want hospital bed sheets, hospital walls, hospital air. She didn’t want to have to get in a car with a two-day-old baby and drive 30 minutes to bring him home.
Before I get too deep, it’s important to state my belief that all birth – home, hospital, or otherwise – is magical and awesome. All you moms are heroes to me. This isn’t about birth plan superiority complex. It’s about respecting choice, and also about word choice. But mostly it’s instilling in all moms-to-be, no matter their birth plan, that they got this.
When we started sharing our birth plan with friends and family, the responses were…mixed. I share the five below because I believe they were uttered with good intentions, but maybe not enough consideration. Here’s what we heard when we told people, “We’re having a home birth!”
1 | “You’re so brave.”
Let’s talk for a minute about pregnancy and birth in general. A lot can go wrong. Risk is inherent. There’s miscarriage, preterm birth, nuchal cord, and breach, just to name a few and get your heart rate going.
“Pregnancy Complications” is the 6th leading cause of death for woman ages 20 through 34 in the United States. But we don’t tell pregnant women they’re brave just for carrying a child to term.
Is home birth riskier? Yes. According to a 2015 study by the “New England Journal of Medicine”, “out-of-hospital births” were 2.4 times more likely to result in perinatal death than a planned hospital birth. That’s not insignificant.
But if there’s one thing I learned throughout my wife’s nine months of pregnancy and 29 hours of labor it’s that a positive mindset and self-confidence in the female body to do what it is programmed to do are invaluable. I mean sacrosanct. You don’t mess with a pregnant woman’s belief in her ability to successfully bring new life into the world.
“You’re so brave” sounds like a compliment, but it can also be interpreted as “home births are scary and dangerous, and I would never take such a risk.”
A better response: “A home birth! Cool! I’m sure it’s going to be amazing.”
2 | “Do you have a back-up plan?”
Sounds like genuine concern, right? In our case, it was a close family member who dropped this knee-jerk…