Where is the best place to have a baby? We had a home birth.
"Men are mere mortals. If you have not seen this you don't know what power is." -Alex Goldberg
January 9th 2014, as my partner Lisa was in labor with our baby girl in our Brooklyn home, I could not be more overwhelmed by her power and grace. Until then, like many people, I didn't know much about witnessing the actual birthing process outside of what we see in Hollywood movies. (I'm looking at you Knocked Up, Monty Python's Meaning of Life and Nine Months.) Even though I've been clinically working for over a decade, dedicated to helping people create families, I was only in proximity to the process of labor; not actually experiencing it. To give our family and friends a personal glimpse into our choice of a home birth and to have a central place where people could get real time updates so we didn't have to check in all the time, Lisa and I shared our experience with a live twitter feed using #BKLisaHomeBirth.
UPDATE: We are expecting our second child due October 1, 2015 and could not be more joyed! We want to again share this experience with family & friends but also with our community. We encourage you to follow us on Twitter and our hashtag #BKLisaHomeBirth to join in this new adventure. We will post tips and pictures along the way as well as live tweet our home birthing experience!
What tips do I have from our first home birth that may help your laboring partner?
Here are some ideas to help with any labor you choose; whether at home, hospital or birthing center:
Sippy drinks. Straws, plastic cups (there are biodegradable ones) and various drinks. No seriously this will help! When labor starts hopefully you will be home or starting your way home because labor takes awhile. Even if you are planning to go to the hospital, why go too early when you can be more comfortable at home. Guess what ? No matter where you are, you are going to move around; A LOT. Having some favorite (non-alcoholic) drinks for the birthing mother is just nice. Plastic, because hey, nothing is a bigger bummer than a sudden contraction happening and a glass cup hitting the hardwood floor. And straws! They will keep your partner being able to take a sip without always having to lift her head and neck, which trust me after 10 hours or more might be a serious challenge. For the record, Lisa went through a 27 hour labor.
Soak in a tub Mamma. In early labor, soaking in a tub will help relax and calm the birthing mother and may also slow down labor. Once you hit "active labor" then using the tub will enhance and pick up the pace - generally a really nice idea if you have been laboring for multiple hours.
Stay within your relationship. If you are both serious, stay that way. If one of you is the comedian, make jokes. Do not change just because the labor is happening! What we noticed is a shift in tone possibly can increase stress and introduce fear into a new and awing moment that you do not want to miss. So relax! Enjoy the ride as much as possible and whichever way you go, remember things will only get better from here!
Home Birth, Birthing Center or Hospital?
I know I know I know ..... so many opinions, thoughts, and ideas! From our point of view, home birth is not for everyone. Depending on how things unfold with your health and access to proper planning and care, even if it is your first choice, it may not be the best. We respect the right of all women to choose what is best for them and make informed decisions. We also respect the advice that certain criteria should be met to be a candidate for a safe, planned home birth. Lastly, if you don't know what a midwife does or what they offer, you should find out! Our friends at Park Slope Midwives have a wonderful FAQ page.
This hot button topic among British and American obstetricians regarding the safety of giving birth outside of the hospital setting was recently discussed on NPR. Most MDs here in the USA are still largely set in their thinking that a hospital is the best choice for a birth and that a doctor should perform the delivery. Even though the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have shown support for midwives, only about 9% of American women utilize a midwife in a birthing center or hospital. American women are also having more C-Sections (many that are elective) than in the UK, 33% to 26% respectively, which may also be a contributing factor to the increasing maternal mortality rate in our country.
The problem is that while American OBGYNs are taking great care of the female population that fall under the high-risk category, they are forgetting to apply different medical concepts to those women that fall in low-risk categories. The truth to the matter is, if there was ever a time that applying individualized care is critical, it would be when a new child is being born. The biggest issue we see here on our side of the pond, besides a lack of communication and education about safe birthing choices for low risk women outside of the doctor/hospital setting, is that there is such a great divide between healthcare providers such as midwives, obstetricians and hospitals. We hope women will have better access to the individualized and consistent prenatal & birthing care they need so they can make better choices and have a better pregnancy and birthing experience. Midwives and doulas will hopefully become a more mainstream part of that picture.