9 Practical Reasons To Consider Home Birth

I love supporting home births. When a baby is born at home, it feels like Christmas morning… a sense of excitement and magic and peacefulness all at once.

There are MANY reasons why I believe in the importance of natural home birth, including the science behind home birth safety for healthy mothers having healthy pregnancies. But in addition to these, there are many extremely simple, practical reasons to consider home birth. In no particular order, here are just a few of them:

1. There’s no stress about deciding “Is it time to go?!”

Home birth waiting for baby

Peacefully waiting for a baby at a home birth
Photo: Apple Blossom Families

There is a catch-22 in planned hospital births. On one hand, it is widely accepted that the less time you spend in the hospital, the lower your risk of medical interventions during your birth. Staying home as long as possible is often recommended by midwives, doctors, doulas, and nurses alike.

Of course, the longer you stay home, the closer you are to having your baby when you get in your car, drive to the hospital, fill out admissions paper work and find your room. At this point you are probably / hopefully experiencing strong birth sensations that are coming quite frequently. Usually, all you want to do at this point is stay exactly where you are and focus on birthing.

During a home birth, that’s exactly what you get to do! There is no anxiety about choosing the “right” time to go, avoiding going “to early” or “too late”;  you call your support people when you want them to come, and when it is time, they stay with you until you have a baby.

2. You know where shit is

Navigating the hospital Photo: Morag Hastings, Apple Blossom Families

Navigating the hospital
Photo: Apple Blossom Families

Driving around a parking lot trying to find parking and the correct entrance for admitting in the middle of the night. Wandering the halls of the hospital looking for coffee and hoping you don’t get lost for too long while your parter is birthing. Wondering if you’re allowed to get extra blankets or towels and who to ask or how to get them. These types of fun little adventures are made much easier in hospitals if you have a doula with you to show you the ropes, but can be avoided altogether during a home birth.

3. When the baby is born, you are already home

Home Birth Newborn Exam

Home birth: newborn exam in your own bed!
Photo: Apple Blossom Families

Don’t underestimate this one! When your new baby is born all you want to do is cuddle him or her, eat a home-cooked meal and have the best and most well-deserved sleep of your life after giving birth to a brand new person. In a home birth, you don’t have to do anything to make that happen! You are likely steps away from your cozy bed (if you’re not already in it), there is real food in the fridge that your partner or doula can prepare for you, you can bath or shower in your own tub and curl up with your own sheets and pillows.

4. There is more in your cupboards than snickers bars and stale egg salad sandwiches

Fresh food at a home birth

Fresh food at a home birth
Photo: Apple Blossom Families

Some births are quick, some births are long, ALL births require the birthing mother and her support people to be well nourished in order to keep energy levels up. Births often happen in the quiet of the night, outside of hospital-cafeteria hours. And even when the cafeteria is open, their food selection typically leaves a lot to be desired. Having a variety of nutritious, easy to digest foods on hand to eat during your birthing time is important. Partners (and doulas) can also keep their supportive stamina going for much longer if they have access to fridges, stoves and real food.

5. If you’ve chosen a good birth team, you will finish with a tidy house

Resting after a home birth Photo: Morag Hastings, Apple Blossom Families

Resting after a home birth while the birth team tidies up
Photo: Apple Blossom Families

When I attend a home birth, I don’t leave until the birth pool has been taken down, beds have been made, a load of laundry has been done and dishes have been tidied up.  Home birth is not necessarily messier than a hospital birth; staying home for as long as possible always gives couples plenty of time to leave their house in a bit of birth-disarray before heading to the hospital. However, after a hospital birth, I don’t know of any doulas who will go back to your place to tidy up before you get home (and before she goes to bed to rest)!  However, we’re typically keen to help tidy things up in a home birth while you and your family rest in bed and enjoy each other, and this is something all of my home birth clients always deeply appreciate!

6. You are free to roam around 

home birth, walking the stairs

Home birth, walking the stairs
Photo: Apple Blossom Families

Moving around freely and instinctively is a great way to facilitate smooth progress of childbirth. You can start to feel a bit like you’re on lock-down during hospital births, confined to your birthing suite. This isn’t entirely true; you are definitely free to pace the halls of the ward during your hospital birth, but it’s less private and comfortable than walking the halls of your own home.

7. You can actually have a water birth

Home birth in water

Home birth in the water
Photo: Apple Blossom Families

Having a deep tub to use for comfort during birth and as an option for birthing you baby into is incredibly useful! The warm water and buoyancy provided by a deep tub often provides women with an incredible amount of comfort during childbirth. While your hospital may have tubs, they might not be available in all of the rooms and the size of tubs will often vary between hospitals and between rooms in the same hospital! Not only that, many hospitals are reluctant to support pushing in the water. At home, you can rent or purchase a big birthing pool (or your doulabirth attendant, or midwife may have one for client use). Most home birth attendants are extremely supportive of using tubs for comfort and for pushing.

8. If you have older kids, home birth = awesome

home birth with older siblinng

Older sibling at a home birth
Photo: Apple Blossom Families

I cannot describe how amazing older siblings are at home births. In the comfort of their own homes, older siblings can play, rest, sleep and come check in on mom every now and then to show support (and they can be incredibly supportive!). Kids just seem to GET birth in a home setting. Hospitals are much more sterile and less cozy for older children to hang out in comfortably while they wait to meet their new brother or sister, often meaning they are at home being cared for by a friend or family member. *Note, even at a home birth, it is a good idea to have a person designated for childcare during birth, so both you and your child can have your needs met during the birth.

9. Wandering around in bare feet isn’t, umm, gross

home birth bare feet

Bare feet… nicer on your OWN bathroom floor
Photo: Apple Blossom Families

Let’s face it. Hospitals don’t feel like the cleanest places in town. I love Jim Gaffigan’s sarcastic quote “At home?!.. Why?!… Didn’t you want to [birth] in that germ-infested building where sick people congregate?!”

Birth is primal. You are likely going to want to strip down, patter around in bare feet, or kneel down close to the floor where you feel supported and steady. At home you can do this without wondering about the eww-factor of having your body or bare feet on a hospital room floor!

For more posts like this one, make sure you’re following me on the Birth Takes a Village facebook page. And for more awesome birth photos, check out Apple Blossom Families on facebook, too. I love attending births along side birth photographers.

If you are looking for support during your home birth in Vancouver, consider contacting me to set up a free initial consultation. I’m happy to answer any questions you might have about your options for childbirth.

Jessica Austin, doula & childbirth services in Vancouver, BC

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  15 comments for “9 Practical Reasons To Consider Home Birth

  1. paige
    January 16, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    Do have a question….
    What about an epidural? can you have one at home? That would be the only downfall for me. Also, what if you have to have a c-section?
    I had to have an emergency c section and my son was born with a concussion as it was, i couldn’t imagine what would of happened if I wasn’t in a hospital.
    Don’t get me wrong, i have nothing against home births, i just don’t know a whole lot about them… Would of loved the comfort of my own bed after it was all said an done.

  2. Angela At Onesmileymonkey
    November 8, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    Love this post :) So many of the reasons why I am having a home birth!

  3. Celeste MacInnes
    July 6, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    Terrific article Jessica! You have a gift for communicating in a way that is funny, interesting and accurate. I often refer to your blog posts and will definitely be sharing this link with my clients who are unsure about homebirth! http://www.mamacare.ca

  4. Megan Moon
    July 4, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    that Jim Gaffigan bit is fucking funny, I’m in tears and my belly hurts! thanks for that. Oh and I like this post, great list, gives me some good ideas.

  5. Erica
    June 7, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    And they don’t take off with your baby to give them a bath… and leave you alone in your hospital bed for an hour. (This happened to me with my 2nd).
    All of the reasons you stated were things we enjoyed in our homebirths with our 3rd and 4th. If we could have 10 more we would keep doing homebirths because of the wonderful experiences that we had with our midwife. Thanks for your post! :)

  6. Sam Talbot
    June 4, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    Great post Jessica! I totally agree.

    We (as a society) need to stop describing home births as “acceptable option” or “as safe as”. It is an ADVANTAGEOUS option for birthing people.

    Do you ever hear people say “we plan to get married in our backyard instead of the hospital, we are pretty sure it is just as safe.” or “we decided against going to the ER to celebrate Xmas, we believe our living room is an acceptable option.”? Or do you ever hear people say “Yes, but what if someone get sick or injured at our wedding/Xmas party?” And lets get real people, we all know people get sick and injured way more at Xmas party and wedding reception then during birth!

    • June 4, 2013 at 11:03 pm

      You are way too funny!

    • Kristen
      October 30, 2013 at 2:18 pm

      If people say home births are “as safe as” a hospital birth, they are wrong. The statistics are clear, and home births are more dangerous for baby and mother. I’m sure it might be cozier and more convenient to be at home, but I would hope people make this choice aware of the facts. This article didn’t even mention the pretty important fact that your baby is significantly more likely to be harmed or die if you give birth at home. I can’t imagine being cozy at home makes up for that.

      • October 30, 2013 at 2:23 pm

        Hi Kristen! Thanks for your comment. You might be interested to read the research on home birth safety. There have been numerous studies on the safety of planned home births versus planned hospital births throughout North America and in Europe, and they consistently show that home birth is at least as safe as hospital birth for healthy women having healthy pregnancies, For example, Janssen et al (2013) found that ““Outcomes of planned hospital birth vs planned home birth attended by a registered midwife was associated with very low and comparable rates of perinatal death and reduced rates of obstetric interventions and other adverse perinatal outcomes compared with planned hospital birth attended by a midwife or physician.”

        This paper and many others can be found by following the links in my article “Science supports home birth safety”. Feel free to read through the papers if you’d like more information :-)

        http://www.birthtakesavillage.com/home-birth-safety/

  7. Elodie Joy Ramjheetun
    June 3, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    Geeky
    reason: you can watch TV if you want or play video games to keep
    yourself busy, go online and do facebook (had a couple of really geeky
    clients who felt like it would be horrible to have to go without at the
    hospital)

  8. leanne
    June 3, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    Might i add…your doula has a comfy place to nap? And you can order pizza!

  9. Bobbi
    June 3, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    great article Jessica!!

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