Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Top Ten Reasons Why Home Birth Rocks

Welcome to the March Carnival of Natural Parenting: Natural Parenting Top 10 Lists
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants
have shared Top 10 lists on a wide variety of aspects of attachment
parenting and natural living. Please read to the end to find a list of
links to the other carnival participants.


Top Ten Reasons Why Home Birth Rocks

I am the proud mama of three home birthed babas. I would not have done it any other way....and this is why!
  1. Home is the natural space for a natural birth. Feeling safe at home, in the birth space you have created during your nesting frenzy in the preceding month, is the most natural of things. No trying to ride the contractions in the back of a car at rush hour, or fill out hospital forms whilst you're dilating. No beeping machines, bright lights, shiny blades, white coats, trolleys or monitors. In a home environment your hormones of love - oxytocin and prolactin - are most likely to function as they should, and stress levels, which produce cortisol and inhibit labour, are kept low. My first birth was an ecstatic birth for just this reason. My third was a wonderful water birth. All were quick and easy – the longest being 6 hours from start to finish.
  2. Centre stage is your own bed, not a gurney. Now admittedly not one of my babies was actually born in bed! That's one thing about active birth – you birth where you end up. So my first baby emerged on the sitting room floor (on the carefully covered cream carpet!!), one on the bathmat and one in the birth pool. But for me my bed was like centre stage. The bed your baby was created in (perhaps!) is the one they are also born into (ditto!). It feels like a complete circle of creation. Snuggling up with my whole clan after the birth in our big family bed is one of my most precious memories of each birth time. Cosy breastfeeding in my own little nest with my tiny baby birdlings is another. Having wonderful meals in my pyjamas, in bed. And getting decent sleep rather than listening to all the other babies bawling which so many friends had complained about in hospital.
  3. Birth becomes a family affair in which your other children, and perhaps mother and sisters, are a valued and integral part of your birth, rather than being pushed aside. They can watch if you/ they want, or come in five minutes after the baby has arrived to be their first welcomers. Your kids can snuggle up in bed with you and their new sibling straight after the birth. And you don't have to be away from them for nights on end, worrying about childcare or their resenting the new baby. Having a home waterbirth also gives the added bonus of having an inflatable birth pool in your bedroom for a couple of weeks before which your children can use as a giant bouncy castle!
  4. You can groan, scream, sing and dance naked, walk in the garden, play whale music or rock music, bake a cake, do naked yoga, kiss your partner... it's your space, your birth and so you need ask permission of no one. And afterwards you can keep the placenta, eat it or bury it, no questions asked.
  5. You really call the shots as to what medical procedures you want, or not. You are not guilt tripped into accepting Vitamin K or newborn BCG shots. Nor will you be threatened with syntocin if you are proceeding at a leisurely place. You are more likely to be prescribed a walk around the garden or a lovely massage than an IV.
  6. One-to-one care from conception to 3 months post partum, with a woman who is an angel in human form, who cares deeply about you, who knows and values you and your partner and your other children. Home birth midwives who greet your newborn with gentle words and a kiss and pure delight, not a slap, a plastic name tag and a hospital blanket . A woman who will listen to you talk and talk about the birth as you process it. And who is on call to answer your new mum worries and support your breastfeeding. And who is highly trained and experienced in dealing with everything that birth throws up... including throwing up. Our second baby was born blue, umbilical cord knotted AND around her neck, and not breathing. The oxygen was ready, our midwife acted with speed and precision, instantly cutting the cord and resucitating her. Our baby pinked up and all was well.
  7. As many visitors as you want after...or not. No visiting hours. Just lots of love.
  8. Food glorious food! Home cooked food for dinner rather than hospital slops! Wonderful goodies that I had stocked up on, or dear friends had brought for my ravenous post-birth, breastfeeding appetite. And no one to tell you not to eat or drink during labour.
  9. Every time you pass that sacred space in the house where your baby came earthside you get a shiver of “wow! I did it, what a miracle!” You know you are walking on hallowed ground.
  10. For me the crowning glory of a home birth is the sense of pride in yourself for having navigated the birth laborinth naturally and mindfully without the aid of drugs. (And the satisfaction of proving all the negative minded nay-sayers wrong.) Home birth gives your baby the most gentle and loving entry into the world. It supports your diverse physical, emotional and spiritual needs. And it sets the stage for a positive parenting adventure.

Many, many people are very scared of home birth, including the majority of medical professionals. For them birth is safest in hospital. However, home birth is not a fool-hardy enterprise but proven as safe as hospital birth for low risk mamas, with a lower rate of interventions and breastfeeding rates two to three times as high. You will only be allowed a home birth if you are classed as low risk. Midwives carry most of what is on offer in a labour ward, the ambulance is on call and you are in the hands of two highly trained and experienced professionals during delivery. And, before you say it's a luxury, according to research by the HSE, home births cost on average €1000 less than a vaginal delivery in hospital. In Ireland they can be availed of free of charge under the public health scheme.

Home birth requires you to research, prepare and dig deep into your deepest resources and courage. It requires that you engage fully with your pregnancy. It demands that you navigate the depths of the ocean of birth in full awareness. It is scary to have courage in the face of so much opposition and negativity. But its rewards are priceless and permanent.

If you liked this you might like more on the history and philosophy of a home based life
And if you want to read more on natural pregnancy and birth visit my website for a selection of previously published articles on natural pain coping, home birth, birthing from within and a Ricki Lake interview on birth choices. 



Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon March 8 with all the carnival links.)


  1. Home birth is a natural and relaxing experience. For those who are considered low risk I highly recommend it. Of course you will get some who say what if something goes wrong, but if you have a home birth the midwife is with you continuously, she is an expert at seeing if things are not going right. In hospital, until you are fully dilated and pushing, you do not have a midwife all the time with you, so the delay can be longer before it is noticed is something is wrong.
    I knew that if I went into hospital by anxiety levels would go up and that would not be good for my baby. Staying at home, not having to worry about childcare was the best option for us. And where else would my eldest daughter been able to witness the arrival of her little sisters birth. :D

  2. I never got a chance to homebirth, but I would in a heartbeat if there was a next time :).

  3. hmmm homecooked food! that will be great if I get to have a HB one day

  4. Great post, you are clearly so passionate! I wish everyone could have the birth that we had. It's such a wonderful thing when everything goes well and you are relaxed and comfortable.

    I hope that the medical establishment begins to support women's choices to birth at home and that insurance companies realize that it's in their best interests to promote and fund home births.

  5. Wow, that sounds wonderful. I sure hope I get a chance for a homebirth next time. I got talked into a hospital birth last time and really regretted it -- the hospital atmosphere and the doctor harmed a lot more than they helped.

  6. A beautiful list, truly. I hope to have my homebirth someday, even if it's not this time. I especially value the thoughts in #4 (and plan to stay home as loooonnnnggg as possible to allow myself the chance to labor as I like!).

  7. Beautiful post! I've been blessed to have three natural births in a hospital setting, but I've never had the wonderful experience of a home birth.

    Thanks for spreading awareness about this option for mamas and families.

    By the way, I love your blog title. Dreaming aloud is just lovely, isn't it?

  8. Wow, you are so brave! I had an infection that might have put the baby at risk during delivery so an HB wasn't an option for me. But your story is so inspiring!

  9. Whoo hoo! You do have a home birth passion. It comes out in this sweet post!

    Home birth does rock! I'd also add it's SO MUCH CHEAPER! LOL!

    Things were so relaxed at home during our first home birth that it was the first choice when it was again time to decide where to birth our next one.

  10. Your post gave me chills - I cannot WAIT to have a home birth for our next baby. I'll come back and re-read this if I ever feel anxious :)

  11. all of this is so right on. :) from another home birther... i love #10. home birth has such a way of giving you to yourself, as a person/mama, whereas it seems there are so many ways hospital births steal you from yourself. i don't know if that makes sense and it is certainly not across the board in either camp, but it seems to be the trend, in my experience.

  12. Thank you all for your lovely comments. I have a real passion for home births because
    1) so few people know it is an option - many of the local doctors here TELL mums that there is NO home birth scheme!
    2) The vast majority of people tend to be very nervous about the idea, if not down right rude about how mad/ irresponsible you are when you mention one- they tend to shut up when you've had 3 and no one died!
    3) Because home birth is under threat in many places. Midwives insurance has been a big issue over the past couple of years in the UK, Australia, Hungary and here in Ireland. I helped to spearhead a nationwide media campaign and political lobbying to retain midwives insurance here when I was 7 month pregnant with my second child. We were successful - against all odds... but the axe is hanging over it again. And not for any logical or evidence based, or as Chante says, for financial reasons - well not because it costs the state more, but because it takes the power...and the money away from the consultants who want to be in charge of all births in hospitals. Despite the fact that less than 1 % of births are at home, and despite the fact that the midwives here are running at capacity, they are still trying to regulate them, and the mothers who want to avail of their services, out of business.

  13. I think that, while homebirth is not for everyone, everyone would benefit from learning about it. Our homebirth was everything we could have hoped for. Dim lighting, soft music from the other room, an interlude where we stood outside and looked at the stars. There was even something serene about the clean-up, like tidying up after a long and important job is finished.
    Thanks for bringing me back to that.

  14. Hi Liam, great to have a guy on board! Yours sounds wonderful. I agree about the clean up - I scrubbed the pool after - and it felt an important part of the job!

    Thanks for bringing up the fact that HB is not for everyone. It's important to iterate that I am not suggesting that it is or should be. But, as you say, that people know the option is there, especially for those, like me who have low risk pregnancies, strong desires for a natural birth and a real phobia of hospitals, is really important.

    I really, really, don't want anyone who has had, or is planning a hospital birth to feel judged in anyway. It is quite possible to have a good, natural birth in a hospital. And I know people who have. But you do have to rely to a certain extent on luck - especially on who is on duty at the time. And you need to be VERY strong minded to shut the hi tech world out. Birthing centres sound a great compromise, but we don't have them here. So, for me, the gold standard is home birth, and I strongly feel, as the last UK government did too, that all low risk women should be given an informed choice.

  15. This is a fantastic post Lucy.

    I am going to forward it to every pregnant person I know and even print it off to keep and look at for inspiration. I too had three home births and one in hospital. The vibe is entirely controlled by you at home. The midwives are much politer and less pushy, after all they are a guest in your home. You don't feel like you're on a conveyor belt and you dont have all the lights, bleepy noises, comings and goings and multiple moods/personalities of hospital staff to factor into your psyche. You can be animal. You can crank up your stereo, sing, snog, light candles and do all the other things that feel conducive to a relaxing atmosphere. The wonderful midwife Ina May Gaskin said something like "It's that same sexy loving vibe that got the baby in there that will help to get it out" . How sexy can it feel in a hospital? Also we don't have monitors and forms and machinery and so on whilst we are conceiving do we FFS???

    SEX is what got our baby in there in the first place yet somehow it is viewed as kind of kinky or weird to think of birth as a SEXual act. It has become so clinical and separate from the initial act that started it all off. Too often nowadays it is viewed upon as an-emergency-waiting-to-happen (mostly by men, incidentally) and it is no wonder we have such high rates of caesareans and interventions.

    I feel so sorry for women who end up in that position through no fault of their own but through a shocking amount of misinformation. I would like to see more women off their backs and on their knees or squatting, more monitoring with pinard rather than being strapped to a bed in a manner reminiscent of some 1950's mental asylum. I'd like to see more discussion about aromatherapy benefits. I'd like to see parents being coached to think about the emotional barriers between them that can open/close the 'valve' of a woman's birthing energy flow. I'd also like to see and hear more about positive birthing stories and for hypnobirthing and other alternative methods of pain control to be more affordable for all. I am convinced that for the most part, the only people who really benefit from the drugs administered to mothers are the drugs companies and the hospitals themselves so they can 'manage' your birth according to their timetabled idea of what normal birth should look like or how much time/effort they can offord to give you before they have to shunt you along. We are bullied around and pressurized into so many situations and choices by being guilt tripped by the birthing establishment and it makes me mad!

    Hurray for this post Lucy and hurray for natural birth. Each woman reading this post came from unbroken chain of women who gave birth without dying.

    Of course there must be closely monitoring when there genuinely is a problem but in most cases the chemical chain-reaction that our bodies produce in order for us to give birth is enough for it to happen naturally. It is quite phenomenal to behold the sequence of pain-killing drugs produced in our bodies if we trust in it. We don't need to medicalise it nearly as much as we do.

    That's what I reckon anyway!

    MF :-)

  16. Go MF, go MF!!!! Now THAT'S a passionate post. And well- written! Much better than mine. Print THAT off and give it to people! Well said that woman!

    I'm afraid the clarity/ written style of my post is a definite "could do better" in my book (see my article links for better!) -but it was what I could do as a rush job...I am one v tired mama here with a teething baba the past few weeks, a nasty cough, a sick hubby and a brain that feels like mush from sleep deprivation, but my heart was in it, and that seems to have come across!

  17. Awesome! I am in such admiration of home-birthers. I'm not 100% convinced it's for me, but I love the passion of home birthing mamas! At minimum I hope to make my next birth as intervention-free as possible. Thanks for the great post!

  18. My oldest daughter was born in-hospital. I don't know if we'd had a discussion about homebirth at that point, but, while it wasn't everything we wanted (my wife ended up being induced, by her own choice), it was still a wonderful experience that ended with a squeaky pink bundle.

  19. Ha! I love it! "Pink Squeaky bundle"! Nice one Liam!

    Oh and whilst we're on Dads and HB, I have received a new book called
    The Father's Home Birth Handbook by Leah Hazard. Am reviewing it for JUNO. Looks good. A great guide for Dads, addressing all a father-to-be's concerns. My experience is dads can be extra wary of HB at the beginning, and are very protective (obviously) of the welfare of their beloved, and unborn baba, but once convinced and experience it, are its biggest advocates.

  20. Lucy Pearce! If you hadn't written such a beauteous piece yourself I would never have posted a comment. Your birth story is so lovely, and you painted it perfectly. It was told so warmly and humanly and that's what homebirth is all about. Your list of links is absolutely staggering!!! I will go over them when I get time. In the meanwhile big hug to you and take it easy sleepy mama :-) Great reading everyone elses posts too!

  21. You are so lucky to have had three home births! I'm glad to have found you and am now following you on GFC :-)

  22. Sadly over here giving birth is a medicalised procedure, with only 2 private midwives practising locally. These midwives are very expensive, so out of most peoples reach financially. However, I was lucky as a low risk birther (as were many other women i know) to be supported by fantastic midwives while giving birth in the local hospital. Although the surroundings not as comfortable as home, the experience was (on all occasions)joyful. Also was able to be home 6 hours after giving birth to my second and third babies to enjoy all the home comforts.
    Would have loved to birth at home though, as one of the biggest anxieties for me at the start of labour was organising care for my elder two children.
    A well written, inspirational post, thank you for sharing.

  23. Love love love this! It's probably because I'm gearing up for my own home birth, but seeing that picture in the birth tub made me tear up. Oh!

    I didn't have my first birth at home, but I spent most of my labor at home, and it really was just as I wanted it. So peaceful and leisurely and calm — contrasted with my hospital experience, which was bright and frenetic and noisy. I really, really hope this next birth STAYS at home.

    Thank you so much for the inspiring post!

  24. What an awesome post! I'm hoping to conceive my 4th child soon and home birth has been something I've always had in the back of my mind. My ex-husband vetoed it. Then at 36yo, it didn't really come to mind with my youngest. I've already started discussing it with my new husband. I'm hoping that after more research it may still be a good choice for us. I'm 38yo now and had GD during my last pregnancy.

    Again, great post! Much appreciated!

  25. Also, I love your not-shy photo! So beautiful!

  26. Thank you all for reading and joining in!
    I'll start from the bottom up!

    @Momma Jorje - thank you, the elephant in the room has been mentioned. Yes people, my breasts are there in full show. Took a deep breath before I posted that one. But a birthin' mama's body is so much more than personal, I feel, it is a universal image, I love seeing other people's birthing pictures, and don't think, "look she's naked!" so I'm hoping the same goes for me!!

    I hope you get your wanted 4th child (you're brave, we find 3 a real handful!!) and your homebirth. Do check out the book I mentioned in an earlier comment for dads.

    @Lauren - thanks, will be holding the space for you to stay at home. 2nd time round your chances are MUCH higher, with first time mums about half transfer, 2nd time far less do.

    @Lou - I am SO totally pro midwives being in charge of birth, that is how it is in the UK. Sadly in Ireland and the US midwives are kept in a subservient role, and their (usually, there are many bad eggs too, who are in the fully medical model) wisdom of, trust in birth and more gentle understanding is lost... and so doctors get to play with all their medical knowledge (although there are some really wonderful doctors out there too).

    @I Thought I Knew Mama - Glad to meet you too thanks for following!

    @MF thank you compliment taken- I wasn't being bashful though, I know I can do better :)

  27. This was lovely. Thank you. I have tears in my eyes and now really want a home birth. (first was an unwanted elcs :( )


  28. Yes, definitely. We are preparing for our second home (water) birth coming up in a month or so. I just got off the phone with my mom a little while ago, and she is going to make me my requested after-birth meal. Last time I had a spaghetti bake and this time it's going to be a breakfast casserole. This might seem like a silly little thing to some people, but that food that you eat right after having the baby is the BEST food EVER. I'm looking forward to that and so many other things, too!

  29. What a fantastic post! As a mother who wants to have a homebirth with my next child, I found your words inspiring!

  30. Just came across this post and your site and I also Agree!! I had my first home birth last summer (in Canada) and it truly was so exhilarating! My first son was born in Japan, typical intervention filled birth due to premature rupture of membranes which eventually led to a c-section. So hard when I never imagined that would happen. I knew I would have my second at home, where I should have stayed the first time! I would recommend homebirth for anyone who has the chance. Thanks for your lovely list.

  31. Love the idea of the bed being centre stage and the place where creation began and ends. Great list; as a mama to a home water birthed babe I can totally resonate with your lovely reasons :)

  32. LOVE this post! I am so hoping my next birth can be at home...for all of these reasons that are so true. Thank you for sharing!

  33. Loved this so much :D

  34. All three of my babies were born at home, and my best friend' baby was born in the same house too! All four placentas are buried in the sacred circle I've made on our land...now I just need to figure out what to plant there....a fruit tree? Flowers? A weeping cherry? I would make a meditation walking spiral maze, but it's on a bit of a slope....Any suggestions anyone? (Birth stories on my blog by the way for any home-birth story junkies out there, lol)

  35. Thanks for your comment, Holly - all I know is you mustn't plant direct on top of a placenta, as the placenta can "burn" the roots, and the tree fail, this has happened to a couple of friends. The idea of a labyrinth is lovely - echoing the spiralling of the umbilical chord, and the sense of being held in the womb. Blessings to you in your choices. x



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