It's my little darling Ruby's birthday next week and a year since my homebirth! I can't quite believe it! Ruby's birth was the most incredible, inspiring and empowering experience of my life. You can read Ruby's birth story here. I thought I would share a little bit about why and how I decided to birth at home. Enjoy and feel free to ask me any questions what so ever!!
I always loved the idea of a home birth. Loving the idea and actually committing to HAVING one are two totally different things. When I was studying midwifery we had a guest speaker, a midwife who worked in private practice. This midwife was Liza from The Conscious Conception and Birth Center. As soon as she walked into the room I was intrigued to hear her story. As she started talking about community midwifery I became more and more interested. When she talked about eating your placenta and I along with most of the class went...eew! Little did I know I would be eating my own (in tablet form!) in years to come!
Later in the semester we had the opportunity to request a placement in a different midwifery setting from the hospital where we were based. I emailed the course coordinator and requested a placement with Liza. A few weeks later I was at the CCBC and off I went with Liza to visit her women.
I felt as if I had discovered some amazing secret. A midwife comes to your HOUSE?! You don't even have to LEAVE? What I noticed the most was the connection, Liza was welcomed into these women's homes like she was an old friend. This bond made the 'work' so effortless. It was just so enjoyable. A million miles away from the hospital scene I was use to. I didn't get the chance to attend any births with Liza but I witnessed enough antenatal and postnatal care to know this is a model I want to be involved with, both as a mum and midwife.
I was about 15 weeks pregnant with Oli at the time of my placement. I had looked into birthing at the family birth center under the care of the community midwifery program but the numbers were tight and I probably wouldn't be accepted. This was disappointing as I know there is significant research showing continuity of care provider leads to positive outcomes for mums and babies. After chatting about it with Liza she referred me onto her colleague Mel. I was very lucky to have Mel as my midwife for my pregnancy with Oli. I wanted a homebirth but unfortunately things took a turn and I birthed in hospital. Mel supported our little family for quite some time following Oli's birth and to have her throughout the experience was an absolute godsend.
After experiencing this model of care myself I just KNEW this was what midwifery should be! As soon as I fell pregnant with Ruby I contacted Mel and said BOOK ME IN! I didn't want a home birth at first, following Oli's birth I was too scared. But after accepting that what happened with my pregnancy and Oli was quite rare and not every pregnancy is as complicated I felt much more relaxed. It took some time for me to get use to the idea, a few months, lots of talking and lots of research.
Homebirth certainly isn't for everyone. You can't commit to a birthing at home without being completely comfortable with the idea. For a woman to birth effectively she needs to be in an environment where she feels safe and empowered. For you it might be the in the hospital, for me on the other hand I felt most comfortable in my own home. I see childbirth as the most natural and primal thing a woman can do. Pregnancy and birth aren't problems, they don't need to be fixed. My body was doing exactly what it should be, growing a healthy baby, so why would it suddenly become faulty when I went into labour? My body did this AMAZING thing by just conceiving and growing a human so why would I be incapable of pushing it out?
Throughout my pregnancy I thought a lot about birth and what it meant to me and how I wanted my baby to arrive into the world. I wanted her to have a calm, quiet entrance and be surrounded by people she knew. I wanted to be the first one who touched her and I wanted to feel at complete ease in my surroundings. I didn't want to be surrounded by people I had never met. I didn't want to feel watched or to have people barging in the door or referring to me as 'that woman in room 4' I wanted to be able to be in my shower, use my toilet and best of all MY BED. I wanted a smooth transition from labour, and birth to motherhood without all the drama of QUICK get in the car! Call so and so, meeting, greeting and dealing with a hospital. Most of all I didn't want to be away from Oli. I didn't want to suddenly disappear then reappear a few days later with a new baby. Like Hey! I just got the updated version of YOU! Hehe.
Since having Ruby I felt like I have joined this club. A club of women who are empowered and can look back at their birth experiences with joy and pride and say 'that was the best thing I've EVER done!' I just want to tell EVERYONE to have a homebirth.
Obviously the media play a big part in scaring people against birthing at home because arent you scared you or your baby will DIE?! I think if you educate yourself on birth and make informed choices then you will fully understand the risks and chances of them happening. If there had been signs in my pregnancy that Ruby may have had complications I wouldn't have birthed at home.
I was completely confident that my midwives with many, many years of experience would be able to handle an emergency in the rare event that it did happen. The difference I see between hospital and homebirth is your midwife is just with you. Mel was watching me the whole time. She knew what my pregnancy was like, my usual behaviour, my usual parameters of my vital signs etc. She wasn't distracted by two other labouring women, the phone, colleagues, tea breaks, emergency bells, handover! She was completely with me and if things had started to go wrong she would have seen them coming well before it was an absolute emergency. I was also comforted by the fact I live fairly close to a hospital, just incase.
I'm certainly not against birthing in hospital because I've done it and thats where I trained and worked! However I just know in my heart that birthing in my own home is exactly what I was meant to do and the best option for my family this time round.
I think our birth experiences have a direct impact on how we deal with motherhood. I 'survived' my first year and a mum and yes I enjoyed it but it was harder than it was enjoyable. I think a lot of this was related to my birth, the fact Oli and I were separated, and the thoughts that my body failed us.
When I think about birth it just becomes so clear to me. Active birth and moving around is better for the positioning of the baby. At home I'm free to move as I please. In the hospital, traditionally its 'jump on the bed and I'll do your vital signs then I'll palp your belly and I'll do this that etc etc Its ME as a midwife doing things to YOU. You are a guest in the hospital. Certainly not the case at home! When those roles are reversed its a completely different dance. The comfort of a highly qualified midwife but in my comfortable environment where I can move, shower, yell, eat, be vulnerable! Truly the best of both worlds!
Having a homebirth isn't hippy, it's not irresponsible or careless. I think most women who give birth at home have researched the topic thoroughly and are very well informed.
If we look at history, birthing at home is not a new thing. (Hellooo call the midwife?!) Its not a trend. Look at New Zealand, The UK, Europe! We are so behind the times in Australia. We as women need to get back to our roots and explore birth and what it means to us. We have the power to make change.
For me....giving birth is primal, natural and NORMAL. Midwives are experts in normal birth. I certainly don't need a male surgeon in a suit telling me how, where and when I will birth my baby. I much prefer to have a midwife who empowers ME in making those choices. Education is power, and in order to labour, give birth and be a mother you need to be powerful!
Thank you to the beautiful midwives at My Midwives Perth. If you are pregnant and interested in a homebirth definitely get in contact with them.