Planning a homebirth? Wait a second! This is your first baby. Don’t you have to birth your first baby at the hospital so you can see how it goes?
Absolutely not! Home birth is not reserved for women who have already had a baby. Every birth is new every time. First-time mamas do tend to have longer labors and a longer pushing stage, But with good care, you are as likely to have a successful home birth with your first as with your fifth.
Before I was even pregnant the first time, I had read a ton about birth and talked with several homebirth moms. By the time I did get pregnant, I already knew that I wanted to have that baby at home. I remember people saying that I must be brave. To me, it felt less like bravery and more like peace.
There is nothing you can do to ensure a perfect baby or perfect birth. But the little list below shows the exact steps I took before I had my first baby. And guess what? I had a successful (looooong) labor and delivery at home. And then I did it four more times in the next 14 years. Homebirth is addicting!
If you’re ready to plan to have your first baby at home, these 5 things will definitely help:
An experienced midwife that you click with
I can’t emphasize this point too emphatically. It’s not enough to have a partner who read a book about birth, or to have a midwife that has been to 5 other births. It’s not even enough to have a very experienced midwife that gives you the heebie-jeebies or just make you uncomfortable. You need to find a good midwife with lots of experience with whom you really get along. If you don’t look forward to your prenatal meetings, you need to rethink your choice. If you’ve heard bad things about her through the grapevine and can’t have an honest conversation with her to clear those up, for goodness sake, find someone else. So find a midwife that you like and trust, and everything else will flow from that wise choice.
A supportive partner
Well, since a partner isn’t like a midwife that you can just choose, you will have to make do with the one you have! Is your partner on board for a home birth? If not, maybe a little time spent with another couple who recently had their baby at home will help him to come around. If he’s left-brained, try buying The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer and share some pertinent passages. And if he’s just not sure about how to be supportive, I always recommend The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin.
A doula, sister, or friend that you trust and adore
Women have been supporting other women throughout childbirth for eons. Unfortunately, we seem to have lost that part of our culture. The recent increase in women hiring doulas seems to indicate that many people crave the personal touch that a close female companion can bring. A doula is great, but a mother, sister, or another woman you trust can be just as valuable. Feeling nurtured and cared for during birth is more important than you might think.
The desire to read, read, read, and read some more
If you’re not giving over the whole process to a hospital, it is so helpful and empowering to know about birth. Read clinical journal articles, read hippie midwife birth stories, read everything in between! There is a lot out there. Find what speaks to you.
The 2 books I recommended for partners above are great. A few more that you might like include the classic Ina May books Spiritual Midwifery and the more modern Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth which is a nice mix of story and encouragement from a seasoned midwife.
I also found helpful tidbits in Birthing From Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation and Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way.
And if you want a fun throwback book that will open your eyes to birth in the U.S. more than 60 years ago, dig up a copy of Thank You, Dr. Lamaze. You will be engrossed and amazed at how birth has changed through the years. You’ll find good tips on relaxation, too. I have an old copy, but apparently it’s back in print!
A deep trust in the process of birth
Trusting the process is necessary. If you’re feeling fear or think that birth is a terrifying ordeal, you’re better off in a hospital. A little trepidation is, of course, normal and healthy, but out and out terror is not a good sign. Don’t have a home birth unless the idea is one that gives you peace when you visualize yourself laboring at home.
I know that birth is the unknown. But if you do your research, establish the care you need, and are settled in your soul that this is the right path for you, you can plan an amazing homebirth experience.
Homebirth not for you? Alli over at Mom Smart Not Hard has written a great piece on how to choose a hospital or birthing center.
Are you going to have your first baby at home? Or are you planning your first homebirth? Let me know where you are in the process. I’d love to hear from you.