As a doula, it is first and foremost my job to support expectant mothers and their partners in whatever decisions they make regarding the birth of their child. That being said, my biggest passion in life is ensuring that the women and families I work with are aware of all of the options available to them during this very important time of their lives. I strive, above all else, to equip these amazing women with a knowledge and full understanding of the potential dangers of unnecessary intervention and also to provide them with the tools they need to achieve a natural birth, if that's what they decide is best for them. Women have a right to birth free of unnecessary interventions. They have a right to give birth in the safest way possible. With these things, comes a right to give birth wherever they choose, whether that be in the hospital or at home. Choosing where to give birth is the biggest and the most important decision you'll make during your pregnancy. There are risks and benefits to each, and I strongly feel that a mother should never be discouraged from giving birth wherever she chooses and with whomever she feels the safest.  

I've often found that most women in our area don't consider giving birth at home an option, because of the laws regarding home birth in our state. However, safely giving birth at home with a knowledgeable birth attendant is absolutely an option. Many women in our area choose to give birth at home, some even have the support of an understanding obstetrician who will be there if the need to transfer to the hospital arises. I've spoken with a number of mothers who've had home births over the last few years, including the beautiful mama you'll see pictured above and below. Cerise has given birth at home on two seperate occasions in the great state of KY. Hers is a testament of why it is so very important for the option to give birth at home to be made widely available to women regardless of their location, "I'm happy to share because choosing a home birth with a midwife saved my birth and gave me a healthier child.  While I believe the experience is very important - it can make or break a breastfeeding relationship, bonding with your child and postpartum depression - I chose a home birth because after looking at the research, I realized that it was safer for someone like me who is healthy and had a healthy pregnancy.  I had no idea my water would break at 36 weeks. Instead of pitocin and a timeclock, I was given time and respect.  I believe I would have had either a c-section or a very difficult induction and either way a baby in the NICU.  Instead, I had a healthy, easy birth and baby."

When making the decision to have a homebirth, there are many things to consider. There are a number of advantages to giving birth at home. In your own home, you are allowed a freedom of movement that most hospitals policies simply aren't compatible with. This freedom of movement is conducive of the natural progression of labor. Any fear you may have of simply being in a hospital is eradicated. You'll be surrounded only by those you love and trust. There is no "routine" this or "routine" that. A midwife is less likely to be concerned about how long your labor is taking to progress.* You won't have to worry about unnecessary medical intervention. The risk of infection to both mother and baby greatly decreases in the home environment, because there are no foreign germs. Lastly, one of the greatest beneifts, mama-baby bonding goes entirely uninterrupted!

There are some other things to consider when making the decison to give birth at home. In this area specifically, having the backup support of an obstetrician is rare. In the instance that you are able to find an OB who is supportive of your decision, there is no collaboration between midwife and obstetrician, which can increase the risk of giving birth at home. Without the backup of an OB, if a problem arises and the mother must be transfered into hospital care, she will be cared for my a physician she may or may not have ever had contact with.

Weighing these options carefully, after two hospital births and with the support of my wonderful husband, an understanding OB and an amazing midwife, I've decided to give birth at home this coming September. I'm so thrilled to have so much love and support surrounding the birth of my child and I am beyond blessed to have this opportunity. I'm asked many questions on a daily basis by my friends and family and I've found that the one thing that always comes up is whether or not I feel comfortable as a Christian, allowing a midwife to attend my birth in a state in which she could be penalized for doing so. I feel that it is my job to protect my children. The Bible teaches us that children are a gift from God, that as parents, we are intrusted with the care of our children. The Bible teaches that when man’s law contradicts God’s law, we must obey God over man. In choosing to give birth at home, I feel that I'm giving my son the best start at life possible. We won't be bothered with routine separations, breastfeeding issues or talk of medications, vaccinations or circumcision. He will be born into a safe, loving home, that he will always be able to call his own. I can't imagine a better way to welcome a new little life into the world. The care I've received from a midwife is not comparable to that of an OB. I have never felt safer in any decision.

When considering these things, I think we  can all see how important the option to give birth at home is to a healthy mother with a healthy baby. The Kentucky Home Birth Coalition is working hard to legalize and license Certified Professional Midwives in Kentucky. In the meantime, that doesn't mean that home birth isn't an option. It just means that, as with anything else, you have to weigh the risks and benefits for yourself and decide what's truly best for you and your family.

*I think that it's important to note that about one-third of all American babies are delivered surgically. A common diagnosis that often leads to cesarean is "failure to progress". In most midwifery practices, including that of midwife (notable to many) Ina May Gaskin, "failure to progress" simply doesn't exist.


06/10/2012 11:30pm

Beautiful! Simply Beautiful!!

06/11/2012 7:03am

You made me cry....I pray that I am blessed with another child. I honestly cannot see myself giving birth anywhere except home.

06/11/2012 9:19am

I think it is important to note that home births in Kentucky with Certified Nurse-Midwives in Kentucky are legal. There are a CNMs attending home births in Kentucky (I had a homebirth with one). Additionally, I wish this piece would also talk to moms about the possibility of hospital transfer and the importance of having a healthcare provider that has a good relationship with area hospitals/OBs should a transfer occur. This is a good article, it is important for moms to know there are midwives in KY....I just wish it had more of the facts. Moms and families should know about all of their birth options and have a back up plan that supports their needs when necessary. :)

06/11/2012 9:31am

Thanks so much for your input, Stephanie. Those things are important for women to know and I appreciate you bringing them up. While I'm thrilled that my new blog is reaching women of other areas in KY, I wasn't anticipating anyone reading it outside of the small group of women I work with. Sadly, in our specific area there are no CNMs that are willing to attend home births and there are no home birth midwives who have a good working relationship with any of the hospitals here. Home birth isn't supported by any of our local OBs, and a mother who finds an OB to provide backup is very lucky to have done so.

06/11/2012 1:40pm

Wonderful article, Cristin! If I ever have another baby (not likely,lol) but if I do, I will have him/her at home, hopefully in a birthing tub, and with you there again! :)


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