What is it like to have a natural, drug-free home-birth with a midwife?

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Answered by: Avily, An Expert in the Labor and Birth Category
Long before I ever had children, I knew I wanted to have a home-birth with a midwife. Growing up, I heard stories from my mother on her childbirth experiences in a hospital, each one a little worse than the next, from doctors not paying attention to her until she was crowning to a doctor telling an intern in her hearing to put in the catheter because she needed practice. Finally, with her fourth child, she decided to try a home-birth with a midwife.

I was seven years old when my brother was born, and I still remember the awe of being allowed to watch him be born, and of holding him only minutes after his arrival. So, when I got pregnant with my first child, I knew right away the type of experience I wanted to have. I visited with midwives in my area, read books, and researched the pros and cons of a natural birth. The more I studied, the more convinced I became that this was the right choice for me and my birth. I adopted the philosophy that childbirth is a normal and natural experience, and barring complications, medical intervention is unnecessary.

It could have been a very difficult thing for me. I lived half-way across the country from any family, and I hadn't lived in my area long enough to develop any close friends or a support network, and I had more than one person judge my decision to give birth at home. One co-worker suffered the tragedy of a stillbirth, and other friends were nurses or other workers at the local hospital, and they thought giving birth without the care of a doctor would be dangerous and unwise. Fortunately, my husband was very supportive of my decision, and helped me in many ways.

Our oldest son was born in our apartment after a relatively smooth labor. My mother and sister came to town and were present for the birth. Afterward, I was able to go to sleep in my own bed, uninterrupted by doctors and nurses coming in to check on me every few hours, unencumbered by machines or monitors or IVs strapping me down, with my baby boy near me instead of shuffled off to a nursery.

A few months later, my cousin gave birth to her first child in a hospital. When she was crowning, the nurse told her not to push, because the doctor had not yet arrived. She had to wait for over twenty minutes for the doctor to arrive, resulting in extensive bruising and increased healing time. Moreover, when the doctor arrived, she was given a routine episiotomy, despite that the baby had already crowned. Stories like hers and many others convinced me again that I had made the right choice.

I know a home-birth with a midwife is not ideal for everyone, and even some women who would like to have one, like my sister-in-law, have complications that make it impossible. However, I loved my birthing experience, and am glad I did the research that enabled me to confidently make that decision. I enjoyed my experience so much, I chose a home-birth for my other three pregnancies, all of which resulted in a healthy baby. And, if I have more children, I will make the same choice again.

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