When I made the switch from my old OB-GYN to the midwives who would ultimately attend my son's birth, I requested all of my old medical records to give them. While scanning them after they finally arrived, I noticed that my blood pressure readings were consistently 10-20 points higher at each doctor visit than they were during my at-home visits with my midwives. That made sense in light of some of the things my midwife told me about my home birth that were (thankfully) true. For a lot of people, home is a much less stressful environment than a doctor's office or a hospital, which can make a big difference during birth.
Though home birth is obviously not for everyone, it was absolutely the right choice for me. As a healthy, able-bodied mama living in a safe home that's close to a nearby emergency room if it was needed, birthing at home with trained midwives was a great option for me.
Still, even though I'd looked into tons of things related to unmedicated births and the differences between midwifery care and conventional OB-GYN care, there were lots of subtle differences in how my midwives talked about and approached birth that I had to give birth in order to truly and fully understand. I'm so glad that what they said was true, too, because it all ended up being very much to my benefit.
Birthing On Your Own Turf Can Make A Difference
My midwives often said that being in a space where you feel safe and in control makes it much easier to relax and let birth proceed. For folks like me, who've been traumatized by doctors and other hospital staff in the past, hospitals don't necessarily feel safe. Being in my own home, I felt in charge and in control. I never once asked if anything I felt like doing to stay comfortable was “OK” with anyone else. I just did what I had to do.
Your Birth Story Matters
People frequently like to tell moms that, "As long as you have a healthy baby, that's all that matters.” But that's the bare minimum, and it's not all that matters. Moms matter, too, and our health and wellbeing matters. Not being needlessly traumatized by our birth experiences matters. Getting to feel proud of ourselves matters. Sharing our experience with people who care about us matters.
Your Birth Team Matters
Who’s there for you while you give birth really does make a difference. They can keep you calm or make you tense; they can help you believe in yourself or undermine your confidence. As I birthed, I was so grateful that I had the opportunity to choose a birth team of people who believed in me and cared about me. Birth is hard enough without having to fight with your birth team to be treated with the respect you deserve.
Your Body Will Tell You What It Needs
All throughout my pregnancy, I wondered how I would know when to change positions or how to move to keep myself as comfortable as possible. My midwives assured me I would know by listening to my body, but those words aren't really meaningful until you've actually given birth. They were right, though: I was able to listen to my body, and it did let me know what it needed me to do.
All Babies Come Out Eventually
I honestly didn't believe it by the time my baby finally decided he was ready to be born, but it's true. All babies really do come out eventually, even if they take their sweet old time in the process.
Eating And Drinking Enough Helps
When you're doing an intense physical activity like giving birth, your body needs lots of water and food, so I was really glad to be somewhere — home — where I didn't have to fight any outdated protocols in order to eat and drink. Of course, I was often too preoccupied to even think of eating or drinking, so I was really glad they reminded my husband to keep offering me small bites of food and sips of water.
I couldn't bear to stay still during my labor. Dancing, swaying, and even subtle movements like rocking back and forth on my ball helped me a lot.
We’re Here For You
Like all great midwives, mine somehow managed to be there for me when I needed them, and out of my way when I didn't. Their years of experience catching babies served me very well.
You’ve Got This
Through it all, my birth team kept encouraging me and letting me know how much they believed in me and my body, even when my own confidence started to flag. Fortunately, when I didn't think I could keep going and they said I could, they were right. It's good to be wrong sometimes.