There are so many factors that play into how you'll decide where (or how) you want to give birth. The majority of folks choose a standard hospital birth with their trusted OB/GYN, but that’s not the only choice available to pregnant women. There’s also the option to deliver at a birth center, decide on a scheduled c-section, or plan for a home birth with a qualified midwife (and sometimes also with a doula). For those who choose home birth (just like any other woman who births in any other environment) there are things women wish they would have known before giving birth at home. And while birthing in your living room or tub or bedroom may be a surprising option for some, there’s a slew of reasons why someone would want to have a home birth. In the end, these are personal choices we all have to make.
Rather than criticizing each other’s decisions, one important thing we can all do (as parents who have given birth) is to support one another. We can also listen to one another, especially when our experiences are different, and learn more about just how wonderfully vast and multifaceted motherhood can truly be. Learning from others is so vital and, honestly, can remind us all that (when it comes to parenting, or anything else, really) we're not alone.
That's why I asked 11 women who made the choice to birth at home, what they wish they’d known prior to their baby’s birth. Knowing what would have been helpful for someone else, can end up helping our labor and delivery journey, too. I can say my own home birth experience (which was unfortunately a home birth-to-hospital transfer) left me wishing I'd had more towels available and a few warm and fuzzy robes at the ready.
Of course, my experience is just that: my experience. So, with that in mind, here’s what 11 other women had to say about home birth and the one thing they wish they'd known:
“Although mine was unplanned, I wish I had been prepared for the judgement from others regarding home birth. I was surprised at how many people said I was irresponsible for having my baby at home.”
“Before home birthing, I wish I was told how awesome it was so I could encourage others to look into it as well! I was convinced by watching The Business of Being Born many years before. I couldn't believe how incredible the comfort of showering in my own shower and sleeping in my own bed next to my partner was! It was very soul soothing after the long and arduous labor experiences! I home birthed 3 [children] in a birthing pool.”
- Pema Schott
“I wish I had known it would take so long. I would have made my birth playlist longer. I also would have paid Spotify to avoid those irritating commercials.”
- Brooke Bolen
“If you have a water birth at home, make sure you find out if your midwife team will help you empty it after the birth. That was not something that my midwife did. My dad ended up emptying the pool, which was filled with blood and placental remnants, etc. I felt awkward about it, but couldn't (and shouldn't have) helped.”
- Debbie Weingarten
“How much I didn't need to worry about it all.”
“I wish I would have known how amazing I would feel giving birth in my own way without all of the medical nonsense around. Birth is amazing and wonderful.”
“To have a larger variety of snacks during labor. I wound up with lots of peanut butter crackers but eventually got sick of them.”
"Wish I would've known a bit more about nursing, [like] attended a meeting or something, especially about foods that can affect the baby. Also wish I would've gotten tips on baby-wearing beforehand. And, of course, essential oils. Wish we had known about their help with the first baby, too."
- Jenny Peña
“I wish I’d known that I would end up having to spend a lot more than expected on supplies for the home birth (bulb syringe, gauze, etc.); things my midwife did not bring with her.”
“I wasn't anticipating having to dispose of the placenta and that was somewhat shocking for my husband.”
“To do it the first time!”
- Caitlin O.