Home births are beautiful, controversial experiences. The idea of being able to give birth in the place you’re most relaxed is a great comfort to many women who find hospitals to be sterile, loud, and uninviting. While it's not for everyone, women with low-risk pregnancies who feel their home is the best environment to facilitate labor and delivery usually have a lot to say about the experience. So I asked several moms to reveal what a home birth actually feels like and, for the most part, it sounds pretty damn fantastic.
My own almost-home birth story started out well enough. I labored for hours and hours in the comfort of my personal living space, first using an exercise ball and later transitioning to the tub. It was challenging and painful, but I also felt as though I’d been transported to another planet. That’s how focused I was on everything I felt and on getting my son out safely. Unfortunately he got “stuck” and I had to be rushed to the ER across the street. I still envy the moms who are able to go through labor and delivery at home sans problems, though odds are I won’t be able to ever experience a home birth as I’m considered high-risk. Still, I can’t say that my experience put me off the idea entirely.
While I do believe some moms should think twice before attempting a home birth (especially if they’ve ever had any complication or trauma with a previous birth or pregnancy, or if this is their first birth experience), I think it’s a wonderful option for most mothers who want to feel as comfortable as possible while they go through something as physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting as labor and delivery. If you’re curious as to what this all might be like and feel like, here's what a few moms who've been there and done that have to say:
“I had all three of my babies at home. It was an incredible, family-centered, loving, and respectful experience. I chose my midwives carefully and trusted them beyond measure. Home birth allowed me to have an amazing, intervention-free, evidence-based birth experience with skilled and competent care providers overseeing me.”
“It was the most empowering experience of my life. It allowed me to see myself through the power that I had and to guide me in a slow and progressive way into motherhood. Both births were gentle and safe. It was the best way I could have imagined to welcome my babies into this world.”
“I had two home births that were incredibly empowering. The first lasted forever — 22 hours. The second was so fast the midwife almost didn't make it because she got stuck in traffic! My kids are 6 and 8 now.”
“With our previous two births at a birth center, the home birth experience wasn't that much different. Removing the pain aspect, it was calm, peaceful, comforting, and felt completely normal to birth our baby in the same bed he was created. Now in the days after, I find myself walking around our home reliving the 48 hours surrounding his birth. The sofa I leaned on while contracting and wondering if now was the time I should call my midwife, the bed where I first met him while laying in my husband's arms, and the shower I was supported in just an hour after birth to wash it all away and begin our postpartum journey together. It was just beautiful and something I will forever cherish.”
“My home births have been healing and empowering! Being in my own space allowed me the comfort and safety I needed and allowed my other children to be involved in their siblings births. Without the threat of constant intervention, I was able to allow birth to naturally progress on its own and embrace the true power and raw beauty of this transition into motherhood! I will be having my third home birth at the end of the month at age 39!”
“I have had one home birth. It's a calming, familiar environment and my home birth was inspiring, powerful, and beautiful. I would do it over in a heartbeat! I hate being in hospitals anyways. My labor was 26 hours. Loved it!”
“I had [my daughter] at home when I was 25, and [my son] when I was 26. Giving birth at home made me feel in control, loved, and honestly, like a badass. It empowered me in ways I never imaged possible, since it allowed me to experience how resilient I am and that I can endure anything. I felt surrounded by love, and giving the baby it’s time to be born made me feel at ease.”
“I’ve had two home births and they left me with such a feeling of strength and achievement, realizing I was stronger than I thought. The natural birth high is awesome! One was uncomplicated and the other had some complications, but my carefully chosen midwife handled everything perfectly and I have no regrets.”