As someone who decided to give birth at home, I'm used to a variety of reactions to my decision (though the most common one is some degree of total surprise). I don't blame them; the overwhelming majority of moms birth in hospitals, and most folks’ exposure to birth comes through TV and movies, with home births only happening in period films where somebody dies. Not exactly a setup for widespread understanding. Fortunately, I have very supportive friends. The empowering things my non-mom friends said about my home birth more than made up for some of the other comments I heard from time to time.
Plenty of friends’ — moms and non-moms alike — first reaction when I allude to my birth story is “Wow! How badass!” I find that flattering, but I want to be totally clear: every birth is badass. Every birth is tough, and every birth takes guts (literally and figuratively). I chose to give birth at home with midwives primarily because it seemed a lot simpler and less scary than my alternatives, so I in no way think I am more badass than any other mom because of how I birthed, or the fact that I am a biological mom at all.
Ultimately, I was secure in my decision and excited about birthing at home with my husband and midwives I trusted. But it's still nice to hear affirming comments from people in your life whose opinions you respect. Comments and questions like the following were really empowering, and it's nice to promote more of the things we want to hear more of, right?
“All Right! You Do You!”
Friends supporting and cheering other friends’ choices is always empowering. In a world of rampant mommy shaming and judgment, hearing genuine happiness over me doing my own thing is so comforting.
“What Inspired You To Go That Route?”
Asking me what inspired my choice was perfect language. One, inspiration is everything to me. Two, asking me why I chose what I did — and expressing genuine interest, versus morbid curiosity — was way more empowering than acting shocked or dismissive of my choice.
“That Sounds Cool”
So many people believe that birth is an inherently negative experience that women can't really handle. So it was always empowering to hear from friends who didn't automatically assume it was dangerous or crazy to choose birthing at home as Plan A.
“I’m Glad You Looked At All Your Options”
My friends and I are all very big advocates of reproductive justice. We believe everyone deserves to choose not only whether they continue a pregnancy, but who they want to give birth with and how, as part of a whole life’s worth of fair treatment for every person regardless of who they are.
So while many of my friends have yet to seriously consider details of motherhood like what kind of provider to birth with or where, it was comforting to hear them recognize that there's more than one right way to birth.
“I’m Glad You Had That Choice”
“Who's Going To Be Supporting You?”
Asking about my midwives and plans for my birth team was nice, but it was also nice that instead of asking who was going to “deliver” my baby, they were recognizing that I was the one doing the work, and asking about who was going to help make sure I stayed safe.
“That Makes Total Sense For You”
Perhaps it's a comment on whatever part of me seems like a total hippie, or perhaps it's just a reflection of my contentment with my choice. Either way, hearing my friends affirm the choice I made for myself was definitely empowering.
“When Can I Come Help?”
No matter how she births, a mama needs help once she's got a new baby to care for, and recovering to do. It really does take a village, so good friends know that birth choices aside, it's important to step up and help as much as they can.