A few months after I gave birth to my son, I volunteered to help my midwives staff their booth at a birth fair, where families go to learn about local birth options and baby-related services. A woman walked up to me and we started talking.
"So where were you born?" she asked, smiling at my son, who was also in attendance.
"At home," I responded cheerfully.
Her eyes darted up to my face, opened wider than I've ever seen before. "On purpose?"
At my son's birth, my husband and two midwives assisted me from start to finish. While some folks who birth at home do so assisted by professionals, they usually call their births "unassisted" or "independent," so when I talk about home births in this piece, I'm talking about the kinds attended by trained midwives. In addition to helping me stay as comfortable as possible, my midwives made sure my baby and I were safe at all times. We had a contingency plan in place just in case, but based on my own feelings and regular checks with their handheld ultrasound, they could see that we were both tolerating labor well. So I continued to labor at home, on purpose; dancing with my husband, singing and swaying in my tub and later my shower, and rolling on my birth ball. Nearly a day after labor started, I finally pushed my son into the world. The midwives checked both of us while he lay on my chest, and once his cord was ready to be cut, we were separated for the first time in his short life, and my husband poured two glasses of my favorite champagne.
Not all home births feature champagne toasts, but the advance preparation and ongoing care and attention that made my home birth possible are the norm, as are the following: