Hospital Birth and Home Birth: Why Birth Bliss Is For Everyone
Home birth or hospital birth. The choice can be so different. We can feel so strongly about what we value, and know exactly what we want. On the other side of the coin, we know exactly what we don’t want. Sometimes, it can feel like we make each other wrong for choosing something different.
You’ve seen it on social media…the “mom shaming.” Whether it’s real or an off-hand comment that we took to heart, it can cause a rift between home birthers and hospital birthers. Or between breast-feeders and bottle-feeders. Or anything else we have choices about.
But the reality is: We are all on the same side. We all want to do what feels right for us. We all have to make tons of decisions every day. And we want support. And when things aren’t working out, we don’t want an “I told you so.” We want compassion and help! Lots and lots of help!
Give Birth Where You FEEL Safe.
As a midwife, so much of my work is in helping people make decisions. The decision of where to give birth is a huge one. I always tell people “give birth wherever you FEEL safest.” In reality, both hospital and home birth with a skilled care provider are safe choices. But the place that a woman can best allow her labor to unfold, and to surrender to her birth, is the place where she FEELS the safest. It’s a matter of hormones. The feel-good, cozy-and-safe hormone is oxytocin. Oxytocin is also the hormone of labor and birth. Wherever a mother is safe and feels safe, cozy and loved is where she will release oxytocin and do her best work.
Water Birth Bliss. Home Birth with a Midwife is Safe. Image by Zura Lagarde Photography
If you feel safe in a hospital, give birth in a hospital. If you feel safe at home with a skilled care provider, give birth at home. Wherever you decide to do it, I want you to have the most support and compassion as you possibly can. As a midwife, I care about how you feel in your prenatal care, how you feel when you give birth, and how you feel as you figure out how to mother this tiny newborn you have brought into the world. I want you to be heard and nurtured. I want you make choices by finding your instincts, trusting them, and believing in yourself. When you feel scared, weak, or that you are doing something wrong, I want you to have someone who believes in youright there by your side letting you know that because you showed up, are present, and allow your imperfections, you are already doing everything right
This kind of compassionate in-depth care is just one of the many things that I get to do for the mothers I care for. It’s important to me. And if you have chosen to give birth in a hospital, I don’t want you to miss out on all the nurturing that a midwife gives. So here’s a list of things you can do to get the extra support and care all mothers deserve.
1. Hire a doula. Not just for the birth, but to help you with planning the birth by talking through your values and offering you resources and information.
2. Find a birth class that is woman-centered and focuses on you. Not on the technical details of the birth, but on your questions, concerns, and how to find your inner strength.
3. Have a midwife do your prenatal and post partum care. Midwives often have an ob that they transfer to. In this case, you can get the undivided, special attention a midwife can give, then have your baby in the hospital with an ob, and get your post partum care with a midwife. The midwife usually does 4-5 post partum visits that include help with breastfeeding, with caring for your body after birth, newborn assessment, and a birth review where you get a chance talk about your experience and ask any questions you may have. Which is so much more than you will get with an ob.
5. Hire a post partum doula. Before you give birth, have her help you plan your post-partum meals and care, not just with her, but with your own family and friends. Expect to need help for at least 2 weeks.
6. Get to know your local La Leche League before you have the baby. Have phone numbers ready and expect to call them as soon as you have any signs of a not-perfect latch. This could be day 1-2 when everything is new. Or day 3-5 when your milk comes in and everything changes. Or it can be later than that.
7. Have the phone number for a lactation consultant. Just in case.
8. If you feel overwhelmed or depressed in the first year or two after birth, know that it is completely common. We are often doing too much for others, and not getting enough nurturing for ourselves, not eating or sleeping well. Schedule in more time for self-care, ask around for a good therapist, and make sure you are eating plenty of healthy foods and healthy fats.
Birth Bliss is for Everyone
So the next time you see a photo of a home birth and see the bliss on the mother’s face, know that the bliss isn’t just from her birth. It’s also because of the extra nurturing and care she was given to go into herself, understand her doubts and fears, find her strength, and be prepared and supported. She has been nurtured through the whole process, from prenatal care to birth to postpartum.
I wish all mothers, whether hospital birthers or home birthers, a nourishing experience that feeds your soul.
Melissa Casey, LM CPM