Six Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Home Birth

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Birth evokes varied emotions, opinions and expectations. Whether it’s medicated or cesarean at the hospital, with a doula, at a birthing center, or at home, choosing where to birth is one piece along the journey. People often appeared surprised to learn we chose home birth since I work as a labor and delivery nurse and my husband is an anesthesia provider. We asked these six big questions before making our choice:

home birth

WHY do I Want a Home Birth? 

The big question. I had to ask myself if there was something I was trying to prove in an non-medicated delivery at home. In the end, our home provided the space I felt most at peace and able to do the work of labor. I felt empowered choosing the place to birth and knowing it was right for our family. Bringing my daughter into the world right in our bedroom transformed my life forever. 

Am I a Good Candidate?

I held the concept of home birth lightly, knowing each pregnancy unfolds differently. After our twenty-week anatomy scan, I felt more confident about our choice. I chose only to proceed with birthing at home if everything was normal and healthy for both baby and I.  

Do I Have a Team I Trust?

Portland offers great options for maternity care providers. We chose Catherine Schaefer, CNM, ND as our midwife with A Gentle Beginning. In Oregon, there are several types of midwives offering home birth. It was important for me to choose a certified nurse midwife that had a lot of experience. To be totally immersed in my labor, I sought out a provider I could fully trust with the decision making. 

Am I Prepared?

Every woman’s experience of birth is different. While there is little that we can control in this miraculous process, I wanted to put in the work to make the experience as smooth as possible. We chose to take hypnobirthing classes. Afterward, I practiced my relaxation and verbal affirmations everyday for the last half of my pregnancy. Envisioning a smooth, quick and easy birth became part of my preparation. 

Can I Afford a Home Birth?

This one brings in the practical piece of birthing. At the time, my insurance partially covered out-of-hospital births. In addition, we used our health savings account to cover the rest. Knowing our insurance coverage, payment options, and creating a plan for payment can eased the stress of covering unexpected costs. 

What if it Doesn’t Work Out?

Having a clear transfer plan ranked high on our importance checklist. We lived less than ten minutes from OHSU in case of an emergency. Being close to a major medical center allowed me to relax into the setting of our home. If we were farther from a hospital, I might have considered a birth center instead. 

Regardless of how and where we birth, becoming a mother is a powerful transition. When expectations shift during pregnancy and birth it provides yet another opportunity to practice flexibility, acceptance and non-attachment. I would love to hear more about your birth stories! Feel free to share them with us!

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Heidi moved to Portland in 2005 from sunny Southern California. Heidi entered into motherhood with the birth of her daughter, Maia, almost 2 years ago. Her and her husband are expecting their second little one this summer and looking forward to growing their family. Motherhood continually provides Heidi a chance to practice her yoga off the mat and learn the power of presence amidst both the joyous dance parties and the never-ending dishes and diapers. Heidi works part-time as a labor and delivery nurse and is passionate about volunteering and working to create positive change in our community and abroad.

1 COMMENT

  1. Great insights. I like the last one: What if it doesn’t work out? We briefly considered home birth but did opt for a hospital delivery largely because of this last question. Our first baby was late and when my waters finally broke after 18 hours of labor, my midwife said that if we had been at home, I would have needed to be transported to a hospital 30 minutes away. I am glad that I only needed to be wheeled down the hallway at that late stage.

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