Six Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Home Birth


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.