I was born at home so I’ve known all my life that there was a possibility that it wasn’t all about the hospital, that there were options. Even so, when I was pregnant with my first my attitude was “we’ll see.” I thought we’d explore it, talk it over with the midwives but that it was more likely we’d have a homebirth with our second baby. I was unsure and I thought back to my mom saying that one of the reasons she had me at home was because she’d already given birth twice before. She talked about it like it was no big deal, but there was always the underlying explanation that she had experience. And me? In my first pregnancy? Of course, no experience.
I recently read this post by @heartsandhandss from twitter where she talks about whether or not homebirth is for you. What struck me so much about her post was the idea that as a first time mom, even those who are drawn to homebirth often feel this ambivalence about homebirth.
You say that with your second baby you might consider a birthing center or a homebirth because it won’t be as scary as with your first baby.
Her argument is that you might as well have a homebirth while you still qualify for one, while you are still low risk. With cesarean rates hovering round 30% (depending on where you are), you have a 1 in 3 chance of coming home from the hospital with the prospect of trying for a VBAC next time. Again, depending on where you are, you might not be eligible for a homebirth anymore after that. This point of view really stuck with me.
To me the tricky part is being able to balance that kind of rationale with the fact that first time moms often haven’t got the experience to TRUST birth yet. Interestingly, for so many the experience they gain in the hospital does the exact opposite: it doesn’t teach them to trust birth at all. Or you find that experienced mothers turn to homebirth only because they’ve had such a terrible hospital experience that they go looking for anything, any alternative must be better than doing THAT again.
A few things helped change my mind about having a homebirth for my first baby. The first was that in my family it was treated like a normal and acceptable choice. I had support for my decision and it was something I’d known about my whole life. The second factor was the trust I had in my midwives and when I told them that I thought maybe a homebirth the second time around, they were able to put whatever nebulous fears I had to rest. In fact, I can’t even remember what their answer was. I just knew after that talk that we’d be planning a homebirth. And lastly, I read books books books until I trusted birth at least logically if not from experience. For me, it ended up being the natural path to take, perhaps because that’s where my path started in the first place.
For others, I really think that @heartsandhandss makes a compelling and logical argument. If you want the best chance of staying low risk, staying eligible for homebirth in the future, at least explore it as an option the first time. Or make the choice to birth with a midwife in a hospital or birth centre. Otherwise, the choice may never be yours.