Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Preparing For A Home Birth
Sometimes advocates of natural birth talk about home birth as though it is the "easy" way to have a natural birth. While it is true that you are much more likely to have a natural birth when birthing at home, there are still many things that you can do ahead of time to prepare for a fabulous experience.
(I did a similar post yesterday on prep for a hospital birth, which you can read here if that is more your style.)
Step 1- Carefully choose your midwife-
All midwives are not created equally! They vary a lot in their qualifications, certifications, experience, and even legality from one state to the next. It is important to know what your midwife has to offer and if that is what you want and feel comfortable with at your birth. (This post has a list of questions to ask a home birth midwife.)
Some women really crave a motherly confidant, others somebody who totally trusts birth. Some women prefer somebody with a similar faith to them so that scripture or prayer can be incorporated into their birth, while other women are most concerned with emergency supplies and skills.
Since I don't know what it is that you are looking for in particular, here are a few things that matter to me, and some other helpful sites.
~One thing that is really important to me is a midwife who has skills in resuscitation, stopping hemorrhage both with pharmaceuticals and with herbs, and lots of experience suturing.
These things all matter to me because I have hemorrhaged after one of my birth, I have had a baby born that didn't breathe immediately, and I like to be stitched up properly. These things are not important to everybody, but I think they are some good points to start with when interviewing a midwife.
~Another thing that really matters to me is how I "feel" about her. This sounds very new age and out there, but it matters to many women. One of the advantages of home birth is you get to pick the person who will almost definitely be at your birth. Pick somebody who you not only trust to handle any emergency that might pop up, but who you also like and feel comfortable being naked around.
If you are religious you may want to pray over this choice, because it really matters.
~A midwives experience and education are important. Where did she receive training? How many births has she attended? Is she CPR certified? Can she start an IV easily? Do those things matter to you? What can she not legally do? What is she uncomfortable or unskilled at? Will these things merit transfer? This link has a basic break down on the different types of midwives and what they do.
This post has a more comprehensive list of t hings to discuss with your midwife.
~This link has some tips for unassisted birth preparations.
Step 2-Take a good birth preparation class-
I think there is a very pervasive idea that you don't need a class if you birth at home because nobody is standing at the ready with an epidural in your house.
Here is the thing though.....you still have to LABOR AND BIRTH.
Some women seem to just instinctively know how to do this and don't have inhibitions about it. That is really FABULOUS. But not everybody is like that.
Still I think a birth class is helpful for a few reasons.
~It prepares dad. Dads are notorious for not reading anything about birth and being a little freaked out by it. Plus, dads often like to feel useful. A good birth class that prepares him well can do heaps of good not just for his comfort, but also YOUR enjoyment of the birth. Many a mama feels a little resentful of a clueless partner after a hard labor and many a dad feels useless and helpless when he isn't prepared.
~Many women, even those who home birth, need to learn to relax. They also MAY need to learn how to navigate the hospital system in case of transfer. I have talked to doulas attending home birth mamas who had to transfer and the mother didn't understand where the epidural was placed. Their birth took a strange unexpected turn, and mom literally had no idea what to expect from the hospital. A good birth class can take care of that.
Step 3- Prepare your home-
Home birth requires mom to prepare some things in advance on the home front. Even if you have helpful family and friends, it is still nice to have an organized house with lots of things set aside in the freezer.
The BEST thing I ever did before my last home birth was prepare meals in advance. By the time of the birth I had about seven meals frozen.
It was really pretty simple. I just bought enough food to make two meals when I was cooking something freezable. As I made dinner one night while pregnant, I just doubled the recipe and froze half in an aluminum throw away casserole dish. (Then I didn't have to wash anything when we ate it!)
Some things I did were: Shepherd's Pie, Homemade Macaroni and Cheese, Stuffed Bell Peppers, Lasagna, and Enchiladas. Even if you get lots of meals, you will probably have a few days before anybody knows you had a baby. Plus, after the baby comes and the meals have stopped, it is nice to have something ready for those hard days when you just can't handle the new transition.
Getting your birth kit ready and organized in an easy to access place, having a clean bathroom and clean sheets (with a spare), having your midwives number programmed into your phone (and your husbands) are all additional ways you can prepare your home for the new baby.
Some other things that women find helpful-
~Take a healthy diet seriously. I have seen many a home birth mother transfer because poor nutrition or other lifestyle factors risked her out. Choosing to birth anywhere means you are responsible for preparing your healthy body and staying low risk.
~The nuts and bolts of birth are important, but so is your emotional and mental preparation. Don't forget about that either.
Wishing you a healthy and joyous home birth!