My contractions began late evening on the 20th. I alerted my midwife, and after multiple phone calls she instructed me to head to the hospital around 9AM. My husband and I were tucked away in a very small room, as the primary delivery rooms were full due to the abundance of scheduled inductions and c-sections due to the holidays. Needless to say, it wasn’t exactly the greatest environment to labor in.
Periodically, and more often than I expected, a nurse would come by and “check” me to determine my cervical dilation. It was very uncomfortable and rather annoying. It became even more aggravating once the nurses started to tell me that I wasn’t “progressing fast enough.” The nurse would report back to my midwife and I felt rushed.
As the day progressed and the contractions grew stronger, the nurse continually asked me if I wanted medication “to take the edge off.” I was even offered Ambien because I looked “so tired”. I guess delivery nurses don’t read birth plans. The last thing I wanted was to feel groggy when I needed the energy to push.
At 3PM I finally succumbed to the pressure and allowed the nurse to begin a pitocin drip. This is why I had a birth plan. So that my exhausted, laboring self and my nearly equally exhausted husband wouldn’t have to make these decisions in the heat of the moment. We had decided months before that we didn’t want pitocin, but at this point we were so exhausted that we couldn’t even think. The contractions intensified quickly after the introduction of the pitocin, which my husband recalls caused me to “scream uncontrollably at the top of my lungs”. Many hours later it was finally time to push, and after pushing for over an hour, my baby finally arrived, and she was healthy.
A few hours later, after more torture, including but not limited to an IV being restarted multiple times and a catheterization, we were transferred to the Mom/Baby Unit. I explicitly stated in the birth plan that I wanted my baby to remain with me, but apparently I was the only person who knew of my birth plan. As soon as we entered our new room, a nurse began rolling out the bassinet which contained my baby. I told her, while exhausted beyond belief, “What are you doing with her?”, in which she replied, “We have to take her to monitor her” in a rather rude tone of voice. I was stunned, but my exhaustion in that moment prevented me from saying anything. She was very set on taking the baby, and she did.
I started to cry, and told my husband to get the baby back. He had to explain to the nurse we want to be with our baby, as it was expressly stated in my birth plan. Fortunately no issues were had and he got her back. The nurse came back and attempted to apologize in a condescending manner, “Well you’re a nurse here, I figured you knew what protocol is.” I didn’t care to interact with her much, I was exhausted and I had my baby.
My Home-birth Experience
I was quite dissatisfied with my experience at the hospital. I did a lot of research and came to the conclusion during the early stages of pregnancy for my 2nd child, that I would be birthing at home. This time I got a home-birth midwife. She birthed babies exclusively at home; and we were amazed that out of 1,000 births, she had 0 infant or mother deaths, and only 6 c-sections. Yes, 6 c-sections, when compared to the national US average of 30-40%. That’s 300 to 400 c-sections per thousand children born at a hospital.
My husband was initially weary of the whole idea, understandably so. We’re conditioned to believe that the hospital is the safest place to be when we’re about to give birth.
I made it very clear to my home-birth midwife that I did not want any medication. She was completely receptive to that idea, and assured me that there’s absolutely no rush.
I began contractions early morning on September 4, 2012. Like the first pregnancy, they progressed very slowly. One immediate advantage over my hospital based birth experience was knowing I didn’t have to leave the house. My midwife came over around 5PM, her and my husband set up a birthing pool in our bedroom. Everything was casual, she minded her business and I minded mine.
At around 10PM, she left to a nearby Walmart to get us candles. Meanwhile, my contractions began to intensify. She came back with the candles and a bottle of wine. ::Gasp!:: Yes, wine. I had about a half glass of wine and it helped me relax; and of course this has no ill effect on the baby. Fast forward about an hour and it came time to begin pushing. It was entirely up to me how and where I wanted to push.
I have to admit, it was a nightmare. The baby was not making much progress, and I was getting exhausted after 40+ minutes after several positions of pushing and position changes. I was in so much extreme pain, which the midwife had a hard time explaining, that the contractions felt even more unbearable than the first pregnancy where pitocin was involved!
After again, an hour and a half, the baby was delivered; along with a reason why pushing took so long. Her arm was wrapped around her head and her elbow was causing an obstruction. None the less, the baby was healthy.
My midwife helped clean up the baby, immediately let me attempt to nurse her, and gave us time. She prepared the bathtub for us which contained an herbal remedy. Then we got back in our bed, and she made us an omelet; and mind you, this was at 2AM.
Aside from the long and painful birth influenced by factors out of our control, I would choose home-birth if I’m ever pregnant again. The difference is night and day.
Risks Associated with Home Birth
Legally speaking, no US state prosecutes mothers who give birth outside of a hospital. According to Wikipedia, in 27 states it is legal to hire a direct-entry midwife; while in every state it’s legal to hire a Certified Nurse Midwife, though most CNM’s operate exclusively inside of a hospital setting. The few legal horror stories you may or may not have heard that involved home-birthing are very isolated, and always landed on the shoulders of the midwife and not the woman giving birth.
There is a risk of needing rushed to a hospital. The most common concern in this scenario is whether or not you would have time to arrive. An experienced midwife will know the warning signs and take the appropriate action before anything serious happens. Remember, out of 1,000+ home births, my midwife had to move from home to hospital in less than 1% of the time; with no deaths.
I’ve written another article which shows the risks of Hospital Births, which far exceed the risks of home births. Please read it, it’s not an opinion but based on freely available statistical information.
Home Birth vs Hospital Birth Costs
I was diagnosed at the age of 16 with something called Raynauds Phenomenon. It’s a relatively minor condition in which the blood vessels are over-active, and constrict the flow of blood to the extremities at the slightest drop in temperature. I quit my job at the hospital shortly after my first child was born, so I lost health coverage. My husband is self employed, so I was not able to get on any type of plan associated with his place of work. I was denied healthcare coverage by several insurance companies.
If you don’t qualify for any type of aid, hospital births can be quite expensive. Assuming all goes smooth, you’re looking at around $3,000 to $5,000, which is on top of any fees associated with your OBGYN or midwife appointments. If you need a cesarean section though, you’re looking at a $20,000+ bill depending on what area of the country you live in.
My home birth midwife charged me $1,500; for everything. That included the frequent check-ups and the actual delivery of the baby. She even brought us dinner a few weeks after the baby was born! So in our case, we were able to save literally thousands of dollars by birthing at home. Money is absolutely not the primary reason we chose to birth at home, but it was a perk.
I hope everyone who reads this article enjoyed it and found it useful. If any of you are considering a home birth but still have questions, feel free to comment below.