In our series The Debate, our community of real moms tackle the pros and cons around the home and hospital births. The truth is, like so many decisions around child rearing, there is no right or wrong answer. At HATCH, our job is to give voice to both sides of any debate, peppering real mom wisdom with the necessary facts so that you can make the best decision for you and your family.
For some women, it’s a no brainer. They’re bringing their child into the world in the safest environment possible, even if it’s under the glare of harsh fluorescent lighting and a nurse waiting to go on break. For others, they’re giving birth in the comfort of their home – 500-thread count sheets be damned – surrounded by loved ones and the flicker of a Le Labo Tuberose candle wafting in the background.
“It’s important for newly pregnant moms to research which birth setting makes the most sense for them,” says Lauren Zielinski, a certified nurse midwife, registered nurse and founder of New Moon Rising. “This being said, if you choose to birth at home or in a birth center, your pregnancy should be considered healthy and low risk. It’s important you medically qualify to home birth and I don’t suggest pushing it if your birth provider recommends otherwise.”
Let’s hear from our community of mamas on birthing at home versus the hospital. They share their experiences, below:
Coming Home to Birth….
Conference planner and home organizer
Simone, 8 + Ruben, 5
My reason for doing a home birth is tri-fold. For one, my friend and sister-in-law had done it, and I thought it sounded really nice. Also, I had emergency surgery in first grade, and I have certain opinions of hospitals. They’re a place you go with a problem, and birth didn’t feel like problem. I’m not scared of hospitals, they serve a great purpose, but you do what you do there and then you go. Lastly, after trying for over two years to get pregnant with my older daughter, I tried acupuncture and herbs and got pregnant after three months. So I felt like my journey on a less medical path had already been successful, and I wanted to continue on that path.
I was excited at the prospect of a home birth. I wasn’t nervous. We live two blocks from two major hospitals so I wasn’t worried about the danger, I was more worried about the mess! But my midwife does home births all the time, and she made me confident that I would never see a mess. And while my parents weren’t thrilled about it, I was siked.
There’s all this stuff you have to buy or rent for a home birth. I got a huge jacuzzi for the living room. I had to make my bed a certain way so there’s protection under it and the mattress doesn’t get ruined. When I finally went into labor, I called my doula and she was at another birth. So my midwife/doula came. I labored all over the apartment and eventually got in jacuzzi, which stalled my labor. So I wasn’t in there that long. You rent this crazy thing and it just sits there. I ended up having my son on our bed and my husband was right there. He caught him, he got to weigh him after. He got to measure him. It was a welcoming, close feeling.
Having a home birth doesn’t have to be a super hippy dippy experience. I did not have candles. There might have been a playlist. I don’t remember any of that. It was just nice to be home. We moved out of that apartment last January, and I thought, this is where Ruben was born. I remember looking out this window while I was laboring on the couch and getting lost in the view. There is a downside, though. After the baby came, I felt like I was home and I should be doing stuff. In a hospital, you don’t have any tasks in front of you, but in your home, you see the things that need to get done. But I’m happy I made my choice. I think it’s a great way to welcome a child into this world.
Peep this home birthing experience:
Let’s Do this at the Hospital….
For me, having our baby in a hospital was never a question. I have older sisters, and they have several kids between them, all born at hospitals. I felt safest doing it in a hospital because if something were to go wrong, I’d never be able to forgive myself if I wasn’t able to get the help I needed because of the choice I made.
My water broke at 1:00 am in our apartment, so we found ourselves in the middle of the night on Third Avenue, normally a very busy street, with zero taxis. Finally we got one. I started having contractions very quickly and when we got in, the driver heard me breathing heavily and started driving really fast. We got to the hospital and I had expected a scene out of “Grey’s Anatomy,” where people are rushing in and out. It was dead. Someone in the lobby directed us up to the maternity wing, and we were able to reach my doctor, who happened to be on call that night. My doctor came in and let us know that we were in the same room where his son had been delivered, so that was an extra level of comfort we weren’t expecting. I remember at one point during my labor, my husband stepped out to go to the bathroom. One of the nurses said, “Now that your husband’s out of the room, can you confirm that you feel safe with him? Do you want him here? Is everything OK at home?” I said, “Yes, absolutely, but thank you for asking!”
Not that I ever doubted my desire to give birth in a hospital, but my doctor needed to use forceps to pull Henry out, so I was grateful to be there. I pushed for about 40 minutes but he wasn’t coming out. They gave me one more chance to push and said that they’ll try with forceps, and if it didn’t work, they’d need to do a c-section. That was all the motivation I needed. Also, after Henry was born, the doctors discovered that he had holes in his heart. They heard a heart murmur, so he got an EKG and an echocardiogram. The cardiologist said one hole would close in six months to a year, but then he uncovered another hole. This one was more unusual and they’ll have to monitor it over the next few years. If it doesn’t close by the time he’s two, he’ll have a small surgery.
The only thing about a hospital setting is that the changeover of nurses is tough. You get used to one person, and they know everything about your baby. Then new nurses come in and ask all these new questions. Of course, they’re just doing their job. Also, a lot of people told me to enjoy the hospital, that I’ll have all this help. The nurses were there and they helped with so much, but we were definitely left on our own with the baby more than I thought we’d be. If I were to give advice to anyone having a hospital birth, I’d say to practice swaddling in advance. Nurses are happy to do it, but when I was on my own in the middle of the night feeding every 40 minutes and so exhausted, I never did it right. Oh, and bring meals for your partner. They kept bringing me meals and my husband was starving.