My Home Birth Turned Into a Hospital Birth
Here's why I don't regret it
I’ve been with my now fiancé since I was about 15 years old. I always knew I wanted to be a mother and we always talked about having a family. So you can imagine that when we learned we were having our first child, we were both overjoyed.
Leading up to our pregnancy, I did a lot of research to make sure I was fully prepared for this next chapter. One thing I had made up in my mind for sure was that I would have a home birth. Although it’s become more accepted in recent years, home births still get a bad rap. So despite receiving general looks of confusion from family, and unwanted trauma stories of woman who birthed at home (why do people do this!? - but that’s for another topic), I was firm on my decision and my fiancé fully supported it. My number one reason for wanting a home birth - comfort.
Although I didn’t know anyone personally who had given birth at home, I watched plenty of videos on YouTube of home/water births and the women just looked so relaxed like they weren’t in labor at all. I figured if I’m going to do this and operate at my best self, I need to have the highest levels of comfort and relaxation to deal with the pain. So, what better place than home sweet home?
We hired a midwife who specialized in home births and who could also help with postpartum care and breastfeeding. Fast forward to about a week before my due date, I was sitting on the couch working from home and I got up and felt a big “whoosh” come down my leg. I sat there in shock and said to myself “Is this my water breaking?”. My fiancé was in the bathroom and I frantically knocked on the door. “Umm, I’m leaking.” Clearly in denial, he yanked the door open and said “What does that mean?” Still not really processing what’s happening either I said “I think my water broke, I’m going to call the midwife.”
That was a Wednesday at 10 am. My midwife came over once my contractions were closer to together. I dilated all the way to 9 cm, and everything was progressing well. Then it happened. My contractions started getting further apart rather than closer together. I would push with literally everything in me, but my baby would not come out. Finally, after about 40 hours of labor, my midwife looked at me and said “I know you don’t want to do this, but I think you need to go to the hospital. Things aren’t progressing here.”
Hearing her say that devastated me. I was already exhausted and frustrated and couldn’t figure out why my body wasn’t working the way it should. I know my baby was frustrated being essentially “stuck” in the birth canal. My pregnancy had been fairly easy, so why the trouble now? My midwife gently reminded me that it was still possible to have the birth I wanted, I just need a little extra boost (Pitocin) to strengthen my contractions and help me push out baby boy.
So, we packed up everything last minute and headed to the hospital. Mind you, I was not prepared for this at all. I know they tell you have a back up plan but I just KNEW I would have my baby at home. I had no hospital bag packed; I didn’t even have a car seat to bring him home in (shout out to my girl Ashley for coming through at the last minute!). We checked in, they set me up in the room, and gave me the dose of Pitocin. A few hours later, my son entered the world and it was the greatest relief/joy I ever felt after almost 2 whole days of labor.
So what did I learn from this whole experience (especially being a first time mom)?
- Planning is great, but be flexible - One thing I’ve learned about pregnancy and childbirth, it can be so unpredictable. What works for one woman, may not work for the next. I don’t believe in “best case/worst case” scenario, but I think you can plan for a “best case/next best case” scenario. That way, if you have to change things on the fly, you won’t be too disappointed and can focus on what’s important, like your child’s and your own wellbeing.
- Hire a midwife/doula - Even if you don’t hire a professional, plan to have another woman in your corner. It can be a friend, your mother, anyone you feel can relay your wants and needs and has your best interest in mind. I can’t tell you how comforting it was to have my midwife talk to the doctors and make sure they weren’t doing anything I wouldn’t approve of, especially when I didn’t have the energy to speak up for myself.
- Don’t knock it til’ you try it - Although I was initially against giving birth in a hospital, because I didn’t think I would feel comfortable in that setting, it turned out to be the best thing for me and my baby. I don’t live near family, so it was literally just me and my fiancé taking turns watching the baby for those 2 days I was in the hospital. I had 3rd and 4th degree perineal tearing (ouch!), so I could barely walk. If I had given birth at home, I can’t imagine what we would have did without the constant support of the nurses. Also, I would’ve had to go to the hospital anyway to get stitched up (my midwife couldn’t repair those degrees of tearing).
So in the end, being at the hospital turned out to be for the best, even though I didn’t plan to give birth there. I’m just thankful I was able to have a pleasant birth experience overall and that mommy and baby both came out happy and healthy.