During my pregnancy my midwife seemed to talk a lot about the option of having a home birth – obviously she had been privy to many and seemed a big advocate. But with it being my first experience of labour, I was little apprehensive about being at home if ‘things go wrong’ and decided I would feel more reassured being in a hospital environment.
As it turned out, I was very lucky and had a very straightforward labour – so much so that the midwife was almost redundant (I know, I know, shut up already), but it did get me thinking about whether I would be brave enough to opt for a home birth next time. I imagine the whole experience would be less overwhelming in the comfort of your own home, and there’s something very appealing about not having to hang around at the hospital for hours the next day waiting to be discharged – when all you want to do is get your little bundle home and have your own little moment away from hospital staff and other new parents.
So when Myka Stauffer got in touch to ask if I would like to feature a Q&A on her home birth, I was intrigued to hear about her experience. Myka is currently expecting her third child and will be having her second home birth. This is what she had to say about her first home birth experience and why she is opting for another.
What made you decide to have a home birth?
After having a hospital birth with my first daughter, I didn’t like the idea of not being in control of the experience. It felt distant and detached from how child birth should be where the mother and child are together and never apart. I had always been interested in the idea of a home birth and it wasn’t until I had conceived our second child that I thoroughly explored the idea. What I found out was that the experience is much more personal, just as safe (if not more in my eyes) and something we as humans have done naturally since our creation. Our bodies were designed to do this and I knew it was how it should be done.
Were you worried about if anything went wrong (and you weren’t at the hospital)?
By talking with my midwife on this topic and educating myself of the possibilities, it eased a lot of my worry on the “what if” scenarios. There are numerous things an experienced midwife can do to ensure baby and mum are safe without the needs of doctors/hospital. They also come prepared with medical supplies and can care for the majority of the complications that can come about from childbirth. If there are any emergency issues that arise, the midwife knows our hospital backup plan and can transport if necessary.
How did you prepare for it?
Once I had chosen our midwife, we had scheduled appointments and reading they provided about homebirth to allow us to be as prepared as possible. Another great tool has been Youtube and watching homebirths and listening to other mums describe the experience. This is why I have documented on Youtube my entire journey and will also be showing our homebirth on my channel (youtube.com/MykaStauffer). Through my videos I have created a family of amazing friends and mums who are also pregnant which allows us to all discuss our symptoms, joys and struggles.
Tell us a bit about when you went into labour
When I was pregnant with our second child we were 36 ½ weeks when I started feeling small but infrequent contractions the night before she was born. My husband and I had gone to sleep that night thinking it was still Braxton hicks contractions, not knowing the big show was about to start.
Around 2:30am I awoke with painful contractions and told my husband these were real and it was time to give birth to our baby girl. While I sat on my birthing ball and worked through the contractions, my husband notified the midwife that we were in active labor and he began to setup the birthing pool in our family room.
Throughout the early morning my husband and I did numerous things to work through the contractions from walking, massages, breathing techniques, relaxing in the birthing pool and talking about how our lives were about to change in an amazing way.
How was the birth?
Around 7am our little girl, Kova (2 ½ years old at the time), awoke and sat next to the pool watching Winnie the Pooh and told me during every contraction to “breathe and it will be okay Mommy”. We wanted her to be part of her sister’s birth and around 9am I began to feel a lot of pressure and urges to push.
With my husband in the pool with me and the midwife at our side, we began to push and deliver our second little girl. At 9:45am, Jaka was born and my husband held her in his hands and brought her to my chest for the very first time. Within seconds, Jaka’s voice was heard with the beautiful sound of crying that melted our hearts and made us break down into tears of love and joy. During this time our midwife was ensuring our vitals were stable and awaiting for the placenta to be born. As I held Jaka against my chest, my husband and midwife waited for the umbilical cord to stop beating before he cut the cord.
The first 20 minutes of Jaka’s life had already flown by and now it was time for my husband to hold the baby skin to skin while the midwife helped me to the herbal bath she had setup in our bathroom. Once I was cleaned up, my husband brought in Jaka for her first bath where she opened her beautiful eyes. Her sister Kova was present from the very second her sister was born and watched with amazement and a huge smile across her face. Within 45 minutes of giving birth, I had washed up and was laying in my own bed breastfeeding my newborn baby with my family at my side.
How did it compare to your first birth at the hospital?
It was drastically different in the respect of how my care was provided by my midwife and also the ability to be in the comfort of my own home. By having a homebirth, you feel a sense of safety and calmness that a hospital doesn’t provide.
What would you say is the best thing about having a home birth?
Being in control of the birthing experience and being able to feel connected in a hard to describe way to my baby throughout.
What advice would you give to any mum-to-be considering a home birth?
I would recommend getting your hands on books and information online to educate yourself on the subject. Once you have experienced homebirth, your perception of birth and your life will be changed forever in the most positive way imaginable.
This guest post was written in collaboration with Myka Stauffer. To follow her home birth journey visit her YouTube channel at youtube.com/MykaStauffer