In the U.S., about 25,000 births occur each year in the home, which equals approximately 0.06 percent of total births, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. While vastly outnumbered still by hospital deliveries, home births allow you to remain in a comfortable, serene and familiar setting as you bring your baby into the world. Weigh the particulars of your situation to determine if a home birth is right for you.
If you are considering a home birth, your interest may be far more than casual. "Usually women come to me with this deep desire to give birth at home," says Sara Chana, a Los Angeles-based labor instructor and lactation consultant. They have the feeling that they want to create a calm and tranquil birth environment, she says. A home birth gives you the option to hold your baby and nurse right away versus waiting for the hospital staff to clean the baby.
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As emergencies can happen at a home birth as they can at a hospital, consider whether you are a good candidate health-wise for this option. If you suffer from diabetes, chronic high blood pressure or have experienced preterm labor with previous deliveries, you may not be a good candidate, the American Pregnancy Association notes. Discuss possible complications with your midwife, doula or physician to weigh the risks. Women are often transferred to a hospital during a home birth when the labor is not progressing as it should, the mother's exhaustion level is too high or fetal distress occurs.
Home births offer you the opportunity to labor as you choose versus at the direction of the hospital or physician. "You don't have to fight for what you want and are able to travel through the path of birth with confidence and grace," Chana observes. At home, you can change labor locations, exercise as needed, communicate with as many visitors as you choose and invite an unlimited number of friends and family to the actual birth. Home births allow you to choose special accommodations, such as massage and homeopathic remedies.
The serenity of a home birth is often an appealing aspect of the quest, but you must be prepared with relaxation techniques and pain management strategies since pain medication is rarely administered. Arm yourself with music, massage, water therapy and breathing techniques, as well as a support team to manage the pain during labor and delivery. Discuss your preferred methods when meeting with a doula or midwife ahead of time to determine the best approach for your child's arrival.