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What Home Birth Is Really Like From Moms Who've Done It

Photograph by Twenty20

Having had two babies in a hospital setting, I’ve always been curious about home births. The idea of being able to skip the discharge process alone makes it sound pretty appealing to me. We’ve all seen the beautiful home birth photos and read the near idyllic birth stories, but I had a chance to chat with three diverse home birth mamas and get the real scoop.

Home birth isn’t necessarily peaceful. All of the moms felt more comfortable at home and less stressed not having to worry about getting somewhere, but labor is still hard work.

“My home birth was a four-hour freight train of back labor, but my birth environment was peaceful and calm.” - Sara G.

“When I went into labor it came very fast. Honestly, I was kind of freaking out a little bit. My husband rushed home from work and began to set up the water tub. I sat in the water and seriously doubted I would get through the pain…The whole birth was two hours long. So I wouldn’t say it was peaceful and calm because it was so quick. But it was about as peaceful and calm as a two-hour breech home birth could possibly be!” - Kristel A.

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“I have a high pain tolerance but still, contractions hurt. This is what you should know. I am not some superwoman. I am strong, yes, but contractions still hurt me. A lot. A whole ‘lot. People like to think that just because you opt for a 'natural birth' that you don’t feel much pain and no, girl… a baby is coming out of a vagina. That hurts.” - Brittany M.

There are no strangers at a home birth. One thing that struck me is that, unlike a hospital birth where you meet your nurses that day, everyone present at a home birth is familiar to the woman in labor.

“I was totally comfortable in my environment, and surrounded only by people that loved me.” - Sara G.

“I was at ease and happy to be at home surrounded by people I trusted and loved.” - Kristel A.

Home birth can help you avoid a c-section. From support through a VBAC to delivering a breech baby, many home birth midwives are trained to help mothers avoid medical intervention.

“The biggest surprise was how easy it actually was to have the home birth VBAC  that I envisioned.” - Sara G.

“Going into the birth nobody knew my baby was breech because she was never breech at any previous appointments or ultrasounds. She was always head down in the ideal position. I’m not sure when she flipped but it must have been very last minute. My midwife never panicked and remained focused and in control. She had actually just taken a seminar in which she was educated on how to deliver breech babies weeks before. That’s something I really appreciated, obviously, because most OBs are not educated in breech deliveries, they just go straight to c-sections. I’m sure had I given birth in a hospital I would have ended up as a c-section.” - Kristel A.

“The documentary 'The Business of Being Born' propelled me into the home birth arena, but it was my best friend who really sparked the idea. She had a first baby via c-section and then had her second baby at home. I was so inspired by her that I felt like I could do it, too.” - Brittany M.

I wanted the comforts of home at home. I wanted to labor, deliver and have postpartum care in one places. Having a baby at home just felt better.

Don’t expect around-the-clock nursing post delivery. This means more rest, but less trained care.

“My son was born at 7 a.m., so my midwife stayed and had breakfast with us. Then she left the house maybe two hours after the birth and cleaning up was done.  She called to check on us during the day, and then stopped by later that day to check in.” - Sara G.

“My son was born in a hospital and we would be woken up at all hours by nurses checking on us. Plus I also had an IV stuck in my arm which was very uncomfortable. At home, I could rest with my baby and have my husband and other family members care for us. Again, it was special to share that time together away from strangers and beeping machines.” - Kristel A.

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With a home birth, your postnatal care is more frequent and more nurturing, and you don't have to leave your home.

“100 percent of my postpartum care took place at home. Weekly visits for 6-8 weeks.Those were blissful visits, and I looked forward to them.” - Sara G.

“My midwife would come to visit me every couple days to make sure I was adjusting well and recovering from the birth. It was like having a friend coming to visit because she was always so warm and kind.” - Kristel A.

“I wanted the comforts of home at home. I wanted to labor, deliver and have postpartum care in one places. Having a baby at home just felt better.” - Brittany M.

Home birth isn’t for everyone, but for those who choose it, it can be an extremely rewarding experience.

“My home birth was completely healing and empowering and wonderful—it was everything I wanted it to be!” - Sara G.

“Honestly, my home birth was the best. It was a powerful experience that resulted in a great postpartum experience.” - Kristel A.

“I was so proud of myself. I did it. Again. At home and un-coached. I gave birth my way with no timeline. I think women across the globe should get the love, respect and tools to birth the way they want. Baby’s health and mom’s health are so important and if a mama feels more comfortable birthing in a hospital (or needs to medically), to the hospital she should go.” - Brittany M.

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