Yesterday I wrote a post called “Why I am Having a Home Birth” and I wanted to follow the post up with a very special Q+A with my midwife, Katie. I know when I first heard of midwives, home births, and natural birthing it made me a little intrigued yet a little skeptical at the same time until I opened my mind to learn more about the whole process. Katie has been a blessing to our family and within the first visit, both Scott and I felt confident and secure with our decision to have Katie deliver our baby at home. The whole process has been fantastic and getting to establish a relationship with the person delivering my baby has been such a different experience than when we were just another patient at the OB/GYN with our first.
I want this to be a helpful resource all around; if you’re having a home birth and your family isn’t supporting you, share this post with them. If your husband needs a bit more convincing, share this post with them. Even if you or someone you know is on the fence about going through a licensed Midwife and having a home birth, this post is a great place to start.
I’m not saying a home birth will be the best choice for everyone because birthing your baby is such a unique and personal choice. I do, however, believe that every woman should be educated about all of her options before she chooses one certain method. My wish is this blog post helps you make a decision or at least gives you a starting point.
Loriel: What are the 3 biggest misconceptions you hear about home births?
- Midwives have no training or equipment to deal with emergency situations
- It’s not safe and a hospital is safer.
- Only crazy hippies have home birth.
Loriel: What are your responses to those?
Katie: 1. A significant portion of a midwife’s training is focused on how to deal with emergency situations. Midwives have knowledge and supplies to handle emergencies that may come up during labor and birth. We have medications and iv fluids for hemorrhage. We are certified and have all the equipment needed for neonatal resuscitation. We know how to manage emergency situations while waiting for transport to the hospital if further medical attention is required.
2. Many people assume that having a baby at a hospital is much safer than having a baby at home. While it is true that you have access to emergency interventions much quicker if in the hospital, simply being in the hospital puts women at greater risk for unnecessary interventions that, in themselves, cause greater risk to both the mom and baby. These interventions lead to much greater chances of fetal distress which then leads to cesarean section. Obstetricians are trained surgeons that treat birth as a catastrophe waiting to happen instead of a natural bodily process. When at home, women are given the freedom to do what they need to do to birth their baby naturally. Without unnecessary interventions, the mom and the baby are able to work together and do what their bodies were designed to do.
3. Women from all walks of life choose homebirth: doctors, nurses, business women, stay at home moms, homeschooling mamas, teachers. I’ve found that the thing all the women choosing homebirth have in common is that they are very educated about birth and about their options. They trust their bodies and the process of birth.
Loriel: What type of training do you have to go through?
Katie: The training and requirement for midwives varies from state to state. In Florida, to become a certified professional midwife (cpm) you must complete three years of schooling as well as many clinical requirements, including at least 75 births.
Loriel: Are there any immediate red flags when choosing a midwife? What are they?
Katie: When choosing a midwife, you definitely want to make sure they are licensed in your state (if licensure is available). It’s also a good idea to check to see if there are any complaints against their license. Other than that, interviewing them and asking around your community to see what other people’s experiences have been like is the best thing to do.
Loriel: What is the difference between a midwife and a doctor?
Katie: Doctors are trained to look at birth as an emergency situation that they need to manage. Midwives treat birth as a normal process that they just observe to make sure everything stays in the limits of normal. Doctors are invaluable when there are high risk situations, but they don’t really know what to do with a low risk pregnant woman during pregnancy and birth.
Loriel: What are some benefits of choosing a home birth route versus a hospital birth?
Katie: Far fewer interventions. Labor is able to progress normally without all of the time frame protocols that hospitals have. Women are more comfortable in their homes which causes them to be more relaxed and results in shorter labors. Laboring women are free to eat and drink whatever they want at home, which is not allowed at the hospital. Mom and baby are left alone after birth allowing them to bond. Then, a few hours after birth, the family gets tucked into their own bed. No need to go anywhere during labor or after the birth.
Loriel: Are there any statistics showing these benefits?
The results of this study, and those of its companion article about the development of the MANA Stats registry, confirm the safety and overwhelmingly positive health benefits for low-risk mothers and babies who choose to birth at home with a midwife. At every step of the way, midwives are providing excellent care. This study enables families, providers and policymakers to have a transparent look at the risks and benefits of planned home birth as well as the health benefits of normal physiologic birth.
Of particular note is a cesarean rate of 5.2%, a remarkably low rate when compared to the U.S. national average of 31% for full-term pregnancies. When we consider the well-known health consequences of a cesarean — not to mention the exponentially higher costs — this study brings a fresh reminder of the benefits of midwife-led care outside of our overburdened hospital system.
Home birth mothers had much lower rates of interventions in labor. While some interventions are necessary for the safety and health of the mother or baby, many are overused, are lacking scientific evidence of benefit, and even carry their own risks. Cautious and judicious use of intervention results in healthier outcomes and easier recovery, and this is an area in which midwives excel. Women who planned a home birth had fewer episiotomies, pitocin for labor augmentation, and epidurals.
Most importantly, their babies were born healthy and safe. Ninety-seven percent of babies were carried to full-term, they weighed an average of eight pounds at birth, and nearly 98% were being breastfed at the six-week postpartum visit with their midwife. Only 1% of babies required transfer to the hospital after birth, most for non-urgent conditions. Babies born to low-risk mothers had no higher risk of death in labor or the first few weeks of life than those in comparable studies of similarly low-risk pregnancies. (source)
Here’s a quick read on 10 home birth facts no one’s telling you about.
Loriel: Are home births a new and up in coming thing?
Katie: Women have been having their babies at home for a very long time. It wasn’t until fairly recently in history that birth was moved out of the home and into hospitals. Then, in the 70s, there was a big homebirth movement. Since then, more and more women are becoming aware of their options and educating themselves and choosing homebirth. [Note from Naturally Loriel: A great documentary to watch on home births and the drastic change from home birth to hospital is The Business of Being Born. It literally changed my whole perspective on the birthing process in the United States.]
Loriel: If there is one thing you could say to moms who are on the fence about home births, what would you say?
Katie: Do your research, be confident in your decision, trust your body, trust birth, and don’t worry about what other people have to say about it.
Natural Birthing Resources
About Katie Miller, LM, CPN, RN
I have been passionate about pregnancy, childbirth, and midwifery for as long as I can remember. I love home birth and I am so blessed to be able to assist women and families in their journeys throughout pregnancy and childbirth. I believe that women’s bodies are Wonderfully Made and that they are designed to be able to birth babies.
I have a wonderful, supportive husband, Josh, and we have two amazing little boys together. Malachi made me a mama in 2006 and our next sweet baby boy, Nathaniel, was born in 2008. My family is the joy of my life!
My journey toward midwifery started in 2002 when I started attending births as a doula. In 2008, I completed a degree in nursing and worked as an RN in the NICU. After the birth of my second son, I knew that Midwifery was my true calling. Thankfully, I had the opportunity to return to school. I attended a 3 year Midwifery training program at Florida School of Traditional Midwifery. During my training, I had the honor of attending over 100 births.
I am nationally certified by The North American Registry of Midwives (NARM) as a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM). I am also a Licensed Midwife (LM) by the State of Florida.