One thing that has always amazed me about being in the presence of birth is how deeply it effects everyone – mothers, fathers, siblings, any and all family members and midwives, too. Birth at home unfolds naturally without the constant interruptions of medicalization that interfere with a woman’s natural hormones. Many women don’t realize that this alone is actually a pain management tool. As you are bathed with the hormones of early labor it begins to prepare you for what’s to come. When you add being in your familiar environment this, too, becomes part of what makes birth easier. The quiet assistance, from people you know, also minimizes disruptions to your natural rhythms. When you take away the time clock, the needles (blood draws, IV’s and epidurals), constantly being hooked up to a monitor and all the rules you have to navigate in order to give birth in the way you choose, birth becomes what it’s meant to be. A special day in your life where you bring a new little being into your family. We have created a culture of fear around the intensity of birth. I would invite you to realize that it isn’t that scary. Yes, it’s intense. And, yes, you can do it! If you are a woman who seeks a natural birth being at home gives you an opportunity to achieve that without having to fight off interventions that have not been proven to improve birth outcomes. While your labor will be monitored in an intentionally unobtrusive way to assure that being at home is appropriate, this, too, is another reassurance that allows a woman to feel safe, which also aids her in trusting her instincts to give birth.
Benefits to the newborn also abound. The baby’s experience of birth is a very real part of the culture around homebirth. The rhythms of labor and birth and coming through the birth canal all stimulate a baby to make the transition to life. Being introduced to your mother’s microbiome through vaginal birth and immediate skin-to- skin contact helps to colonize your newborn’s gut, which enhances the baby’s developing immune system. If there is a need for stimulation or resuscitation it is done right next to, or in, mama’s arms. This aids in the process as immediately cutting the cord, removing the baby from the smell and voice of its mother and working under bright lights can add to the shock that the baby is experiencing. It also serves newborns well to not have all the medications on board that are used in a normal hospital birth. There is a lower risk of infection to newborns born into the environment they have already been introduced to – you and your home! My picture of a baby’s birth is dim lights, soft voices, gentle touch, and a mother reaching for and lifting her baby into her arms. The look of ecstasy and joy on a mother’s face as she meets her newborn is how babies should be greeted.