The most common way mothers give birth is in a hospital surrounded by nurses and their doctor. This type of birthing is common but doesn’t fit every mother or soon-to-be mother. Home births have gained popularity in recent years for several reasons, including the COVID-19 pandemic, and people are learning that this is a safe and spiritual way to give birth.
Emily Thompson, a midwife at Organic Home Birth, located in Colorado Springs, answers popular questions about this form of birthing and why it is becoming increasingly popular.
“Home births are for the 85 percent of people who are having a low-risk pregnancy,” Thompson says.
A low-risk pregnancy includes having one baby (not twins), and the mother is in good health, so she has normal blood pressure, doesn’t have blood sugar issues, and overall, doesn’t have any significant underlying health history.
Why Do Mothers Choose Home Births?
A home birth tends to be a more intimate experience, where the mother knows, trusts and has a connection with her midwife and receives continuous care.
“We’re not having to go from birth to birth or room to room like at a hospital. You get that continuous support,” Thompson says. “At our practice, we bring a total of three people to a birth, so you have a whole team really there to support you.”
Leading up to the birth, Thompson will meet with her clients 12 to 15 times for a prenatal appointment. These prenatal visits not only go over the physical health of the mom, but she checks in with their emotional well-being as well.
“That’s one of the things that people really look for when they’re considering home birth. They want to know, ‘who’s going to walk with me on this journey?’” Thompson says. “When you have that mutual trust established, then the birth really tends to go well because we are already able to communicate well.”
People who go the other direction with a more common hospital birth don’t always get to build trust with their physician before the baby is born.
“A typical OB patient spends approximately one hour over the course of their whole pregnancy with their OB/GYN…mostly the nurses are doing everything in the office, and they see the doctor for five to seven minutes,” Thompson says. “Whereas with a midwife, you’re going to see me for the whole appointment every time. We’re going to spend that whole hour together, so we definitely have a much deeper relationship.”
Another benefit of doing a home birth is you get to call all of the shots. The midwives are there to make sure everyone is in good health and that the parents get the experience they want.
“We place a lot of emphasis on informed decision-making. So we will talk with parents pretty extensively about all the aspects of their care, and then we will leave the actual decision-making process to them,” Thompson says. “My job as a midwife is to go into their home and ensure that mom and baby are safe and healthy and that the birth is proceeding the way it’s supposed to. But also to help them have the birth they are looking for.”
One benefit of having a home birth is that you can make all the decisions, from choosing who you want at the birth to where you want to give birth. Typically, hospital births are very structured, and there isn’t room for all the aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc.
Additionally, home births are in the comfort and privacy of your own home, so it tends to be a much more intimate experience rather than being in a hospital room. Having a baby is a big deal, and parents should be able to have the experience they want.
Why Are Home Births Growing in Popularity?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from 2020 to 2021, home births increased in 30 states. The increases ranged from 8 percent in Florida to 49 percent in West Virginia.
“There was a lot of fear, especially in the beginning surrounding COVID, and there were a lot of people that were really concerned about not being able to have the people that they wanted with them in the birth space,” Thompson says.
Aside from the fear of the pandemic, Thompson also believes the thoughts and feelings around home births are changing. When she became a midwife 15 years ago, many people didn’t know it was an option or thought the birthing method was strange.
“But I feel like now there’s been enough exposure. There have been several documentaries that have been made about home birth, and there are a lot more celebrity people doing home births now,” Thompson says.
Babies Are Expensive, Are Home Births?
Every parent knows how expensive giving birth in a hospital is, and the fees seem to never end. Yet, home births are significantly cheaper. At Organic Home Births, depending on insurance, the practice charges $4,000. This fee includes prenatal care, delivery, and postpartum care.
Why Water Births?
Women choose a water birth because it’s more comfortable for them.
“We provide an inflatable birthing pool for every client, but I like to say that the pool is a tool; it’s not a destination,” Thompson says. “About 60 percent of our clients give birth in the water because it’s their preference…The baby is not harmed by being born in the water. They don’t generally breathe until their face hits the air. So we’re not concerned about babies being born into water.”
What Choice is Right for Me?
Similarly to how hospital births aren’t for everyone, home births aren’t the right fit for everyone either. The natural birthing process can be much different than in a hospital, and women who have a high-risk pregnancy should go to the hospital to have their baby. This can be a beautiful, spiritual experience for couples, so if you’re interested in exploring this form of birth, contact a home birthing center for more information.