Ideas about childbirth methods have changed from generation to generation. Birthing methods that were taken for granted by our grandparents gave way to other ideas, which in turn will likely give way to yet other notions that our children will espouse. However, regardless of trends that come and go, homebirth has stood the test of time.
Homebirths are often characterized as either assisted or unassisted. For the purposes of this article, we will assume the use of a midwife in a planned, assisted homebirth.
Making The Decision
Certainly, the decision to homebirth your child is an intensely personal one, and each couple will have their personal reasons supporting their choice. But beyond these personal reasons, most homebirth parents agree on a common overriding theme: that pregnancy, labor and birth are parts of a normal process that can progress without the need for medical intervention. In other words, while medical technology can be invaluable for an acute or urgent medical need, some parents believe it may interfere when imposed on a healthy pregnancy and normal birth.
Of course, some high-risk pregnancies may not be good homebirth candidates. Midwives are specialists in “normal” pregnancies and deliveries, so parents who are in a potentially high-risk pregnancy should consult their doctor and midwife to determine whether homebirth is a safe option for them.
It’s also helpful to keep in mind that the decision to birth your baby at home requires a high degree of commitment by parents. Homebirth parents must prepare themselves to labor and birth naturally without the aid of medications for pain and labor inducement. The Birthsong Childbirth Education and Support Services webisite discusses the benefits and risks of using these medications versus not using them.
Affecting your decision to homebirth will be the current legal status of midwifery practice in your state. A brief description of the legal status in each state can be found at Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA).
Midwife Qualifications And Credentials
Once the decision is made to use a midwife in a homebirth, you will want to consider a number of other factors when selecting a midwife. Very important among these factors is her experience. Her experience will be measured by the number of years she has practiced as a midwife and the number of births she has attended. During your interview, you will also want to discuss those deliveries that were unusual and that required her to intervene for the safety of the mother or child. A midwife’s candor about her experience should satisfy your need to have a sense of her competence and should also tell you whether her personality will “click” with yours. It is important that midwife and mother have a comfortable rapport that fosters honesty and that will lay the groundwork for a satisfying birthing experience.