A home birth through the eyes of a father
Some of you know that a few weeks ago, I became a father again. What I have not yet told you is that we have consciously opted for a home birth. The birth of Mona is for me the example of how a delivery should always be. Every child deserves a warm, calm and gentle start to life. In a warm room that smells like the parents smell and where visitors still have to ring the bell. No squeaky devices, bright lights or unknown people who can just walk right in. If there is no medical necessity, there is for me only one ideal place to be born. At home.
For a child, the transition from the dark, safe womb to the outside world is less significant when he/she is born at home. And as parents you have much more control over what happens during and after the birth with your child and with yourself.
But many fathers find a home birth a little scary, or more precisely: terrifying. In a hospital all care is arranged to perfection and you don't have to think about anything anymore. A home birth requires a lot more from an expectant father. From practical matters such as "what do I have to do now?" or "how do I keep this place clean with all that blood?" to deep-rooted fears that your wife or child will die in childbirth.
Simply because of the practical objections or the horror stories they hear from their mother, sisters or colleagues ,there are enough fathers who prefer to see their wife give birth in the hospital. And there are also women who for the same reason prefer to go to the hospital, for safety's sake. But you could also make a more conscious choice and look at whether those practical objections are really such strong objections. And instead of listening to horror stories about dramatic deliveries, you can also actively search for stories about normal, successful home deliveries.
Giving birth is a healthy process
Giving birth is a normal process. It is of course very special for expectant parents, but for humanity it is just as normal as making love or go to the restroom. Giving birth is a healthy process by which the knowledge of hundreds of thousands of years and countless generations is present is the body of your partner. During pregnancy, the entire body of your wife prepares for childbirth. Her body is changing, the hormone balance is changing and the moment that the contractions start is announced automatically. Your wife's body knows very well how your child should be born. The only question is: do you and your wife believe that too?
The most important thing you have to do as a father during childbirth is to be fully confident that your wife is perfectly capable of bringing a child into the world. It prevents you from seeing her as a poor little thing in pain. In this way, you can really support her in the difficult moments and you will not be at a loss for words when she's almost at the end of her rope.
That means that you have to take a critical look at everything you think you know, because there is a good chance that all that knowledge is about deliveries that didn't go that smoothly. Everyone knows this: stories are particularly nice to pass on if they contain drama. You can even make a sensational story of a birth where the umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby's neck and which the midwife had calmly removed without panic. Some aunts are very good at that. There is considerably less shouting than in the movies, childbirth does not normally start with the rupturing of the membranes and a baby is hardly ever born in a taxi.
Go for the complete picture
There are many erroneous assumptions around birth and there is a lot of fear about a possible bad outcome. But instead of listening to those stories, you better start looking for factual, practical information. Especially about the things that you yourself are afraid of. Ask questions to a midwife you trust or go to a good birthing class with your partner. That way you get a more complete picture of what will happen in concrete terms, what your partner will experience and what you can do. You will know things that no one has ever told you: for example, that not much blood is released during labor, that endorphins are produced during labor that act as a natural painkiller and that even with a very serious complication - such as difficulties when expelling the placenta - there is often enough time left to go from your home to the hospital.
During my search for information I have been influenced by various studies that have shown that a home birth is just as safe as a hospital birth for low-risk pregnancies. In addition, we had other personal reasons:
- Because we could choose the midwife ourselves, we experienced a sense of security. It also ensured continuity during and after delivery. A relationship of trust is created that is more difficult to achieve in a hospital setting where there is a continuous change of shifts.
- There is more attention for couples as individuals with their own wishes and desires.
- It's just easier to relax at home
- There was a desire to have a natural birth. We had great confidence in the natural process as it has been taking place for thousands of years. My girlfriend was very aware that this includes pain.
- With a home birth you have more control and influence on the birth process. My girlfriend was particularly worried that all responsibility and her right to make her own decisions would be given away if we opted for a hospital birth. The midwife is giving you space to do your own thing (your position, the way of giving birth, the possibility to take a bath at any time, etc.). This way we could manage the birth process much better, without medical interventions. This is of course only possible under the guidance of an experienced midwife.
This publication must primarily be seen as a personal opinion. Nothing more. I particularly wrote it because it bothers me that so much wrong information is given about home deliveries, as if someone is testing fate by doing this. Almost all studies prove the opposite. To finalize, I quote a piece from an article that I fully agree with. I couldn't put it better.
Women’s decisions in childbirth should be made in private with personalised, evidence-based information and compassionate support.
But I also hope that we can get beyond the flawed idea that a change of plan means the plan wasn’t worth doing in the first place. Birth planning is about listening to women. It reminds those around us that we matter, that we are autonomous individuals and that we must be afforded dignity, respect and kindness.
Focusing on promoting one kind of birth as the “best” or “safest” pits women against each other and fails to account for bumps in the road and our individual needs. It’s easy for those of us who want to help mothers thrive to fall into the trap of telling women that it’s up to them to get birth right.
Emergencies and changes of plan will happen. Women who plan home births may still give birth in hospital and those who plan elective caesareans may end up push their babies out in the taxi on the way to hospital. Instead of using this as a reason to reject the idea of women daring to have an opinion about this most personal of events, we should remember that they are less traumatised by events in childbirth if they respect if they feel in control and treated kindly.
Note: the pictures are not mine. They are there to create the right sentiments while reading the text.