I just stumbled across this email I sent to someone who asked me about my decision to birth our first son at home in 2016. It might answer someone else’s questions so I thought I’d share my responses here 🙂
How did you look for a midwife in your area and how was your midwife all in all?
My husband and I loved our midwife! Especially it being our first baby, we appreciated her taking the time to explain what was happening in my body…why I was experiencing what I was experiencing. She was very knowledgeable and came with a lot of experience (including delivering breach babies). And was also respectful of my desire to use as much natural therapy as possible i.e. instead of suggesting I take iron tablets she’d suggest I eat more leafy green vegetables if my iron was running a little low.
She wasn’t anti-medicine, but was respectful of my preferences so I knew that if she did suggest some medication, it wasn’t just to push a product; but it was because she really thought it’d be helpful. She was open to the idea of transferring a case to the hospital if it went beyond her capabilities (this was very reassuring because I didn’t want a home birth at the risk of my or my baby’s health).
Shameless plug: Her name is Kate Mazzara. To find her, I searched for midwives that covered my area and she came up with top reviews, every time, from the women she assisted! Another huge plus for us was that she is a Christian! So we’d often end our visits with a prayer and she prayed with me throughout the birthing process. It was awesome!
How often did you get to meet with your caregiver during pregnancy?
After the first trimester, we met with the midwife at her office once a month until week 36. After the 36th week, she came to our house every week for our consultations. At our visits she’d do the routine stuff…checking the fundal height, taking a urine sample, charting my weight, listening to the baby’s heart-beat, checking the baby’s position etc.
What were your reasons for choosing a home birth?
Pregnancy and child birth aren’t an illness. They’re a natural part of the human experience. And while I am thankful for advances in medical technology that reduce infant mortality, I think that, unless there are circumstances threatening the health of Mom and/or baby, the birthing process shouldn’t be treated like it was a medical case. So, my husband and I decided, that if there were no indications of complication, we would like to deliver our baby in an environment more amenable to the natural flow of the birthing experience.
How did you have blood tests or detailed ultrasound done?
Our midwife worked with labs and doctors in the area so she’d collect the bloodwork and send it in for testing. And for the ultrasound, she referred us to a doctor that she works with. We only had one ultrasound at around 20 weeks and declined the others. We weren’t at high risk for anything and that one ultrasound looked good so we decided to just have the one done.
What things did you do to prepare for the delivery at home?
The midwife gave us a list of materials to assemble for the birth. I couldn’t reproduce it from memory but it included things like extra towels, electrolyte water e.g. gatorade, a container to put the placenta, Depends “diapers”, extra sheets etc. She gave us detailed instructions of how to prepare for the birth and at one of her visits to our home, walked through all the materials with us to make sure we were ready. She also brought with her some emergency stuff like oxygen tank and resuscitation station, etc, when she showed up for the birth.
Did you, at any point during the delivery, feel that you or the baby were in danger?
From the moment I went into active labor, I began to experience back labor. It was awful! But I was glad I was at home for it because the midwife and her assistant worked with me, trying different techniques to get the baby to turn. After the birth, she admitted that if the last technique she attempted hadn’t worked, she would have recommended that we go into the hospital for a c-section. I’m pretty sure that if I’d been in a hospital, the c-section would have come way sooner and I’m glad I had the opportunity to deliver naturally! And as excruciating as that back labor was, if I knew an epidural was close by, I’d have requested it real quick! Another plus of being at home, I got to eat whenever I felt hungry which kept my strength up. At no point did I feel so exhausted that I just wanted to quit.
Unfortunately, I ripped pretty badly from the delivery so I had to get sutured at the hospital. The midwife does suture at home if the tear isn’t too bad, but she was afraid mine could have been a 3rd degree tear so she drove me to the hospital nearby and stayed with me while I got my sutures. The hospital part of the experience took about an hour and a half and I went right back home afterwards. I felt well cared for throughout the entire experience.
What about Insurance coverage and payment?
Our insurance can cover a midwife birth but the midwife would need to be a nursing midwife with malpractice insurance. Kate was not. So we had to pay everything out of pocket. When we researched it, we found that what we’d pay for Kate’s services was around the same amount for the deductible most paid for a natural, non-medicated delivery in a hospital. So we figured, if we’d have to pay that much, might as well have a the kind of experience we wanted while we were at it.
Our midwife was really flexible on developing a payment plan that would work for us. There were no refunds if we ended up having to be transferred to the hospital though. But, at that point, even if you were in the hospital, you’d be adding fees to what you’d have initially been paying anyway, so we figured it balanced out.
The best part of the home birthing experience for me, was being able to sleep in my own bed with my husband and our new baby at the end of it all! It felt like welcoming a new member of our family into our home—it was very special. Oh, and Kate helped me figure out the whole breastfeeding thing and she came by the next morning to check on us, and the next day and two days after that. We felt very well cared for!