Excited for Baby #3: Why a Home Water Birth

Practice run! Trying everything out ahead of time.
If you've read any of our previous posts, you may have gathered that we have chosen to go the home water birth route. I'm a researcher by heart and drive. Research is a huge part of who I am, it's brought me to know the things I know with my mind and heart. I did research for the World Health Organization as an undergrad at my alma mater and became passionate about the importance of sound information driving significant choices.  So it was a given that the deciding who, when and where to have prenatal care and eventually the birth of our child came with its own load of research and study.

We ended up choosing the Utah Birth Center. It's about a 30 minute drive from our home with good traffic. In addition to the natural pain relief birthing in water provides, and the fact I have a history of giving birth fast, I'll explain how I've come to choose the route of a birth center and a home water birth particularly, as I explain the background of how I got to this choice.

When I was pregnant with my first, I wanted to know what I was getting into. I had heard stories from my own mom about the difficulties of her births in the hospital. When I was a teen, we had friends of our family lose their wife and mother within days after giving birth to the fifth child under eight years of age, because she had gotten an infection from one one of the nurses at a local hospital.  I remember having their family over for dinner shortly before she gave birth and seeing this mother's glow and both husband's and wife's excitement in welcoming yet another child to their larger and younger brood. Then having the same family over weeks after losing their wife and mother and seeing a father who looked and no doubt felt lost and overwhelmed with the burden of figuring out how to take care of these five young children alone. It was mind boggling to me, and very real that life is fragile, that bringing children into the world is a vulnerable experience, and that we, as mothers and women, because of the nature of childbearing, are so vulnerable in all of it. And yet in this heroic role of creating and bringing forth life, it seemed that the hospital environments heralded as "safe", and the only place a birth could "really safely happen", appeared in my formative mind, clearly not always so "safe."

Fast forward thirteen or so years. I researched (obviously) as to the best options for birth. At our local library, I came across "Pushed" by Jennifer Block,  one of the few options of books on birth available at our local library. It was mind opening. We ended up deciding to give birth with midwives in a hospital setting.

The birth of our first was a tender and frightening experience. He ended up coming five weeks early. I know the caregivers did the best they could with the training they had. I was and still am grateful for their care. It was the right place and only place that for having an early birth like we did. I am grateful for that learning experience, but it was also a scary and difficult one. Even though still a precious experience, it felt lacking in the warmth and peace I wanted for our baby and was somewhat traumatic for our whole family. The months that followed were also difficult due to the health repercussions from the events surrounding such a stressful birthing and postpartum situation. Again, I know my caregivers did the best they could.

Feeling like the warmth and peace I dreamt of was missing from our first birth,  I did even more research when I found out I was carrying our second child. I read books like "Birth Without Violence" by Frédérick Leboyer M.D., "Hypnobirthing" by Marie F. Mongan, "Childbirth Without Fear" by Grantly Dick-Read, and searched through the website Evidence Based Birth looking for answers as to how I could avoid another birth in which I felt lacked the peace and tranquility I wanted for our whole family.

I remember reading, perhaps in the book "Pushed", that it is not uncommon for a women's labor to stall and even revert in it's progress upon arriving at the hospital, though labor had progressed quite far at home. This phenomenon was attributed to a woman's unconscious mind perceiving the hospital environment as "unfamiliar" and therefore "unsafe".  The mind registering it thus, would seize and stop the natural physiological process of labor and birth and labors would "fail to progress". This led to higher rates of invasive interventions and major surgeries like c-sections.

Did these events have to progress this way? In my mind, they didn't. It seemed like there had to be other options. At this point, I had read some blog posts of  "home water birth" experiences. I viewed these families' pictures and read their blog posts as they gushed about what an amazing, empowering experience it was to give birth in the comfort and privacy of their own homes.  Birthing in a place that was comfortable? That was your home, no less? Was that too bizarre? 

Seeing as women have been doing it successfully for millennia previously, why should it be so bizarre and unnatural? Birth of all things should be seen as one of the most natural events. It is the natural event that brought us all here. However, from my experience and others', it seemed that there were women like me, who felt somethings lacking in their birth experiences. The hospital's cold, sterile environment seemed to make a joyous experience like birth appear unnatural, unsafe, and treacherous.  I personally don't believe birth to be so. Why would a loving God command families to "multiply and replenish" to leave it unnatural and unsafe? I believe God intended it to be a natural experience that under normal, healthy conditions, needs little to no intervention.

Which brings us to pregnancy number three. Upon finding I was carrying new life, I wanted this birth to be different than the last two. I wanted to know what it was like to have a calm, quiet, peaceful birth in the comfort of my home. Countries like the UK and the Netherlands have a high percentage rate of home births and their outcomes are continually proving positive and safe, even at times safer than in hospitals, due to all too common unnecessary medical interventions that are "standard procedure" in hospitals.  If you're unfamiliar to the practice of modern home water births, you may be asking, are home water birth's safe? The answers to that are here and here

In researching clinics and birth centers that support home births near us, I found the Utah Birth Center. They have gorgeous birthing suites at their center and they also offer the option of birthing at home. Knowing I tend to give birth quickly (it takes an hour for me start to finish! It's like sprinting a marathon I tell you!), and how far away we are from the center, the midwives agreed with the decision to birth at home. This is my third clinic and my favorite thus far. They have a holistic model of care that matches my desires and research for what is healthy and safe. 

Here is a family that had a home water birth with this same clinic and the mother's thoughts on her experience here.

The hubby and I feel home birth is the right choice for our family, but obviously it is not for everyone.

What are your thoughts? Would you consider a home water birth? How do you want your baby's birth to go?