By: Dr. Erica Grenci, ND
Since the moment I found out I was pregnant, I knew I wanted a home birth. It was simply a no-brainer given my utmost trust in the training midwives receive, combined with the traditional spirit of maintaining the natural process of birth - the most natural thing in the world! Thankfully, being determined “low-risk” by the medical system afforded me this luxury, which I’m aware that not all women have. Regardless, ANY birth, wherever and with whoever is magical and special.
Part of the process of a home birth is not having an epidural (if you decide to get one you will be transferred to the care of a hospital) - most women I talked to thought I was crazy because the pain is awful, others having done this themselves said it was worth it (but yes, the pain is no joke). I heard countless birth stories and it seemed that every woman had a different experience and no birth was alike. I still maintained my assuredness in the process and was all in (and if you know me, I’m quite stubborn). Plus midwives are highly trained to assess for any red flags well before danger presents itself and provide an immediate hospital transfer if needed. Regardless, home births are VERY safe and provide a long list of attractive benefits if it don’t say so myself.
What I LOVED about having a home birth:
- I didn’t have to leave my home. Lol - obvious but I can tell you after an intense labour, the LAST thing I wanted to do was even get up. Never mind getting dressed, packing my bags, putting my ever so fresh infant into a carseat - I just wanted to enjoy the peaceful environment we created and bask in this miracle that had taken place. Oh, and I could barely walk.
- We set the ambiance. I had my favourite calm music playing, there were no bright lights or offensive smells (except well, maybe from me - ladies, you know what happens), and I controlled who was around. The energy around you is so important at a time like this and you need to be completely relaxed in whatever space you’re in. Any tension can create constriction in the very area that needs to open and allow a new life into the world.
- Midwives are incredible. It felt like VIP care if you ask me and I would have paid a lot for this (ironically, home births save the government thousands of dollars compared to a hospital birth). They are caring, nurturing, made me feel like I was empowered in my birth as opposed to just another number in the system. I had developed a relationship with each of the midwives before my birth through the frequent check-ins that we had and there were no surprises. They were fully aware of my needs and did everything to make me feel taken care of, completely respectful of my birth plan and providing their expert guidance when necessary. I felt like this birth was my own and that I was in control. They also provided 3 extra follow-up visits at home that week - to ensure I was breastfeeding correctly (it’s harder than I thought!), that my daughter was healthy and gaining weight, and truly to offer their support during such a sensitive time in becoming a new mom.
So, how did I prepare?
- Of course, herbs. There aren’t many herbs to take when you’re pregnant, but there are a few key ones that can make your birth A LOT easier. They’ve been used traditionally to prepare the body for labour by strengthening the uterus to result in strong, productive contractions. They can also shorten the duration of labor, prevent postpartum hemorrhage, and promote normal involution of the uterus post-labor. The herbs I used were: black cohosh, blue cohosh, partridge berry, and blessed thistle (also great for milk production) and they are typically taken during the last 6 weeks of pregnancy. Of course, I feel bias towards herbs because I use them all the time with success in my practice, however, they simply WORK. In fact, I woke up in active labour at 7am, already dilated to 8cm within 30 minutes! On top of that, my water hadn’t even broken yet. My midwives actually couldn’t believe it. Needless to say, I was quite pleased about it especially after hearing about how many hours some women are in labour for. Mine was pretty efficient and I’m thankful for that. **Remember to only start an herbal protocol under the guidance of a licensed naturopathic doctor or registered herbalist.**
- Rented a birthing tub. I thought this is where I’d give birth, but I only used it for 45 minutes. The truth is, we were in such a rush to get it going (given how fast I’d progressed), the temperature wasn’t right, it was half full, I just couldn’t find my comfort, and it had gotten dirty pretty quickly. I know some women have wonderful experiences in a birthing tub, but this just wasn’t for me this time around.
- I didn’t pack a hospital bag - although I should have. When my water DID break 30 minutes before Savannah was born, there was meconium in it (i.e. baby’s first poop). This is potentially dangerous if she were to aspirate it, as she could have required resuscitation. Thankfully, this wasn’t the case (although the midwives were prepared if it was) and birth was imminent so there was no way I wanted to attempt getting to a hospital. However, the question did arise if I had a hospital bag, which I did not! I thought I’d have enough notice with pre-labour contractions to prepare all this - hah!
- Homeopathics. One of the midwives had a homeopathic kit for birthing and she administered several homeopathics to me while I was in active labour. I know a lot of doulas do this as well, which I think is excellent. What I can say is that I noticed a major difference in how well they were able to calm me and ease me through the pain - especially since I wasn’t taking anything else!
I truly feel as though I can go on and on about my birth experience and all the circumstances surrounding it. What I take from it is that it was the hardest and best experience I’ve ever had, gifting to me the purest joy I’d ever receive. And if you were thinking about going with a midwife, I couldn’t recommend it enough. I wish all the mama’s out there a safe, healthy, and magical birth!