Amanda Hammond, Certified Baby Planner
My first encounter with a homebirth mama and her 5-month-old son was during an “Options in Childbirth” class at the Mom and Pop Place in Neenah, WI. Sure, I’ve seen the documentaries like The Business of Being Born and What Babies Want, so I’ve gotten some pretty great images of the process. But I had yet to see the end result- the relationships of the family- until now.
They were the most bewitching pair I have ever seen and not necessarily because of physical attributes, though they were quite cute. It was the love they had for each other. I could see their connection as clear as day. So in tune with each other, they performed this amazing dance of bonding, breastfeeding, sleeping and playing and I observed this in a span of only 2 hours.
photo via justinhenry
This baby was so very alert and happy, smiling at everyone in the room individually as if to say…. “This is what you can have if you choose natural childbirth. This is the reward. A baby like me who has absolutely no doubt that he is wanted and loved and came into this world KNOWING that.”
He was born gently with love into an inviting place… his own home. His mom held him fresh without cleaning him off first. He wasn’t whisked away for a vaccine or to get ointment smeared into his eyes. This mother and child were allowed to do what nature intended them to do… bond, float away on the euphoria of each other’s scents, fall in love, nourish one another. Nothing else was necessary.
Since then, I’ve met several more homebirth momma/ baby pairs. Thomasa, a local natural parent, was kind enough to give her comparison of hospital and homebirth experience as she’s done both between her four children. She felt that while in labor in the hospital, the restrictions were minimal aside from not being allowed to eat. For her, the big difference between homebirth and hospital birth was more glaring once baby arrived.
“The restrictive part was after I had the baby, this was all new to me. They kept wanting to take the baby away from me. When my first 3 were born at home they were immediately placed on my chest and got to relax for quite some time. They checked the baby out while I was cuddling and bonding. In the hospital I got a second for a quick hug and then they took her to check her vitals and everything. This freaked me out and after that I was labeled "difficult" because I wouldn't let them take her. They kept coming in and wanting to take her to the nursery so they could bathe her, let me get my rest, and the list went on. Then before we could leave a pediatrician had to check her out to clear us. Because we do not vaccinate and I did not allow the Hep B vaccination to be given, he gave me a lecture that would make even a person that had not just given birth and had crazy hormone issues cry.”
When I asked Thomasa what she’s like every mom to know about choosing a childbirth method, this is what she said.“ I would tell a mom that she just needs to listen to her gut, if having her baby in the comfort of her own home feels right to her then she should go with that. Society has many women believing that the only safe place to have a baby is in the hospital. Granted they have their place but we were giving birth long before hospitals ever existed. When women go into a hospital to deliver without a clear birth plan they can be more easily lead down the path of what is best for the Dr. and the hospital over what is best for the mom and the baby. Homebirths are totally focused on mom and the baby, the way it should be.”
Our society has come to rely heavily on the hospital and less on the woman who is having the baby. The fact is- women know how to give birth. It is instinctual and it is intimate. If a birth experience ends up being scary or bewildering for either mom or baby, the trauma can indeed remain. Many women chose homebirth because they’ve had a hospital birth and felt it lacked the love and warmth that should come with childbirth. Many women feel there is no way they could birth outside the safe harbor of a hospital. It is your choice to make. My intent in writing this article is not to convince every pregnant woman to have a homebirth. Instead I just want to expose women to the idea that they have choices. “Mothers know best when they know all their options,” is my slogan after all.