All About Having a Homebirth - Your Questions, Answered
In the days following Willa’s birth, I asked you all on Instagram if you had any homebirth-specific questions for us, so in today’s post I wanted to answer all of those for you! Soooo let’s get right into it.
What made us choose a homebirth?
Much like the unfamiliarity of childbirth is general before becoming pregnant ourselves for the first time, the idea of having a homebirth was never something that I had known up prior to just a few years ago, and to be honest I’m not totally sure when it first showed up in my life; but all we knew for sure was that the more we learned about natural homebirth, the more we were drawn to having them--if possible--for ourselves.
There wasn’t anyone in our immediate life circles who had given birth at home, and it wasn’t until after Birdy was born that I had a few friends tell me that they had been born at home themselves, or knew other people who had a homebirth as well.
After deciding that homebirth was the route we were wanting to take, our attendance with the Healthy Birth Choices 7 or so week program really continued to solidify our decision, and empower us with the knowledge and courage that we needed in order to follow through with it, and in turn, end up with two of the most incredible experiences of our lives.
What was your process with selecting a midwife?
When we were pregnant with Birdy, all we knew was that midwives were in high demand, so we wanted to just make sure that we got in with whoever had space for us. Luckily, like we talked about in this bonus podcast episode that went up after Willa’s birth, we submitted an application for midwifery when we were something like 4 weeks pregnant with Birdy (or the absolute soonest that we could’ve found out with a home pregnancy test); and since we had applied so soon, we ended up getting a callback a week or so later from Aurora Midwifery, which had been our first choice in clinics. We didn’t know much about any of the clinics (you get to choose your top three when applying), but for whatever reason we were drawn to Aurora; which now obviously we know it was right where we were supposed to end up.
You can certainly do research on each clinic when you’re applying, or alternatively you can choose whichever clinic is closest to you, really there’s no rules when it comes to who you go with in terms of a midwife, just whatever feels best.
Luckily with Aurora (and potentially other clinics as well), if you get pregnant again, you’re able to go back into their care without having to go through the selection process again--which is how we ended up back there with Willa.
Do you think a homebirth is doable in a condo?
I definitely think it would be doable in a condo, but I guess it just depends on your comfort level with that decision. I would be tempted to say that a homebirth is doable wherever you call your home, providing that it feels like the right decision for you. I’m not sure if any midwives would have any guidelines in terms of a condo vs. an apartment vs. a house, but that’s probably just something that you’d have to inquire about.
If you’re worried about noise, that’s again depending on yourself, and something that you can’t really plan for, especially if this is your first baby. For myself personally, 90% of my labour was relatively quiet and calm, with just the last little bit being more noisy; but with Willa’s delivery we were in a townhouse, and didn’t have an issue with anything.
Who was your midwife/any particular midwives you recommend?
Our midwife was Rebecca Poitrais with Aurora midwifery, but when you’re placed in midwife care, you’re cared for usually by a team of three midwives that you see on a rotating schedule throughout your pregnancy and then whichever midwife (of the three) is on call when you go into labour is who delivers your baby.
In the case of Willa’s birth, we ended up with Rebecca for our entire term of care due to special circumstances with some maternity leaves within the clinic etc, so we were so fortunate that way to have her deliver both of our girls.
Mark and I came to discover though with our first birth that you really do end up with whoever was truly meant to be a part of your own journey and story. When we were pregnant with Birdy, we didn’t think we would end up with Rebecca being the one on call to deliver her; but we immediately knew that day that we wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
Items/supplies needed for a homebirth?
Your midwife should provide you with a list of supplies needed for a homebirth in the months leading up to your delivery, which will help you to prepare your space for your baby’s birth day. The list would be much too extensive to lay out for you here, as there is so many extra things that you need depending on varying scenarios, but I’ve created a download for you here that you can grab if you’d like a little list to give you a general idea of most things that you’ll be needing.
How do they drain the water out of the birthing pool?
Hahah I always wondered this! They use a sump pump and pump it into the toilet and it drains super quickly. Our midwives are so incredible and they take care of all of that + tidied everything + put in a load of laundry all before leaving us after the birth.
We rented our birth pool + kit from The Offbeat Doula, and you get absolutely everything you need for a waterbirth in her kits, including the sump pump.
How was my experience with pain with water vs. not in water?
My labour pain (or rather where it appeared physically) varied more than I had expected it to with both births, and you can read about that in Birdy’s birth story, as well as Willa’s story; but in terms of pain management with using the birthing pool, I do think that the heat of the water helped a little bit with Willa’s birth, although I don’t think there was any other noticeable differences otherwise. The birthing itself felt similar in terms of pain levels, but thankfully both o my labours were relatively “short”, and luckily Willa’s labour and delivery just happened even quicker than Birdy’s haha
Did I prefer the tub over birthing not in the water?
With both births, I had actually intended to use a pool, however with Birdy, things weren’t moving quite as fast as we wanted to them to, so we decided to move out of the water and were on our way to the bed when the motion of me stepping out of the pool was just what my body/Birdy needed to come out right away (so she ended up being born on the ground next to pool haha). I don’t think I have a preference of one over the other, they were both so different, yet so similar that I enjoyed both experiences.
Did I do hypnobirthing or any sort of training?
I didn’t do hypnobirthing or anything else similar for either of my births. With both births, I did do a lot of mantra work in preparation for labour and delivery, and had banners and mantras hung up around our house in the weeks leading up to their birthdays. Those really helped me to remember certain things, like “relax and release”, as well as kept me in a more positive mindset in the days leading up to labour, as well as throughout. Music is also really important and impactful to me, so I made playlists that kept me in the right headspace.
Is everything related to homebirths covered with health care, or do we have to pay out of pocket?
In Canada as of 2009, midwifery care is funded by our healthcare system, so there wasn’t anything that we had to cover in terms of cost, with the exception of small items like our birth pool supplies, etc. But in terms of actual care, everything is covered. I’m not sure what that would look like elsewhere/in the U.S, but for us everything is covered!
How did we prepare and educate?
I will forever and ever recommend Healthy Birth Choices as far as education and preparation goes. They have multiple options in terms of learning, so if you’re not in Calgary, there are still ways for you to take their courses/access their incredible information. Before we took those classes, I really had no idea how little I knew about birth and babies, as well as the female body, so taking their classes was incredibly educational. Every week after we attended our weekly class, Mark and I would both leave feeling so empowered and knowledgeable and supported in our decisions to do things in a way that felt right for us.
In terms of other resources, there are a few documentaries and books that we really enjoyed watching and reading while pregnant. A few of those were:
The Business of Being Born - movie
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth - book
Spiritual Midwifery - book
I hope that this helps to at least answer most of the questions that you had for me regarding both of our home births. As always, if there’s something that I missed or if you have more questions, please leave them below for me and I’ll answer as best as I can!