Having shared why I feel just as safe to birth at home as in the hospital, you might still be confused why I’d rather have this experience at home. Honestly, I am looking forward to labouring and meeting the Truck in our apartment. I have a friend who had a natural birth in the hospital just about a year ago, and I was so impressed with her! She was offered an epidural as soon as she arrived at the hospital but insisted that she at least wanted to try to see how far she could get on her own (she got all the way). When she was telling me about the experience it was before I got pregnant, but I told her that I also hoped to birth without interventions and that I was intrigued by the idea of home birth. I was braced for a judgy reaction like I might have had a year earlier, but her instant response was, “oh, that sounds so relaxing!” I think that was the vote of confidence I needed to take myself seriously as I continued reading and researching my decision.
As I anticipate labour, I am happy not to worry about discerning when it’s time to go to the hospital. I don’t know what to expect from labour except probably pain and definitely hard work, so the less critical thinking I need to do in that situation the better. Taking labour as it comes means I can avoid the disappointment of arriving at the hospital only 2 cm dilated while also avoiding waiting too long and having to sit in the car through multiple contractions, suffering in agony. The hospital is close, but I have a feeling that in active labour it won’t feel that close.
Being at home also means that I’ll be guaranteed privacy and focused care. I will know every person who is present, and I will be the only labouring woman on the floor (probably the building, really). I have heard from tons of people that by the time it’s time to have the baby I will NOT care who is there and who sees what, but I have also heard and read that women in labour progress and cope better when they feel safe and comfortable, so why not labour where I feel most comfortable?
In addition to not having to worry about who is coming and going, being at home protects me from stress over pressure to have unnecessary interventions (because hospital staff expect I will want them or because I am put on an arbitrary timeline by hospital policy). Interventions all come with risks, and while most are relatively safe overall, there can still be consequences that many women are not aware of.
Epidurals are a very common intervention that women undergo during labour, but this is one thing I’d like to avoid if I can. It’s not even that I don’t think epidurals are safe, but I don’t think they are a free pass on pain, and I’m concerned that the pain relief they provide in the moment can have a cost in higher risk of subsequent interventions like Pitocin, episiotomy, or Cesarean delivery, increased risk of tearing, more difficult recovery, not to mention a bad reaction to the epidural itself (apparently some women get super nauseous or ringing ears or generally freaked out by epidurals after they are placed). Having an epidural also requires you to stay in bed to receive constant fetal monitoring, and this can cause labour to slow down or stall (hence the increased risk of other interventions). For anybody who wants an epidural, God bless you, but at this point they freak me out more than pain, so I’m in no rush to sign up for one.
Another reason I’ll be more comfortable at home than the hospital is that I can eat and drink and move around however I please throughout my labour. Did you know that first-time moms can burn as many calories in their labour as taking a 50-mile hike? Is there anybody in the world who would attempt that feat fuelled primarily by ice chips!? Now, I don’t think I’ll be mowing down a turkey sandwich while pushing, but snacking as long as I feel like it and drinking plenty of fluids certainly won’t hurt my energy levels. Neither Matt nor I will be limited by cafeteria options or hours or running out of change for the vending machine when it comes to food and drink during labour.
Most generally of all, I think I will feel more comfortable at home because of the overall environment. Our apartment is where I sleep, where I cook and eat and play games and hang laundry. I feel safe here. Sure the hallway smells weird sometimes, but it doesn’t smell like three surgeries and radiation treatment (how I spent many days in 2003), and it doesn’t smell like visiting people who are sick or dying. I don’t mind hospitals, but they are really meant for sick people. They smell like they smell because they are full of germs and need to be sterilized all the time. If my hallway smells funky, it’s because people from other cultures have made weird soup. But inside our door smells like home, and when it comes time to welcome our baby that’s just where I want to be.