Let’s be straight from the start, the thought of a home birth scared the crap out of me. I’m a traditionalist when it comes to birth (or I was) – mother under heavy sedation, feet up in stirrups, father pacing in the waiting room smoking a Marlboro, very Ward and June Cleaver. I practically made my wife go to the hospital with our first baby (honestly I did make her go), and by contrast, the experience was appalling.
While I did not realize it at the time, my wife had practically no control over her body or her experience giving birth. She had to fight each step to gain a modicum of dignity and control over how she brought our son into the world. It’s a hospital, they have rules and regulations and they are going to do all they can to make you conform while they make a ton of cash (there’s a reason one out of three women in the US will end up with a C-section).
When our second child was conceived, almost as soon as I was dozing off in post-coital bliss, my wife stated that this child would be born at home, and in a birth tub. Now it’s hard to argue with your wife when she’s a licensed, certified nurse midwife. I put on a brave face and said sure, sure hon … but inside I was scared stiff. All the same, thoughts went through my head that is going through yours, “what if something happens to the baby, what if something happens to my wife, what am I supposed to be doing during the birth, what if … what if …”.
We had all the reassuring conversations, “I’m healthy, the baby is healthy, if anything looks wrong the hospital is close by … etc.” When the day finally came, I went about the pre-established procedures, called grandparents, set up the birth tub, called the midwife. But there was one thing missing, the stress. Everything was happening as it should, as a woman’s body is designed for. When my wife had a contraction I helped rub her back, held her hand. When she wanted to get in the birth tub, she got in. When she felt like pushing, she pushed. No one there telling her they needed to give her an IV. No one trying to hook her to a monitor, no one suggesting they cut her open and jerk out my son. No stress.
I felt far more relaxed and in control of my own home than I ever did in the hospital, because my wife was in control, empowered. It was beautiful. Our son came into the world, and we were already home! No worrying about having to check out of the hospital in a day or two. And no bill for $10K, $15K, $25K … depending on how they want to bill you.
Is there a time and place for a hospital birth, absolutely. And that is a conversation for you, your wife, and your care provider. But between you and I, I would rather birth in my own home than in the hospital any day – far more relaxing and pleasant – think it over!