Ashley Williams’s Blog: Why I Decided to Have a Home Birth

03/30/2015 at 05:30 PM ET

The path to parenthood was full of decisions for actress Ashley Williams, like whether to deliver at the hospital or have a home birth.

And as she considered her options for welcoming her son into the world, Williams, a certified doula, knew there was one place she wanted to give birth: at home with husband Neal Dodson and a trusted birthing team by her side.

On Oct. 5, the couple became parents to baby boy Gus, who was born at home on the living room floor, surrounded by Williams’ strong support system.

Following the release of a recent study on home births, the new mom and star of the upcoming Jim Gaffigan Show, 36, is sharing six questions other parents should consider when putting together their own birthing plans.

She can be found on Twitter at @imthesmash.

Ashley Williams Dodson pregnant Neal and Ashley Williams Dodson – Courtesy photo

This past summer an obstetrician in a crowded pub in Hudson, New York, told me I was crazy. She saw my swollen belly and asked who my doctor was — I told her I was having a home birth and she nearly spilled her (large) glass of wine.

“You are insane,” she diagnosed. “Look at the research. That is so dangerous.”

Since I became a doula seven years ago, I have immersed myself in evidence-based medicine, and a recent study out of the United Kingdom suggests that this OB’s claim isn’t true. The study, published Dec. 3 by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, potentially reverses years of faulty research, deeming home births safer than hospital births for normal pregnancies.

“Women with uncomplicated pregnancies — about 45 percent of the total — were better off in the hands of the midwives than doctors during birth,” researchers concluded.

British National Health Service researchers would grant the naysaying Hudson OB one point, however. In the case of first-time mothers like me, home birth may slightly increase risks. “For women having their first baby, home birth slightly increases the risk of a poor outcome for the baby (from five in 1,000 for a hospital birth to nine in 1,000 — almost one percent — for a home birth).”

Those are only slightly different odds, which I could accept, considering the other benefits of home birth. This new information may allow for more women to consider the option of home birth versus a hospital or birthing center. The great news is that if you are having a normal pregnancy, the choice is yours and you can change your mind relatively late in pregnancy.

Here are some of the things I considered before deciding a home birth was right for me.

Ashley Williams Dodson pregnant Ashley Williams Dodson – Courtesy photo

Do I have access to a birthing team that I trust?

I chose a birthing “team” of people I respect to take care of me and my baby during labor, birth and immediate postpartum. I decided I needed a midwife, a doula and my (amazing) husband. I also had my chiropractor come just for a few hours. (I had a fear that the baby would get stuck and Dr. Elliot Berlin is considered a “baby spinner.”)

In addition to what we began to call “The Avengers of Birth Teams,” we also asked an obstetrician who attends home births, Dr. Stuart Fischbein, to be on call if I required forceps, vacuum, or any other obstetrical tools. We didn’t end up needing him, but he was ready to step in.

Assembling this birthing team was part science, part gut. I knew I wanted a fully accredited midwife and when I met the two midwives and their assistant, who attend all births as an intrepid trio, at Birthing Rhythm Midwifery, I found us to be a perfect fit.

I’ve worked as a doula, but I’m also an actress who cries in front of people for a living. However, the first time I wept in front of my midwives, I was surprised at what happened. Juli, the hippy-est of the bunch, left her chair, sat on the floor next to me and touched my leg. It was an honest display of physical empathy and something my OB/GYN of 10 years would never have had time to do.

It allowed me to weep in what suddenly felt like a safe space, processing emotion connected to my fears about birth. I knew immediately that I could rely on these women to guard my emotional wellbeing on the day my son was born. (I was right. See below for an excerpt from my birth story.)

Ana Paula Markel, a childbirth educator, doula, and founder of Bini Birth in Sherman Oaks, California, says that: “Ten percent of why most people hire a doula is skill and experience and 90 percent is personal connection.” Once I knew my midwife and doula were fully accredited and certified, I felt comfortable letting my gut do the rest of the work.

Where do I feel safest — at home, a birthing center or a hospital?

I spent much of my childhood in and out of the hospital due to asthma, and I remember the first time a doctor tricked me. He was my allergist in Yonkers, New York. I was 4 years old and he made a promise: “No shots today.” I believed him, relaxed and even laughed at his funny sounds.

When I saw the syringe in his hand and asked about it, he said it was a pen. He swore it: “A pen.” And then he stabbed me in the arm with it.

I flailed and roared as my mom held me. There began my distrust of doctors, which was only solidified by attending 52 hospital births as a doula and seeing how some OBs and nurses treated laboring women. I didn’t want to be one of them.

Some people feel safest in a hospital, and it’s likely that that’s where they will feel most comfortable laboring. Please understand that many OBs are respectful of their patients’ rights, and many of my friends have had wonderful, radical hospital births.

What made ME feel safe was having my (amazing) husband by my side as well as five birth professionals and two dogs. I was in charge of the lighting. Music blasted. I got to go out to the back porch and stare at my ferns. THAT’s what kept me feeling safe and, in turn, my contractions strong. I danced in between my “surges” and sang along to the music. As I had always dreamed when I pictured my home birth, I was surrounded by people I trust and fear was not in attendance.

Do I live close to a hospital and have a reliable transfer plan?

A transfer plan spells out what to do if a woman needs to move from home to hospital during her labor. I gave birth on the living room floor of our home less than three miles from one of the best hospitals in the country. Knowing its proximity helped me to relax since help wouldn’t be far away.

I also met with a backup doctor who agreed to be on call in that hospital two weeks before my due date and two weeks after. I was relieved to know that Dr. Paul Crane, a seasoned obstetrician who has been in practice for 45 years, could be there for us if we needed to transfer.

We went to his office during my pregnancy and were able to ask questions and get to know him. We didn’t end up needing him, but knowing he was there was comforting.

Can I afford it?

The crazy thing about delivering at home is that it can be more expensive than a hospital birth. A close friend of mine, Terryn Westbrook, couldn’t find a doctor in a hospital who would do a vaginal breech birth. Instead, she had a beautiful and empowering home breech birth and then fought with her insurance company for more than a year to get reimbursement.

Out of the $8,000 that Terryn paid out of pocket for her birth, she only received $1,750 from her insurance company. “After multiple appeals and even hiring an outside party to advocate on my behalf, which was unsuccessful, I’ve finally given up,” Terryn said.

I couldn’t get my insurance company, AFTRA Health Fund, or Cedars-Sinai, the closest and most reliable hospital in my area, to call me back with any numbers about what deliveries cost without insurance, nor how much the insurance companies are billed for the delivery. So I did what any woman of our time seeking a hive-mind consensus would do. I conducted a Facebook poll.

My post was: “Hey, hot mammas! How much did you pay out of pocket for your hospital birth?” Of the 32 friends who responded to my post, responses ranged from zero to $3,000. The entirety of my home birth care cost me $6,000.

Please know that my birthing team earned every penny. They tirelessly monitored all physical and emotional aspects of my care in our two-hour prenatal meetings every two weeks. They tracked my daily diet. They dropped off herbs that could help my back pain. They talked through my fears, my history, filled me in on recent studies. They came at 5:00 a.m. when I was in labor and cried with me, held my hands, my legs, my head.

Once I had my baby, they cleaned my entire house and sat on the bed with us and ate Indian food. They were on call for me 24/7 for six weeks postpartum, came by often, and checked in almost daily to see how we were doing.

So far, my insurance company hasn’t reimbursed me for this care. This is something I have a lot to say about, which I will save for a future piece, but in short, I’m baffled by the insurance companies’ unwillingness to incentivize women to have a home birth because hospitals bill insurance companies for five to 10 times the cost of the average home birth. Insurers could potentially save money if home birth numbers in this country increased.

Despite the news from Great Britain, that home births are safer in many cases than institutional deliveries, insurance companies deem it a higher risk based on out-of-date information, fiscally punishing people planning a home birth. My mommy brain can’t reconcile the idea that delivering at home is considered the low-tech/hippie/alternative option when the fact is that many middle class families can’t afford it. This needs to change.

Am I capable of handling a non-medicated birth?

A friend asked me after my delivery experience, “Did you have to hook up the epidural in your bed?” The answer is NO, which may be a deal breaker for some women. Epidurals are highly medical procedures that can only be done in a hospital by an anesthesiologist.

I didn’t have pain medication. But what I did have turned out to be all I needed: breathing, meditation while looking into people’s eyes, massage, a hot shower and, halfway through each contraction, for my (amazing) husband to say, “It’s going to be over soon.” I needed him to say this because in the moment I was convinced each contraction would last forever.

I wasn’t scared about the pain ahead of time, although I remember thinking later that I should’ve been. At one point, I turned to my midwife, Beth, and cried, “This is a nightmare. This f—ing HURTS.” She didn’t argue. “I know. It sucks.”

But here’s the kicker. It was also awesome.

Ashley Williams Dodson pregnant Neal and Ashley Williams Dodson – Courtesy photo

An excerpt from my birth story:

While in the throes of these excruciating 17 hours, one thought carried me. My body won’t generate more pain than I can handle. It wouldn’t kill me, this pain. It was real. Radical. Deep. MINE. As my body generated pain levels higher than I could have ever imagined, I met it with my whole heart. In my head I said, “YES. GET IN THERE,” as I greeted this pain with an open, relaxed jaw and let it enter my bones, skin, hair and teeth.

Then I dug in, shaking my head back and forth the way a lion would tear into its prey. Speaking of lions, I roared like one. Seriously. I was told later that neighbors could hear me from next door. I’ve never been more of my purest, animalistic self. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

But I did it.

And when I entered motherhood and that 8 lb., 8 oz. baby was suddenly on my chest, I knew that I could do anything. And then we, my whole birthing team and my new baby, ordered Indian food and drank expensive bourbon together on our bed. Going through labor medication-free, in my own home, allowed me the confidence I needed to start being Gus’s mom. And I did it on my terms.

I deeply respect medical science and research. I think medical interventions, when used appropriately, are life-saving procedures. It is amazing that not everyone has to go through the pain I went through in order to have a baby. It is also amazing that women for whom vaginal birth isn’t possible can have a surgical birth. What incredible freedom we have, as we embark on the mind-bending adventure of motherhood, to weigh our options and make educated choices for ourselves about where we birth.

A final toast to my doubtful OB/GYN friend in the bar: I understand your diagnosis. My home birth was hard. It was painful. It was radical.

But it wasn’t crazy.

Home birth isn’t right for everyone and it isn’t even medically possible for some women. But in answering these six questions, I determined it was the sanest choice for me.

— Ashley Williams Dodson

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Ala Lemon on

She did her research based on her beliefs and experiences, and chose what she considered best for herself. It’s great to see that she’s not preaching and did sufficient research to have a back-up plan in case things didn’t go as expected. Smart girl, well done!

Elizabeth Kate on

There are so many things that can go wrong during labor and delivery even for a woman who had a healthy pregnancy. I get so scared for so many vulnerable and impressionable women out there who read these articles and choose not to do the research and understand the risks. A celebrity is not a doctor, nor a trained professional who should be giving advice. This is scary stuff people!!! Please, please take it seriously and do not assume everything will work out because a celebrity said so.

Poppy on

I had a normal, healthy textbook pregnancy. I almost died giving birth. Thank god I was in a hospital, or I would have died.

Heidi on

To each their own. However, as I stand here holding my 3-mo daughter who ruptured out of my uterine wall, resulting in our near deaths, I cannot say how lucky I feel that I was in the hospital for her birth. Twelve liters of blood later (plus massive sepsis), I cannot imagine giving birth at home. My surgeon told me I would have died long before an ambulance made it to our home (12 minutes from the hospital).

Patricia on

Motherhood is about doing what is best for my baby, and I believe delivering in a hospital is safest for my baby. Delivering at home may be more comfortable for some women, but I just don’t believe that extra comfort is worth risking my baby’s life. If something goes wrong at home, every minute that it takes to transfer to hospital is another minute that baby loses oxygen and can be left with cerebral palsy or even lead to death. Not worth it!

Melissa on

That’s what’s so great about this though, Elizabeth – she’s using her platform as an actress to share the information she has learned as a trained professional. Ashley is a certified doula, as it says in the intro.

Loved the piece. I was an older first-time mom (39) and had some placenta issues earlier in the pregnancy, so although I initially considered delivering at home, it wasn’t the best choice for me. Luckily we have a free-standing birthing center here, but it’s literally behind the hospital, so you’re right there if you need to transfer. I had a wonderful experience.

Thanks for the blog!

Marie on

Not a celebrity, had two babies at home and it was amazing! The second was at 43 years old. If you are a healthy person, with no medical issues, and you are getting regular check ups, there is no reason you cant do this. I think its much scarier to have your baby in a hospital that house millions of germs and diseases. Educate yourself, then make your decision…dont let fear mongers scare you…women have been having babies at home for centures.

mel on

@Elizabeth, did you skim over the fact that she is a trained doula as well?

That makes her a trained birth attendant, who would have had training. She didn’t go into her home birth uneducated. Moms have bad outcomes in the hospital as well.

My last 2 births were unattended home births, both were sunny side up and were 8lbs 12 oz and 9lbs 3 oz. I had care from a team of midwives and then ‘forgot’ to go to the hospital. Even my midwives said that had i laboured in hospital, I would have had interventions and probably sections. My babies weren’t in ideal position, they were big and i had long labours.

Don’t assume that people do home births are uninformed about their choices. That just makes you ignorant.

Amy on

My friend died in childbirth in a hospital, due to their gross negligence and treating childbirth as a medical procedure, rather than a natural event. After that, I was determined to find the safest place to birth my own children. I’m so grateful to have given birth to both of my babies at home, in a safe and supportive environment.

Bravo to Ashley for an incredibly informative post.

Alli on

Notice everything she talks about revolves around her, as does every comment women who have home births does. 3 miles is a long way when your baby needs help, but as long as she felt calm. So selfish.

theora on

she drank post-natal bourbon? Ick, I wouldn’t drink bourbon EVER, let alone after giving birth (gotta postpone nursing for days. YUCK! She was so cute on HIMYM.

I wanted a non-hospital birth (not necessarily HOME) with no team at all, no husband amazing or otherwise. Then I had a footling breech, and it turns out I have only half a uterus…so I was high risk from the start. Such a bummer. Had to do hospital and C-section. I love the name Gus.

theora on

Hospitals make me nervous. A hospital almost killed me when I had a mastectomy. Not only was I neglected and abused (yelled at, ignored) but I got clostridium diff and have not, years later, recovered from its effects. Hospitals are dangerous places!!!

Jessica on

Of the tfivd women who I personally know that did home births, two were fine and three ended up in the hospital. Two of the women had to have blood transfusions and the third her baby had to go into the NICU.

I think it’s easy in these modern days with improved medicine to delude ourselves that child birth is not risky. We forget how many women and children died in the past. And still do.

I do agree that there is an over abundance of doctors who want to drug and go quickly to c-section. Find out how your OB approaches birth and what their c-section percentage is. You can have a voice in a hospital setting. My first child I had to be induced, my second I had completely naturally, and hope to do the same with my third due soon – all in a hospital.

kay on

Having a close friend who had an “easy” low-risk pregnancy, who went on to need a true Emergency C-Section, where her baby would have died if she was not in a hospital, there’ is no black and white statistic that could ever make me choose a home birth. That’s great for her and every other woman who has a good home birth experience. But I’ll take being less comfortable in a hospital than even the tiniest thought of having a tragic emergency and thinking the baby could have been saved if there was access to immediate assistance.

“Empowering” as she talks about, is such a loaded word with childbirth, is it only “empowering” to defy the norm and advice of doctors? (referring to the story she tells of a friend having a breech home birth)

Anonymous on

Anything can go wrong at any time. You did what you felt was best for you not for your baby.

lisa on

so many thoughts when it comes to this article. the research is based out of the UK where the health of the maternal patient population is drastically different from that of ours in the US. While I applaud the amount of research that was done into determining if a home birth was appropriate for her and assembling a team of people which included a trained OB (who underwent 12years of training plus experience), I fear this article makes labor/delivery more glamorous than reality.

Labor/delivery can be very dangerous and is a can be a significant cause of maternal death. I would say that before making the decision to have a home birth, it’s incredibly important to discuss with your doctor if this is safe for you and your baby. Low risk deliveries can quickly become very difficult and the outcomes very sad if the appropriate support isn’t available for both mom and baby.

Jocelyn on

The problem is, you can’t use statistics from other countries to talk about home birth safety here in the United States. They have different health care systems, and differently trained midwives. Every major study on planned, midwife-attended home birth in the United States has found it to have at least 3 times as many babies die than hospital birth. You can see the studies for yourself here:

mel on

I hate commenting on the same article twice BUT

@Kay: A breech birth handled by someone who knows how to deliver said breech can be just as uncomplicated as a head down, perfect position baby. The biggest issue is that most OBs don’t ever see one during training as it has been turned from a “can be safely delivered’ to a “OMG! WE HAVE TO SECTION YOU!”

As long as mom is comfortable and baby is happy, midwives will allow a woman to try a breech birth while the vast majority of doctors won’t even attempt it.

K.W. on

Normal pregnancy does not necessarily mean a normal delivery. When things go wrong during a birth they go wrong quickly. I’d rather be down the hall from an O. R. room then down the road – even if it’s only three miles.

And why do so many of of these home birthing blogs always so full of “me and my” – and why is the fact that birth used to be the leading cause of death (before pesky doctors and hospitals stepped in) so glossed over?

Also wondering if the new studies are skewed by hospitals having to deliver the high risk pregnancies that responsible midwives turn away…not fair to compare apples and oranges.

weatheredstorms on

I’ve seen negligence and horrible experiences on both sides of the coin. I’ve suffered through two OB attended hospital stillbirths. It’s difficult for me to trust an OB now because in both of my pregnancies my children died due to an OBs negligence. We don’t have a crystal ball.

Personally I’d rather give birth with a doula and a midwife in a hospital setting. If I needed a stat c section I’d be right there. It’s great if others have had healthy wonderful homebirths. I’m not putting fear into others I am just fearful after what’s happened to me twice.

Jocelyn on

Mel – “As long as mom is comfortable and baby is happy, midwives will allow a woman to try a breech birth while the vast majority of doctors won’t even attempt it.”

Which might be why, according to the study released by the Midwives Alliance of North America last year, the death rate for breech babies at home birth is 28 times higher than for breech babies at the hospital.

Summer on

I can’t take anyone seriously who says she is afraid of doctors, then in the same article talks about drinking bourbon immediately after birth. My son would’ve died in a home birth and I had a textbook, healthy pregnancy. My sister and nephew wouldn’t be here if she would’ve chosen to have him at home. It’s just not worth the risk. Further, this trend of home births an anti-vaccination (typically the two go hand in hand) smacks of entitlement from wealthy countries. I’ve been on medical missions to impoverished countries. The women there literally walk miles, hours sometimes, to get to medical facilities to have babies and have their children vaccinated.

Jay on

I had both of my children in my local hospital with amazing doctors (two different ones who both work out of the same practice) and a ton of AWESOME nurses. The only negative of the entire experience was I had one not nice nurse with my first but luckily she was only there for one shift my entire stay. I wouldn’t change my experience even if I could but I think the postpartum aspect of a midwife (and doula) sounds amazing, a lot of moms could benefit from that kind of support!

Kim on

I had a perfectly normal and healthy pregnancy and an emergency c-section delivery in which I delivered under general anesthesia. Had I not been in the hospital, both my son and I would have died.

Nicole on

Awesome! I had a Homebirth too in the SF Bay Area. One of the best decsions I have ever made. I’ve heard stories of women who birth in hospitals. I am amazed at the treatment they got and that it is even acceptable in this day and age. A lot of it sounds horrifying. There are a lot of things people have judgements about but don’t really fully understand what is entailed and how empowering it is – Homebirth is one of those!!!

Canon on

I was all set to do a birthing center (hubby and mother freaked at the idea of home birth so I compromised), but I miscarried. I so agree that they are less stressful and actually more sanitary at home because those are all germs your body is used to unlike a hospital where anyone can deliver a random, dangerous germ at any time and they are very quick to keep you on a timeline, going for the c-section if they want to go home. I have issues with that.

Kudos to her for doing it her way. More people should. My birthing center was a block from the hospital. Birth should be an amazing, family experience and in a place where you feel respected and comfortable. Do what works for you. Yes, Insurance should pay for home birth! That’s just crazy that they don’t.

InCalgaryForNow on

After an unnecessary induction and epidural with my first, I went overdue with my second and only went to hospital when I was practically ready to push her out. She was born in a normal hospital room in the position I was most comfortable in. It was almost like a home birth with no intervention at all. Except at 2:30am that night, when a retained placenta meant I needed emergency care. So well I see both sides of the argument, my little natural baby almost killed me, and my overmedicated one didn’t- So no, I don’t think you are clever.

Karen on

She is taking a risk with “home delivery,” as “Labor and Delivery Nurse” you can run into complications. Cord wrapped around the newborn neck, then heart rate dropping with all kinds of complications. Where is the “OB/GYN” back up? Sorry not a big fan of hone births. Best wishes to them!

Julie on

I have known someone personally that died during childbirth so I don’t think it is a good idea.

Meagan on

While I am thrilled for her and her growing brood, I, personally, think it is very dangerous for celebrities, or people of influence, to advocate births outside of a fully equipped medical facility.

My mother would have died with both of my younger brothers had she not been in Texas Children’s Hospital, arguably the best birthing hospital in the world. My 23 year old brother was 11 pounds and all but broke my poor mother. When she had the 20 year old brother, she had a stroke and was legally dead for 23 minutes while her anesthesiologist, and friend, preformed CPR on her and her heart just started beating again.

I’m not saying home birth isn’t right for some people, birth is dangerous and things can go wrong even in the best of facilities. Do you really want to risk your and your baby’s lives on a “popular birth plan?”

sfmom on

More articles like this please!!!

This is such a good, well-reasoned and *reasonable* piece on one woman’s choice for homebirth. It’s not radical or judgy towards women who choose differently and it talks about the important questions to ask if you’re considering homebirth (like “am I close enough to get to a hospital if I need to?”).

Totally awesome!

Allison Winchester on

I was disappointed reading this article. I love when people “research” their options. I have cared for many infants who have died or been severely brain damaged after a home birth. Doulas are great but do not have the medical knowledge nor do lay midwives. Yes childbirth is natural and if you are willing to but your own needs ahead of your babiy’s then be prepared for the consequences.

Angelica on

I think home births are awesome. I Was high risk because of my severe asthma so I had to have my babies in hospitals but if I could of I would of had them at home. Women have been birthing at home for thousands of years before hospitals were around. Yes there were complications in those home births but there are complications still in hospital births.

Guest on

It never ceases to amaze me how decades of research and evidence can be thrown out by one study that says something different. So the study in Great Britain produced different results, it takes more than one to provide real evidence.

Ariel on

Yay for home birth! I’ve had both a hospital and a home birth. I would choose home birth every time.

Jese on

Congratulations on your baby boy. Thank you for sharing your story. I am a doctor and I had three home births. It is important that we all have informed choice and options for our care.

Margaret on

This article sends a very scary message to the readers. Home births can and do have horrendous outcomes. Though no birth is without danger, to be away from a hospital setting to deliver is extremely risky. There are a multitude of factors that could go wrong, from the baby getting stuck in the pelvis, to a cord accident.

The tone I got from this article was that she had a trust issue with hospital personnel, and had bad experiences with physicians. I commend the act that she educated herself, most pregnant woman come in to deliver without prior education. I’m glad this outcome was a good one. However, I would encourage the readers, and the writer to talk to someone whose outcome was not good, and could have been different in a hospital setting (most could be) and weigh whether or not this would be worth it. The parents of the children with poor outcomes are often filled with regret and guilt.

I just hope this fear of hospital personnel does not bleed over into the Peds office and vaccinations.

Joanna on

Ashley, thank you for sharing this! I had a couple of overlapping birth team members for my breech homebirth (Beth & Dr. Fischbein). It was an awesome experience, and I hope to do it again the next time around–except hopefully not the breech part 🙂 Many congratulations to you!!!

Kelly on

So irresponsible!

Anonymous on

Oh she’s a DOULA. Then by all means, take her word over an obstetricians! Gah, this is why doulas can be so dangerous. They are wonderful as support persons during birth, but they are in NO WAY a healthcare professional with any medical training.

As a labor nurse, I would never ever have a homebirth. Things can go south fast. People need to start prioritizing their own safety and the safety of their babies over the over glorified homebirth.

Yael on

As a pediatric ICU nurse for 5 years, I find it extremely scary that not once in this article did this mom consider the safety of her BABY. This discussion is only considering her own comforts and needs, and not once does the safety of her baby enter her equation. Her entire birth team was focused on HER, without one pediatric professional present.

While I can’t speak to her expertise as birthing professional, I can speak to babies. Every minute that your baby is not oxygenation adequately, you are putting his brain function at risk. Every minute your baby isn’t breathing right, you put his lungs as risk. The time you lose during transport from home to hospital (or pediatrician/neonatologist) can drastically change your baby’s neurological and respiratory outcome. I don’t want to even begin to delve into the idea of an undiagnosed cardiac defect.

As someone who is entering motherhood, your birthing plan seems extremely selfish to me.

Annabel on

Everyone is entitled to have and voice an opinion on home birth versus hospital birth. What is important is we respect that we all have the absolute right to decide out own medical care. including how we give birth.

I think this article is very balanced, she made the choice that felt right for her and acknowledges that it would not be the right choice for everyone.

Hospitals are best for some and for others, home, with a well planned birth, is where they will labor and deliver most successfully. Stress on the mother can create stress on the baby, a situation which can escalate quickly in a hospital setting. So many women do feel more comfortable, when properly attended, in their own homes and it can result in smooth and wonderful births. As do hospitals for others. So, yes, a personal choice.

It should be noted that a certified nurse midwife attending a home birth is providing the same level of routine monitoring that would be happening in a hospital – foetal heartbeat, maternal BP etc. There are warning signs if things are going wrong and there is normally time to transfer to a hospital. They have oxygen for the newborn, and the usual tools of the trade. And weigh risk at every stage. Most nurse midwives would be reluctant to take on a home birth if the distance to a hospital was too great.

Sarah on

You all act like Midwives aren’t trained to deliver babies or something lol

I trust my midwife more than I trust my Dr.

My first was a perfect homebirth my second was a planned for homebirth with the same midwife but when complications arose we decided the best thing was a hospital delivery. It was 10 miles to the Hospital and we simply called ahead and drove in. Baby arrived 20 hrs later and my midwife stayed by my side to make sure my voice was heard.

Nothing wrong with either choice. Go with what is comfortable for you but don’t go knocking homebirth just because you’re not familiar with it.

Kylie on

ok, we get it, you are a superhero for giving birth unmedicated. shame on all those wimps who need c-sections and other medical interventions to survive birth. nature has chosen you to survive, congrats! sorry, but this doesnt make you a better mother, just an awful, bragging person.


She is rich and had 5 people attending her home births most people who have home births do not. You are lucky if they have one or two. Did you miss that. . When they get into trouble they call EMS. I have sen three home birth disasters in the last year I work in a Pediatric ED I have had 2 children:one was large 9 10 no c section and was allowed to labor and deliver without a c section the second was premature and again no c section. The most important thing is delivery a healthy viable baby not a zen experience stop Hollywood live in the real world where people do not have a zillion dollars can have doctors and and staff at their beck and call and then write articles to influence the masses. GO toe the hospital and take home a baby not an adventure made to make you look like a superhero.

Mandy on

There is no way I will ever trust a midwife again. Thanks to listening to mine, I almost bled to death. If it hadn’t been for a doctor I would have died. I’ll stick to hospital’s for giving birth. Oh & the argument that women have been giving birth at home for years doens’t work for me. People used to have dental work done with nothing to numb them, but most of us don’t do that. Hey our ancestors lived without running water & electricity so go back to that too.

Hea on

I am so happy I live in a country where medical care is free.


how many midwives have delivered a breech I have been in teh DR with n experienced OBGYN doctor performed one it went well this was not his first time it also was not the mother’s first birth stop acting like it is so simple midwives are great but they are not as experienced and do not have the training of physicians what if ii is footling breech what about a prolapsed cord what if is is a transverse lie what do you do then when you are not in the hospital no monitoring no intervention available

Kelly on

It is amazing how negative the comments are here!!! People need to separate what they “think” and “feel” is right, with facts. The numbers point to the fact, that planned home births are just as safe, and in some cases safer, than hospital births. Hospitals in the USA have the highest rate of c-sections in the world. Not because it is right or safe, but because they can charge more money for it.

When a woman goes to the hospital to give birth, she will be treated as a customer who needs to get out as soon as possible so they can get the next job in. The hospital won’t be happy with the speed labor is progressing, the will give her pitocin (money for the hospital). The contractions will then come too fast and hard to stand, the hospital will ‘suggest’ an epidural at the woman’s weakest moment and then get the permission (more money for the hospital). The hospital will say something like “It looks like you have an elevated heart beat”. Well duh! I am giving birth, it is hard. There is a reason it is called labor! Nope, we have to take this baby via emergency c-section (even more money for the hospital). Your baby is born, the cord is cut before the pumping stops, baby is whisked away for measuring and tests, it it will feel like an eternity before she is back to you to begin the all important 4th trimester.

If the mother is more comfortable and relaxed, she will have a much better birth experience, compared to being in a sterile room, hooked up to a machine that goes ‘ping’.

When researching where to give birth, I looked at hospitals. At one of them we went to, which was highly rated, I was told “Don’t bother to bring a birth plan, we won’t look at it or use it.” That sealed the deal.

I labored at home. I walked through my garden. I felt the warmth of the sun. I listened to music. I relaxed in a birth pool. I laughed at the confused look on my dog’s face. I had the support of two mid-wives, doula, husband, and sister. I had support for weeks afterward from the mid-wives. I had 2 beautiful children born at home, and would not change a thing.

Don’t immediately reject something because it doesn’t feel right, make sure you know the facts first.

Kelly on

Lyanna on

I totally support the home births. I was lucky with my OB. She let me labor how I wanted without drugs or a stupid IV. She basically let me labor and give birth how I pleased and it made a world of difference. I would advise ladies who want to do the same to find an OB who will allow it.

Texas Lady on

There’s an element of frightening narcissism to all women who home birth. It’s all about them and their experience. Google the Skeptical OB to find out more. I had a dear friend with a low-risk, easy pregnancy. An undiagnosed Group B strep infection almost took her life and the life of her daughter. If she’d birthed at home, the baby would have died. They gave birth at a hospital and the baby and the mother were fine. Why risk it – even if the risk is minimal – so you can have your crunchy, Earth Mother experience? It’s not about you.


Studies based in the UK cannot be compared to the US. All midwives that are a part of the NHS and attend homebirths are Certified Nurse Midwives and are college educated and trained. In the US, most homebirth midwives are direct entry, traditional, or certified professional midwives with no formal education from accredited colleges or universities. They get their experience as an “apprentice” by attending homebirths with other midwives who also do not have any formal education or training. Also in the UK, there is a formal system of transfer for patients when things are going well. There is no such system in the US. Additionally, most homebirth midwives in the US do not carry malpractice insurance, so if something goes wrong and the midwife is negligent, the parents have not recourse. Therefore, the study from the UK isn’t relevvant to the specific set of circumstances we have here in the US and the statistics don’t reflect what we see in the US. Studies in the US show a neonatal death rate much higher in planned homebirths than planned hospital births.

Women should be able to make decisions regarding their care but the need to be able to do it equipped with accurate information. People magazine is poblishing incorrect information that may encourage other women to make more dangerous choices.

Sara on

Articles like this make me nervous.

1. I have had 2 kids in hospitals, without drugs. I don’t need a medal or a trophy…but being in a hospital where if Gd-forbid something happened I would have the help of an OB. The second time I did have a doula to help coach me, but I actually preferred the first time when it was just my husband and I.

2. I am sure midwives are trained well. I am sure they have a plethora of knowledge that would be helpful with a pregnancy, but one can never be sure what their birth is like. OB’s are trained surgeons. They have a completely different skill set than midwives and have gone through much more extensive training giving them the tools to deal with any type of birth. Ask yourself that if you were to have your tonsils out would you have them out at home or would you have them out in a hospital? Birth is similar.

3. The way I think of birth is…having a healthy baby and mom. I want to come out alive and I also want my baby to come out alive and healthy. Nobody plans emergencies or sicknesses. They just happen…I have had too many friends give birth with midwives/doulas and OB’s and each have come with it’s own ups and downs. Just so thankful we live in the 21st century with all these advances. We are so lucky to live in a country with top of line medical care. I’m going to guess women living in third world countries would do anything to have their baby in a hospital. I’m going to guess that the stats do not count all of those babies and mothers that didn’t make it out alive (they too have midwives who’s practices have been passed down for years…but no hospitals close).

4. We don’t live in the dark ages anymore! We live in the 21st century where SO much medical research has been developed to help provide women and babies with the safest way to enter the world. Sometimes doctors might suggest an intervention, but my guess is that they’re not doing that so that they “move the assembly line along” rather get that baby out as fast and as safe as possible. You might hear of someone having a C-section, but you weren’t there, you didn’t have AT LEAST 10 years of medical training BEFORE becoming a doctor, and you haven’t seen babies die, become brain dead or worse their mothers die too.

5. Being 10 minutes away from a hospital just doesn’t cut it. I have a friend who had an unforeseen medical emergency while giving birth. Everything was going well…and out of nowhere her body went into shock. She ended up having an emergency c-section (baby was out in 90 seconds) and both mom and baby made it out healthy and alive. If they weren’t in hospital it would’ve been a different story.

6. The second you become pregnant you become a mother. Is my baby healthy? What can I do to make my baby happy and healthy? Then you have the baby…Should I formula feed or nurse? Should I start with rice cereal or pureed fruits or BLW? Should I sleep train or co-sleep? Should I send my kids to private school or public school? When should I start saving for my kids college? I don’t know when it become popular to have your babies at home, but the main thought should be bringing a HEALHTY baby and mother into this world so we can continue to worry about all the things us mommies are so lucky to worry about.

7. As I look at my two beautiful babies I am so grateful to be listening to them play with each other (well sort of…I mean they’re 2 years old and 7 months). I am so thankful to be provided with first class medical care that helped me bring them into this world. Before choosing home birth think about what’s at stake. Nobody wants to be that statistic and nobody thinks they will be until they are. Kiss your kids tonight and be thankful for what we have.

Anonymous on

Do what you feel is good and right for you as long as its safe.

Kylie on

yeah, amazing that not everyone has to go through enormous pain like she did. it was her own choice and now she wants a medal for it? she is really annoying.

Matt on

Blimey some of you people are acting like she free-birthed (delivered her own baby without ANY medical assistance). She clearly states that she had 2 midwives there and being a midwife myself (in the UK) I can assure you that they would’ve been trained in obstetric emergencies and if the need of a transfer to hospital was needed they would’ve transferfed straightaway.

Saying that I realise home birth isn’t for everyone but it can be beneficial as studies have shown that women at home require much less analgesia and CAN labour better as they are more relaxed.

Matt on

@SITM we’re or all certified nurse midwives actually so please get your facts straight before you post, I am actually a direct entry midwife.

GP on

Many years ago women gave birth at home, now with advanced healthcare system most people give birth in hospital. Still more research and information needed for women who want to have a home birth safely.

Ima Diva on

^puffs self up, proudly^…I had *HOME CONCEPTIONS*, with all three of my children…does ‘THAT’ count for anything!? 😉

Leia on

I wouldn’t want that doctor anywhere near me. She hired a doctor for her birth, Dr. Stuart Fischbein, that is on probation and who broke the law for sexual exploitation of a patient. There is a reason he delivers babies at home and not in a hospital….

Cameron on

I am actually pleasantly surprised to see the amount of responses to this article that find the practice of home birth potentially dangerous. To each their own, sure, but as a practicing OBGYN physician the most normal, natural labor can become catastrophic in mere seconds. Most will not (thankfully) and labor an delivery is not a pathologic state however, if you’ve ever had the horror of managing a complex shoulder dystocia, cord prolapse or fetal bradycardia you know the value of having the ability to get a baby out in mere minutes. A three mile trip to the hospital can result in certain fetal death depending on the scenario. So often in comments it’s ‘the doctors vs the patients’ but in the end it’s vital to remember we have the same uncompromisable goal: to have a healthy baby and healthy mom.

Matt on

What a shock an OBGYN doesn’t endorse home births!!

Voz on

Nice name Gus! Congrats the happy family on the new addition.

meghan on

You fear mongering women are pathetic.

just because on

Three of my four children would be dead in a home birth situation. One was frank breech with cord around her neck, one had two tiny pockets of amniotic fluid at 38 weeks, and when the last one was delivered I had a huge hole in the top of my uterus. Yes they were all c-sections and no that was not what I wanted when I first started having children. I am thankful for modern medicine that allows me to have 4 live births and 4 wonderful children instead of 3 stillbirths and 1 live birth. Oh and I should point out that all 4 of my pregnancies were uncomplicated by health or medical issues. A midwife at the hospital was going to send me home with a kick count sheet at 38 weeks with my third child because I couldn’t feel her move. The fetal monitor recorded movement so that was good enough for her. I wouldn’t budge so she finally did an ultrasound and luckily the umbilical cord had a tiny pocket of fluid to float in. She was delivered 4 hours later.

KT on

I had a home birth after caesarean 5 years ago (HVBAC) and it cost me 5k to hire a midwife. If i had done it at public hospital it would have been free, but the vbac rate in hospital is very low.

JM on

This brought tears to my eyes. After spending time working for a home birth CNM and also advocating for homebirth on a legislative level, I think this is one of the most moving and apt descriptions I have read yet. You go girl! A

Anonymous on

#1 I get it, your husband is (amazing)

#2 I delivered in a hospital and a few hours into labor I BEGGED the doctors for an epidural, which I then received.

#3 I regret none of the meds I asked for and now I have a wonderful 18 year old son.

#4 Never, ever do I want to be superwoman and have a natural birth. Forget it, give me the meds. I don’t give a rats butt if someone else calls me a bad mom for getting medicated or not. I’m still taking the juice

#5 I did not walk out with my pre-pregnancy jeans on and it took me 6 months to lose the weight – 4 months longer than it took my sister and my mom. That’s life

Have a great day 🙂

guerreradelaluz on

Certified midwives have lots of different protocols and standards which is what makes home births safe according to research.

A midwife is not going to wait until the baby is having a bradycardia and you need an emergency C-section. As soon as there’s something that departs from what a normal, physiologic birth should be, they transfer to the hospital.

Anecdotes are just that… Anecdotes. Lots of people have stories of bad outcomes both in home births and at the hospital. But at the end of the day, research has shown that for low risk pregnancies, home birth can be a safe as long as certain conditions are met.

Elizabeth on

3 miles from a hospital? My friend recently had her baby at 37 weeks due to a complete placental abruption. She noticed blood when she used the bathroom and in the time it took for the ambulance to take her the 8 blocks to the hospital, both she and baby had no pulse. Baby was born not breathing.

My own son was born 4 weeks ago and was on oxygen within 20 minutes of birth. Just a few hours later, he was transferred to a Children’s hospital on a ventilator. He is alive today because we were where he could get the help he needed.

In the meantime, babies like Mary Beth, Gavin Michael, a baby born in CT last month at a homebirth vba2c and many many more are dying because of the “experience”. We’d be far better off fighting for changes in hospital policies than encouraging women to risk the lives of their babies and themselves!

gymluv on

There is one sentence in this article that explains my opinion on home birth:

“For women having their first baby, home birth slightly increases the risk of a poor outcome for the baby”

The word ‘increases’ speaks volumes to me. It may seem like a 1% higher risk of a poor outcome for the baby is insignificant, but if YOUR baby is in that 1%, it can become deadly significant.

I read this woman’s opinion, just as I have heard many from home birth advocates. One thing they have in common is the expression of what the MOTHER wants. She wants her own bed, her own shower, music she likes and she wants to be comfortable in her own home. But labour & delivery is not only about the mother.

A birth plan should be about a safe delivery, healthy mom & baby. Watch just ONE 30 minute old baby come flying through the E.R., flatlined from a failed home/water birth, then die, and you would never consider home birth. Seeing one was too many and I have seen more than one. It is a nightmare of regret. Find a hospital that allows a midwife, doula, natural birth plan and have the baby there, please.

maddie on

doula’s aren’t physicians, and home isn’t a hospital. she got lucky that nothing went wrong. stop thinking that child birth is a breeze and everyone is owed a seamless, easy birth. things often go wrong in a second, and it’s reckless to not have trained professionals and appropriate equipment on hand.

NIc on

For my second child I had a water birth in a hospital, in a private room/suite, with all of the “usual hospital personnel” watching from 10′ away along a wall- there for “just in case” though they never moved and really just marveled at how my daughter never cried but rather looked about vaguely and blinked as the brightness of the room seemed to be a little much.
My husband coached me through a precipitous and strong labor, a moving freight train I say- a 3 hour marathon (!!), and my Certified Nurse Midwife (with OB/GYN back up constant communication and alerted and ready to assist if needed ) coached me through the final push/delivery as I delivered her to the surface. It was in a hot tub, body temp. and I had the freedom to move however I pleased. No one touched us until I decided that it was time (and I was getting a bit water logged;) It was at that time that they did height/wt/ and usual hospital evaluations. ) It was an amazing experience and STILL WITHIN HOSPITAL WALLS!
BUT, and I repeat BUT as a health care provider I read about the risks and chose to have my first, my son, at a hospital “attached” to a leading children’s hospital where there was a pediatric NICU within a stone’s throw. I decided the water birth would be best for a second go ’round and I found a HOSPITAL that offered the doula, CNW, and water birth. Again, A HOSPITAL. (The hospital wasn’t attached to the children’s hospital, but a few minutes by ambulance if needed. Honestly I would have preferred the option at a hospital in closer proximity to the children’s hospital, but it didn’t exist.)
My first was at the children’s hospital/NICH because I did my research – England had the most information on home and water births 12 years ago. Unfortunately little comparable research has been done to match how it is done in England. As Jocelyn pointed out, there are very different healthcare delivery systems, ideaologies, even OB/GYN ,nursing training etc.
The medical support offered was special at that time and I was part of a study of 100 participants under age 35 for the water birth. We HAD to have a completely normal and uncomplicated pregnancy to be included in the study. More studies are needed. We should demand more birthing suites and safe options within hospital walls if this is what women want!
As with Ashley Williams Dodsen it is who you have as your team, your back up team, and proximity to emergency help that is really going to determine best outcomes no matter where you are!!
If we demand more options from hospitals we will see a trend where we can have elements of both home births in flexible hospital environments where medicale equipment and care is as closely available as possible for when things do turn emergent!!

Guest on

To each its own. I would rather deliver in a hospital in the event that something goes wrong. An uneventful pregnancy does not always mean a smooth and uneventful birth. She should want her child to have the best possible chance at life. If she gives birth at home and something goes wrong, she and the baby will still have to be transported to a hospital for treatment.

Stacey on

I work in a NICU and cannot tell you how many babies we get from so called “safe home births” where the baby is either brain dead or will be severely brain damaged forever. All of them were normal pregnancies, no complications at all. 2 were trained Doulas. We cooled each baby to try and save their brains, several died and countless others have irreparable brain damage. The last one had apgars of 0/0/0/0/0/0/1 Yes the code went on that long. He is brain dead, mom and dad’s first child, mom is a doula. If she had had him in the hospital, he would have been delivered quickly and he would have been perfectly fine. She regrets ever trying for a home birth. Why would you risk something so precious just so YOU can have the feeling of the “perfect delivery?” It’s not about you anymore. It’s about getting that child into the world safe and sound. You go 9 months wishing and planning for this child, getting the nursery ready, buying clothes, planning a future and you risk it all and this child’s life so you can deliver in your own living room. It’s not about where the baby is born but getting him/her here safely so you can watch them grow up. This mom would give anything to have her baby boy back. Just remember not all home births go without a hitch, the ones that go bad, go VERY bad.

Anonymous on

Women have been doing this since the beginning of time. Our bodies know what to do, it is an awesome, amazing experience to know what we as women do. Check out what ‘twilight sedation’ did to babies back on the 40’s & 50’s. It was supposed to be cutting edge for the time and dr’s were recommending patients do this procedure. Doctors in our country are great in ambulatory situations but let me birth how I want without telling me I’m out of my mind because I don’t want to have a baby on their schedule.

Sadie on

This story sounds exactly like my co-worker, for 7 months she talked of having a home birth, dismissing all others concerns. We all were concerned about her attitude of “women have been having babies at home for centuries” ” I am only six minutes from a hospital if something happens”. Something happened during labor, she didn’t make it to the hospital in time. Her baby boy was stillborn.

Lucy on

Be aware if you’re pregnant and reading this that she is wrong about hospitals and very biased against medical intervention during birth. She was safeguarding herself: “Those are only slightly different odds, which I could accept.” I’m sorry, but any odds that my child or myself may not have access to IMMEDIATE life-saving care by a DOCTOR are UNACCEPATBLE. “I knew immediately that I could rely on these women to guard my emotional wellbeing on the day my son was born. ” HOW SELFISH. Birth is about getting your baby out alive and healthy and keeping you as comfortable and strong as possible, not principally your emotional well-being! “The entirety of my home birth care cost me $6,000.” This is NOT about money and insurance covers most of a birth. “There began my distrust of doctors, which was only solidified by attending 52 hospital births as a doula and seeing how some OBs and nurses treated laboring women.” Yes, no woman should go blindly into labor!! Trust no one with such a monumental event, not even a doctor. Educate yourself, know your rights, write a birth plan, and be assertive!! No one will treat me like cattle and get away with their face on straight while I’m in labor, trust me.

My advice- hire a doula that you trust and have your baby in a hospital that you’ve checked out, bring your birth plan, and dare anyone to challenge you on it unless it’s life or death. You will be fine. Don’t be afraid of hospitals, and don’t be duped into thinking that a home birth will be somehow better for you.

CM on

I find this article refreshing for the fact that she’s able and interested in sharing her story and helping others who might not be aware of some of the key things that go along with such a decision. It’s not about going against the grain, it’s about following your heart and gut which a lot of people won’t allow to happen because we are taught at a young age to follow a doctors orders.
I recently had a successful and planned homebirth. Research and knowledge are key.
And I love her piece about the pain, I felt the exact same way!

Kari on

I can’t wait for my homebirth after 3 cesarean a in December! I can’t wait to meet my surprise team green baby then peacefully in the water in my living room! I have birth trauma and won’t go near a hospital ever again.

Susan on

Why can’t giving birth to a human be empowering, whether in a hospital, birthing center or at home?

I have had two births at Hospitals and would not risk my babies life giving birth at home. I would never forgive myself if something happened and I knew that I could have had the baby in the hospital.

Andy on

My mom had an uncomplicated pregnancy and all of the ultrasounds were fine (I’m almost 25, so it wasn’t that long ago) and as I was coming out the doctor saw that the cord was wrapped around my neck. She had to cut the umbilical cord right away or it probably would have strangled me. This is why when I eventually come around to having children, I would like to do so in a hospital.

Bliss on

As a labor and delivery nurse I am beyond offended with the comments people have left and shocked st the amount of ignorance there is in our society to the risks associated with childbirth. First we ( and by we I mean healthcare providers) are not the root of all evil! We spend hours sometimes days at a time worrying about your well being and the well being of the precious gift you have been blessed with. We hold the hands of patients experiencing a loss, cry tears of joy the first time a mom holds her new infant, flip flop and put patients with epiduralsin positions you wouldn’t even think of, we provide patients who want a natural childbirth with support and supplies from birthing balls to hot showers. Secondly, delivering babies is not just some easy process like some of you want to portray it. It is exhausting- what happens when you’ve pushed for hours and your exhausted and you need help getting that baby out? If there isn’t someone at your delivery like this celebrity who is able to assist you then what? You really think you are going to be able to walk to your car with your baby at +2 station? Doubtful. And what about when you are six centimeters and your midwife checks heart tones and they are in the sixties and no intervention is bringing them back up? Even if you could get to the hospital in three minutes, you have to make it to l&d and then to the OR. So ultimately best case scene rio you are looking at 10-15 minutes from the time the bradycardia is noted until delivery. That can be the difference between life and death right there. Lastly everyone who is preaching the hospitals are full of germs line. Come on! Germs are everywhere! Are you telling me that you will avoid all human contact for the two weeks or more leading up to your due date for fear you could be exposed to something that could then be passed to your baby? Because your neighbor who just stopped by to see how you are could have been exposed to the flu by her niece who stayed with her last week. That’s about how much sense that argurmement makes! Any person you come into contact with void expose you to any number of diseases! You have the right as a patient to ask all healthcare workers if the can wash there hands before touching you or your infant and the same can be done for visitors. I do appreciate the fact that she educated herself and I respect the fact that some people want to make decisions that I don’t necessarily agree with, but I do feel that there is a trend towards home deliveries and allowing children to be unvaccinated because it is going against the grain. Everyone wants to rebel, no one is going to tell me what’s right for me or my child, but there are people who are educated to help you to make good choices! So in conclusion if you are going to choose home birth do it for the right reason for you. Not because your sister in law’s brother’s ex wife had a bad experience at a hospital or because you think it’s the cool thing to do. Do your research. Talk to several different doctors or midwives. And remember that in the end the goal isn’t that you had Mozart playing while sipping sparkling water your entire labor. The goal is that you have a healthy baby in your arms!

Roo on

My textbook pregnancies have all turned into medical nightmare deliveries within minutes and if I had been delivering at home, I would not be here today. Complications in labor usually come on suddenly, without warning and a routine delivery can turn catastrophic. Minutes matter and I’m thankful I was at a hospital for mine. I would not have survived an ambulance ride.

Sandra on

I was eaves dropping on a conversation where one woman asked a pregnant woman if she had already done a hospital visit for the birth of her baby. The pregnant woman replied that she was doing a home birth and the other woman started in on how unsafe it is and why would she put her child in such danger…. The pregnant woman said “it’s my choice”, turned around and paid for her groceries and left the store. No further justification or argument, just left. That’s the mature, civilized way to handle the situation, now had it been me and I was 30 months pregnant, ankles swollen, belly about to burst, standing in a long store line listening to some random gal lambast me for my choice, she would have gotten a few more specifically crafted, two & four letter , three and four syllable responses. I know we now live in a world where we just express our thoughts and feelings whenever we feel like it but you always have to remember that just because you can, sometimes you shouldn’t.

ALM on

@Alli: since she was the one giving birth, of COURSE all the comments revolve around her. She can’t very well speak to Gus’s experience, can she?
I would never have made the same choice (three cheers for epidurals!), but Ashley made an informed, educated, well-researched choice that was right for her pregnancy. Things can go wrong with hospital births, too.

Gerald on

My wife almost died giving birth to our daughter. If the blood and a skilled surgeon were not on hand both her and my daughter would be dead. Home births are stupid. 55% of pregnancies are complicated per the author’s own statistic. This give you a greater than 1/2 chance of dying because of birthing in your home.

grateful mom on

I had a perfectly normal first pregnancy. I had a perfectly normal beginning of labor. But once I started pushing my baby’s heartbeat dropped drastically. I ended up needing a c-section and she had the cord wrapped around her neck three times and a true knot in the cord as well. Thank God, both me and my baby are healthy and happy now. If I had kept pushing who knows what might have happened. The thought of not being in a hospital to monitor that scares me. I would never recommend a home birth to anyone based on my experience. P.S. after that I had two successful V-BACs.

Judy on

It does not matter if you are in the best shape of your life or if you have had a cakewalk of a pregnancy. Things can and do go very wrong quickly in the labor room. And when your child is born needing immediate medical care for any one of many reasons (inhaling meconium, underdeveloped lungs despite being full-term, not having enough fluid expelled from lungs during birthing process, or arriving in shock) you will be thanking God for the neonatologists who will be in that delivery room in seconds and for a NICU that can handle your baby’s needs. Don’t risk your child’s safety for your own comfort. Those statistics are suddenly a lot more meaningful if you are in the 9 out of 1000. If everything goes well, your doctor will happily discharge you early.

Parenting And Stuff on

Did you feel you need to apologize for your decision? In many places, homebirthing goes with stigma. see this article about a mom who decided to homebirth her baby, I could really relate to that.

EAM on

I love this piece! I also had a home birth, with my now ten month old daughter. Also after doing a lot of research and ultimately feeling like it was the right choice for me. And I’m so glad I did! Even after 36 hours of excruciating labor, when I brought my daughter in to the world with my amazing husband by my side, it truly was the revolutionary experience that Ashley describes. It has given me incredible confidence as a Mom from the very first moment.
We all have the right as women to birth how we choose, whether that’s at home or in the hospital. I’m happy I listened to my gut and made a choice that felt right for me. Thank you Ashley for adding your voice to the chorus supporting home birth in the US.

Kestrel on

My firstborn flipped head up and butt out 2 days before delivery so I had a c-section. My next turned out to be 11 pounds and I went from 2cms to 7cms in 90 minutes. I DEMANDED a c-section because I knew he was too big. They told me later I was right.
That baby needed an extra 2 days in the neo-natal until for his reflux and he looked mighty silly next to these itty bitty babies fresh out of NICU. Some were so small that my son was almost 4x their size. I got more than a few angry stares. Sometimes Mommies can be very mean. I had my first
in a major city in a predominantly Asian Neighborhood. He was – and is –
an identical twin to a prince George. A few mothers were angry that my son was being held more, cuddled more, fed sooner because he was “the
beautiful white one”. Ouch. But secretly, I knew it was true.
We paid for dedicated staff in the hospital in a private suite with an
attached room for guests to sleep in (my mother, mainly. She is a nurse and my dad is just the Baby Charmer). The bond my parents have with my boys is amazing. No other relation rivals it.
Considering all I went through, it was the right choice for me. The cost
was supposed to be an extra $4300 but my insurance company picked up the whole tab.
Not every hospital story is about noise, bad docs and cleaning scents.

Anon on

I think that the very important 7th question, unlisted above, is “In spite of all my preparation and my team and my prenatal care, if the worst happens and my baby dies, will I be able to live with myself knowing that a hospital birth may have saved my child?” For me, that answer would be a resounding “no,” especially when most large hospitals will accommodate unmedicated births lead by midwives and assisted by doulas. That being said, I’m very happy this child arrived safely.

Britt on

The assumption that if a woman is in the hospital that is the ideal and safest situation is sadly untrue. Unnecessary medical interventions can cause many problems in the hospital. I agree that hospitals need to change policies, women should be allowed to eat during labor, get into comfortable positions, and have a say in the way their birth goes. Home birth can be the safest choice for low-risk pregnancies and should be an option for women, we should also make sure our licensed midwives have received the best possible training.

Charlotte Dhark on

Well researched, very thoughtful and accurate. As a mother of five, I’ve had a varied experience in birthing. My first was in hospital and pretty traumatic because Lamaze DID NOT prepare me for the experience and the on call OB was a jerk. #2 was attended by a midwife in my home and it was the best experience I could could have ever hoped for. It was calm, peaceful between the contractions and no one was telling me to hold back a strong urge to push. Of the 5 births, two were Midwife assisted. Three hospital births, two of which were attended by male OB’s that didn’t listen to me when I told them what was happening with my body. The third OB birth was a woman with a lot of experience. Not saying all male OB’s are represented by my experience, but it would serve them well to require residency training with a midwife.
Babe #5 was a huge surprise and we lived an hour from the closest OB equipped hospital. Our insurance co filed an exception for me and paid my midwife for her services. They paid her what they typically pay an OB and it was more than her going rate (it was enough that she didn’t charge me the $350 out of pocket deductible we would have had to pay for a hospital delivery)
Naysayers who have never worked with one should do more extensive research in the field of midwifery.

Ali Lacole on

I never had a home birth but I support women making their own choices in the best interest of their babies. Both of my babies were born in a small town hospital and I had two very different birthing experiences. My first son, I was in the hospital 3 days before I had him because my water was leaking and they had to induce labor. I had pitocin and an epidural. It was a horrible, long, and scary birth. With my second son I went into labor naturally and had no epidural (anesthesiologist took 3 hours to get to the hospital) and it was an amazing birth. I felt so much better afterwards. The pain went away as soon as he came out and I felt like I could dance around the room. With my second birth I was more vocal about my birth and took control. I didn’t let other people push me into things I didn’t want. I admire her courage to take control of her son’s birth and do what she felt was best.

Anita on

For all the comments being made about the article being “me” focused and what made “mom” comfortable and choices being made without any regard to the baby or its health, isn’t that the society we live in? I hope you all are pro-life too, as you sound like any consideration for what the woman giving birth has to go through is irrelevant.

The article was well-rounded and balanced. She reviewed and relayed the research and information that helped her each her decision. No one, possibly not even your doctor, will be aware of all studies that are out there. If she was comfortable with the information she gathered, so be it. It was her choice. She is not telling the world that everyone should have home birth. At the end of HER STORY, she quite clearly points out that it is not for everyone. All those attacking her for HER CHOICE need to take a step back.

I, for one, am glad to see she did do her own research, made sure she got her questions answered, and was not just another sheep following the herd. That’s my take-away.

Dr. J. on

I am a medical doctor myself, working as a research fellow at a university medical Center in Europe. Our 5 children were born at home, delivered by a very experienced midwife (M.Sc., chair of the midwifery organization, member of the national health council, etc.) who just happens to be my mother. I have not decided to birth at home because of some romantic notion, but because I was (and still am) convinced that a sensible home birth is just as safe and sometimes safer than a hospital birth.

As birth has been removed from the home and neighbourhood environment and has become a rare experience in our everyday lives, this has changed the conception of how we see pregnancy and childbirth. This leads to common misconceptions.
18% of women feel that either they or their baby where in danger to their life during birth, which is a gros overestimation. But this concept is obvious from some of the comments. At the same time, women experience more interventions during hospital births, leading to the feeling that birth is a dangerous situation, because of the interventions that have become so common.

The condition of mother and child is monitored during child birth either at home or in the hospital. apart from exceptionally rare circumstances (e.g. vasa praevia), there is no need to worry about having reasonable time to transfer.

There is ample evidence in scientific literature, that home birthing is low-risk for mother and child, even when compared to hospital birth in a health system where transfer is possible when deemed necessary.
There is no need for women with high risk pregnancies not to birth at the hospital and at the same time, there is no need for women with normal pregnancies to feel obligated to do so.