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Choosing Home: My Homebirth Trilogy

Choosing Home: My Homebirth Trilogy

My name is Tatiana Woldman. I am a mother of three and a recent arrival to Georgia from Texas. I am a Master of Public Health student (MPH) at the University of Georgia (UGA) and an intern at Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia. People have a range of reactions when I tell them that all three of my children were born at home. I am generally careful about who I tell, due to the range of reactions I receive in response, but if you do want to know about homebirths, I’m always so happy to share. I had my first homebirth 12 years ago and my latest one, a little over two years ago. My youngest two were born in the same back bedroom of our house, both on the floor right next to our bed.

Homebirth was a decision that made sense to me. With my first daughter, I was young, (28 years old) and healthy with no medical conditions. The pregnancy was going well, with no complications. My husband and I were in our first home together and I really liked it. We had a little garden in the backyard and a bunch of sunflowers planted in the front. We had scrounged together some furniture and combined our décor. It was our home; it felt comfortable and mine. Birth is a sacred and intimate experience. What better place to have it than your own home, the place that will soon become the home of the new little person?  

I would be lying if I said that I always wanted a homebirth. Honestly, I did not even know that this was an option. When I found myself pregnant with my oldest daughter, the pregnancy was a surprise and I had not thought about birth that much. I was among the first of my group of friends to have a child, and birth options were not something that I spent a lot of time thinking about.  

After watching “The Business of Being Born” on a coworker’s recommendation and reading “Spiritual Midwifery,” I decided to have my daughter at the local birthing center. It seemed safe and cozy. I liked the midwives, and it was near my work, which was convenient for prenatal visits, and only a few minutes from the local hospital, should something go wrong. After thinking about it further and learning that the midwives from the same center also had an option for a homebirth, I knew homebirth was the right choice for me. I liked my home and felt I had space to welcome a new baby. My home was a very short drive to the hospital in case of an emergency transfer. Finally, the idea of staying home instead of rushing out somewhere once labor started seemed right to me. 

My parents were not supportive of this choice due to safety concerns. They felt that the hospital was always safer in case of an emergency. I had to reassure them that it would be okay, explaining the short transport time, and the types of emergency equipment that the midwives always have with them. I felt very supported in my choice by my husband and my friends, and in the end, it was my choice and what made me feel comfortable, cared for, and safe. 

Working with midwives through my pregnancy was a wonderful experience. I felt that I received more comprehensive prenatal care than I would have with an OBGYN. I had hour-long appointments where we discussed everything from my diet and exercise to my mental health, relationships, and any physical pregnancy side effects. I felt supported, listened to, and ready to give birth and embark on the journey to parenthood.  

The preparations for the home birth were minimal. We had to order a birth kit, which contained basic things like sterile pads and gloves, a plastic bed protector, a baby chord clamp, a little sponge to wash the baby off, some measuring tape to measure the baby, some postpartum supplies, and even a newborn hat. We rented a birthing tub from the birthing center. I scrounged up some old sheets and towels, and bought us some new sheets, relegating our current sheets to the “to be used for homebirth” pile. We bought a lot of coconut water for a hydrating electrolyte drink during labor, and some olive oil to help the baby come out. In the weeks coming up to the birth, I tried to keep up with chores to make sure that our house was visitor-ready.  

All three births were very different, but all were very quick. Being at home, and not having to rush out the door, was very helpful to me and reduced my stress. I loved the fact that I did not have to pack a hospital bag, nor leave the house much after birth.  

My daughter’s birth was surprisingly quick, contrary to the 12+ hours of labor as a first-time mom everyone warned me about. The contractions began as I was walking out of a Babies R Us, having just completed putting together a registry. Instead of packing a bag, rushing to the hospital, and stressing myself and everyone else out, I drove back to the house, took a bath, had a snack, and called my friend to come over with some flour. We planned to bake cookies during the early part of labor. I called the midwife after the contractions had been going strong for a couple of hours. As a first-time mom, I had anticipated a long slow labor, but it turned out that I tend to have very quick labor. By the time my friend arrived with the flour, my husband was assembling the birthing tub. By the time the midwives walked in the door, I was in active labor nearing transition. The labor progressed so quickly that the birthing tub never got filled, the cookies were never baked, and the baby was almost there! I was so glad to be at home. At one point in the labor, I attempted to lie down on my back and almost jumped up in pain. The way the baby was positioned made laying down incredibly painful. Walking around, looking at the things in my home that made me feel safe, my husband and my best friend there, with the lights dimmed and everyone talking very quietly, with me laboring both upright and on my hands and knees, this was how my daughter came into the world. I labored through most of the night. After about seven hours of labor and less than four hours of active labor, we had a little red screaming baby girl. By 4 AM, she was on my breast nursing clumsily, still attached to the cord, while I delivered the placenta. After everyone left, and the commotion subsided, the baby and I both fell asleep next to my husband, who had already been snoozing away.  

What I really liked about the homebirth experience was that I did not have to leave the comfort of my home. The next day, the midwives came back to check on me. They came back again two days later, and then a week later to check on me. They brought everything with them, and I did not go to any medical offices. I did not have to wear a shirt (which was a good thing, as establishing our nursing had made wearing anything on my chest very uncomfortable.) I did not have to stuff my newborn in a car seat, which was also a good thing, because my daughter was one of those infants that screamed in the car seat.  

My son’s birth was very different from my daughter’s birth. It was both quick and slow. With over 24 hours of early labor that stopped and started, I was then in active labor for a little over an hour. I had just called the midwife telling her to come over within an hour, and sat down to dinner, when 10 minutes later, things changed dramatically. I had my husband call the midwife back saying come right now.  The midwife, my sister, and my best friend all got there about 45 minutes before the baby was born. My daughter, who was four years old at the time, was in the next room with my sister and was able to see her baby brother as soon as he arrived and got cleaned up.  

My youngest son’s birth was very different from the two before. My water broke in the middle of the night and my contractions began slow and very manageable. By 5 AM, I knew that he was close. I woke up my husband, called my midwife, and my best friend. Again, active labor was around one hour, with the sweetest little boy arriving on the floor in our master bedroom. Since it was COVID times, and had we been in a hospital, the kids would not have been able to see me, nor would my best friend have been in the room with us. The older kids woke up towards the end of the labor and met their new baby brother. We all met the sunrise together with the newest little member of our family.  

 

For me, homebirth was the right choice. I know this is not the case for everyone. I had a home with enough room in it (sort of) to accommodate two midwives and my support people. I had a supportive community, a healthy and problem-free pregnancy, and was close to a hospital. I honestly cannot imagine having a child in any other way, especially after having been there for my friend’s homebirth and having heard from friends about their hospital birth experiences with unwanted interventions and pressure from medical staff. If you are pregnant, or planning to give birth in the future, I would say, look into it. It is not often discussed, or offered as a birth choice, but it may be a great option for you.   

 

Written by: Tatiana Woldman

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