Perhaps the best way to prepare for a home birth is to hear from other mamas who have been there, done that. And so we put out a call to our Coco Moon community to learn from mamas who would share their experiences.
In the final piece of our home birth blog series, we interviewed three mamas who gave birth at home. Below are their insights, their birth stories, and words of encouragement for any one who dreams of having their baby at home.
What did you do to prepare for your home birth?
Jackie B: I make a list and try to have everything ready by 36-37 weeks, including anything my midwife will need, and anything I want for comfort.
Allison E: The most important thing to do is prepare mentally for a home birth. Someone will have something negative to say and you need to be confident in your choice otherwise it’s not for you. Also, I used the Hynobabies program for all of my 4 babies. The first was born in the hospital and 3 born at home. I prepared more for the first 3 kids and not as much for my last and boy I could tell. I was not as in tune with my body and it made a difference! You need to pick a plan and do it!
Jackie L: I never thought I would be a home birth mama. A friend of mine recommended the documentary “the business of being born”. It blew my mind and definitely changed the way I thought about the birthing experience. The female body can do such amazing things and all of it we are capable of doing on our own. I asked around and found a birthing center in Wailua ran by Claudia Brown. She was a well-known midwife on Kauai. I had already had one appointment at Wilcox Memorial Hospital so I made my next visit to the home birth center and never looked back. It was more than I could have ever imagined a simple birthing appointment would be. The facilities were so comfortable the midwives were so informative and reassuring. This was my first pregnancy, and none of my friends had done a home birth before. My husband wasn’t fully comfortable with the idea at first, but once he had been to a few appointments, he felt that we were in good hands.
Who was there with you and what was their role?
Jackie B: We keep our home births to just my midwives (2), and my husband and I. So, everyone there is directly helping me through contractions and delivering/catching the baby. My husband and I take turns catching the babies! We usually have a babysitter on standby in case the kids are awake and things are intense. We also had a birth photographer for two births and I highly recommend it!
Allison E: My midwife was there with her assistant. And my husband was my main person. He helped get anything I needed, filled up the birth pool, massaged my back. He was amazing and helped to deliver all my babies. With my last two I had my kids there. They helped me and cut the cords for the ones they were present for. Such a great experience.
Jackie L: When I started having contractions, I contacted my midwives and headed over to the birthing center. As I walked into the birthing suite there were dim lighting, candles lit, and gardenias in every room. It was beautiful! My baby was born around 5:00 AM, just as the sun was rising. It was magical. The wooden birthing stool was the only uncomfortable part that I would not do again. My midwives were there the whole time along with my husband. My parents were in the room next to us. My mom came in while I was pushing then my dad came in as soon as my son came out.
About a year and a half later we got pregnant again and there was no question that I was going to birth at the same place as my first. This time my labor started in the morning, and we headed over to the birthing center where they have a large saltwater pool that I started my labor in. It was great because my husband and firstborn got to enjoy the pool as well! When things started escalating, we headed over to the newly built birthing suite where they have a Jacuzzi tub outside specifically for birthing. I could not have dreamed of a more beautiful birthing experience. We were outside on a sunny day surrounded by tropical flowers with all of the midwives they have. Sharon, Colleen and Vanessa were there for the birth and Claudia and Terry were in the house next-door. I loved having everyone there for the support. This time my husband got to “catch” our baby. My parents came with my son to see his brother for the first time. My in-laws came with jars and jars of ice-cold coconut water. It was perfect. We stayed there overnight then headed home. The casual atmosphere at a homebirth is so calming which I’m sure helps with the whole laboring process.
What equipment or supplies did you have on hand?
Jackie B: We had medical supplies as well as things for comfort for mom & baby. I just think of what I’ll need in order to not have to leave my bed for a while. Snacks, water, towels, sheets, pads, a camera.
Allison E: I had a birth pool and my midwife supply kit that you need to purchase. I also used a birth ball a ton! I really enjoyed having water, Gatorade and Sprite too! They help put a little sugar and pick me up when you need it. The most important things after the birth are depends, yes adult diapers! And a heating pad.
Jackie L: Claudia Brown passed away about a month after having my second child at her birthing center. I was so grateful for her and her guidance through my first two births. She was a strong intelligent woman. I feel so blessed to have known her.
With Claudia gone the birthing center was no longer an option. So, when I got pregnant with my third child, we had to figure out a location for the birth. My parents still live in the house that I grew up in and they have a large Jacuzzi tub that my midwives said would be perfect for a birth. And it was. We were living right next-door at the time. So, when I started my contractions my parents woke up, sanitized their entire bathroom to make it ready for our newest addition to the family. I went into labor early that morning around 4 AM and he was born around 10 or 11. My cousin was visiting so my parents, my older two boys, and my cousin were all hanging out downstairs to the house that I was laboring in. It was actually quite cool to hear them all giggling and playing while I was laboring. As soon as they heard his cries my mom said to let them know when they can come up. A little while later everyone got to meet our third little boy.
What was process like after baby was born?
Jackie B: After baby is born, the midwives stick around for a while to help with observing the baby, taking weight and measurements, help with breastfeeding/latching, and getting mama properly nourished. They also stop in regularly during the days and weeks following the birth.
Allison E: After the baby was born, I got to snuggle and enjoy them! Once I delivered my placenta and everything was good, I took a shower! The best feeling and thing to do after having a baby and it’s what I look forward to the most. Haha! Then I get in bed and I feed my baby for the first time, take a family picture with all my littles and we take the babies measurements. And I get to eat! It’s always been breakfast like a smoothie and toast because my babies like to come super early in the morning.
Jackie L: The midwives took care of all of the after-birthing chores. I started to bleed a lot so they gave me a Pitocin shot which stop the bleeding. Many people would be surprised at how prepared midwives are. As we were just settling down to take a nap, we noticed my baby was breathing heavily and Claudia suggested that we go to Wilcox to have him looked at. We ended up staying in the hospital for four days, not exactly how I had planned to spend those four days. The midwives did visit us every day and they also visited us at home and made sure that we were all happy and healthy. I’m very grateful that they had us go to Wilcox.
Anything you wish you would’ve known before hand?
Jackie B: There’s nothing I wish I’d known that I didn’t. I think the best thing was to ignore other folks’ negativity surrounding birth, and try to never wander to a place of irrational fear about it.
Allison E: With my 4th, I wish I really knew how important it was to prepare mentally because I really didn’t do anything. I figured I have done this before it’s easy... well not so much! Haha.
Anything you would have done differently?
Jackie B: Possibly tried to rest more in early labor, but I’m always too excited.
Allison E: The only thing I wish I would have done is a video of the whole birth. I should have set up my go pro and just had it running the entire time. That would have been awesome but I never think of it!
What would you say are the greatest benefits of having a home birth?
Jackie B: The comfort of your own home and the lack of stress. I think it really helps labor progress.
Allison E: The best thing is having your whole family there. I love that my kids are a part of their sibling being brought into the world. We are all a part of the family. I also love being at home, I don’t enjoy hospitals. And I love how I have so much control over my surroundings for my birth.
Jackie L: Having my family around to enjoy and experience bringing my children into this world means a lot to me. It is probably the most exciting thing I will ever do for the rest of my life. And to have my birthing experiences be as amazing as they were, I will have no regrets.
What drawbacks, if any, are there to having a home birth?
Jackie B: I don’t think there are any drawbacks that outweigh the benefits, unless of course you are high risk.
Allison E: The only drawback is you’re totally committed to no drugs which is also good because you don’t have that option. Also, you should always be sure to have an experienced midwife present because you never know what could happen and should be prepared.
Anything else you’d like fellow mamas to know before having a home birth?
Jackie B: Interview as many midwives as you can until you find a great fit. I feel so blessed to have found the team that I did. They were so encouraging.
Allison E: A home birth is amazing and one of the greatest experiences you can ever give yourself. I love having my babies at home and I love how in tune I am with my body and husband.
To read more of our guide to home birth, head over to Part 1: How To Choose A Midwife and Part 2: Readying your house and yourself of this series!