Granted, I am biased, but in no particular order, here are five things I think are particularly wonderful about home births and midwifery care.
Supporting women in labor with whatever kind of support they desire
If a woman desires complete silence with no moving around while she is having a contraction, or if she asks me to kneel on her lower back while she is on all fours because she wants that much counter pressure during a contraction—she gets it.
I love adapting and supporting a laboring woman in whatever way she discovers she needs, whether it is hands on, hands off, praying, singing, silence, or verbal encouragement.
Witnessing women being forces of nature
That’s how I describe it. The raw power of labor and birth are simply magnificent. I am in awe of every woman dealing with contraction after contraction in her own unique rhythm as she builds in power to push her baby into the world. Even if things don’t go as expected and we have to transport to hospital, these women have given 150% by this time and handle the change in plans with such strength and stamina. Women are simply amazing.
Birthing positions and places: One size doesn’t fit all!
Standing, sitting on a birth stool, squatting, laying down, side-lying, hands and knees, on the stairs, in the tub, in the bathroom, in the living room, in the bedroom, outside! These are positions and places women have given birth. What will work best for you? I don’t know, let’s find out! Instead of being maneuvered into the typical “sit-on-your-sacrum-feet-in-stirrups” position that is mainly for the doctor’s benefit; at a home birth, a woman is encouraged try out many different positions for second stage. Some positions really do work better than others for bringing a baby down and out so when the woman’s work of birth is supported, rather than a doctor’s convenience, births go more smoothly for mother and baby.
Welcoming babies with care and respect
As the newest member of the human species, making the transition from watery environment to air-breather-land dweller in a matter of mere minutes, a new baby deserves some respect! For a normally adapting baby, the typical routine procedures like suctioning out the airway, immediate cutting of the cord, and separation from the mother quickly after the birth are unnecessary. I love that babies get the loving care that keeps them with their mothers in home births.
I have witnessed so many wonderful moments of older siblings meeting their newest family member for the first time--the gentle fascination for tiny hands, soft skin, and fuzzy hair! When this happens in the loving familiarity of the home and not the strange environment of the hospital, I believe it helps children adapt better. Because midwives give postpartum care in the home in the days to come, the older children continue to witness and sometimes “help” with these visits. Newborn babies are fascinating and I love answering question children have –most commonly about the newborn’s umbilical stump!
There are many more things I love about midwifery care and home birth, but I will keep to five things for now. What did you love about your midwifery care and/or home birth?