Sunday, June 8, 2014

What Do Homebirth Midwives Do?

As homebirth is becoming more common, I'm finding that more people are enthusiastic (or at least not panicking) when I tell them I'm doing a homebirth. Even if "there's no way I ever would/could do a homebirth," many people of my generation have at least heard of someone else who did it.

There are still a few people who ask if I'm going to have a midwife come. Umm, yes. I may be a bit outside of normal, but not that much. I appreciate having the expertise of a licensed midwife combined with the comforts and freedoms of home. There are extremists out there who choose an unattended birth or want to give birth in the ocean with dolphins (I seriously remember a news story about that from a few years ago, I'm not making it up). But even back when homebirth was the norm, women usually had midwives and other women attend them.

Since we moved, I'm experiencing my second homebirth midwife. Though their personalities are wildly different, as Licensed Midwives their education, training, and abilities are the same. My current midwife's practice is called Sweet Baby Midwifery. I was going to write my own explanation of what a homebirth midwife does, but she writes it so well on her website that I'm going to borrow some of her words (and you can check out her site if you want more detailed information).

Prenatal Care

I offer complete prenatal care during your pregnancy. Visits are scheduled at standard intervals: Once a  month until 28 weeks, every two weeks until 36 weeks and once a week until the baby is born. All visits are done in the comfort of your own home.

All prenatal care covers the exact same care you would get from an OB or a hospital based midwife. They check the same things and do the same lab tests at the same times.

Labor and Birth

When your body goes into labor, my birth assistant and I will come to your home. I bring with me everything needed for the labor, birth and immediate postpartum. This includes my birth kit of instruments, bulb syringe, oxygen, IV supplies, emergency equipment and medications to stop postpartum bleeding. I am fully prepared and trained should the birth or postpartum move outside of normal.  

While in labor, you have complete freedom of movement. You are encouraged to eat and drink. I have the ability to give you an IV, but it is not standard and only given if needed. I will monitor your blood pressure, pulse and temperature. I will listen to the baby's heart beat with my handheld Doppler in increasing intervals as labor progresses. 

Baby comes right to your chest after birth. Anything that I need to do for baby, I can do right on your chest.

Once you and baby are medically stable, comfortable breastfeeding and ready to sleep, my birth assistant and I will leave you to enjoy your new family addition.

Should a situation arise that requires transferring to the hospital, I will accompany you. I will call ahead to the hospital to let them know what is happening and what is needed. We will go either via ambulance or personal vehicle depending on the situation. Although, I don't have hospital privileges, I will be able to communicate with the hospital staff to insure a smooth transition.

Homebirth midwives come with all the equipment and medication (and training to use them!) that would be needed in an emergency. Without interventions, birth usually goes just fine. But a homebirth midwife is trained to face any emergency and to know when it's wise to transfer to a hospital.

Postpartum Care

I will return to your home 24-48 hrs after the birth. I will check on you and the baby. I provide breastfeeding help. Overall, I make sure you and baby are happy and healthy. I will then return at 2 weeks and 6 weeks postpartum.

This care is significantly better than what I received from the hospital. If I have problems with breastfeeding, I have someone's personal cell I can call to get that help as soon as I need it.


When I was pregnant with baby #2, I was in a car accident. I called my midwife and she came to check on me and the baby at home right away. It was a Sunday and I didn't have to decide between waiting to make an appointment the next day or going to the ER to make sure my baby was safe.

Homebirth is definitely not for everyone or even for every birth. But true choice in childbirth includes knowing your choices. And I can attest that anyone making a different choice than what you're accustomed to will appreciate you learning a little bit about their choice before passing judgment.

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