Giving Birth at Home: Pros and Cons of our Homebirth Decision

Pros and Cons of Homebirth

Two-month-old’s giggles may just cure cancer and create world peace, my husband quipped the other day.

We’re in the baby giggles stage now, those amazingly heart-melting “hyuk-hyuks” parents are rewarded with when we smile and laugh with baby, nuzzle his neck with our kisses and tickle his belly.

Yes, dear reader, babies do bring joy to a household. Gabe makes me smile every day and my heart is 110% taken by him.

We’re far enough away now from the birth experience that I’m glad I was taking little notes that week, because I’d probably forget everything negative and anything important about the whole thing.

If you haven’t yet heard my birth story, I really wrote it for me and to Gabriel, but I’ll let you read it:

I promised you a rundown of the pros and cons of a homebirth, and I’m finally delivering.

Just so you have a little background, this was our fourth birth but first homebirth. We have had three hospital births, all “natural” without pain medications or inductions, each progressively quicker than the last: 13 hours labor, 7 in the hospital with number one; 5 hours labor, 39 minutes in the hospital for our second; and 2-ish hours labor (or two days), 3 minutes in the hospital.

Yeah. You read that right.

Baby number three was an emergency room birth, and because of that rather hectic experience plus my distaste for hospitals and medicine, I said at that time something like, “If God has another baby in mind for us, I’m never giving birth in a hospital again!”

Good old God. He has a great sense of humor. Smile

When Gabriel was conceived, I thought, “Uh oh. I was pretty clear about that, and of course it’s in writing…I guess I have to put my money where my mouth is and figure out how to have a homebirth (and how to talk my husband into it)!”

It was a rather major discussion for a couple months, and we interviewed a few midwives in the area, ultimately deciding on knowledge over experience and going with a Certified Nurse Midwife, Leslie Cornwell. She had attended far fewer births than the other two midwives we talked to, but she had more training and more knowledge of what to do in emergency situations.

I also felt I connected with her personally, and that’s really important in my opinion when choosing a midwife (or doctor or medical professional of any kind, really).

How to Decide Whether to Have a Home Birth - Pros and Cons

Before the birth itself, there were a few major advantages in my book about working with a midwife, and this one in particular:

  • She came to my house for 100% of the prenatal appointments. (I really lucked out here as her office was 45 minutes away but her parents lived 10 minutes from me, so she was happy to come my way. Cannot. Say. Enough. about how awesome that was for my schedule and sanity!) My kids loved being her “assistants” as you can see in the photo above.
  • Number of appointments was flexible. You know how at the end of pregnancy you have to go in every week for a 5-minute checkup, but it takes 90 minutes out of your day including driving, waiting room time and possibly childcare for other children? We had fewer appointments because I was doing well and was comfortable with that; Leslie let me choose. Again – awesome.
  • I didn’t have to drink the orange stuff. I was able to simply prick my finger and take blood sugar about ten times, upon waking and then after carb-filled meals for part of a week. There are lots of alternatives to avoiding the orange drink for glucose screening, and you can talk to any provider about them, but it was awfully nice to be offered the option instead of having to talk someone into it.
  • In general, working with a midwife typically means less hassle about choosing to opt out of medical procedures that are unnecessary, and working with a CNM means that on the flip side, you can get any procedure you wish as well. I felt very respected and like I had not only a voice in the process but a knowledgeable ally.

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Taking the Plunge: Water Birth

I didn’t head into the homebirth process planning on a water birth.

I had read about other people’s water births, and they always sounded peaceful and fairly idyllic, possibly even unrealistic. They sounded nice, but I never strongly desired one.

When Leslie asked if I wanted a water birth, I responded with, “Tell me about what that would be like.”

When she described the process and said that it can reduce the chance of tearing, I perked up. She explained the choices for the tub (rent a professional grade tub for $150 or buy a backyard pool on Amazon for about $30), and somehow I was making water birth lists.

How to Decide Whether to Have a Home Birth - Pros and Cons

I barely remember the process of discussing it with my husband before we were just kind of heading in that direction. I’m happy I did it, but it must be said clearly that having a homebirth and having a home water birth are two totally different questions when it comes to a pro/con list (mostly because the supply and preparation lists are so different). I’ll note the water-birth-only parts below.

Advantages of Having a Home Birth

Please keep in mind that these are 100% my opinions based on my experience. Your lists may be radically different based on your own personality, philosophy, local area and provider.

No driving involved.

I hated making the call about when to go to the hospital, since I didn’t want to be there too long in labor (and clearly cut it a little close with baby three). It was so peaceful NOT having to make that call, and also NOT having to sit down and drive anywhere at all. I hate sitting in labor, so the car ride was always one of the worst parts.

It sounds small, but that was just a huge grace about the experience for me.

You don’t have to deal with paperwork and administrative stuff while you’re in labor.

All the forms are already signed, you know exactly who is coming over to your house and you only have to remember to turn on the outside lights and unlock the doors, not check in at a desk and sign your life away on a clipboard.

You have the midwife all to yourself.

My husband added this one, and I agree with him. In the hospital, the doctor generally is very in and out, and they may not show up until it’s the very end. This made my husband a little nervous and can be a hectic feeling. Once the midwife had arrived, we knew she was 100% there for us. Note: Be sure to ask your midwife about her backup procedures if she has two women in labor at once, or obviously this advantage could turn into a problem quickly!

It’s all-natural, no matter what.

Some may put this on the disadvantage list, but for me, it’s nice – almost neutral – to have no pain meds available. I wouldn’t take them anyway, so it’s fine that an epidural isn’t around the corner. Definitely something to keep in mind if you’re considering a homebirth for your first birth and you don’t really know what to expect from labor, though.

No eye goop, etc.

I explained in this post how we opt out of the ointment put on baby’s eyes immediately after birth, among other things. Nurse midwives can administer antibiotics, the Vitamin K shot, and pitocin, but it’s much easier to opt out if you choose than it is in most hospitals.

If you want any newborn procedures like circumcision, know that you’ll have to make separate appointments for both, rather than the convenience of having it all done in the hospital.

Midwives stitch differently than doctors.

This was a surprise to me. Leslie explained that for some tears, there would be no stitching at all, and for those that did require stitched, she would use far fewer actual stitches than an M.D. normally would.

Doctors stitch a tight, straight line, which is aesthetically nicer but pulls and stings much more when moving around and urinating in the first week. (Who really cares about aesthetics down there???)

Midwives stitch the muscle together and leave a lot up to the body to heal. That’s good and bad: you are asked to keep your legs together for the first 4+ days, which drove me NUTS because I prefer to tuck my legs under or sit pretzel style while nursing. Many early nursing sessions were very uncomfortable for me because of that.

On the flip side, my stitches hardly hurt at all while they healed. I never once had painful urination or stinging on the toilet, and even the first BM wasn’t the awful experience I remember from other births.

Overall I’m a fan of midwife-style stitches, but I imagine this one could go either way. I have one friend whose midwife didn’t stitch at all, and she still has pain four months later. She nearly had to have surgery to repair the crazy way everything came back together, so I don’t think she would agree with me on that one. Sad smile

Tuscan Beef and Bean Stew

You get to eat your own food.

When number three was born, my husband brought in a massive amount of food for me, and I used the hospital cafeteria service only to supplement what I was already eating. I ordered a baked potato, some steamed broccoli, maybe a chicken breast or something…but not much. I was happy this time to have my own kitchen, refrigerator, and food there for me, and since my husband was able to take a few days off, it was even easier for him to just heat up leftovers for us than haul food to the hospital for me.

The comfort of home.

No bright, glaring hospital lights, no beeping machines…I did like knowing where everything was and just being home, particularly the next morning when we introduced Gabriel to his siblings and grandparents.

My husband shared that he has a very fond memory of waking up in the morning and making me breakfast, knowing that we were both peacefully in our own home, that he could serve me by bringing me something he knew I would like to eat, and that no one was going to bother us.

This one can have its disadvantages as well, as you’ll see below, but after the first night passed, I truly enjoyed just being home without having to transition from the hospital, buckle baby into a carseat, etc.

Life goes on.

Some people would say they dislike this part of being home right away, that they embrace the “break” from parenting other children that a hospital stay affords, but I really liked being able to be there for my kids 12 and 24 hours after giving birth.

Our two younger children were at their grandparents across town for two nights, and our oldest decided he just wanted to be home the night after Gabe was born, so we had a really nice, quiet evening, a fun dinner with our first baby, and then our 9-year-old held the newborn brother while he read his book before bed.

It will remain a favorite memory of all time, made possible by homebirth (and generous grandparents who kept the little ones).

Paul reads with Gabe

Nobody wakes you up at night (other than the baby).

I nearly killed the young phlebotomist who came into my hospital room at 5 in the morning after giving birth to baby number three at 10 p.m. That moment, while not one of my proudest, was a major motivation for going with a homebirth. I strongly believe no one should wake a new mother unless they are about to nurse on her breast!

Disadvantages of Having a Home Birth

Facebook Pros and Cons of Homebirth

Again, remember these are just my opinions based on my own experience and personality.

Gathering supplies is necessary.

Your midwife will give you a list of things to buy/collect for your “homebirth supply kit,” and while none of them are revolutionary or extremely difficult to find, it’s still something you need to think about and be willing to do.

For a water birth: The supply list is MUCH longer and more complicated, including finding a hose attachment for your sink, testing that out, purchasing/renting and inflating (if necessary) the tub itself, and some clean-up items, towels, etc. This was a not-so-minor task for our non-shopping family…

If you do a water birth, we highly recommend turning up the temp on your water heater a few weeks in advance. Had we not done that, we would not have had enough hot water to fill the tub.

You still technically have to pack a hospital bag.

I didn’t, really, because I figured if we had to go to the hospital, my husband could come home and get clothing for baby and me before we had to go anywhere, but you’re supposed to in case of a transfer.

Prepping the room is a new labor task.

When we had our birthing classes back with baby number one, I remember the instructor talking about a “labor task” that you could choose to do in early labor, something mindless to keep yourself busy, from magazines to knitting to playing cards.

Mine was making dinner, of course, and my husband’s was prepping the room.

We had all the supplies in there and ready to go, but some things can’t be done in advance. He had to get the tarps laid down, fill the tub, and put plastic sheeting on the bed plus another set of sheets (so that after the birth we could strip those off and have regular sheets underneath for everyone to rest/sleep on).

That all went fine and we had time to finish everything, but I know he was rushing around like a madman for a while there. Note: the plastic double sheeting would need to be done, and maybe some tarps if you choose to protect the carpet like that, but the tub of course is water-birth only.

Relying on someone else to get there.

Even though we loved not having to drive anywhere, it’s still a slight disadvantage that you have to wait for your provider to come to you and can’t take action to go to them. Our midwife was very good in assuring us she’d take every precaution to get there on time – and she did – but when things are out of your hands, there’s a feeling of helplessness.

On the other hand, if we didn’t make it to the hospital, that’s a big hairy ugly scary deal, but if the midwife didn’t make it, at least we’d have the supplies for an unassisted homebirth! Small consolation. Smile

There may be space issues.

We have a ridiculously large master bedroom – not something we were looking for in a home, honestly, but it proved handy for a water birth tub, and now a crib, changing table and rocking chair. Not everyone has such space though, so one thing my husband mentioned was that there was some bumping-into-each-other issues and general cramped feeling as everyone was bustling around after the birth.

Not a huge deal, but one more thing to consider as you discern about a homebirth decision.

What if something happens?

This is the quintessential homebirth question: what happens in case of a crisis birth? It’s a lot more time and effort to transfer via ambulance or private vehicle to a hospital than it is to have a team of doctors come down the hall right to the room you’re already laboring in.

Certified nurse midwives are trained in newborn resuscitation among other emergency procedures, but there’s no denying that a hospital is better equipped to handle problems.

My husband had some sleepless moments imagining what it would be like in reality to carry a laboring, in-trouble wife down our stairs and out to a vehicle. Leslie assured him it would be easy…but carrying anything down the stairs does not fit that description, especially a person whom you love more than anything who is likely in a heap of pain.

I’m really glad nothing went wrong. Period.

You’re all alone.

Katie Kimball with husband and baby in a wrap
Thinking about giving birth at home? Check out these pros and cons from a mom who has given birth in the hospital and at home. Pro: Enjoy your newborn in the comfort of your own home.

The midwives stay for at least two hours after the birth, but then when they left, my husband and I looked at each other in our bed and gulped. “We’re on our own to do this thing!” There is a certain security in having nurses a call button away to answer questions and give second opinions about things babies do. Leslie was only a text or phone call away, but it’s still different.

We both thought that we wouldn’t want a homebirth for our first child when we were rookies, considering we are quite experienced parents and still felt a little anxious at that moment. (But that’s just us! A friend locally had a homebirth for her first and loved and appreciated the whole experience. She chose the path because she felt that, since both she and her husband are introverted by nature, her labor would have been negatively affected by people she didn’t know coming in and out of the L&D room – anxiety can slow labor down and might lead to unwanted interventions in a hospital setting.)

No automatic hearing screening OR birth certificate registration.

A lot of stuff happens while you’re in the hospital after you give birth, and I was totally unprepared for the fact that I’d have to make an appointment, go to the hospital, and pay for the newborn hearing screening, as well as go downtown to get Gabe’s birth certificate.

We skipped the hearing screening, mostly because I didn’t want to make another appointment. I checked with our family doc at Gabe’s first checkup and he said he concurred that it wasn’t totally necessary, so hopefully that doesn’t bite us at any later point. (The information from the midwife leaned on the side of “it is really necessary,” so I’m taking a risk with that choice.)

The birth certificate appointment turned out to take an entire morning because, lovely, it happened on the day of a super big snow storm and a 20-minute drive took 45. Big time fun with a 3-year-old and a newborn in the car, but thankfully Gabe slept the entire time. That kind of made up for some of those prenatal appointments I didn’t have to drive to!!

The comfort of home (revisited).

I said above that this one is a two-edged sword. While it’s nice to be at home, you also end up worrying about getting blood on your carpet, sheets, mattress, etc.

We had zero spots anywhere, thanks to my husband’s great tarping and the plastic under our sheets, and the midwives got a load of laundry all the way through and another one started, and they assured me they are pros at spot cleaning blood on the carpets, but nonetheless, there was a worry.

No hospital bed.

As  much as I might complain about not sleeping in my own bed during a hospital stay, it can’t be denied that for the non-sleeping times, a hospital bed that can mechanically help you sit up to nurse is darn handy.

I felt very uncomfortable right after birth, trying to comfort and nurse a very fussy baby who had no interest in nursing. I couldn’t get him high enough, I couldn’t prop myself up comfortably, and I found myself very much wishing for “up/down” buttons on the bed… My tip for you is to have about ten pillows available, no exaggeration. We had four or five, but it just wasn’t enough.

Laundry.

Mollys suds laundry soapIt’s not a ton of work, but you are responsible for folding the laundry the midwives get through, finishing load two and dealing with whatever might be soaking in hydrogen peroxide water (I ended up having to do a second soak with oxygen bleach (found on Amazon) to get some blood out of sheets and our receiving blanket).

The good thing about laundry at our house? When you use natural laundry detergent like Molly’s Suds, you don’t have to think about separating baby stuff from the rest of the household. I’m always grateful that our sheets, my clothes, etc. are free from fragrances and toxins when baby is resting on them.

Pumping out the tub was a big “one more thing.” (water birth only)

I didn’t have to deal with this, thank goodness, but my husband reports that it was really kind of inconvenient to be having to help pump out the water birth tub after the birth when he really just wanted to be bonding with Gabriel and me.

The midwives took over a little, but at first he felt like it was his responsibility, including having to go get a longer hose than the one we used to fill it so the bloody water wouldn’t splash all over our house as it emptied out the two-story window.

Foresight would have been better than hindsight on that one since our long hose was all tangled up and became another “one more thing” to do.

What if it’s winter? (water birth only)

Emptying the tub out an open window worked out okay in October when it was cold but not freezing, and my husband could run water through the hose to clean it out the next day, but had it been the middle of winter, both those tasks would have been much more complicated. I wouldn’t have wanted an open window in 15-degree weather with a minutes-old baby in the room!

Family reactions.

This may or may not be a consideration at all for you, depending on whether you care about what your family and friends think about you, but we were very private about our decision with everyone – family, friends, readership – mostly because we didn’t want to deal with negative reactions in any way.

Our families ended up being very neutral about it, which was a nice surprise!

Neutral/Transitory

The last item on my list is the financial aspect of giving birth.

Whether this is positive or negative for home birth vs. hospital birth depends completely on your insurance structure.

With our HMO through my husband’s work, the pre- and post-natal care was supposed to be covered (both the midwife and I had conversations with the insurance company) but any births outside a hospital are not. However, after a few hours on the phone, I still haven’t seen any payments from insurance. That’s been a pain.

If I was paying out of pocket or using a healthcare sharing plan that covers homebirths (Samaritan Ministries does, for example), then a homebirth would be far less expensive and far less hassle than a hospital birth, and you’d know what you would be expected to pay right up front.

As far as our costs, we have a very, very high deductible and would have ended up paying for the whole thing anyway, so it was a moot point in the end, but a number of phone calls to figure all that out.

A Good Homebirth Laugh

Whether you’ve ever considered a homebirth before or couldn’t dream of it, this clip from Jim Gaffigan, comic father of 5 homebirthed children, will get you belly laughing like no other: 4 Kids.


I hope this comparison has been helpful to you. I’m sure, in my continued postpartum haze, that I forgot a number of pros and cons, so I’d love to hear from you!

What was your experience in homebirth (or what questions do you have)?

28 thoughts on “Giving Birth at Home: Pros and Cons of our Homebirth Decision”

  1. Just wanted to say I’ve had three water births, and never once emptied the pool outside…bloody water might attract unwanted attention/and or critters. We always emptied the pool into the toilet via a hose. The toilet constantly drains, and never over flows. I haven’t had any hospital births, but I think for the majority of concerns/difficulties mentioned, there is information available, or help available, to cover it all. Just depends on if you’re willing to continue coloring outside the lines.

  2. That’s a really good pro/con homebirth list. I had all three of mine at a local hospital, attended by wonderful midwives who paid attention to my wishes carefully. For children #2 and #3, we had our older kid/kids stay with us so that they could be part of the excitement, but after a period of hours so that we could rest up. I have a friend who has had two homebirths, the second of which happened so quickly that her midwife got there only in time to cut the cord after my friend’s husband had caught the baby! What a wonderful picture of your older son holding your youngest!

  3. I’m 100% on board with homebirth being a great choice for women who want it. However, one thing did catch my eye as someone who works with kids ages 0-3 who have delays or disabilities- please, please, PLEASE get the hearing screening done. Your primary care doc/pediatrician may be able to do it in office. It is fast and painless/non-invasive, and knowing about a hearing issue as soon as possible makes a HUGE difference for the child’s language development.

  4. Well, when you put up that post quoting my comment from the other post with link to my circumcision article, that was my highest traffic day that year, so it made an impression! I will keep your job offer in mind when the research study where I manage data finally runs out of grants. 🙂

  5. My first was a hospital birth with a midwife, second was at a birth center with one of their team of midwives. I give the first experience a C- and the second an A! Some of our problems in the first birth came from having a solo-practice midwife who’d been awake most of 36 hours and had just recently switched hospitals–but I think the best experience that hospital could have given us was a B.

    My preference for the birth center over a home birth mainly had to do with wanting to be in a very clean place and have it cleaned up after me, without having to do any of that cleaning myself! The idea of midwives doing laundry in my home without a “native guide” to make sure it goes smoothly makes me kind of nervous.

    Also, the birth center has a built-in hot tub in each birthing room. You’re not “supposed” to do a water birth there, but I loved it during labor.

    Many of the advantages you mention are advantages of a birth center, too, or of working with a midwife even in a hospital–my first midwife was in the room for 90% of my labor, despite being so tired, but made several coffee runs! I did have to ride in the car to the birth center, and that wasn’t fun. (However, I didn’t have to go anywhere after we got home. The nurse came to see us the next day.)

    I’m not sure about the stitches. Mine were done by midwives both times, but I think they did them more like you’re saying a doctor would. I do care about the aesthetics–I wouldn’t want any lumpy scar tissue or anything that permanently looks gruesome to my partner, if it could be avoided.

    My birth center has very pleasant lighting and no machines (unless they have to get them out for an emergency) and we were delighted with the breakfast in bed that the nurse made for us! They did the newborn exam and birth certificate paperwork for us.

    You mention circumcision here as something people might do, without a link to why you decided not to circumcise your second son. Did you change your mind with the third, or was it not at the front of your mind because the question is settled for you now?

    1. LOL, the latter, ‘Becca – I think you know my archives better than I do! I totally forgot whether I wrote about that decision or not. When we found out Gabe was a boy, we definitely just looked at each other and said, “Same thing as last time, right?”

      Seriously, 100%, if you’re ever looking for a WAHM job, I will hire you!

      🙂 Katie

      PS – Hubby says it looks fine. 😉

  6. I’ve had three home births, two in water (I now own a birthing pool!). They were excellent experiences. I’m in Ontario, Canada, and many of the cons you mentioned don’t apply here. Thankfully, this is a province that equally covers home birth and hospital birth. Though after the excellent experience I’ve had, I wouldn’t hesitate to pay for it out of pocket if necessary.

    I had the same midwife for all three and that relationship was so positive. Here, there are always at least two midwives at the delivery, one for mother and one for baby, so that was not an issue, as it was for another commenter.

    I loved, loved, loved being at home. My own bed, my own food, my children about to meet the baby soon after birth (they were at the grandparents’ during) . I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

    We were blessed in having so many variables work in our favour and there are certainly scenarios in which I would not feel comfortable with home birth. But so far, I am always overwhelmingly grateful when I think about the births I’ve been blessed with.

  7. I really enjoyed your post! You are very thorough in your description of pros and cons. I had my first son in the hospital with midwife my second son was born at home with a midwife. I was at first resistant of at the idea of a home birth, but the more I prayed about it, the more I felt at peace. my initial plan was to have a midwife attended birth at a birth house and midwife school about a half hour from our house. Which was across the street from a hospital. but it turned out we have to pay a pretty hefty rental fee for the birth of birth, because my midwife was not an official partner there. So we decided on a home birth, and I’m glad we did!

    I did end up in the hospital a couple of nights at 37 weeks because of pregnancy hypertension, but those issues stabilized and I ended up having a safe home birth, with the understanding that if my blood pressure got too high we would have to go to the hospital right away.

    In my mind, there is no comparison between hospital and home birth. I had A midwife the first time in the hospital, but the care I got with my second midwife at home was much more individual and more personalized to my individual needs. and I loved that the prenatal visits were in my home!it was so much easier with a 2 year old toddler already.the actual homebirth went very well and I found I was really able to relax at home and focus. I had an uncomfortable tear with my first child, due to birthing on a hospital bed, and my midwife forced me to push him out very quickly because his heart rate was dipping too low. I do not think that would have happened had I been in the more optimum position for birth ing my baby. With my second birth, I had no tearing at all, even though the baby was several ounces larger! A perk of delivering in the birth tub. Nursing and bonding went so much smoother also…I didn’t miss the nurses coming in every 2-3 hours at ALL! so if the Lord blesses us with another child, I most certainly will be pursuing a second home birth.

  8. raisingcropsandbabies

    My experience having a homebirth was pretty awful. It ended in a severe shoulder dystocia. My son was born flat, needing resc’d, and now has a lifelong birth injury. I also was injured and took 3 years to heal, but my tailbone will forever hurt (it broke).
    I had the rest of my kids at a hospital. I just never thought I’d be the one with such an emergency and a homebirth-gone-wrong. My son is my miracle, but I do wish he didn’t have to go through what he goes through everyday.

    Another con is there is not enough people at home to take care of the mom AND the baby should you both need help. All the focus goes to one or the other…

    We are very thankful to be alive.

    1. Oh, how awful and scary – I’m understanding that most of those situations would not have happened in a hospital birth for one reason or another? I’m so sorry you and your son had to experience such trauma and am also very glad you are both alive – true that baby and mom can’t be treated at the same time. I remember discussing that point with my husband during our decision, now that you mention it.
      Thank you for sharing your story, Katie

      1. raisingcropsandbabies

        No, it wouldn’t have happened. We lost his heartrate as I was pushing, but we couldn’t get wheeled in for a C-section because we were at home. Then he was in distress at lot during the birth, but it went undetected because of lack of monitoring (the Doppler every so often didn’t catch it). I also had some red flags that were passed off as “first time mom” things and I know that wouldn’t have flown in a hospital. As far as my injuries, I think I should have had an OB stitch me up instead of the midwife sending me to a family doctor… hindsight is always 20/20!

  9. Very thoughtful post. I’m about to have my third (8 months pregnant). My previous 2 were c-section and born the in D.R. While I’m not doing a home-birth, I have been so blessed to find a doctor who just recently opened a midwifery clinic. His ideas are very similar to a midwife (promotes V-BACs, less intervention, move around as much as I want, eat and drink what I want, what until the baby comes on it’s own, do it as naturally as I want, etc.). And the nurses are used to his “different views.” and “strange patients.” 🙂 Plus, we have the midwives to assist as well. I’m super excited and hope that God blesses us with the natural birth we’ve been preparing for! 🙂 Thanks for sharing your story!

  10. I have had 4 home births, all beautiful and wonderful experiences. I am a midwifery assistant and doula and have now experienced well over 50 births, only 2 ending up in a hospital transfer, neither one being a scary bloody emergency. (And both of those women ended up birthing vaginally in the hospital.)
    This is a great list, and I agree with another commenter who pointed out that many of these cons are completely dependent on the provider you choose. The midwife I assist requires extensive education and training of her clients because by the time baby comes, she expects her clients to have complete ownership of the entire process. She provides an Emergencies and Complications class in which all the scary what-ifs are addressed (most emergencies are handled by the midwife–she is trained to deal with those things. Complications are often prevented through excellent diet and prenatal care and careful monitoring during labor.) Then we provide every family with a “daddy catch-kit” in case baby arrives before we do, dad is thoroughly prepared to handle that scenario, and knows exactly what he should and what to expect.
    Another important PRO to mention is the rapport and relationship that is built between the midwife and the client. Midwives spend 10 times the amount of hours with their clients vs. doctors! In my experience, that translates to alot more than just checking vitals and running your urine test. That time is spent talking about your hopes and fears, your other children or family members, or whatever else is near and dear to your heart.
    A last PRO that I should mention is the overwhelming amount of evidence for the safety and efficacy of homebirth vs. hospital birth. You are not taking a risk choosing homebirth (unless of course you have extenuating circumstances), you are choosing the path that women have walked since the beginning of time, (until just about 60 years ago).

  11. This is a nice post. I am way past the age of childbirth! This post interested me because I have a niece that has had 6 children all at home. Some of them were delivered by her husband, due to the midwife not arriving in time. Now he can do it easily. It has been less stressful for her and the children. No problems with any of them.

  12. My first was a hospital birth – I was 19, it was 1972. No one told me what to expect, what would be happening. I only saw the doctor at the first visit, and at delivery. I was scared, screaming, and had no idea what was going on. I recall him telling the nurse to “shut her up” – and I received an ether cone over my nose. I remember a nurse pushing on my stomach, because I was mostly out. Horrible experience. My second was born in 1975, in a Catholic hospital, where the birth room was next to the “old nun’s home/hallway”. For both births, the mother and father had no choice, and no options or control. Ten years later, in 1985 (my bouncing baby boy turned 30 yesterday), I was with a midwife, my husband, my ten year old daughter, and our dog. Very calm, very relaxed (all 3 were 17 hour labors), no tearing, happy baby, happy family. He was born around 5:30am, we made a deep snow roadtrip to the doctor’s office (so she could count his toes and check my insides), and that was it. We stopped for breakfast on the way home. My sweet, gentle man has never had a vaccination, no silver nitrate in his beautiful blue eyes, has had regular chiropractic care since birth, and has never had more than a three day cold. Natural is the way to go.

  13. Great list! I’ve had two hospital births (first one being a c-section) and two home births. My most recent home birth, baby beat the midwife by 45 minutes! Haha whoops!

    This list varies by midwife, for sure. My midwife does ALL the cleanup. She seriously leaves no evidence that she was even there. But a con that I would add is the post-birth vital checks. We had to do all that ourselves. Temp, pulse, wet diaper count, etc every hour for however long and then every 4 hours, or whatever it was. I don’t fully remember the increments, I just remember fudging a few of them because I didn’t WANT to take my vitals again, I just wanted to sleep! That was a huge con for me. But I will still do another home birth if we have another baby!

    1. Audrey,
      How interesting – we counted diapers (and ended up in the ER for a bilirubin check at 4 days because he hadn’t pooped in 40 hours!) but I never had to take my own vitals. Everyone is different in practice I guess. My husband would have not done so well had Gabe beat the midwife, yikes!
      🙂 Katie

  14. We have had 3 @ home. Number 2 was quick and the midwife was 10 minutes too late! Still much better than having a baby in the car! Laws definitely vary from state to state so it is good to find out which things will apply. For example, our midwives could not stitch until this past year and may not administer pitocin except to control post-partum bleeding and CNMs may not attend home births. I don’t have any cons because my mom is a midwife (though not in our state) and has been around to help out for the first day or so. She also caught baby number 2 while I was freaking out because the midwife wasn’t there and I was sure I couldn’t possibly be dilated yet 😉

  15. Beth @ Turn2theSimple

    Great list! We had Baby #1 in a hospital with a midwife, Baby #2 at home by accident — having to then go to the hospital was NOT fun!, and Baby #3 was a planned home birth (water birth). Was very pleased with our home birth experience but we now live in a different home and would not have room for a water birth at home now. If we are blessed with Baby #4 someday, we plan to do a hospital water birth and then go home right away…unless our midwife from Baby #3 has a birth center by then!

  16. My second son (now 16 months) was born at home. I think you’ve made a great pro/ con list. Ours did end up being more expensive than my first firstborn’s birth at a free standing birth center due to insurance coverage. My midwife was also more than an hour away so I to figure out when to call and gauge when I’d need her, which is a little bit of added stress during early labor. And getting the birth certificate was a huge pain. I’d definitely plan for a homebirth again though!

  17. Martha Artyomenko

    Great post. A couple of things to remember. Not all midwives are created equal which would cut back on your cons list, with a different midwife.

    For example, you kept saying CNM, CPM’s can and will do most of those things as well, in states they are legal. Actually, here, most CNM’s are not allowed to do home births.

    The midwife stays at least 5 hours, and checks up on you by phone as often as you need, checks in the next day or two as well. They complete the birth certificate (it is required by law) and order the hearing screen and complete the newborn screen at home. The hearing screen does not have to be done in the first week. Our midwives always, always take care of the water and pumping out the water. If the husband wants to help, he can. but that is their job. It is not normal that a midwife would pull you away from the new baby to do this job.

    The other thing that you didn’t mention was that a trained midwife can handle many small emergencies. They also though, know how to know what might become an emergency before it becomes one. This means, there is usually no frantic rush to the hospital. It is seen, found and dealt with before that happens.

    I have the privilege as a doula and the daughter of a midwife, to see many different births, care providers and the way things are handled. They do all have their pros and cons. Myself personally, I prefer home birth over anything else. The lack of intervention by protocol is a big pro as it often prevents the emergency situations. There are times to intervene for sure, but this is a case where home birth often prevents complications and should be a pro.

  18. I think this is a great pro/con list, and it does bring out differences in families/temperaments on what is important and not. I’ve had 2 hospital births, 2 birth center births, and 3 home births. They each do have their pros/cons. My home births were the least stressful overall because I didn’t have to go anywhere and everything was done for me, including the laundry and cleaning afterward. My labors are about 3 hours long, with only the last hour being “I know I’m in labor.” I just totally could care less when I’m in labor about sheets, towels, bloody carpet, etc — LOL! I also see that there are differences in procedures per midwife/state. In our state, the midwife files for the birth certificate and administers the newborn screening test, etc. I’ve never had to go anywhere after the births for any of these things. My midwife also registers a birth supply list with an online birth supply company. So ordering the birth supplies was very easy. But I think one of my most favorite thing about planning an out-of-hospital birth was the amount of time my midwife spent with me. My appointments were always an hour long, she was very thorough and encouraging, and we got to know her on a personal level.

  19. Just wanted to say that our midwife can now do hearing screens (she isn’t a nurse midwife), although she couldn’t do it when we had our daughter with her. Also we were able to get the paperwork for birth certificates from her and then send it in, no need to go anywhere. So some of those challenges may be different depending on your location and your midwife. Great article!

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