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Home Vs. Hospital Birth – Choosing The Right Birthing Option For You

Once the initial excitement, shock, or sometimes even panic wears off after finding out you’re pregnant, women then have to decide how and where they will deliver their precious bundle of joy. There are pros and cons to any birthing option, and so many different options to consider. It’s a big decision! I want to start off by saying that I am not for or against any birthing option. I am a firm believer that you have to choose what is right for you and your family. A hospital birth is not the right choice for everyone just like a home birth isn’t for everyone. I don’t think women are crazy for feeling more comfortable with an OBGYN in a hospital, but I certainly don’t think women are nuts for wanting to give birth in a bathtub in her own home. I don’t think we should judge one another in the choice of where and how we give birth. My hope in sharing this post, my journey on how I made this decision, is simply to help women feel empowered to make the right choice for themselves. I have never really found a blog post, article, or even a person who didn’t have a strong opinion on this issue. When I was faced with this decision, I really wanted to find an unbiased post that didn’t end with someone “bashing” the opposite of what they personally chose. I didn’t find one. So I hope this post is just that – an unbiased post about how I decided where and how to give birth. When I first found out I was pregnant with our first baby, I started looking into all my birthing options. I had been born in a hospital and my husband had been born at home. My side of the family had never even entertained the idea of a home birth, and my husband’s side of the family had all done home births. My husband was very against a hospital birth and I was kind of stuck in the middle, but probably leaning more towards a hospital birth since that’s what I had grown up around. Truthfully, I hated the idea of the mess of birth in my house – I didn’t really want to labor in my own bed and didn’t think a water birth was right for me. But I absolutely hated hospitals and pushy doctors. The last thing I wanted was some doctor telling me what I had to do just because he/she didn’t want to get sued. I wanted to have the most natural birth as possible and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to have that if I chose an OBGYN. After doing a lot of research, I realized what I really wanted was a midwife in a free standing birthing center, or one that was a separate wing of a hospital. Unfortunately, the closest one to where we lived was at least an hour and a half away if there wasn’t any traffic. I really wanted the freedoms that came with a home birth, but the peace of mind knowing a doctor and medical equipment was nearby if needed. I really wanted a combination of both a home and hospital birth. Since what I really wanted just wasn’t an option, I decided to look into both home and hospital birthing options more closely. My sister-in-law had the same midwife for all three of her children and absolutely loved the midwife and her birthing experiences. So I decided to meet with this particular midwife. She, the midwife, put me at such ease! I was honestly a little shocked at how much I liked the idea of a home birth once meeting the midwife. She was exactly what I was looking for. I had total peace about going the home birth route and was actually excited about it. Unfortunately, this was the baby I miscarried, so I didn’t need the midwife anymore. When I got pregnant with Olivia, I assumed I would do the home birth with the midwife I fell in love with. I called her up and scheduled my first appointment with her. However, as soon as I hung up, I felt a total lack of peace. I thought it was probably just me being a little nervous about the pregnancy in general since I had had a previous miscarriage. I kept pushing the “fear” back and continued on. My gynecologist (who was no longer practicing obstetrics) wanted me to come in for an early ultrasound just to see how the baby was doing. She had never been pushy, which is why I loved her as my gynecologist. (Remember, I really don’t like doctors and the medical field in general). She had never once tried to push something on me. When she asked if I had selected a doctor yet I told her we were planning a home birth. Well, she didn’t think that was a good idea and gave me her honest opinion. Which she never does! I usually wouldn’t have cared. I usually am the type of person where even if I love an idea, if you tell me it’s awful and not to do it, I’ll do it anyway just because you were pushy. Not my greatest characteristic, but that’s how I am with a lot of things. I started getting that uneasy, peace-lacking feeling again, though. I started feeling like I should go the hospital route this time, but wasn’t sure. And I really wasn’t sure how my husband would take it since he was in favor of home births and that’s what we had peace about and decided on together. He was always incredibly supportive of whatever I wanted to do, though. And I had wanted a home birth. That’s what I had chosen! I looked at my husband and said, “I don’t think I have peace about a home birth this time.” He told me he would pray about it too. Much to my surprise, he came back and said he, too, didn’t have peace about a home birth and that he thought we needed to find doctor. So my search for the perfect, laid back, non-interfering OBGYN began. I found a doctor who was ranked #1 and had great reviews on Google and other review sites… But then I found another doctor in his group that I was drawn to. I liked this doctor’s bio. The entire group were all Christians and their bios all talked about faith and church. But one doctor in particular stood out. Ironically enough he happened to be the doctor who delivered my baby sister. My mom loved this doctor and had nothing but good things to say about him. I decided to meet with him and see how it went. Well, both Daniel and I loved him and knew he was the person we wanted to deliver our baby. He was the best of both worlds – he was an OBGYN who would deliver in the hospital, but he was totally open to me doing things as natural as possible. At one appointment he even told me he could be as involved as I wanted him to be, or he could make it seem like he wasn’t even there. This was the perfect situation for our family. I ended up needing an emergency C-section. Long story short, there was meconium in my water, the baby was in distress, her heart rate was dropping drastically with each contraction, and I wasn’t doing well either. My doctor knew my desire for a natural, non-invasive birth and he let me labor naturally as long as possible. However, due to all the complications and risks to both mine and Olivia’s lives, my doctor made the decision to go forward with a C-section. It wasn’t an unnecessary thing, though. It was very much an emergency situation. In fact, my doctor made me feel so at peace with everything it wasn’t until about a week later that I truly realized how scary of a situation it was. It took my husband telling me that when the doctor was leaving my room, he told the nurse they needed to get me into the OR right away and to hurry. This was after the doctor calmly told me, “I’m not liking how baby is handling these contractions… I think we need to do a C-section. What do you think? Let’s just go have a baby!” Before I start getting into our birth story, though, let me get back on track…. (I am not biased when it comes to home or hospital births, but I am very biased when it comes to my doctor. He is the absolute best doctor!) Here’s the honest truth. There are great midwives out there, but there are also bad ones. There are great obstetricians out there, but there are also bad ones. There are situations where a home birth isn’t the right decision just because of health risks. There are situations where a hospital birth will result in unnecessary medical interventions. There are pros and cons to both home and hospital births. I know people who have had hospital births and say they regret it, but I also know people who’ve had a home birth and regretted it. Whichever you choose, follow peace. There is no “best” birthing option that’s a one size fits all. The best birthing option for me ended up being a hospital birth. Several of my friends, though, know the best option for them is a home birth. And that’s okay! We are all different, each pregnancy is different. We should be allowed to choose the birthing option that makes us individually feel the most comfortable and confident. Do your research, ask questions, and don’t be afraid to change your mind. If you’ve picked an OBGYN and don’t like them, find a different one. Or look into other options entirely. It’s your birth and it’s so important that you feel comfortable. I’d encourage anyone making this decision to look into all the options available and meet with midwives and OBGYNs. You can never ask too many questions. So come up with a list of questions you have for both home and hospital births and ask away! I found out by asking my midwife that if I had complications like meconium in my water, she’d be required to do a hospital transfer. So if I had resisted the lack of peace and followed through with my original home birth preference, I would have ended up in the hospital with any available doctor I had never met before. I knew, by asking my doctor questions, that he would be required to do fetal monitoring for 20 minutes every hour because that was a state standard. Also, remember that the hospital you deliver at will have requirements and guidelines that any doctor must abide by. So it’s also important to call the hospital the doctor is affiliated with to be sure you know what they (the hospital) require, too. When I first met with my doctor, I asked what was required by state law and hospital regulations. So I wasn’t caught off guard by anything. I have heard so many women talk about what a horrible experience they had with a hospital birth when in reality, a lot of those stories, or things that happened, were probably only bad because they didn’t know or understand hospital and state requirements. And, yes, there are some just truly horrible doctors out there who want the quickest and easiest way out without considering the mother. I’ve encouraged people before to change doctors or look into a home birth if they aren’t enjoying their current situation. You can also hire a doula who can help coach you and offer advice that’s less invasive than medications. So to sum up my post… Do your research, ask LOTS of questions, and choose the option you have peace about. And then trust God with everything!

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