Having a home birth as a first time mom is often viewed as an unconventional and unpredictable thing to do. And although it’s never been done in our families before, that’s the route my husband and I chose. Here’s why.
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Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. All the information here is based on my own experience and research. You should do your own research and speak with your doctor about any concerns you have related to pregnancy, labor and delivery and recovery.
There are a few reasons why a woman would choose to have a home birth. Either she’s motivated in some way or has already experienced it. Maybe she seeks an alternative to birthing. Or maybe she feels she has no other choice.
This was me. There were plenty of intrinsic motivators for me but I had a reservation too.
I chose to have a home birth as a first time mom before we ever found out we were expecting. It was the right decision for me and my husband because it aligns with our personal philosophies on family raising, medical care and privacy.
Additionally, home birthing gave us autonomy from hospital protocols and the medical environment. We appreciate having the advanced medical community that we do today. But birth isn’t a condition to be fixed. It’s a natural process in life that we wanted to enjoy on our own terms. So, we chose this route because it made sense from a traditional aspect.
But the decision to have a home birth was the only option we considered. There was no alternative for us.
I don’t believe the current model of care is designed to take care of a mother and baby as much as it’s designed to make a profit. So, everything from 10-minute pre-natal care visits to the tissues in a cozy recovery suite was on the chopping block for me. On the other hand, the midwifery model of care is more person focused. It’s also more accepting of letting the body naturally work on its own. And the midwife team we selected let Mr. Traditional and I lead the process the whole time.
Choosing to have a home birth wasn’t frightening or concerning for me. I’m generally healthy and was low risk. I did however have qualms about what giving birth would actually look like in our apartment complex.
Most babies come at night. And I didn’t have any idea how I would respond once in labor – whether I would make noises to cope or not. Whether I would want to go for walks or never leave our unit. But I ended up breathing through my birth process so noises weren’t a factor. And I didn’t want to move much at all so we never left the house.
Deciding if it’s better to have a home birth as a first time mom or give birth in a hospital is a personal choice for each family. But it was definitely the best choice for us.
Home birthing was meant for us. It encompasses our personal philosophies of life, medicine and privacy. We had a quiet intimate birth like we wanted.
The atmosphere was peaceful, welcoming and warm. This meant I was physically more comfortable. And that meant there was no pressure to perform or have things move along outside of my body’s internal clock.
I was able to let my mind wander over affirmations I had read for months. I could focus on Mr. Traditional’s guidance as I crested each wave. And thinking about the many women who were birthing with me was encouraging too.
Because I entered the space relaxed and unstressed, my baby and body calmly worked together. Without any interventions, my baby was serene upon his arrival and I was fully cognizant to embrace him.
The instant connection the three of us made was incredible. It was nearly lunch time and both of us were elated to finally meet our son. Something we had chosen to not discover until the birth.
Had we chosen any other environment, I don’t think we would have had the same outcome. I don’t doubt that many women have incredible birthing experiences in hospitals or birth centers. Even cars or public places. However, that wasn’t for us. We prayed heavily throughout the pregnancy for things to remain well and for strength to endure. And God granted us just that.
What are the disadvantages of a home birth as a first time mom?
There are tons of opinions on the topic of home birth. And sadly, most people in our vicinity only seemed to see disadvantages. There weren’t any for me but I’ll address some of the high points.
1. It’s not safe or it’s too risky. And a home birth can still result in a hospital delivery.
My home birth was safe for my baby and me. And it’s important that that be the focus of every woman. Her baby and herself.
First time births can be unpredictable because the mom has not gone through the process before. But even if she has, every pregnancy and birth is unique. So, it’s really unpredictable any time.
However, I went into my pregnancy healthy and maintained a good regimen throughout. That was my safety net. I learned that when there are no complications, most hospital transfers during home births are due to mom tiring out.
So, I girded my mind for the ultimate marathon of my life. I knew that being mentally prepared to endure what could be a multi-day ordeal would take the pressure off my body. And that meant I could trust my body and my baby and would be just fine.
Additionally, there were too many negative and unnecessary interventions waiting for me if we transferred to a hospital. And I wanted to avoid them all.
2. Insurance probably won’t pay for a home birth and having a baby is so expensive. I can’t afford it.
To this, we said “Hello, self-sufficiency and financial freedom!” Since we strive to live a self-sufficient life, we got a handle on our finances early in our marriage.
It could have been a financial challenge having a baby outside the conventional medical/insurance system. Especially since we live in a high cost of living area. But we expected to have to pay out of pocket going into pregnancy.
That’s because we knew we would follow a traditional midwifery model of care. So, that meant setting money aside to pay out of pocket. Our planning and discipline made it possible for the insurance issue to not be a disadvantage for us. In the end, they did not reimburse the midwifery care, but did cover testing like lab work and ultrasound.
3. Having a baby at home for the first time will be too messy.
100% but that’s life. And is it really anything other than messy anyway?
We prepared our environment for what we thought would be a messy situation. But the midwife team did such a phenomenal job during labor that there wasn’t much of a mess to clean. What did remain, we were able to clean completely. We did decide to discard a set of old sheets though.
4. You can’t have pain management medication at home. No epidural? It will be so painful, especially as a first time mother.
I took comfort in knowing that the pain wouldn’t be anything more than I could handle. When sin entered the world through Adam and Eve, God promised that women would have pain in childbirth. But the way I see it, the pain must be endurable and passable since He also commanded us to fill the earth and multiply.
I did not think of myself as being in pain. Rather, I redirected thoughts like that by focusing on the power and pressure I was experiencing. It was all temporary anyway. And quickly forgotten the moment I met my child for the first time. I wouldn’t remember what it was like if I hadn’t journaled the experience after his birth.
Having a home birth is a very traditional form of childbearing. I believe it’s healthier for mom and baby than the cascade of interventions forced upon most mothers in a hospital setting. Having medication that supersedes the body’s natural timing and processes is not how I envisioned giving birth. So, the absence of medication was not a disadvantage for me.
Besides that, I knew that maintaining a strong mindset would ensure I didn’t need an epidural or any other medication to cope.
Does having a home birth work for a first time mom?
It did for me. Plus, it helped knowing that God designed the woman’s body to give birth naturally. I was confident that I was built to birth. And even more confident that Mr. Traditional would be the best coach and support person I’d need.
Remembering I wasn’t alone helped either. During my year of pregnancy preparation, I read many times that women all over the world have been giving birth for centuries. And when my time came, I knew that I would be joining them.
It’s a very special time for the emerging mother. Whether she births in a hospital/birth center setting or at home. Birthing my baby was exhilarating. And yes, there’s a large physical component to it. But the mental aspect far outweighs the physical.
We can do hard things. Women can do what seems to be unthinkable or scary. But having the right perspective and support team will make or break the experience.
I knew that my mindset could hold me back from venturing on this journey. So, I took a whole year to prepare. Being very detail-oriented and science-focused, I read articles and books about whether home birth was safe or right. The best read for me was Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth. We also took a birth education class through Mama Natural. But in the end, I realized I am the only person who could decide if home birth would be right for me.
I’m grateful for the research I did because it made me aware of certain scenarios, procedures, symptoms, etc. And having that knowledge made me more comfortable with the prospect of having a home birth. However, the decision was made before and without regard to what I learned that year. Choosing to have our first child at home wasn’t so much a decision as it was a fact for us.
How does it feel to have a home birth as a first time mom? And how did we make it possible?
I felt in total control the entire time. Although we labored a full day before my baby’s arrival, I was calm and comfortable. Able to go the distance because I had been preparing for delivery. Only allowing myself to focus on a home birth meant I gave it my all. It had to work.
During pregnancy I prepared my body by eating and drinking the right things and walking. Because honestly, I just never got around to doing much more exercise than our 2-mile long walks. So, I didn’t reach exhaustion. Plus, Mr. Traditional made me rest between waves. He also kept me hydrated with a lemonade of sorts – coconut water, lemons, magnesium and honey.
Preparing to have a baby at home was simple from a practical standpoint. We’d need bowls, water, receiving blankets…etc. So, that base was covered.
From a mental perspective, I flooded myself with positivity. From birth affirmations (both bought and made by my husband) to podcasts. We read birth stories and watched home birth videos. We trained for this, we fed the desire. Every step of the way, my husband was there. Learning and growing and ready to come out on the other side with me. Our midwife and doula were empowering and encouraging. Even our birth photographer was encouraging.
We stood resolute in our thought process the entire time. Calmly disarming those around us who disagreed with home birth. And we prayed a lot.
And that’s how things happen. First you change your mind, then you change your life.
I believe all these things made it possible for us to be successful. It was an unbelievable, breathtaking experience that I would repeat. Having a home birth as a first time mom was a logical, natural choice for me. It may very well be one of the most traditional feats of my life so far! I believe I became more resilient as an outcome and can accomplish more because of it.
And I’m proud that my husband and I did it this way. We trusted God’s process, my body and our baby despite home birth being so out of the norm for both of our families. Someone has to be a pioneer though. And I think that’s exactly what becoming traditional meant for me.