Choosing Home Birth

I’m Rebeka Tabobundung, and I’m a mom, a researcher and a magazine publisher. When I found out I was pregnant, I felt so excited, nervous, happy. There were so many choices to make. I’d already made a big one: I wanted a midwife to provide my care. Midwives are covered by the health care system, so there is no cost to have a midwife in Ontario. And appointments are typically at least a half an hour, so I’d never feel rushed. I loved the idea of learning from these experts in pregnancy and birth. The first thing I learned was a surprise. I had assumed my midwife would deliver my baby in a hospital, but she said that for a healthy, low-risk pregnancy like mine, I could consider giving birth at home. It’s just as safe for my baby as giving birth in a hospital, and has proven health benefits, including fewer complications and medical procedures such as a lower rate of C-sections. I wanted to know more, so I asked for the evidence. I learned that midwives are regulated health care professionals, just like doctors. Since 1994, Ontario midwives have delivered more than 225,000 babies, about 49,000 at home. There’s solid evidence on the health outcomes of babies delivered by midwives at home and in hospital. For example, a major study reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 2015 looked at 18,000 planned home births with midwives in Ontario, and compared these to hospital deliveries by the same midwives. The study found that the safety for babies was the same, whether delivered at home or in the hospital. This is even true for the risk of losing a baby. It is extremely rare in Ontario, and both home and hospital birth are equally safe. But it turns out that planning a home birth isn’t just safe for my baby. It has health benefits for me, too. The evidence shows that there’s a lower rate of medical interventions for those who even just PLAN to have a home birth, as compared to those who plan to give birth in a hospital. For example, pregnant people who planned a home birth • were 30% less likely to have a C-section • had lower rates of episiotomies, and • lower use of vacuum or forceps to assist with delivery. I discussed all of this with my midwives. They explained that the reason home birth is just as safe is that midwives are highly trained clinicians. They have four years of university training, followed by a yearlong mentorship with an experienced midwife. They are fully accredited and well integrated as part of the medical staff at the hospitals in which they work. There are usually two midwives attending at either a hospital or home birth. They are specifically trained to attend home births, plus how to identify emergencies and plan accordingly. They follow guidelines about when it’s best to plan a hospital birth, and when the move from home to hospital is the best practice. Finally, midwives bring the same equipment to a home birth that they would use to deal with an emergency in a hospital, including oxygen, resuscitation equipment and medication to treat post-partum bleeding. All of this made me think about what was really important to me. Since a home or hospital birth is equally safe for my baby, I made an informed choice. I decided to give birth at home, knowing my baby would be just as safe as in the hospital, believing in my decisions and capabilities, and trusting my midwives to support me every step of the way. I’m really glad I did. Having a home birth was one of the most powerful and positive experiences in my life. If your pregnancy is healthy, consider a home birth. It’s a safe and healthy choice.

3 Replies to “Choosing Home Birth

  1. I would really like a home birth but I have yet to get a midwife based where I am. I am 11 weeks and still on a waiting list for Thames Valley Midwives πŸ™

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