Thursday, July 2, 2009

She's My Homegirl

After my daughter was born people would stop me and ask if she was born at home.  After I'd smiled and nodded they explained, "you can tell.  She looks so alert!"

What a great contrast to the conversations I had while pregnant.  People asked who my doctor was as often as they asked if I was having a boy or a girl.  When I answered that I had  midwives instead of a doctor, and that I was having my baby at home, complete strangers felt compelled to convince me to change my mind.  I heard every horror story in the book about what "would have happened" had this or that woman had her baby outside of the hospital.

I never planned to have my baby at home until I was actually pregnant, and found I had problems with the way things are done at the hospital.  I had just watched The Business of Being Born and I was curious about my other options.  Giving birth was the most important day of my life, and I am so glad I considered all of the options out there before deciding how I would do it.  I could write a book about my fears concerning home birth before I had actual valid information, and my biggest concern was safety, for myself and my baby.  Having heard from hippies and doctors alike that home birth is statistically safer than hospital birth, the most settling news was that my midwives had delivered over 2,500 babies and never lost one mom or baby.  

After the suggestion of a friend (thank you, Adrienne!) I found The Santa Barbara Midwives - Anna Bunting, Alice Levine, and Laurel Phillips.  You can contact Alice at (805)452-8681, or Anna at (805)563-0348.  I highly recommend meeting with one of them (it's free!) and getting answers to your questions, even if you are not sure a home birth is for you.  It's just more information and more options.

I feel the same way about birth that I do about everything  else:  get the information before you blindly form an opinion.  Decisions based on information are so much more useful than those based on fear.  My daughter's naps are not nearly long enough for me to include all of the statistics and information supporting home birth in this post, but a quick conversation with Anna will have you up to speed.  

My husband and I met with all three midwives throughout my pregnancy, and Anna and Laurel were at the birth, which was awesome, and also the hardest, most intense, magical experience.  Now I know I can do anything.  

Movies to watch on home birth: Ricki Lake's The Business of Being Born,

Natural childbirth classes:  The best is with Tracy Schmidt (805) 962-0871, mother of 5 beautiful babies, all born naturally (the last 4 were born at home.)  About half of our "class" was planning a home birth, and the other half natural births in the hospital.


  1. And now I find myself sitting only feet from your birth site . . . which is a little disconcerting. While I think home birth was DEFINITELY the right choice for you, it must be said that more "high-risk" births take place in the hospital, which skews the statistics.

  2. Ah, yes. Home birth is safer for "regular" births. High risk births usually take place in the hospital, and a chat with the midwives would send you to a conventional doctor early on in your pregnancy if they felt you were in that category. Also, 10% of the midwives' clients do end up giving birth in the hospitals, for various reasons. Some get nervous, some go too far past their due date, some end up with complications and need to transfer (I was nearly in this category. I had a few complications and nearly transfered. The midwives are very experienced and know when it is time to take someone to the hospital. After my birth, I was not delivering the placenta. After a shot of pitocin (I think) in the leg, and nearly two hours of waiting for a cramp, I had lost a lot of blood. I prepared to get into a wheelchair, but just as Anna was lifting me out of bed I got a cramp and the afterbirth was delivered. And, sis, you know the rest. Anna and Laurel got me cleaned up and you and Mom came over and made me waffles!) The important thing to me, statistics aside, is that the care we receive from the midwives is so superior to the care one would receive at the hospital. I do have to disclaim: I don't think home birth is for everyone. I think it is the best option for most people, but every woman needs to feel comfortable in the environment where she is to give birth. If, after all the information has been processed, someone felt she would be most comfortable giving birth in a hospital, that is where she'd be. And I have absolutely no judgement on that! Rather, I'd just like to help spread the word that there IS another option for women who'd like a natural birth.

  3. Hi Isla Moon. I love the article, my daughter was also born at home and it was a great experience (as great as child birth could be). My family just moved to SB from Nashville, and I was wondering if you could recommend any good pediatricians. I am looking for someone leaning to the natural side. In all my searching, I stumbled upon your blog and I thought you would be a good person to ask. Thanks!