Monday, April 4, 2011

Homebirth? In water?

I know, I know! I never thought that I would be the type to even consider doing a homebirth, and a water one at that, but it looks like we're leaning toward that direction. 

So let me start from the beginning: this whole idea began because I don't have health insurance yet (due to my immigration paperwork taking forever to be processed) so one of my midwives (yes, midwife! more about that in a second) asked if we would consider doing a homebirth, to which I immediately replied, "Uhh...I don't think so." I mean, what if something goes terribly wrong and we can't get to the hospital in time? And what about the magical pain reliever called the Epidural? Could I or would I even want to try to have an all-natural birth? This conversation took place a few weeks ago. But a couple days after our appointment I started to really consider it. Midwives here in Ontario are super popular and I would say more the norm for pregnant women than OB/GYNs, where in my experience being from the States, midwives were more for the uh, should I say, "granola-hippie" types. And here's an amazing thing, the government of Ontario funds midwifery care here, so even without insurance, I am receiving their services free of charge (excluding blood work, ultrasounds, and lab fees). Midwives here work with doctors in the hospital and they are also certified to do births at home as well with low-risk, healthy moms/babies at no cost! I am a patient of a midwifery center here where I am being looked after by a team of 3 midwives. 

In addition to prayer, I have also been doing a lot of reading and research on this whole issue and there are definitely passionate believers in both camps. At this point, I love the idea of doing a homebirth: having the freedom to move around however I want, being able to be in a shower and bath, feeling comfortable and relaxed in my own environment, not rushed to give birth quickly with the threat of being unnecessarily induced, giving birth in the most comfortable and efficient position (i.e. not on my back), saving ourselves money, etc., etc.

But then there's this other part of me that thinks, what if in that rare instance, something does go wrong where every second matters and something happens to Baby Girl? Or what if I kick myself in the midst of labor wondering why I cut myself off from access to drugs? So I'm not quite sure what to do!

I share all this because I would love to hear any feedback/insight/birth stories that you think would be helpful for me to hear. After watching "The Business of Being Born" I definitely see much more pros in doing a homebirth if you and your baby are healthy and low-risk for any health issues but that doesn't necessarily mean that I am now anti-hospital or anti-drugs or anti-doctors.

I also share this because we would love it if you could pray for us, asking God to give us wisdom to know what the best thing is for us to do for our family. We want to make an informed and confident decision while also clinging to the fact that God is sovereign and that we can put our trust and faith in Him for everything, including the birth of our little girl.

We are attending a homebirth class in a couple of weeks so hopefully that will give us more insight into the whole thing, will keep you all posted!


  1. Hi Suelynn, congratulations on your pregnancy! I'm expecting in August myself, and found your blog because I was just randomly hunting for interesting stories about birth under midwife care in Ontario (where I also live).

    This is my third baby, and also my third time under midwife care. My two daughters were born at home into water, and the experiences were fabulous. Honestly, you could not pay me enough to do it out of water. :)

    You do seem a bit nervous about the "but what if something goes wrong" angle, so I wanted to reassure you on that point - although I definitely encourage you to ask your midwives for a more educated and experienced response, I'm sure they will be more than happy to address your concerns.

    When you're in a natural birth situation (i.e. no risk of complications from interventions such as a pitocin drip or epidural), the things that can go wrong either tend to go wrong slowly (in which case there is enough time for your midwife to determine that you need to transfer to a hospital), or are things that are within the capabilities of a midwife to manage (shoulder dystocia, postpartum hemmorhage, etc.) So it truly is safe.

    A big issue is making sure you are well-equipped to cope with labour at home. Firstly, be assured that you are not all by yourself on that: a woman's body naturally releases all kinds of hormones/chemicals/whatever during labour that make it easy to "trance out", lose track of time, and generally cope much better than if you were not in labour. So that's one advantage. I would also recommend taking classes that will give you additional coping strategies - for example, my husband and I took a hypnobirthing class, which covers relaxing and self-hypnosis as a way of coping. This worked great. The most valuable part of the class, I thought, was when we had to all dunk our hands in ice-cold water for a minute, the first time using no coping techniques, and the second time using our relaxation and self-hypnosis techniques. The difference in pain perception and time awareness between the two tries was huge - we were all in agony the first time and couldn't believe how long those sixty seconds took; but were all perfectly capable of handling much more than sixty seconds the second time, and the feelings were far less painful to boot. I came away from that class not only happy to have extra coping techniques, but - and I think this was super-important - believing that I could absolutely do it. I think that self-belief is key to being able to labour and birth at home.

    And of course, the water is a fabulous natural pain reliever as well. I remember during my first pregnancy reading somewhere that we should try not to think of contractions as "pains" but rather as "energy surges". That sounded great!...until I actually started having contractions, and that theory went completely out the window. They HURT! But the moment I got into the water...suddenly they really did become energy surges, it was amazing.

    I can definitely say that there is no feeling on earth like birthing a baby all by yourself (by that I mean naturally, not, of course, without a medical caregiver such as a midwife). It gives you confidence and amazement in your own abilities like you wouldn't believe - which I think is a fantastic way to start a new motherhood journey. :)

    Best of luck, and by all means, don't be afraid to make the decision that is best for YOU.


  2. Thanks so much for your encouraging words Kathleen! And congrats to you too on your third baby!

  3. Sue, remember Heidi Thomsen (now Shaeffer) who I used to work with at TMS? She did a water birth (she now has 3). You want me to dig a little bit with her for you too? Maybe I could put you guys in touch even if via e-mail. Let me know, no pressure. By the way, gave birth to Annabel with nothing (epidural, etc.) and it was such a better experience compared to having Micah. Although it was definitely painful, so thankful I stuck it out. The water home birth sounds interesting!!

  4. Suelynn! It's Katie (Hamilton) Haney! :) I love reading your blog and I came across a post in another blog I read sometimes and thought of you and this post you wrote about homebirths! I don't know if you'restill thinking about it at all but here's the link to what I read:

    I hope you and your family are doing well! God bless!

  5. Hey Katie! Thanks so much for the link! I followed it and was so encouraged to hear both her birth stories, thank you so much for thinking of me. And I still can't believe you're a married woman, you're still little Katie to me! Looks like marriage agrees with you though:) Take care darlin'!