Hi all,
my husband and I are planning a homebirth for our first baby (second pregnancy) in July, but live in an area where this is not common. In fact, people who discover our plans react in shock and horror and feel obliged to share with us every possible problem that could occur. I have tried changing the subject, but my biggest concern is the sense of fear and exhaustion I am left with after receiving such comments. I want this so bad...but have very little support.

Any wonderful suggestions? Thank you all for continual support and encouragement through your stories and experiences.

-Jamie


March 7, 2010: Update: Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement. I am so proud to be a woman and have the power to make a decision based on what I feel is best for my family.
We are scheduled to have our baby at a birth center. It is two hours away from our current home, but as someone else mentioned, the comfort outweighs the distance. Midwifes, doulas, aqua doulas, birthing stools, and a home like setting is just what we needed.
Oh and also, we mostly have kept quiet about our plans, except when someone asked. I am learning to pave the way through fear driven critics, and even some guilt driven remarks.

love and light to you all.

-jamie

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Smile and Thank them for their input and remind them that this is YOUR decision to make.

I am hoping for a home waterbirth myself, with my history I am fearful of mentioning it to any of the medical professionals that I deal with (I have been "high risk" in some of my pregnancies). I have changed docs 3 times and am now looking forward to meeting with midwives Tuesday! I feel really good about a homebirth and while I realize that the option may not happen I am going to take care of myself with the best care that I can as if I am having a homebirth. My husband and I found a Bradley class which even after the first class we found support and encouragement for our decisions. I read a lot of books from the library and blogs and entries on MBB.

Basically I am surrounding myself with positive influences and making sure I am well educated and make supportive friends. I am also prepared to simply walk away from conversation if I am not respected for my choices.

I am excited for you and hope everything goes the way you want, please keep us updated, when are you due?
Turn the question around. Ask THEM how their births went, more specifically what they did that they felt worked. Most people feel compelled to spew their horrible horror stories on to other women because of their OWN feelings, it has nothing to do with you at all.

EXAMPLE:

Friend: Hello Mrs. C, how are you feeling? By the way, who is your OB?

Mrs. C: Oh I'm feeling really great thanks for asking! How funny that you mention OB's I was wondering the other day who yours was? How was your experience? What was your favorite part?

Chances are, she's only asking you so she can tell you her story, and if you just cut to the chase and give her what she's looking for, you can avoid the whole question all together.

Good luck!
nicely put km! and soooo true.

ultimatley all the support you need, you already have: hubby and mw. forget everyone else, they are only fear mongering and they really are just spouting stories they've heard, not research.

my theory with ALL advice is to smile, nod, take the kernel of knowledge if there is one and disregard the rest. don't let it bother you, its not worth your energy!
Hi Jamie --

Congratulations on your pregnancy and your decision to have a home birth! It really can be a scary decision, because we live in a culture where there's a lot of fear surrounding pregnancy and birth. I had so many similar reactions about my decision to give birth in a birth center, and it's hard to let it all just roll off your back. I wish there was a magic answer that you could give people to make them stop, but even letting them know that midwives have a safety record that's better than hospitals doesn't keep people from worrying. Have you talked with your midwife about your concerns and how she recommends you deal with the anxiety about it? I wouldn't be surprised if many of her other patients go through the same thing and have found creative ways of dealing with it, especially regional ones.

Know that you have a big network of support out here, and we are sending good vibes your way. A home birth with normal, healthy pregnancy is such a beautiful thing, and I wish you the best of luck -- with your pregnancy and dealing with the doubters. You can do it!

~Suchada
Thank you everyone....your encouragement means so much. Our due date is around the end of July so we have quite a few weeks to go. I know there are so many awesome birth stories, so we are just trying to surround ourselves with as much positivity as possible. Luckily my husband continually reminds me of all those positives and statistics out there that says "Home Births...Right ON!"

Eileen, as you well understand, there is only one person in the whole world who can trust that they understand the needs of their child, and that person is mama (not being critical of medical guidance, just stating that sometimes women have better ideas for themselves and for baby). I am not high risk, but would feel equally the same if put in that situation. I wish you the best!

thank you again for your kind words and good thoughts.

-jamie
I think that it is a great thing you and your husband have chosen a homebirth. The fact that you both were able to make the choice is the best thing ever! Just because you don't live in an area where homebirth is common doesnt mean anything. You go for it- and I bet you will start a trend. I personally have had this happen to me numerous times. I have had people call me crazy and I just say "So..." :) These people are acting this way because they do not know any different. They have done no research and they are stuck in the thought process that if you have a baby- it happens in a hospital. This is an education that most of us have grown up with, not that it is really our fault by any means- people just go with what they know. That is how I got through all the stories I was subjected to. Please don't change your mind because of others. No matter what it is. This is what you and your hubby want to do and at best just you two knowing that you have each other for support is all that matters. I am sure that in time- these people will come around. I tell people to watch the Business of Being Born and then come back to me when they are done and we can talk. :) I think you would fair well with a Doula also. Especially if you are not receiving much support. I hope that gives you some higher spirits.
I'm not sure where you live, but I bet there are more homebirthers around than you suspect. I had my first HB 9 years ago and kind of started a trend at our church at the time. Two more couples did the same not long after us and many more attended Bradley classes w/the goal of a natural birth. You may be a trailblazer! If there are any homeschool groups, attachment parenting groups or La Leche League groups I think you may be able to surround yourself with more like-minded families. HBers seem to come out of the woodwork for me now, LOL!

For our first we didn't decide on a HB until a couple of weeks beforehand. People actually showed up at the local hospital to visit us and...oops, we weren't there!!! :-)

Maybe you can keep your plans under wraps as much as possible. I know you can't do that with everyone, but it may keep some of the negativity at bay.
I noticed that people negative reactions stemmed from one of two places. The first was simple ignorance. For example: "Do people still do that? Like Little house on the Prairie?" The second was ignorance combined with really bad PR: "I had a friend who..." or "I heard of a woman whose midwife said..."

The first group of people is much more enjoyable to talk with since they are more like clean slates. You get to explain all kinds of things, like how awesome your midwife is, and how you are so excited about it.

The second group is a little more challenging. But I found that I could very simply deflect people statements by explaining how much I trusted my midwife, and giving examples of her skill level. Once I had fellow nurse tell me about a woman who had a bad outcome after some unfortunate post dates care and unforeseeable circumstances . My response: "That's terrible. But I'm not really worried about that right now, I'm only twenty weeks along and I'm pretty sure my midwife and I will be very cautious no matter how long my pregnancy lasts."

For me it was a matter of letting the naysayers and doomsdayers know that they weren't shocking me with their scary stories. That I understood the risks of my decisions. I alway felt like they only weighed risk, while I weighed the risk and the benefit found the benefits far outweighed everything else.

The classic and constant question of "what if something happens" is not even a legitimate argument. Ask them in reply, "Something like what?" Then you can start a real dialog about the reality of homebirth. And if they ask you something you don't know the answer to, don't be dismayed or feel doubt, but instead be honest and ask your midwife about it, or do some more research on your own. Questions about our decisions to homebirth don't have to be discouraging. They can be empowering to us as it causes us to seek out more and more information.
This can be a problem and I completely understand. We are having a HBAC with our second and I'm 37 1/2 weeks. My husband's take has been to shout it from the roof tops because he's a farm boy and after what happened with our first (unnecessary induction lead to c-section) he made the statement, "I know birth-maybe not human, but I've grown up with birth-what happened to you wasn't right, wasn't natural and definately isn't what birth should be." I stated that I wasn't hidding the fact that I was having a home birth from anyone but that I know there are so many "fears" involved in pregnancy in general I didn't need to exhaust myself with defending my decision. I was going to spend my emotional energy feeling good about my pregnancy and not getting on a pulpit. I can climb the pulpit after my birth (after 6 wks or so ;) Usually, I don't get questions-most people are polite when they find out and just say "Oh", but I know they go home and say something because of the look on their faces. If it really gets to questioning me I try to do the "This is a very well researched and personal decision. I appreciate your concern but want to reassure you that I know what is best for me and my baby and that I would be more afraid to birth in a hospital than at home knowing what I know." If I get anymore, I generally ask what research studies, books, interviews, etc. they have done/read regarding birth in this country and the safety off homebirth versus hospital birth? They generally can't say anything. I then point out that I have spent the last two years of my life doing just that-over 16 hours of interviews with care-providers, over 10 research studies read and analyzed and the outcomes of many others looked into and over 20 books read. I am confident in my decision and if they can come back to me with well researched information, or hell just one study that shows that planned homebirth is less safe than hospital, (I know that there is not one) we can have a more indepth discussion . I have never had anyone come back after that.

I do know it's hard, however, so in general I recommend not talking about it because you need to concentrate on a positive mental attitude. Really just staying positive is the best thing. You don't lie, you just don't volunteer the info unless it comes up. Ofcourse you have to tell your family-I recommend a viewing of the BOB and if they refuse to view it they give up the right to comment. For me I am able to deflect when people ask who my doctor is, I say that I vowed after my first birth that I would never go back to an ob/gyn unless a midwife told me I needed to see one-so I see a midwife. Again, if presse, (I don't volunteer) that I have one in the hospital for all extra tests and my consult and then a homebirth midwife.

Secondly, I recommend doing some birth prep. like Bradley or Hypnobabies. I choose Hypnobabies and it helps me because you listen to these daily pregnancy affirmations that really get you trusting the process and are like your little cheerleading section. They tell you that you have a "bubble of peace" around you and no one can affect your good feelings about birth. If I do ever get into a negative situation regarding my birthing decisions I remember my bubble of peace and am able to calm myself. Also having a really supportive husband helps-I can always go home and vent to him and he is my ultimate cheerleader.
My husband and I decided that the best way to handle this issue was to keep the info. output to a minimum. We have doctors in our immediate family who could have been more supportive about our choice to have a homebirth, but were at least not actively trying to change our minds. Other family members who were more intrusive were just told to butt out.

Most people can be skirted with general information about how well your pregnancy is going, and when you are expected to go into labor, and will leave it at that since they usually assume that you'll be delivering in the hospital. To avoid having to answer awkward questions and defend our choices we didn't mention to most that we were going to labor at home and deliver there if all was well. It may seem like a cop out, but it certainly kept the stress levels down.

This online community is a great resource as women are able to "come out" about their intentions here in a supportive environment
Jamie,

I had a water birth at home for my first child (2nd pregnancy as well) and ran into the same kinds of comments as you have when I told people of my plans. I'm quite small and so that was most people's first reaction--how could a small woman even consider such a crazy idea? But what if something goes wrong?! I heard it all...

I agree with the other comments. It is your choice, and yours alone, to determine how and with whom you want to birth your child. I'm assuming you've done a lot of research before making your decision. Most people who make this comments are coming from a place of ignorance and fear. Here is an all too common scenario in our society:

Mom goes to the hospital for her baby. Perhaps she isn't dilating as quickly as the OB wants her to and so Pitocin is used to augment the birth (or perhaps used to induce a birth that hadn't already started, for whatever reason). Pitocin creates contractions that are generally more intense, longer and closer together than natural contractions. Mom can't handle the significant and quick increase in pain so opts for pain meds (as the vast majority of women with Pitocin do). Her blood pressure drops (a common side effect of epidurals). This combined with baby not getting a break between contractions due to the Pitocin causes fetal distress. The next thing you know, mom is needing a Cesarean. She then comes out of the hospital telling everyone...It's a good thing my baby was born in the hospital because I needed a cesarean and the baby could've died if I'd been at home. Not even thinking twice how the interventions (medically necessary or not) were a significant factor in the reason for needing a cesarean.

This is the kind of thing we hear and you just can't argue with this logic. As a childbirth educator, I'd never tell a mom that she may not have needed the cesarean had she birthed out of the hospital. They could never hear or understand that. Nor could we ever know if their outcome would have been different. And, I would never say that because it may cause guilt and god knows moms (and dads) feel enough guilt over every little thing anyway.

My point is...do your research and decide based on what feels best to you and your baby and your family. That's really all that matters. This is YOUR birth.

Happy Birthing!!!!
Jamie,

I had the same reaction to my "old school" fear driven family members. You have to trust in your body and believe that this is yours and only your decision to birth at home. I too live in a small town where I had to drive almost two hours to get to my midwife, however it felt so right that it didn't matter. We did a home waterbirth and the environment was so peaceful, something i just don't think you can attain in a standard birthing environment....

Something I did was let my "negative family members" know that we had back up plans for any unplanned events in the birth. So they felt like we had those scenarios covered incase. The problem is that most people have no idea all of the problems that could occur and most often due in an actual hospital environment.

This was my first baby and everything went so smooth and amazing, I couldn't ever imagine having a baby in a hospital. If this is what you feel is right for you and your husband than that's all that matters! Your family will just have to accept that and they will with time. You can always look outside your family for support.....they'll come around :)

best of luck to you......it's going to be amazing!!

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