January Healthy Birth Choices Workshop: Is Home Birth Right For You?

Advocacy, Childbirth, Choices, Events, Home Birth, Midwifery, Pregnancy, Reproductive Rights

Home birth has been on the rise over the past decade nationwide; it’s a particularly pertinent topic in New York City, where recent research has shown a 71% increase. An audience at last week’s Healthy Birth Choices Workshop, “Is Home Birth Right For You”, wanted to know:

  • What are the risks of home birth?
  • Who is a good candidate?
  • How much time is required for a hospital transfer, and how often does this happen?
  • How much space is necessary?
Panelists at January 22's "Is Home Birth Right For You?" workshop

Panelists at January 22’s “Is Home Birth Right For You?” workshop

More and more people are turning to home birth as an option. For some it’s a matter of practicality, as it was for one Brooklyn mom:

“I kept hearing from everyone around me, labor at home as long as you can. And it dawned on me that I should just stay at home for the whole thing!”

For others, it’s a spiritual reason. Elizabeth Bachner of Gracefull Births midwifery practice in LA, who joined us last night, referred several times to the wisdom of birth and of the woman’s body:

“Birth is basic physiology, hormones are released in just the right cocktail when you feel safe.”

Three sets of parents shared their birth stories and reasons for choosing home birth. At 30 weeks pregnant, Elana and Adam switched to a home birth midwife’s care but had a very long labor with their first baby and ultimately transferred to a hospital. They again opted for a home birth for their second baby and had a much quicker, calmer water birth in their living room. Adam, a physician, loved being included in the midwifery appointments and felt a strong contrast from their OB appointments.

Joanna, a postpartum nurse and lactation consultant, had seen so many things happen on hospital delivery floors and always knew she wanted to have a home birth. Convincing her wife was another thing! Joanna stressed that it was not just what was safest that she had to consider, but what risks she was more or less comfortable with at home and at a hospital.

Naima and Sam had two very different home birth stories. At 20 weeks, frustrated with her OB/GYN, Naima watched The Business of Being Born and promptly interviewed midwives. She felt that the care she received and continues to receive from her midwife is the best care she’s ever experienced. Even when her second home birth proved to be much more difficult than her first, she would not have traded it for the world. Her husband Sam now considers himself an almost “militant defender” of home birth!

NYC-based midwife Carol Bues, CNM (Midwifery Care NYC) peppered the night with anecdotes from her 16 years of experience. Doula and home birth insurance biller Haya Bryant (of Clearbill) offered practical tips on how to keep costs from being a barrier. She reminded the audience that depending on their insurance, they could receive out-of-network benefits. Alternatively, thanks to a legal requirement in New York state that states that insurers registered in the state are obliged to provide an in-network option, families could apply for an “in network exception” for home birth midwifery since there are no home birth midwives actually in network in New York City. Unlikely as it may seem, “an insurance specialist can act as an advocate for women and families”, she says.

The night was empowering and affirming, even healing for some. One mom left us with these parting words:

“I came her tonight, not sure if home birth was the responsible thing to do for my second birth. Now I definitely know it’s the right thing for me.”