I have received a few emails lately asking me about the journey that my husband and I took as we made the decision to have an out of hospital birth. I figure that there are probably more women wondering about this very subject, so I decided to write about it on this blog for the benefit of any who are in a position of thinking about having an out of hospital birth.
First, I must say, that this decision is going to be different for everyone. Relationships vary greatly, so the journey my husband and I took may look completely different from your individual journey. The most important thing to remember is that education and knowledge are keys to empowerment and good decision-making. Faith and prayer also go a long way with helping to ease fear and find peace.
When I brought up the idea of having a home birth to my husband, the first thing he said was "Why? What's wrong with just having the baby in the hospital?" I had to think about my answer for awhile and simply told him "Please let me just share the things I've learned with you and after that, tell me how you feel." Over a few weeks of discussion, he gradually realized that a lot of times the complications that happen in hospitals are due to interventions that do not happen at home or in a birth center. He learned that home or birth center births are statistically just as safe, if not safer for mother and baby, than hospital births. He learned that there is a "business of birth" and a lot of money is involved. There's a lot of fear of litigation and malpractice. There are time tables. He realized that birth was a natural process. After learning these things, we discussed birth - a lot. Was a home birth right for us? We prayed, we studied, we read, we learned. I knew, in my heart, that home birth was right, but I had to dispel a lot of fears. I had to deal with negativity from family members and close friends. I had to take a leap of faith and trust the feelings I was having that were driving me towards having an out of hospital birth. My husband had to do the same. Ultimately, he told me that he supported me in whatever I wanted to do. I told him that I needed him behind me 100% on having a home birth, or I would not do it. I needed him behind me. We met with the midwife I was considering using and after our meeting with her, we both felt very excited and better about having a home birth. Meeting with the midwife helped to ease fears we had as we asked questions and found answers. After that meeting, he told me that he supported me 100% and although we both had occasional fears, we had both felt peaceful and excited about the decision. We didn't tell people about our decision to have a home birth until after the fact because we are both very sensitive people and don't handle confrontation or negativity very well. We relied on each other and on the confirmations we had received through prayer to continue on with our decision.
There will be critics from any side. If you birth in a hospital, you will have a critic somewhere. If you birth at home, there will be a critic. If you go to a birth center, I'm sure you'll find a critic. Ultimately, I've learned, you must find some way to push those critics aside and find your own self. You have to be true to yourself, no matter what area it is in. Even if those critics or negative voices are yourself (aren't we ever so hard on ourselves? I know I am.) you must find a way to silence them and move forward. That doesn't mean ignoring gut feelings - you must always follow your instinct, your guide, The Spirit (if you are religious). For me, in every area of my life, my biggest fault is not getting over what the critics might say. It was a big one for me in my home birth decision, but ultimately, I had to do what I knew was right for me and disregard those negative voices.
My advice for husbands and an out of hospital birth decision is simple. Talk to him, educate him, tell him your feelings. Tell him how strongly you feel about things and help him to see things from your angle. Then, listen to him. Listen to how he feels. Listen to his concerns. Pray together and study together. Read about birth together. How do you feel at the end of the day? Do you feel happy about things? Excited? Then your out of hospital birth decision is probably right. At the end of the day, do you feel scared or that something's not right? Then it's probably wrong for you. Go with your gut. Branch out - learn new things, try to embrace new concepts (like the fact that hospitals are not the only safe place to give birth) - and then make your decision. Keep an open mind and ask your husband to keep his mind open as well. In the end, I know you'll be able to make the best decision for your personal situation and I hope, whatever decision that is, that you've got your husband 100% behind you.
*I have to say that now, after having had a home birth, my husband actually advocates for natural child birth as well as home birth :) He's been known to talk birth to a few friends and classmates and that has made me very giddy to hear!
Here's a post on the preparation and decision making for home birth.
Here's another post about home births and dads.
And, one more here.