Giving birth is a personal and intense experience, one that is aided by a feeling of support and comfort. The best place for a woman to have her baby is somewhere she can experience that support and comfort and where she feels most at ease – for many women, that place is home.
The number of homebirths in the United States has increased significantly in recent years, as more families seek the comprehensive homebirth services of Licensed Midwives. Numerous studies have demonstrated that midwifery care results in excellent outcomes for both moms and babies and lowers health care costs - yet many families remain unaware of the benefits of midwifery and have questions about what homebirth entails.
Who can give birth at home?
Homebirth is a safe option for women with a normal pregnancy and an uncomplicated medical history under the care of a trained midwife. Comprehensive homebirth services include all necessary labwork and regular prenatal care which enables your midwife to assess your risk status throughout your pregnancy and identify if a consultation or transfer is necessary. Most pregnancies and births proceed without complication and most women who intend to have a homebirth are able to do so.
What happens if there is a complication during pregnancy?
Licensed Midwives develop a personalized consultation plan with their clients to identify the reasons a consultation or transfer of care would be necessary at all stages of pregnancy and the providers who would be consulted. Some complications can be resolved and the plan to deliver at home can continue while others might necessitate a transfer of care to another provider for more advanced pregnancy supervision. Your midwife will discuss her protocols for consultations and transfers of care with you during your prenatal care. You can also visit the Minnesota Council of Certified Professional Midwives website to review the standards of practice for Licensed Midwives in Minnesota or the Wisconsin Guild of Midwives website for standards in Wisconsin.
What happens if there is a complication during labor?
Licensed Midwives are trained to recognize and manage many of the complications of labor and delivery. Your midwife carries oxygen, medications to control postpartum bleeding and IV fluids and is certified in Neonatal Resuscitation and CPR. An emergency transport plan is also developed for each client which outlines the protocols for hospital transfer should one be necessary, including processes for communication with receiving providers.
Are there any special preparations necessary for delivering at home?
Preparing your home for birth will be discussed during prenatal care although there is minimal preparation required. Clients gather supplies such as common items like towels and baby blankets and order a custom birth kit that contains things like protective pads and postpartum supplies. For women wanting a water birth, there are additional supplies like a portable birthing pool – and extra towels!
Do I need to see a doctor if I am planning a homebirth?
Licensed Midwives can take care of all routine assessments and screenings for both mom and baby throughout pregnancy and for the first six weeks postpartum. For most clients, their midwife is the only provider they see for pregnancy, postpartum and newborn care until establishing regular pediatric care for well-child visits. You are, of course, welcome to see any provider of your choice at any time although it is not necessary if all is proceeding normally.
How do you choose a midwife?
The relationship you build with your midwife is an essential part of your comfort and reassurance when you give birth. It’s important to choose a midwife who has the knowledge and experience to provide the care you desire; most midwives offer free consultations so prospective clients can ask questions and discuss their options. These are some useful questions to ask a midwife to get a sense of what you can expect from her care (adapted from the Wisconsin Guild of Midwives website).
- What is your philosophy of pregnancy and birth?
- How were you trained?
- How long have you been a midwife?
- What are your credentials? Are you licensed?
- How many births have you attended? How many as primary midwife?
- What is your experience with managing complications and emergencies?
- Who are your consulting and backup providers?
- Who attends births with you? A second midwife? Assistant? Student?