Frequently Asked Home Birth Questions

Is homebirth safe?
It is for low-risk pregnancies and births. Several published studied have confirmed that for low-risk women, it is just as safe to birth at home as it is in the hospital. In fact, the research found that low-risk women who birth at home were less likely to experience an episiotomy, vacuum extraction, induction, or an instrument assisted delivery. Homebirth may not be a safe option for women with some pre-existing conditions or for women who develop complications in pregnancy. Links to homebirth studies can be found on the Resources page under Research.
What are the benefits of homebirth?
Individualized care: All decisions about your care are made together with you, in detailed discussions of your needs and desires, your individual health, and the evidence regarding the options available to you. We respect you as your own – and your baby’s – primary care provider.

Evidence-based care: We stay current on the research around pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and breastfeeding, so that we can provide the best evidence possible for your decision-making and our skills and knowledge.

Your own environment: You choose who attends your birth and who cares for you. You choose what to eat and drink. Walk, dance or sleep uninterrupted if you want to! Siblings or other family members can be present and the experience can be very personal and private. There is less chance of infection at home for you and your baby.

Bonding with your baby: We hold the space for the mother-baby connection as it makes the transition from the womb to the mama’s arms, to the breast, and beyond. You or your partner can even “catch” the baby.

What if something goes wrong?
The majority of the time healthy, low-risk women have healthy, low-risk pregnancies and births. This is not always the case though. That is why it is important to receive thorough prenatal care from someone trained to detect variations from normal and to respond to them promptly. If a complication arises prenatally additional testing, medical consultation, or transfer of care may be necessary. If a complication presents in labor that is beyond our scope of practice, a transport to the hospital would be necessary. We are trained to recognize potential complications, to manage many of them (such as hemorrhage, newborn resuscitation, and perineal tears,) and to stabilize and transport a woman who develops a complication that can not safely be managed at home (such as cord prolapse or placenta previa.) In case of a transport we would remain with a client in a doula role.

What if my baby needs help breathing?
Approximately 90% of newborns will not require any help to begin breathing. For the small number of babies who do need assistance, your midwives are certified in Neonatal Resuscitation and Adult and Infant CPR. They know how to recognize the need and respond. Your midwife will bring all necessary equipment to your home and set up a resuscitation board, in the unlikely event that resuscitation is required.

What if the cord is around baby’s neck; what will you do?
Parents are often surprised to hear that a cord wrapped around a baby’s neck is not an unusual situation. Most of the time, as the baby’s head is born, the midwife is able to gently slip the cord around the baby’s head and the baby births without any problem. On the rare occasion that a cord may be too tight to slip over baby’s head, your midwife has options that she is trained to utilize.

Is homebirth messy?
Not really! During your prenatal care we will give you a link to a website where you will order a “birth kit” which includes all the disposable supplies for your birth. Many of these supplies are meant to keep your house clean during the birth. While you have family bonding time with your new baby, we quietly tidy up. By the time we leave, no one will know you had the baby at home by looking around the house; except there is the newborn in a freshly made bed with a proud Mama and family! You’re just left with two large trash bags—one filled with trash, and the other filled with dirty laundry—if you wash it right away, it probably won’t stain, either!

Who should choose homebirth?
Any healthy woman with a low-risk pregnancy can choose to birth at home. However, you must have a strong desire to birth at home and be 100% committed to it. The most successful homebirthers are those who have a strong commitment to it and who trust their body’s natural ability to birth. You must be willing to devote time and energy into doing your own research (reading and taking natural childbirth classes), eating well, and taking good care of yourself to keep your pregnancy low-risk with the help of a midwife who will educate you on nutrition and low-tech approaches to potential problems. You must feel completely comfortable with the idea of birthing at home before making the decision.

Are your services covered by insurance?
It depends on your policy. Each insurance policy is designed with different needs in mind. It’s usually recommended that you call your insurance company and ask them if they cover midwives (don’t mention homebirth— since a large majority of women have their babies in a hospital setting, most insurance companies don’t know how to process the rare homebirth claim). Sometimes, paying out-of-pocket is the only way to have a homebirth. There are insurance billers who specialize in processing homebirth claims, and I also have an itemized superbill available to clients to fill out with specific dates of service to submit for insurance reimbursement.
Most insurance policies cover labwork and ultrasounds.

What if I decide to have medication during labor?
The option of going to the hospital at any point in your labor is always available. Wanting something and needing something are two different things. No midwife is going to keep you at home against your wishes. However, going to the hospital will change your birthing environment considerably. A short discussion about the reality of what the hospital is prepared to do for you takes place prior to departure. We cover topics ranging from how long you might have to wait to receive any pain medication, how you will now be bound by hospital policies and procedures, and how you may need to stay for 24 hours or more after the birth, just to name a few.

Do I need to see a doctor for my prenatal care?
Most midwives offer comprehensive care during pregnancy, birth and the first weeks after the baby is born. Prenatal care in the midwifery model includes all the same clinical components as obstetric care, such as listening to the baby with a doppler or fetoscope and taking your blood pressure, and also includes time getting to know you and your health, and addressing all your questions. Postpartum care includes two to six hour-long visits depending on your midwife. Midwives also provide weight and color checks for your newborn for the first two weeks, and most families see the pediatrician at two to four weeks of age. There are some instances when mothers may need to see a physician, such as antibiotic treatment of a UTI. Our care includes recognizing clinical situations requiring the attention of an obstetrician or pediatrician and referring you to one if necessary.
What are the benefits of using water during labor and/or birth?
Water removes 75% of gravity, which significantly decreases the amount of pain you experience during labor and pushing. It also allows you to be more relaxed and mobile, and because of that, shortens your labor. Being able to change positions frequently and easily allows the birthing woman to be more aware of how her labor is progressing and to feel a direct connection with what is happening. Water provides an increase in oxygen to the baby and the uterine muscles, decreasing the potential risks of fetal distress and prolonged, often ineffectual labor.

What do you do after the baby is born?
Every midwife has a little different approach but at a typical birth we put the baby up on mama’s belly, and for about the first fifteen minutes we keep an eye on your bleeding and your baby’s adjustment to life outside the womb. After the placenta is born and the baby’s cord is done pulsing, we ask you if you are ready to cut the cord and who is going to be the one to do it, and we help clamp and cut the cord. Then we give you some space for family time, staying close by with an ear out for your needs and checking both mom’s and baby’s vitals and bleeding periodically. Whenever your baby is interested in nursing, we offer help with positioning and latch if you would like it. After the first feed, we do a thorough newborn exam to ensure that baby is healthy, as well as measure and weigh baby and do footprints on a keepsake birth certificate!
When you are comfortable and ready for a nap with your baby, and we are satisfied that you and baby are healthy and stable, we leave.. typically this is about 2 hours after the birth. We then return in about 24-48 hours for your first postpartum visit.
If, for any reason, the mother and baby are not doing just fine, we stay until the situation is resolved or go with one or both of you to the hospital, if the situation requires a trip to the hospital. Most do not.

What about the birth certificate? Social Security Number?
Your midwife will complete a “Registration Of A Live Birth” form and send it in within 3 days of the birth. One of the questions on the form is for assigning a social security number at birth. We can check “yes” or “no.” If you choose “no,” you must then register the child for a social security number by the age of sixteen.