When we made the decision to switch from the birth center to home birth midwife, I knew we'd get some questions and apprehension from some friends and maybe even some family. Both our girls were born under the care of very capable midwives who practiced in connection to either a hospital connected birth center or in a hospital. There was "emergency" care immediately available, MD's in the facility at all times, and countless amounts of any and all drugs under the rainbow.
Miss Moo's birth was amazing, calming, swift, and everything I had imagined first my birth to be. Miss Roo's labor was a bit forced and had interventions - my membranes were prematurely ruptured and I ended up augmented with pitocin. Her birth was lightning fast - a full 10 cm to born in 2 minutes. Both girls were health, exactly the same size, and I was fine - merely a skid mark from their fast exits.
But there's something about the mere mention of giving birth at home that makes many people uncomfortable, even a bit scared. Truly, there's no reason to be either of those things. Home birth midwives aren't scary. They don't practice witchcraft or any kinds of sacrifices. They are extremely educated, experienced, and intuitive when it comes to the pregnancy and birth. They have families, lives, and interests outside of birth. They spend copious amounts of time with their clients, treating each woman as a person with a life and a family - not just a uterus that is occupied and needs to be checked on a routine basis.
Anyone considering home birth has done their homework. There are risks associated with a home birth, just as with ANY birth, even those in a hospital. Home birth is best suited for women with normal, low or no risk pregnancies. Any high risk factors, such as preeclampsia or placenta praevia, should be weighed heavily and discussed with your midwife to determine if you are a good candidate for home birth. Home birth means no immediate access to pain medications or emergency medical interventions. This statement does not mean that any emergency that might occur cannot be addressed and treated - midwives are certified in neonatal resuscitation, can handle a maternal hemmorage to mange, control, or transfer the problem, etc. They are also aware of signs and indications of possible problems before they become emergencies for proper discussion and transfer, if necessary, before they become emergencies. However, home birth carries with it some risk that you and your partner must assess and be comfortable with.
There are tons of wonderful resources, both online, in your area, and in book form. You can start at the website for the American College of Nurse-Midwives , The North American Registry of Midwives, or Mothers Naturally to find out more about midwives, state laws and regulations in your area, and registries of midwives. There are tons of helpful websites about birth in general and home birth. Some of those to use as a resource are:
Bringing Birth Home
My Best Birth
Birth Without Fear
Most of the resource websites out there also have resource pages full of links.
For the bookworm crew, like myself, here are a few books I highly recommend:
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth
Birthing from Within
Pushed: The Painful Truth about Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care
The Birth Partner
The Doula Book
How Big is a Placenta Bowl?
Homebirth: The Essential Guide to Giving Birth Outside of the Hospital
Reasearch. Ask questions. Do more research. You are your biggest advocate and ally. Choose your birth no matter where that birth is or what it looks like. And respect all the various births that are out there. We are all women who carried children and brought them from our bodies. What a miraculous thing we women can do.