Anonymous Mom: I’m Proud I Didn’t Let Fear Stop Me From My Second Home Birth

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home-birth-fearAnonymous Mom is a column of motherhood confessions, indiscretions, and parental shortcomings selected by Mommyish editors. Under this unanimous byline, readers can share their own stories, secrets, and moments of weakness with complete anonymity. The following is a follow up to an Anonymous Mom column we published last December.

I’d like to share the story of the birth of my second child, a baby girl named Eve. Six months ago I welcomed her into a tub set up in my bedroom after just three hours of labor. The experience was almost— but not quite—perfect. It was so different in every way from the traumatic home birth of my son nearly two years before.

During my pregnancy I wrote an article about my emotional decision to attempt another homebirth. That story was incredibly cathartic for me to write and share and it proved to be a catalyst for my changing perspective. Somehow, putting my messy truth out there helped me bring back into focus what was really important. I took to heart many of the reader’s comments and sought help from a variety of sources. Simply put, I was rattled and had lost my confidence; I had to work to get it back and to change my inner dialogue. The physical difficulty of my pregnancy only exacerbated my psychological roller coaster. But as my due date approached, I was so at peace with my decision that it was hard to believe I’d felt so conflicted and scared just a few months prior.

I had to wait until 41.5 weeks for labor to start, but once it did, we were off and running. My midwife, well aware of my precipitous first labor, arrived an hour after contractions began. I was walking down the street stopping at every mailbox for a contraction when she pulled up and ordered me back inside. I was three centimeters. Then my water broke, she administered IV penicillin since I was GBS positive, and my contractions seemed to be progressing rapidly. I asked her to check me again before I got into the birth tub and I was six centimeters dilated.

Oh, that birth tub! Easily the best 60 dollars I have ever spent. Just as the contractions were getting difficult I got into that tub and the warm water took everything down a notch. I found comfort there and was able to relax for a few minutes before there was more work to be done. I had my Hypnobirthing CDs on — and while I don’t believe I was ever hypnotized — they were key to me mindfully relaxing and fixating on a positive mantra. The contractions became very intense as I relied on my doula to distract me with different tricks for coping with the pain. I turned to her every time I thought I was going to blow a gasket and she coached me through it all.

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  1. ActionComics25

    October 27, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    I love hearing stories like this! Birth can be so great or so horrible and there is a spectrum of that in both hospital and him births.

  2. LotteryTicketRetirementPlan

    October 27, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    What a beautiful birth story. It inspired me to go back and read about your first experience, and what a turn around! I’m so glad you found peace and had your redemptive birth experience. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Harriet Meadow

    October 27, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    “If you had a rough time on the first go around, let me be the first to tell you — it can be different the second time.” I loved this! And I’m so glad that you shared your experience!

  4. LA Face, Oakland Booty (and

    October 27, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    Congraulations on your second successful home birth. 🙂

  5. sarahbregel

    October 27, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    Good for you! Don’t worry about the critics.

  6. Ellefont

    October 27, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    Although it’s not a risk so severe we should stop women from doing it, homebirth is less safe than delivery by the same certified nurse midwife at a hospital or birthing center. That’s why you were afraid- and reasonably so.

  7. Hibbie

    October 27, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    It’s encouraging to read about someone overcoming birth-related fears. It took guts to go back down a route that was problematic for you. Glad you and Eve (lovely name!) made it through just fine. I had a bad first birth and am totally freakin’ terrified of the upcoming one. I hope I can move through the fear, too.

  8. Amber Leigh Wood

    October 27, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Thank you for writting this, I had a crazy first birth, although it was hospital, not home birth I don’t think I’m brave enough for that. Being pregnant with number 2 every now and then I think “oh crap” reading this helped, I’m glad it can be a completely different experience the second time around.

    • JAN

      October 27, 2014 at 9:48 pm

      I didn’t have home births but my second and third births (both with different midwives because we had moved) were completely different and better experiences than my first, long, rough, labor that ended with a vacuum extraction. I was apprehensive to have another because of the first experience but the next two were *relatively* easy. So I always like to assure women that one rough elbirth doesn’t mean they all will be. Congratulations and good luck!

  9. BabyFirst

    October 27, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    It’s so great that it turned out well. I truly am glad for you. But I still read this and see someone more focused on their “experience” rather than the safety of their baby. The biological process of having a baby that has killed so many mothers and babies over history does not have to be a magical, personalized experience.

    • Spitting_mad

      October 27, 2014 at 6:31 pm

      Between your speech and your SN, this is so passive aggressive that I rolled my eyes so hard that it hurt. You might hae had a valid point, but it was drowned out by the inherent attitude of your post.

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    • Ennis Demeter

      October 27, 2014 at 10:59 pm

      I actually heard a podcaster last year describing her friend’s safe hospital birth with an epidural as “cookie cutter”. I still can’t believe someone said that. Childbirth is not a wedding to be planned and orchestrated for a unique experience. It is not a marathon that you train for and participate in just to say you achieved it. It’s a medical event that it quite risky and kills and injures women and babies all over the world still. It’s your baby’s birth, and your number one and first responsibility as a mother to the new life is to do it as safely as possible, not to be comfortable at home and not to adhere to faddish practices that are actually dangerous. If you wouldn’t drive your newborn around without a car seat, why would you give birth out of a hospital?

    • Georgia

      October 28, 2014 at 1:02 am

      QUOTE: ‘It’s a medical event that it quite risky and kills and injures women and babies all over the world still.’

      Disagree 100%. This is the problem. I despise the opinion that pregnant women are ‘sick’ or ‘ill’ and require medical attention to be ‘cured’. Pregnancy is not a sickness. Pregnant women can be strong and healthy, and deserve to feel so during labour and birth, and wherever they go to make them feel that way should be supported. Unless a woman is actually ill (pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes etc) pregnancy should not be treated as a condition that requires hospitalisation, because it doesn’t.

      As a side note, hospital is not necessarily the safest place for a baby during birth. It depends on how you class safety. If you class safety as a high chance of having medical interventions used, if you consider vaccuums and forceps healthy, if you consider premature induction healthy, then go to a hospital. If you consider natural timing healthy, if you consider as little intervention as possible healthy, if you consider skin to skin healthy, then you may be better off at home. It depends on your individual values, and whatever a woman chooses should be supported.

      I would give birth outside (but near to) a hospital (in the local birthing unit) because I wish to avoid complications and interventions, have my baby come naturally and in their own time, and wish to not be constantly monitored, and to trust my body. I also value midwife care over doctor care, as they are more accustomed to natural births, whereas doctors are accustomed to intervention.

      Having a birth in a hospital is actually more ‘faddish’ if you look at the past 1000 years than birthing at home.

      I respect your viewpoint that you would rather birth (or have your spouse birth) in a hospital, it’s up to you and that is fine. But your facts are incorrect and fear-mongering, and could be misleading to women considering home birth, which is why I had to respond and clear up the facts.

    • N.

      October 28, 2014 at 2:35 am

      You haven’t cleared up any facts, you’ve offered an alternative opinion.

      Example of a fact: “Every day in 2013, about 800 women died due to complications of pregnancy and child birth. Almost all of these deaths occurred in low-resource settings, and most could have been prevented.”

      How do I know this is a fact? It’s backed up by a study, not a personal value or feeling.

    • Georgia

      October 28, 2014 at 3:11 am

      To clarify, I will supply some rebuttal scientific facts, for women out there considering home birth, as I feel they deserve equal support in their choice. You have provided support for those who wish for a hospital birth, now I will provide information and support for those who wish for a home birth 🙂

      Here is one article that details studies done by the University of British Columbia and three U.S. universities that found that planned home births among low-risk women in the U.S. result in low rates of birth interventions without an increase in adverse outcomes for mothers and babies.

      The CDC states that the US has a 32.8% rate of C-Sections, and over 99% of births occur in hospitals. They also state that: Home births have a lower risk profile than hospital births, with fewer births to teenagers or unmarried women, and with fewer preterm, low birthweight, and multiple births.

      Here are some conclusions from an article published in the American Journal of Public Health:
      From 1991 to 2006, the percentage of singleton preterm births increased 13%. The cesarean delivery rate for singleton preterm births increased 47%, and the rate of induced labor doubled. In 2006, 51% of singleton preterm births were spontaneous vaginal deliveries, compared with 69% in 1991. After adjustment for demographic and medical risks, the mother of a preterm infant was 88% more likely to have an obstetrical intervention in 2006 than in 1991. Using new birth certificate data from 19 states, we estimated that 42% of singleton preterm infants were delivered via induction or cesarean birth without spontaneous onset of labor.

      From this, I conclude that preterm birth is being increased by an increase in hospitalised C-sections and induced labours. Due to a high level of hospitalisation for birth, spontaneous vaginal delivery is dropping, and the rate of intervention is rising.

      In conclusion, the US has a high rate of hospitalisation for childbirth and a rising rate of intervention.

      If a woman is not concerned about interventions, C-section and pre-term birth, and wishes to birth in a hospital, all the power to her. That is her choice. Natural delivery is important to some, not to others, that is fine.

      What I have a problem with is people on the internet trying to scare well-meaning, researching mothers-to-be into a hosptial birth they do not want, because they have a crusade against home birth.

      If anyone out there is concerned about the growing rate of medical intervention in labour and birth, then you should feel 100% comfortable considering a home birth. Research it, see if its right for you, and if it is, go with it and ignore the haters.

    • Greencat

      October 28, 2014 at 11:04 am

      I strongly disagree with the conclusions you’ve drawn from the data you cite. Alternate, and I would argue, more plausible explanation: Because, thanks to medical advancements, we are now able to deliver earlier preterm babies without them dying/having as many resulting health issues, this means that more medically risky births are occurring, which would lead to more medical interventions because those babies NEED medical intervention to not die.

      “Home births have a lower risk profile than hospital births, with fewer births to teenagers or unmarried women, and with fewer preterm, low birthweight, and multiple births.”

      Again, you are interpreting things backwards. Teenage births, preterm births, low birth weight babies, and multiple births are inherently riskier to the baby(/ies) in and of themselves. Ergo, more likely to be in a hospital setting, and more likely to have interventions, because, at the end of the day, we all want to limit the number of babies/mothers who don’t survive birth/have lasting health effects from the birth.
      Medical interventions aren’t some big bogeyman. They are tools in a hospital’s toolkit for dealing with specific problems that can arise. Yes, there can and is disagreement and subjectivity over whether they are needed in specific situations, but they are not, in and of themselves unhealthy.
      Homebirth can be a great option for mothers with low-risk pregnancies, where things further along on the hierarchy of needs like “comfort” can have sway over the decisions. But it is not inherently better than hospital births, simply because some consider it or medical interventions to be unnatural.
      Apologies for the novel, and I get that you are trying to advocate for something you believe in strongly, but it raises my hackles when I see people mis-interpreting studies, and as a former preemie, I am grateful for all the medical interventions which allowed me and my mom to both be here many years later, alive and healthy.

    • Georgia

      October 31, 2014 at 1:25 am

      I respect that you disagree with me, and the points you raise are valid also. The only thing I am trying to convince others of is to not bully women who choose or would like to choose a home birth by name calling. You (Greencat) have conversed politely, others have called me stupid, a liar, a fool, mentally challenged, ‘crunchie’, dumb, uneducated (I’m currently completing a masters degree) and misleading. I am not misleading, I am stating things that others have already proved. My main concern is that homebirth can a safe and satisfying experience, and people should not be made to be afraid to consider it if they are experiencing a low risk pregnancy by cruel beings on the internet.

    • becks

      October 28, 2014 at 11:10 am

      What medical expertise do you have to make such a “conclusion.” I can only assume none, since you’ve made a simplistic and sweeping generalization from a single study. Home birth is always more dangerous than a hospital birth. Choose it if you want, but don’t pretend it’s safer.

    • Georgia

      October 31, 2014 at 1:29 am

      I don’t have medical expertise, but I can read. You don’t need a medical degree to understand the conclusions of an article. I quoted numerous studies, I assume you didn’t read all the way through my lengthy comment supplying much needed information on this unbalanced comment board. Home birth is not more dangerous than a hospital birth. An example is dangerous infections babies can pick up at hospital that are not present in a home environment, just a single example. There are more. Both hospital and home births have advantages and disadvantages, and a woman should be free to choose what she likes without rude, cruel people laying these kinds of comments on her.

    • Ennis Demeter

      October 28, 2014 at 10:37 am

      You are denying centuries of science and advocacy that save women’s and babies’ lives and you’re dressing it up as empowering and intelligent. It’s not. It’s superstitious, it’s anti-intellectual and it’s dangerous. When people scare women into not listening to the experts, OBGyns, babies and women die. Do you know what a woman’s home is and what a birth center is? It’s a low resource setting.

    • alannah

      October 28, 2014 at 4:13 am

      Pregnancy and childbirth is and has always been the most important cause of death for girls and women. In every place, time and culture.
      Anyone who denies that is a liar or a fool.
      Thanks to modern obstetrics we are shielded from this universal truth. Some of us have forgotten the suffering of our foremothers.
      Pregnancy may not be a disease but it can kill you nonetheless. Ask all those dead babies the homebirth movement is desperately trying to swipe under the rug.

    • Georgia

      October 31, 2014 at 1:21 am

      I am not a liar nor do I consider myself a fool. Yes pregnancy can kill you or your baby, I am not disputing that, the only point I am trying to get across is this: Homebirth can a safe and satisfying experience, and people should not be afraid to consider it if they are experiencing a low risk pregnancy. People should also be able to say they had or are considering a home birth without unnecessary and hurtful backlash. This is bullying, it is unkind and not needed by anyone.

    • Ennis Demeter

      October 28, 2014 at 10:32 am

      Calling modern medicine “faddish” says all anyone needs to know about your point of view and it’s ridiculousness.

    • Georgia

      October 31, 2014 at 1:19 am

      My point of view is not ridiculous. My point of view is simple and it is this: Homebirth can a safe and satisfying experience, and people should not be afraid to consider it if they are experiencing a low risk pregnancy.

    • Rose

      October 28, 2014 at 1:15 pm

      Ah, the special snowflake syndrome struck again. These people need to realize that no one cares how you gave birth. The only people who have ever asked me are looking for people who validate their own drug-free birth or to bash those who dared to have an epidural or C-section. My birth plan was six whole items.

    • shorty_RN

      October 28, 2014 at 12:05 am

      A tad judgy, but I generally agree.

    • rose

      October 28, 2014 at 1:11 pm

      Toslly agree. My birth plan was handed to the nurse with the statement “but if something goes wrong, do waht you need to to save the baby.” Had zero complications and my daughter was born quickly and easily. I can’t even really remember the birth and it was less than a year ago. All that mattered was my little girl being alive and me be alive to raise her.

  10. TheQuirkyDiva

    October 27, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    It sounds like you had a super professional team behind you. I had a home birth with a CNM and it was a great experience. I wish this was more the norm. I think people often don’t realize that the majority of deliveries are uncomplicated and that it’s actually safer from a postpartum infection perspective to give birth at home. I think people get wound up hearing horror stories in the media (99% of the time about CPMs who receive totally different training). And any time you make a choice outside the mainstream, you’re opening yourself up to judgment. I hope you let any of that you may receive roll off your back. I’m so happy you had a positive experience!! Congratulations on your new baby!

  11. mamaduck_75

    October 27, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    I’m glad you had a wonderful experience! Midwives are awesome. I actually got kind of the best of both worlds. I went through a women’s center that has both midwives and doctors working hand in hand. They don’t do home births there, but the local hospital has an incredible birthing center. If you choose a midwife, you work completely with the midwives (actually, there’s 3 you work with, and anyone of them could end up being with you when you go into labor). If anything crops up healthwise, the doctor oversees it, but only if the it’s enough for the midwife to consult him or her. They only take over during birthing in the most extreme emergency situations. The birth of my daughter got pretty risky there at the end, but I was surrounded by wonderful nurses and the midwife, and the doctor was right there on the birthing floor if needed. Fortunately, we never needed him, and everything turned out great!

    • the_ether

      October 28, 2014 at 6:10 am

      Sounds exactly like my birth centre 🙂 I wound up having some complications (well, my baby did) but I was able to keep my midwife with me for the birth, and she advocated for me when the doctors wanted to start synthetic oxytocin (which I didn’t actually wind up needing at all).

  12. doodlebug2

    October 27, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    Home birth and all that shit aside, Mommyish: why do you describe this column as being “unanimous”? (see header). Shouldn’t it be “anonymous”??

  13. Greencat

    October 28, 2014 at 11:11 am

    I’m glad to hear that everything went well for you, and that you had a back-up plan in place in case things started going south. Best wishes to you, your daughter, and the rest of your family.

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