Why Would You Switch To Home Birth?
Why would you move from a straightforward hospital birth to switching into a home birth at 39 weeks? Because you need to feel safe with your health care provider and you have choices in who that is. As the parents of this new baby, the hospital no longer felt like a good option. Once Brenna and Eric realized that their care was being pushed towards an unfounded induction protocol, they knew they had to look elsewhere. Looking into home birth was not something they thought they would ever do. But being low risk and knowing her body, Brenna wanted a different kind of birth experience for her little girl. With their doula and new midwives by their side – their baby girl arrived safely at home on Christmas morning.
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– Cool, well I’m Brenna, this is my husband Eric. We had our baby on Christmas this year, her name is Azalea and she is now 14-ish weeks, and she’s asleep, and we’re hoping she’ll stay that way for a little bit. But yeah, like Karen and Amy said, we were planning a hospital birth at the military hospital here in town. We’re both in the military, so we were under the impression kind of since the time that we got pregnant that that is where you give birth if you’re a military member. And we didn’t explore other options ’cause we really didn’t think there were any. We thought that based on our insurance and our positions in the military that we didn’t have any options. So, that is the path we were going down.
A little bit of background I guess, our pregnancy was a surprise. So, Hypnobirthing really helped me accept that I was pregnant, kind of , and connect with my baby because I definitely struggled with that the first few months, and just, kind of wanting to be pregnant. And Hynobirthing also really helped me figure out what I wanted for their birth. We didn’t know if it was a boy or a girl. We were sticking on theme with the surprise.
– Good for you man, that’s tough. Especially when like it’s a surprise anyway, so what the hell.
– Right, right I know. So yeah, it really just helped me feel connected to our baby. I learned to, turns out it was a girl, so I learned how to talk to her and really get in touch with what she might want out of her birth. I realized Care told us in the info session actually, it’s not my birth, it’s hers. So how do we want our baby to come into the world? We decided from Hypnobirthing that we really wanted her to feel safe, protected, and confident coming into the world. So, yeah we were going down the hospital path until about 39 weeks into our pregnancy. And the reason that we switched over was based on a lot of different factors.
We had great care in the military system. We can’t say enough about the physicians and the treatment team that we did have. However, I was given a diagnosis at the beginning of my pregnancy, that was very unfounded in actual research for my particular situation. And they said I had chronic hypertension, basically. But it was based off of two high blood pressures in my past, like over four years ago. So not even in pregnancy. So at my 12 week appointment, we had been told that we would be looking at an induction at 38 weeks. And we were kind of like oh, we’re hardly even pregnant here. You know, that seems like quite the statement to make this early on. But we figured as long as my blood pressure was fine, that that wouldn’t be a factor going down the road. And we even went so far as to take my blood pressure everyday at home. We were given a machine, so we took it everyday, and tracked it ourselves, and we were very confident that no, we don’t have a problem. You know, my blood pressure is low, we’re good. But unfortunately, every time I went into the doctor’s office, we were high. Because I had developed such anxiety about it being high, that then it was subsequently high.
– We call it white coat syndrome.
– [Brenna] Exactly
– You know you see the white coat and you go .
– Yep, and I just couldn’t get it down. And it was frustrating because I felt like a lot of times I wasn’t heard, like the midwife or the physician that we saw that day didn’t hear me say like, no I always test high. And you can look at our data, it’s low everyday at home, we’re good. They said that they had to go off of the snapshot in time that they had in their records, which was frustrating to hear. But again, we kind of thought like well we know we’re good. You know, no one’s gonna try to do anything crazy with us. So yeah, we got to our 38 week appointment, and they were like when do you want to be induced? And we were like, we’re not interested in an induction in the absence of any sort of medical reason to do it. And we had agreed to do non-stress tests over at the hospital. We had agreed to do some various labs that would indicate whether or not I actually had pre-eclampsia or high blood pressure.
So we did all that, and even despite all of those things and every indication that our baby was healthy, and I was healthy, every time we had an appointment they pushed the induction really hard. And it scared us, it made us question whether or not we were making the right decisions. But fortunately, we had taken Hypnobirthing, and we knew to question things. Not necessarily to question medical evidence, but to just ask questions, and to feel empowered to say can you tell me more about why you’re making this recommendation. At one point, one day they were like okay we’re gonna go upstairs and we’re gonna induce you today. And we said can you walk through what that process might look.
– Good for you!
– We wanted to do that in Hypnobirthing. It was a delay, it was a stall tactic. But it was also a way of telling our doctor like this is what we want. You know, you tell me what you’re thinking for us, and we’ll tell you what we actually want for our baby. Barring any sort of medical need, you know. And I think I felt, I know that I felt incredibly strong about our baby getting to come on her own time, because I had struggled with not wanting to be pregnant for so long. And I felt like I really owed it to our baby to let her decide, in a safe way of course. So it was really important to me that she get to choose.
So, after that last appointment at 38 weeks, we decided that we needed to look at other options. Because we didn’t feel like we could give birth at the medical center in the way that we wanted to give birth. I was already labeled high risk based off of the diagnosis, which would have meant continuous fetal monitoring, potentially less access to the shower, and less access to some of the things that they had available. So at that point we called The Birth Center, and we were told that we were too far along, only because they couldn’t get us in for an appointment until my due date. So they were just slammed, I think with patients. So they couldn’t even see us until our due date.
So at that point they recommended midwives for home birth, which we had not considered as an option for us. We had seen many videos of home births in Hypnobirthing, which served to expose us to it. And so we called the midwifery practice and they saw us I think within the week. So our first appointment with them was ten days before our due date, which felt crazy, it really did. But, we had also learned that it was never too late to change where you’re gonna give birth. So we were very empowered by that, having learned that in Hypnobirthing. And the midwives received us with open arms. They felt that we were great candidates for a home birth, very low risk, no complications, and so we kind of hit the ground running. Got everything ready for a home birth. People lie and say that it wasn’t terrifying to go down that path that late, what felt like that late in the game, ’cause it was a complete change in our mindset. And we questioned whether or not it was a safe decision for us. But, looking at all the factors like I said, no complications, we are very close to the hospital, we felt somewhat secure in doing it that way.
– Yeah it was a very late decision, but it felt very informed, which between, Brenna was very disciplined about gathering information. She had found the Hypnobirthing class, we found it through but, I was deployed for the first what, five months of the pregnancy. So she had to go to all the initial appointments on her own, which was you know unfortunate. I tried to–
– A lot of moms are doing that now.
– Yeah, so that was our reality, and now that’s becoming very much everyone’s reality right now. So working through that process, and then getting home, fortunately time to take a Hypnobirthing class, which my big takeaway was the, you have choice. I didn’t know much about it probably like most dads-to-be. So, just on boarding a lot of information, and then using that to make informed decisions. We very much came to that point where it was like, okay let’s consider doing this at home. And I think I had more reservations about a home birth than Brenna did even. And the safety was my biggest concern, but fortunately between the midwifery practice we went to, they were very patient with us, they answered all of our questions, probably again and again , ’cause we probably just were like not quite sure if we asked it the right way. But they answered all our questions, and made us feel very comfortable about that.
And then, like Brenna said, we did have some care providers through the military health system that we thought were fantastic. And actually worked with us quite a bit to, hey you don’t need to make this choice now, and you can continue to ask questions and explore information, and maybe we don’t need to make a decision right now. They enabled us to do that. So between, we kind of had dual care for a little while, where we would go to Balboa, and we would go to the hospital and we would get the stress test, non-stress test, or the 24-hour urine there. And then we’d go to the midwifery practice and then with the plethora of information we were getting there, we were like okay we feel very comfortable moving forward with this.
It did help that, just we were fortunate to live where we are where we’re very close to the hospital. And I think that also eased it where, if we knew we needed to make a transfer, we could do that. The midwifery service was very good about answering questions. If there was an emergent reason we would need to transfer, how they could handle that, or how they could they handle any emergent situation. So, that helped quite a bit for us. And when Azalea did decide that she wanted to arrive on Christmas Day, that she was, well the midwives were there. We did have a doula as well, who we could not recommend enough. We’re very very happy with the decision to do that.
– Now you can tell us who your midwives and doula were if you want to, so I can tag them.
– Sure, we had Mother to Mother Midwifery. They’re a practice of four. And our doula is Amy Osgood.
– She’s fantastic.
– [Brenna] Incredible.
– And she’s continued to be incredible. Actually, like we still have a relationship with her, almost four months out.
– [Interviewer] Yeah, that’s great.
– So wonderful.
– So tell us how labor kind of started, like where.
– Yeah, so Azalea came about 11 days overdue. And I very much feel like that’s because we didn’t know what the hell we were doing. You know, like we didn’t know where we were giving birth. For so long, I think that she was like no way man, I’m not coming out to you guys right now. She needed to feel like we had it under control. So I think she made it. But our labor began on Christmas Eve. I started having contractions after dinner, I didn’t tell Eric. I was like ooh if I tell him he’s gonna get too excited. And I wanted to try and do the thing, you know where y’all say like, oh try to get some sleep. So I tried to get in bed, and about an hour after I got in bed, my water broke. And I was GBS positive, and we had decided that we did want to have antibiotics because of that.
So we called the midwife within an hour or so of my water breaking. And after that, labor was kind of just go, go, go. And it really progressed pretty quickly. I was fully dilated about eight hours later. And we did, being home was awesome, because we had access to a lot of different areas in our home. We labored on the toilet, we labored on the bed, on our stairs, we had a tub. We kind of just tried many things. When I was fully dilated, our baby was still very high, and she needed to rotate. So even though I could technically push at that point, we had to do a lot of positions to get her to drop down.
And so we were super thankful that we had a team of midwives and an incredible doula to recommend so many different positions, and to really give us the time and space to labor. I’m not confident that we would’ve had that in the hospital. I think that there is a possibility we might’ve been told that our labor was stalled. And that they might have pushed us towards further interventions. I can’t guarantee it, but that’s how I feel. Because we actually continued, she didn’t come after I was fully dilated for seven and a half more hours.
– That’s fantastic! The patience.
– Yeah, so really had to do a lot to get her to come down. And there was certainly a point where I felt super overwhelmed, and I felt that oh no, they’re gonna tell me we need to transfer. But that was never the case, it always felt incredibly safe. I was surrounded by confidence, and I think it says a lot about the people that we chose to surround ourselves with. Like, they all knew what they were doing, even when I felt a little bit out of control. And it was amazing to be given that time, you know. And just like, you do you. We’re gonna make our recommendations, and we’re gonna help you along and be here for you. But at no point did I feel rushed, and no point did I feel like something needed to happen for you know, so that was really cool. And I think it was completely a credit to them that she did come down, and we were able to complete everything at home.
The positions that ended up working for us were some that we learned from Hypnobirthing. Using the rebozo, we kind of made it into like a swing in a way, like yeah hanging in over the door. And I would squat, and like pull on these things, and push, and it felt very athletic, and very powerful to birth our baby that way. So she came in the hallway, standing up which was awesome.
– Yeah, like right over there .
– I know, the birth tub, and we have all the places, and then they come in a foyer or a closet.
– Yeah .
– Pretty much.
– Yeah, I think the tub could have been a good thing, but I got super overheated in it, and we had run out of ice. So we actually had our doula running around the neighborhood trying to get ice from neighbors at like 7:00am on Christmas morning. So, that didn’t last very long for us. But great in theory, I would totally try it again next time. So yeah, that’s kind of it. And now we have a baby, so it’s great. We’re gonna be happy.
– What did she smell like when you got to put her up on your chest?
– It smelt like her. You know, she just smelled like our baby. She had a really short cord, so I did have to like drop down immediately to get her. And she passed meconium immediately after coming out too, which we’re super thankful that she waited to do that, thank god. But I think Amy had said like, oh they smell like cupcakes. I don’t think she smelled like cupcakes to me but, I couldn’t accurately say what she did smell like, but it was pretty cool. And it was incredibly to be home, and afterwards to not have to deal with a million people coming into our room and checking on us throughout the night. It was just us, and we felt very safe in that our midwives stayed for about two hours–
– Oh more than that.
– Two or three hours after she was born. They gave us dinner, they made sure that were completely good and secure, and confident. You know, spending the night here with our baby. And then they came back the next day so, that was a really unique part of our care that we loved, was they continued to come back for our 24 hour, I think our 48 hour maybe, and then a week appointment, which having care in your house after giving birth is amazing. To not have to leave, so wonderful, highly recommend that. Even if you give birth in a hospital, could maybe hire midwives to come for your post-partum appointments to your house.
– That’d be fantastic.
– Yeah, that would be amazing. I bet they would do that too.
– Europe, but not here yet.
– Yeah, so highly recommend that. But, yeah I would just say again, it’s never too late to change where you’re giving birth. You know, if you feel confident, and you are able to choose the best people to surround yourself with, I think it’s completely doable. Yeah and I don’t know if any of y’all are military. The Tri-Care part was challenging, and we did pay out of pocket, ultimately though. So that was a choice that we were fortunate to be able to make. But, it’s kind of hard to leave a hospital where your birth would’ve been no cost, to your other option which is paying out of pocket. But, totally worth it. It was an investment in our daughter. It was an investment in my care, and my health. So, it was the right choice for us.