1) Figure out what your health coverage insures. If it is slim or nothing for a home birth or midwifery care, go over your finances and consider what you can afford (keeping in mind that some midwives offer income based sliding scales as well as payment plans.).
2) Interview Midwives and Doulas:
-It is good to interview several before deciding on one. In some areas home birth midwives may be scarce so it will be easy to find their names and plenty of reviews. In other areas, there may be a lot of midwives that service the area and it is a good idea to do lots of research, read reviews, along with speaking with them in person. A good way to find positively reviewed midwives and doulas is on birth community sites that have forums for specific locations (IE: mothering.com offers “tribes” that connect you to mothers in your area of the world). Most midwives and doulas offer a free consultation before they become “yours”.
Examples of what to ask at a Midwife consultation:
- Who certifies you? Are you a CPM, CNM?
- What is your training background?
- What is your educational background?
- Why did you become a midwife?
- How long have you been in practice?
- What is your whole cost, do you offer a sliding scale?
- What is your transfer rate?
- Do you do any “routine” screenings, tests, etc and how do you process them?
- Do you have any hospital affiliation?
- For what reasons would you suggest I don’t deliver at home or need a transfer?
- What equipment do you come with to a birth (and in case of emergency)?
- Do you bring a nurse or apprentice to births?
- Do you offer birth tub rentals if I desire a water birth?
Examples of what to ask at a Doula consultation:
-Who certifies you? (CAPPA, DONA, CBI, BAI, etc)
-What techniques do you use to help me cope with labor/birth?
-How many times do we meet before/after birth?
-How long will you stay with me during/after labor/birth?
-How much is your whole cost and do you offer a sliding scale or bartering system?
-Do you have a lending library or other resource rentals (birth tub, birth balls, etc)?
-Can you help me write a birth plan?
-Do you offer any other services (placenta encapsulation or preparation, childbirth classes, Blessingway hosting, etc)
3) Prepare yourself with information as you deem appropriate. There are lots of great books and resources to help you prepare for birth. Below is a list of books that may be worth a read:
- “Ina May’s Guide To Childbirth” by Ina May Gaskin
- “The Thinking Woman’s Guide To A Better Birth” by Henci Goer
- “Childbirth Without Fear” by Dr. Grantly Dick Read
- “Gentle Birth Choices” by Barbara Harper
- “Homebirth” by Sheila Kitzinger
- “Spiritual Midwifery” by Ina May Gaskin
- “The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth” by Sheila Kitzinger
There are many, many wonderful home birth resources on the internet as well. As a pregnant woman it is best to work under the philosophy that images and words will greatly affect how you feel and view birth during this childbearing year. So, although there are plenty of things to discover on the world-wide web, discretion is always good. Some sites that I recommend are below (these sites have categorized headings so you can navigate what will be useful and what you wish to see and avoid what you wish not to see):
Consider hiring a private childbirth educator (or speak with your Doula-they often offer crash courses in childbirth for their clients) to meet you and your partner in your home for a childbirth class. (Or even split the cost with an interested or other pregnant friend!) . You could also find a class through hospitals or ask your midwife or doula if she knows and recommends any childbirth courses in your area or online.
Some find attending a natural childbirth class to be just what they need to feel comfortable with home birth while others find their own research and support of their doula and midwife to be enough to prepare. Whatever you choose to help inform yourself, do so at a level that is comfortable to you-over researching and under preparedness have both posed issues for pregnant mothers as our minds can be particularly vulnerable during this time. If you find the more you dig for information the more anxious you become (or the more tempted you are to absorb negative stories and visuals), take it down a notch, tell your support people and advert your attention back to the positive thoughts for YOUR birth.
4) Speak openly with your partner. Decide what your hopes and wishes are for who will be present at the birth of your child, what roles you hope them to play. Discuss your partners comfort levels and work together to become comfortable with your plans. Think about the possibility of having a water birth, what music you may want, anything special you wish to be used to enhance or mellow your birth environment, sit down and consider all the aspects you wish to cover in your birth plan, specifically what roles everyone will play. Enjoy this part of the planning, find common grounds with those you intend to include and make sure the people who support you believe in the process. Reading a book together or sharing helpful articles can be a nice way to bond while preparing for your home birth. If you intend to include your older children, introduce them at age appropriate levels to the idea of mommy having her baby at home. There are several children's books out there that talk about what they can expect.
5) Make an “in case of emergency” transfer plan with your midwife and inform everyone that will be present of the plan. Prepare a separate birth plan for the event of a transfer if you feel it suites to calm you. Most midwives will have you fill out a form that will include what hospital you wish to transfer to if possible, ambulance service if you are rurally located, etc.
6) Trust in the process and have faith that you picked people who will support you. This step is consuming affirmations, day-dreaming, picturing your birth, connecting with your baby, enjoying the fact that you are going to join the ranks of every mother that has ever lived(for the first or subsequent time), as well as give birth in the comfort of your home like so many generations before us. Cool, huh? Remember, you are strong, you are capable, the hands around you offer healing knowledge and support, the space around you offers peace, and your baby knows how to be born just as you know how to birth him. Allow yourself to feel the spiritual aspect of your pending home birth and enjoy every second!