Home vs Hospital: A Father's Perspective
Home birth? What? Let’s leave this birthing business to the army of professionals. How much will I have to do? What if something goes wrong? These are among the thoughts I had when first hearing about and considering home birth. Hi, my name is Andrew. In this short post, I wish to share my personal experience with home birth. Hopefully, fathers considering home birth will find this useful. Please note that I do not intend to criticize hospital birth in attempt to wholesale elevate home birth. However, I will be pointing out some differences between the two as well as some opinions I have obtained by experiencing both.
I have had the privilege of being present for all three of my children’s births. The first two births were in a hospital setting, and the last was a home birth. My wife had the tendency for early deliveries, with our first born being 7 weeks premature. So, things did not go according to plan that day! My second born daughter was 3 weeks early, technically full-term, and accompanied by a sigh of relief. Honestly, these two deliveries made me a bit nervous about home birth. What if it’s 7 and not 3? As I found out, the midwife would only deliver at the beginning of 37 weeks (jumping ahead, this is when our last child was born, at home!). So, if before 37 weeks, we would spend the whole prenatal care with the midwife and then have to deliver with a doctor we didn’t know? In fact, this exactly happened to us with our first. OK, I think we can try this… Looking back, with all things considered, I must say that I preferred the home birth. This is due to a number of reasons.
First, you are in your own home!
I was suuuuper comfortable (feeling the glare from my wife, even though she is asleep right now). In all seriousness, the atmosphere seems to be a BIG DEAL when pushing a human out of your body, and I could tell this helped a lot. All the calming things were right there. I could get my wife the food that she wanted, whenever, and conveniently. Another unforeseen benefit was the fact that there was little to no disruption to the other children. I didn’t need to arrange childcare or a time for them to see their new sibling. Or drag them out of the hospital screaming they love mommy and don’t want to go home with daddy. Sheesh! I get it, she earned it!
Second, our midwife was fantastic.
She was very knowledgeable about procedures and provided alternatives with pros and cons. The prenatal care included homeopathic options which I felt was missing with previous doctors. At the very beginning, she wanted to hear our concerns and desires about the delivery, then come up with a plan of how things would go. I think this was so extremely helpful, especially when your wife likes to have all the ducks in row! The plan would change slightly as time progressed and got closer to the delivery, which reminds me of another thing. Every appointment was with the midwife. I attended my fair share of prenatal doctor’s appointments (the driver’s branch is probably faster) and, quite honestly, we saw the nurse practitioner more often. There was so much peace of mind knowing that this person was partnering with your wife to ensure the months-long plan was carried out on that special day. In no way did the delivery seem rushed or did my wife get caught off-guard by something not previously discussed.
Last, home birth is simply more intimate.
You are never separated from your new baby. There are not people you have never met entering and exiting your room for a two day period. In fact, there is no transition at all for you or the baby from hospital to home… mostly for you, because what do babies know? Actually, as I found out, skin-to-skin contact is an important thing for babies. Well, I generally don’t take my shirt off in the middle of the day, especially around strangers! So, you can do this, and it’s, uh, not weird.
Since some may wonder, and this can be a driving factor for some (pride aside, it was a factor for us), the cost of home birth is very reasonable. Without crunching too many numbers, home birth was less than half of our responsibility after insurance for our normal hospital delivery. This may vary quite a bit depending on the hospital and your coverage, but this was my experience.
If I could summarize all of this about home birth and state plainly in one sentence, it is this: the little person in the womb that was living in your home and your family already, in one moment conceived by careful planning, arrives and shows their face, and your family doesn’t skip a beat.