Giving birth is a wonderful, miraculous experience. Most mothers choose to give birth in a hospital knowing they will take good care of you, and if anything goes wrong, all the equipment is ready to go. You also get the dreaded but amazing epidural. I never really considered having a baby outside of the hospital without an epidural until I became pregnant with my fifth child and knew it would be my last. A desire grew inside me to be able to experience birth including all the pain. I know, it sounds crazy, right? Well, I did it, and it was amazing!
If you are considering a birth center and/or midwife as opposed to the traditional hospital birth, here is the good and the bad that I experienced:
The good about natural birth:
You are not “plugged in” to a bunch of machines. This is super annoying when you are trying to rest and the blood pressure cuff squeezes the life out of your arm every 15 min. No IV, no long epidural needle, no catheter, just you in a comfortable bed.
No rude nurses. I’ve had about half and half when it comes to nurses. One nurse tried telling me I just peed my pants when I broke my water and tried to send me home. But I have had wonderful nurses as well. You never know what you’re going to get!
Your midwife is there for the entire process. She has tricks that help the labor along and that help with the pain. My 2nd baby was coming out and I had to “hold it in” until the doctor showed up. The nurse freaked out and left me alone to wait. That baby was coming out, so I told my husband to roll up his sleeves and catch! Luckily the doctor did make it before that happened!
You get to go home and be in your own bed. This is a pro for some and a con for others.
You get to experience what our mothers and grandmothers and beyond have experienced for thousands of years. The intense pain followed by instant relief when the baby is in your arms is a moment of pure joy. You are completely aware of everything going on in your body. You are actively involved in the process, and it is awesome!
Midwives (good ones) do house calls. Mine was going to be leaving on vacation and wanted to make sure I wasn’t giving birth any time soon. She came to my house to check me. She also came to my house a few days after the baby was born to check me and the baby and make sure everything was going well. I absolutely hate having to take a newborn in to a dirty doctor’s office when I’m trying to heal from the birth.
You are taken care of on a more personal level. I was able to call my midwife any time and get answers immediately. I was feeling a bladder infection coming on and called her. Right away, she had me come to her house and she did the test. It wasn’t showing an infection, but she gave me some grapefruit seed oil that prevented it without any medication. She gave me advice on breastfeeding, taking care of my stitches and taking care of my baby whenever I needed it.
Recovery is quicker. I felt so much better and more “with it” after the natural birth. One reason for this is that the midwife really helps the baby along. She uses methods that reduce the need for c-sections and most women do not tear. I had torn with each child, so it was inevitable for me; however, I had fewer stitches with the midwife delivery.
The bad about natural birth:
The pain. Even with my wonderful midwife and her assistant, I was in more pain than I could ever have imagined. However, my baby was born in only 1.5 hours, so it was at least quick.
Having to go home soon after the birth. Not all birthing centers do this. And if I hadn’t had four children at home to take care of, it wouldn’t be a bad thing. However, for me this was extremely difficult. I went home only four hours after giving birth. I was not quite ready to face the reality of five children. Yikes!
If you are concerned about the safety of natural birth with a midwife outside the hospital, these statistics
might help. Birth centers are just as safe as hospitals but provide a more nurturing experience. Just make sure you find a certified midwife with a lot of birth experience.
If you are having your first baby, I would recommend a hospital birth just because you have no idea what your body is going to do. It is nice to have the option of epidural if your labor ends up being 27 hours!
But after having a normal delivery with no complications, I would recommend a birth center for any other deliveries. You have to weigh the good and bad and find what would be best for you.