Peacefully Laboring Woman

So you’re having a homebirth! And you’re no doubt fielding ALL the questions:

“People still DO that???”

“Can you still get an epidural???”

“No, really, people still DO THAT???”

And while their joking suggestions to remember the leather strap to bite down on are certainly hilarious, in the back of your mind you might have your own questions about what to remember to prepare for your homebirth experience:

  1. “Will I have enough for the birth team to eat?”
  2. “Should I still pack a bag for the hospital, just in case?”
  3. “What am I forgetting???”

The answers to those questions are:

  1. Probably! Hummus, crackers, cheese, nuts, fresh fruit, and maybe a bottle of wine for celebration will be plenty to make most people happy and energized to support you.
  2. Also not a bad idea! As a two-time hospital transfer myself, I know two things: (a) there’s nothing you can’t grab at a Walgreens or MacGuyver at a hospital, and (b) it’s nice not to have to panic about not having anything ready once you’ve made the decision to go. The short list is:
    • Chapstick
    • something clean to labor in (yoga skirt and a nursing bra is a popular choice!)
    • hairtie
    • phone chargers
    • toothbrush & toothpaste for you and your partner
    • Contacts and glasses items for you and/or your partner if needed
    • a couple of comfy things for you to wear postpartum (sleep dresses are handy so that all the hospital checks can be done without you having to disrobe)
    • a going-home outfit for you and one for your baby
  3. A BIRTH DOULA TEAM!!!

That’s right, you should consider hiring doulas for your homebirth. Most people planning a first-time homebirth assume that it will look like the lovely videos they’ve watched of couples holding each other, birthing their baby together in their home while their patient midwife and her assistant wait patiently.

And that’s what happens most of the time…except your midwife and assistant don’t typically arrive until a couple/few hours before your baby’s debut! Of course, they would LOVE to support every client through their whole labor, but the reality is, life on-call with lots of clients is difficult and in order to keep things running smoothly, to have time for all their prenatal appointments, postpartum visits, paperwork, and their families and selves, they must focus on arriving at your home in time to tend to the safety of you and your baby…that’s the part you hired them for.

Or, your midwife, the person you have bonded with your entire pregnancy, might be at another birth! She’s a busy and in-demand professional and you can’t control the fact that sometimes two clients go into labor the same day. You know her backup is excellent, but you’ve never MET her. That’s to say nothing of the off-chance that you are one of the clients like me, who must transfer to the hospital…depending on the circumstances,nyour midwife cannot always stay with you.

That’s where your doulas come in. They are a trusted part of your care team. They are your Google during your pregnancy, helping you sort through the information and figure out what YOU want to do, unlike your due date group who answer your questions with judgement and bias. They work well with your midwife and assistant and are well-versed in homebirth. They also know hospital birth and are your rock in the event of a transfer, your source of information and guidance for all the stuff you wanted to avoid. They are an incredible team, which means one of your doulas is ready to attend your labor from the moment you are ready for support, as well as call in your other doula if she becomes tired or if she is ill.

Your doulas bridge that difficult gap between early labor (when you and your partner feel bonded and comfortable and WANT to be alone) and active or transitional labor when things start to feel difficult, or even out of control, and you are deciding whether to call your midwife or perhaps waiting on her to arrive. In fact, one of our favorite local homebirth midwives tells ALL of her clients to hire doulas because she will not arrive until labor gets more active!

With the support of your doulas, the phases of labor feel seamless. With the tools they bring, their knowledge, and their encouragement, you won’t even notice that your midwife came right at the end. All you’ll know is that your excellent care team supported you and your partner every step of the way, so that it felt like you birthed your baby peacefully at home, blissfully bonded together, just like in the videos.

 

 

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About Kate Herzel

Kate Herzel is the co-owner of Heartland Doulas alongside Stacy Ash, and together with their combined 20 years of experience and 7 doulas, they help people have really amazing birth and postpartum experiences. In her spare time, Kate enjoys cooking with her kids, brewing beer with her husband, and entertaining for her friends.