When I imagined having a second baby one day, I definitely thought we might go the home birth route, but could have never predicted that a global pandemic would push home birth into the public eye more and further normalize out of hospital options for moms to be. I can’t speak to a hospital experience because our first baby, Priscilla, was born at a birth center in North Minneapolis called Roots. We had such a fantastic experience, I assumed I would go back. In between my last pregnancy and this one, we’ve moved away from the city and are loving our new life in quaint Stillwater. However, because of the distance to Roots we’ve chosen to instead pursue a home birth.
I am lucky to have the same team of midwives taking care of us this pregnancy. Even with the added precautions and worries due to Covid-19, I have felt safe visiting Roots for routine prenatal appointments. Until recently, my preparations felt almost identical to my first birth. Once a month, and now every two weeks, I visit Roots for an hour-long appointment where my vitals are taken, my midwives measure and listen to baby, and we catch up about my pregnancy and general health.
I’m a huge proponent for the midwifery model of care because I find it so personalized as well as focused on the entire body. Instead of just a number being recorded for my weight, I’ve kept a food journal for a week and had my diet discussed. This time, instead of going to Roots to take my Gestational Diabetes Test, I monitored my own blood sugar at home for two weeks using a glucometer.
At my second to last appointment my amazing midwife Rebecca sent me home with a few assignments. First off, I needed to purchase what is called a “home birth kit.” While the midwives attending my home birth will bring the birthing tub and all medical supplies, we are responsible for providing additional items that normally a hospital would provide. Our kit was under $100 and included items like pads, a hose (to connect from our sink to fill the birth tub), birth tub liner, cord band, peri bottles, and a foot printer. The website I purchased my kit from is called Precious Arrows which I think is hysterical. In addition to our kit we also needed to provide an extra set of seats, mattress pad cover, shower curtain (to protect our floor under the birth tub), towels, and flannel receiving blankets. Presently, at thirty-four weeks, I’ve got everything we need set aside in a laundry basket in the corner of our bedroom. If I can muster up the energy, I’ll make my bed with a clean set of sheets, waterproof cover, then an inexpensive set of sheets on top. This way, after baby is born any dirty linens can be stripped off quickly, and we can easily settle into a clean bed, our bed.
Our plan is to birth in our bedroom. I’ll have our birth tub set up at the foot of our bed. I spent most of my first labor in our bedroom, just walking between our bed and bathroom. It feels so good to imagine giving birth in a space that I am comfortable in. As I’ve been preparing for my birth, I’ve followed along with the home study of the same birth course I took with Cilla. We are doing Hypnobabies which involves reading and listening to tracks each day. I’ve been trying to be more diligent about listening and practicing my hypnosis. It was so helpful during my labor with Cilla. I am curious to see how it will aid me during a home birth.
In the corner of our closet I’ve taken an IKEA cart and filled it with postpartum essentials. I did this last time and it was a great tool to have. I’m really hoping to not get out of bed much, which is something I was able to do with Cilla for her first few weeks. I found that lying in and laying low for those early days was hugely instrumental in my healing and getting us off to a good foot with nursing. Like last time, I am having my placenta encapsulated. Somehow, I ended up very crunchy, which still surprises me some days. I feel so grateful to have a husband who is supportive and encouraging when it comes to how I want to birth.
My next visit will actually be a home visit. My midwives will come over, drop off all the needed equipment for the home birth, and do a regular visit with us to mark 36 weeks. We’ll walk through how the process will hopefully go, and the procedures for when to call and what will happen in the event of a hospital transfer. While most transfers to hospitals are non-emergent it does feel good to be prepared. Last week I packed a hospital bag just for me, I included some clothing, pajamas, my toiletry bag, and a few outfits for baby. I still need to pack an overnight back for Priscilla just in case, too, so she could be with a family member. While I hope I won’t need to transfer, I like the feeling of being prepared.
In the meantime, we’re just hanging tight. I’m hoping to put my feet up a bit more, these last few days have felt exhausting and I’m worried this little boy will come on the early side. It feels good to know that we are as prepared as we can be, and that we have an excellent team taking care of us. While home birth isn’t for everyone, I am excited and hopeful for the opportunity.