choices in homebirth, from birthing balls to playlists

river's homebirth was a beautiful event, and i really couldn't have asked for a better birth experience. however, even though he came two days after his due date, i was expecting him to wait longer, so we were a bit unprepared. there are a few little things i would have done differently. not big things, but just little things i will keep in mind for next time.

have a playlist ready
there was a certain songs i wanted played during river's birth, but moaning dave.. barnes... the.. the one...about ... crossing the river... isn't so easy when you're between contractions and can't really form coherent sentences and are exhausted and can barely lift your head and just want to sleep. forever. having a couple playlists prepared ahead of time is a great idea. too bad i didn't do it. next go round, i plan on having at least two: a calm, soothing playlist, and an energetic, soulful playlist. you never know what you're going to want in the midst of labor!

stock the fridge and pantry
it's a fact: having a baby is one of the hardest things a person will do, and laboring women need food and drink for energy and hydration. with homebirth, you have that option. you can eat when you are in early labor, you can eat when you're pushing, and any time in between. this is one thing about homebirth that i love! however, we barely had a thing in the fridge when my first contraction hit. since my labor was very fast, i slipped into labor land pretty quick and had a hard time telling my friend samantha what we still needed. i can't remember what foods i suggested she pick up, but my friend grace brought strawberries (among other things) and i don't recall a time when strawberries were more delicious. they were just what i needed. because my labor was so quick the first time, the next time may be even quicker (which freaks me out. just a little.) i definitely need to have a variety of different foods already stocked in the fridge, and you better believe fresh strawberries will be one of them.

let in the light
the entire time i birthed, the curtains were drawn. we had a big window in the living room, but it was facing the balcony of another apartment and i wasn't too keen on letting our neighbors have a full view of the birth. i love natural light, and i think having sunlight spilling into the room would have been nice if the set-up of the house had been different. just something i want to keep in mind for next time. but i don't know. because like i said, you never know until you're there. i thought i would love laboring in the shower, but when i tried it, i hated it!

a birthing ball
having gone through labor now, i can see how helpful a birthing ball might have been. many laboring women like to rock back and forth with their contractions to loosen up their muscles, which i did on my knees for three hours. my knees were literally red for days! a birthing ball may have helped with the rocking motion and given me more of a flowing feeling.

comfy clothes
i knew that i wanted to wear a sports bra during my labor for the sake of modest shareable photos, but i didn't think any further than that. once my water broke, my trusty yoga pants were soaked with amniotic fluid and i knew my size small sophee shorts no longer fit my size large pregnant ass. i didn't want to walk around in the buff, nor did i want to slip into a pair of jeans to labor in (what am i talking about? there's no slipping into anything when you're pregnant). i ended up wearing a huge t-shirt and some panties. what i wish i'd had was a tank top and a pair of shorts. [making a mental note]

you never know how you're going to birth until you're there. some women want soft light and candles and hot steamy showers. but for me, the smell of a scented candle made me want to puke and i didn't even make it inside the shower because the steam made me feel like i was suffocating. however, here are a few wonderful things i wouldn't have changed about the birth...

the birthing tub
i don't know how i would have pushed without being submerged in the warm water. it helped so much with the pain of the contractions, and i assume it helped with the burning sensation as the baby was crowning. i (almost) want to experience a land birth next time, just to compare the two, but the water was so comforting i don't even know if i want to risk it! having a waterbirth also meant a very easy clean up.

video taping
when i was pregnant, i wasn't really sure if i wanted to video tape the birth. i mean, hello, this kid is coming out my wazoo and i don't even know if i wanted to see it. sure, i loved watching other people's homebirth videos. i didn't think it was creepy, but maybe i didn't want the whole thing on camera. we charged the video camera anyway, and samantha ended up taping the birth. i think we have over an hour of footage, including the labor and after, when river was being weighed and as we were all just hanging out and enjoying some fresh baby. i am so glad we have video, because when i watched the video a few days after his birth, i cried more than the moment he was born into my arms! to this day, even though i've seen the video dozens of times, i still tear up and kiss his little curly 18-month-old head. not only do we have the video for ourselves, but it has been viewed over 200,000 times on youtube, and i am so proud to be able to share it and spread the word about drug-free birth at home. i am so grateful that very moment was caught on film.

straws, you say? yes, straws. actually, it's a part of my midwife's birthing supplies list! and they most certainly came in handy. when you're deep into labor, you don't really have much strength for anything. not even holding a cup up to your mouth. someone else holding a cup up to your lips would be awkward and messy. so straws are the answer. someone else can hold the cup, and juice won't dribble all over your bump.

when planning my homebirth, i knew i wanted john and my midwife present (obviously). i reallyreally wanted my mom to be there, and my little sister as well (she wants to be an obstetrician), but it didn't turn out so, because they live in pittsburgh. so instead, i decided to have a friend present to have another female figure in the room, and i asked my friend samantha to be there because she had witnessed many homebirths before and was planning to have one of her own in a few months. i knew during my pregnancy that there would be an assistant midwife, and i wondered if i would feel comfortable laboring in front of someone i didn't know. john's mom asked to attend the birth, but i tried as kindly as i could to say no.

well, turns out the A/C guy could have stuck around and i could have cared less. though it hadn't been planned, along with sam, grace and their aunt beate attended the birth as well, and i don't know what i would have done without them. beate was amazing emotional support and she helped me stay calm and trust the process of labor, in the middle of the pain and the unknown. at one point, even two of grace and sam's cousins were in the room, and i hardly noticed. i just continued my labor as i had been (lost of really loud moaning and some crying, too), and later on i was surprised that other people being at the birth hadn't made me embarrassed or any more nervous. in fact, i loved having the whole "birth team" there by my side as my son was born, because it was such a joyous time and it was amazing to share it with everyone in the room! next time, it would be fine with me if more people were to witness the birth, including john's mom. and i would still love for my mom and my little sister to attend... maybe all three of my sisters, if they wished... ;)

photo by beate buescher

what choices did you make, or plan on making, for your birth? would you change anything the next time (if there is going to be a next time :)?


  1. i am right there with you on lots of these things...
    i had my daughter at home...9 days late. water broke at 6pm and i had her at 7am so there wasn't much light to shine in...i spent most of my labor sitting on the excersize ball in the shower or laying on the bed on my side. i was oblivious to music or other things toward the end. loved being in the shower in the dark though. grabbed the soap holder thing when a contraction came...for dear life. sadly...we forgot to take pictures through a lot of it because i (we) were so focused...next baby...i want a VIDEO!!! wish we could have had one this time...but there was so much to do and it was soo new.

    oh and unfortunately since i was in the shower for the last few hours of it (pushed her out on the bed) i was completely naked for all the pictures so they aren't really shareable. i liked that though so there was 100% skin to skin. we'll see about next time. on one hand i want good pictures, on the other hand i don't want to worry about it, ya know?

    i love homebirth too...there is no other way! next time i'd love to try a water birth...my midwife was blowing up the tub last time while i was in labor when she discovered there was a hole! haha...oh well...

    oh and we did bradley classes...loved them.

    LOVED your video. wish i had one of my emerald being born, but of well! it was beautiful. love your blog too! bless you!!

  2. I. love. homebirth! I had my first two in the hospital, next two in birth centers with midwives, 5th one at home in water. Oh my goodness what a difference!
    You can see our slideshow here...
    I'll even let you read the birth story if you are into such things.
    I love homebirth. Did I say that already? I find that I cannot say it enough.



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