An easy decision: Melissa knew she wanted a midwife when her baby was born (a midwife delivered her and her sister). But where would be the best place to deliver? She ruled out birthing centers, which she found uninviting, and hospitals, because she was worried she’d be pressured into drugs or a C-section. She loved the idea of a home birth because during labor, she’d be able to shower in her own bathroom or go out for fresh air—and once the baby was born, snuggle up in the family bed.
Or was it? Amir was hesitant at first—he had always assumed babies were born in hospitals. But he and Melissa, both teachers, did extensive research. Because Melissa’s pregnancy was low risk and she’s young, exercises, and eats a healthy diet, they felt comfortable with the decision. “Her well-being and comfort matters so much to me,” Amir says. “How could I not be on board?”
Getting ready: After choosing a midwife and doula, Melissa had to deal with insurance. Her policy didn’t cover any local home-birth midwives—but after several phone calls, Melissa persuaded the agent to cover the labor and delivery costs (her policy doesn’t specify that a birth has to be in a hospital). Other preparation: taking a home birth class and renting an inflatable birthing tub.
Setting up at home: Six days before her due date, Melissa thought her water broke, and started feeling contractions. Amir set up the tub and the doula and midwife said they’d check in as things progressed. But by the next afternoon, the contrations had slowed—and the midwife came by and determined that Melissa’s water had not actually broken. Melissa started to cry: “I felt very defeated,” she says.
Birth day: When Melissa’s contractions came on hard again, it helped her to focus on the ketubah, a Jewish marriage contract, hanging on the bedroom wall. A few hours after their doula and a backup for their midwife (who was delivering another baby) arrived, Melissa got in the tub, where Zimrah Tovah was born. Amir got in, held Zimrah up against Melissa’s chest while the midwife did an APGAR test, and then he cut the umbilical cord. Within minutes, an exhausted but happy Mom and Dad were cuddling their new daughter in bed. “The birth was so intense,” Amir says. “But to be in our own bed, it was quiet and calm.”
Best advice: Read lots of books, go with your gut when choosing your birth team, and connect with other couples having home births. The Keinans do wish they hadn’t entertained visitors right away, which was exhausting. But for Zimrah Tovah’s future siblings? “We will definitely have a home birth again,” Melissa says.
From the pages of KIWI Magazine
Talk about it
- Have you or someone you know ever had a home birth?
- What do you think the benefits would be of giving birth at home? The drawbacks?