A Few FAQs for You

Curious about homebirth? Here is a light-hearted look at many of the common questions about homebirth and midwifery care. 

Is my Sunset in-law unit big enough to have a homebirth?

Is your space bigger than a hospital room? If so, then you are golden. Midwives have caught babies in tiny studio apartments, house boats, in-laws, attics, and mansions, too. The truth is that laboring women act like the mammals they are and tend to seek out the smallest space in the home anyway. 

What if I make noise? Will my neighbors call the cops? 

The noises of birth are more comparable to a good romp in the sack, unlike the birth portrayals in the movies and on TV. No matter where you plan to birth you will probably be doing some laboring at home and labor moans are similar to birth noises. Likely your neighbors will be hearing your baby more than your labor. 

What about the mess? Do you leave blood spatter on the walls like a CSI episode?

No, birth doesn’t require the full Dexter. You will have all the absorbent materials necessary to help us protect your mattress, couch, carpets, and papasan chair. It’s a point of honor for homebirth midwives to leave your home as clean or cleaner than we found it. By the time we head out after the birth you will only be left with one bag of garbage and one bag of laundry. The only evidence that you had a homebirth will be your baby tucked up in bed with you. 

Only hippies have homebirths, right? 

Homebirth is universal. Birth moved into the hospital in the 1940s, but midwifery has existed since women have been having babies. In 1950 50% of births occurred at home, while today only 1% of births are homebirths. Today doctors, lawyers, taxi drivers, artists, software developers, electricians, teachers, celebrities, and sometimes even hippies give birth at home. Birthing rights are human rights and we support a woman’s choice in childbirth. 

Can the members of my Wiccan coven attend my homebirth? 

 Absolutely, and Auntie Moonbeam and Uncle Rainbow too! You can invite anyone to your homebirth that you wish. 

Can I birth my baby in the water like a dolphin?

Sure thing! You can do it to the soothing sounds of humpback whales should you desire. Whether or not you choose to actually birth in the tub, most women consider the rental of a birth tub to be one of their best decisions. Water can be very relaxing in labor and we jokingly call the birth tub “the midwives’ epidural.” 

What about safety? At the birth do you just burn incense and pray to the goddesses? 

Just like any other birth provider a healthy mother/baby is our primary goal. Besides her education, knowledge, skills, and intuition your homebirth midwife will come to your birth with a ton of gear to help keep the labor, birth, and postpartum periods as safe as possible. We carry oxygen for mom and baby, IV solutions, medications to treat hemorrhage, resuscitation equipment to help little ones transition if necessary, suture material including numbing medication, and urinary catheters, to name a few. And yes, if you want we will burn some incense too. 

Shouldn’t birth be sterile? Hospitals are super clean, right? 

Yikes. No. Actually the worst bugs live in the hospital (MRSA, staph,  etc.). Birth is never meant to be sterile unless it’s a surgical birth and then it should absolutely be sterile in which case please don’t attempt at home. The germs in your home are familiar to your immune system and thus pose a much smaller risk to you and your baby. 

Can I have pain meds at home? Do I have to grin and bear it with a leather strap between my teeth?

Without the added environmental challenges of being in a hospital (bright lights, cold recirculated air, restricted freedom of movement, constant interruptions, strangers, uncharted territory, and machines that go “ping”) women tend to be much more relaxed and confident. The security of the home turf optimizes a woman’s capacity to cope with the work of labor. Also not to be underestimated are the supportive benefits of comforting massage, freedom of movement, hot water, and your midwife’s reassurance. But, of course, feel free to bite down on whatever you like, just not your midwife. 

If I choose a homebirth am I banned from the hospital or can I still get some hospital services like ultrasounds and genetic testing if I want them?

Fortunately here in the Bay Area we have built and maintained collegial professional relationships with many facilities and providers. Your homebirth midwife will know how to skillfully facilitate any necessary utilization of hospital-based services including ultrasounds, genetic testing, and labor transfers if needed or requested. Some clients choose to only see a homebirth midwife for care, others choose to do a few visits with a hospital-based provider, and yet others choose full concurrent care and mirror their midwifery care with a hospital provider throughout their pregnancy. Your constellation of providers is your call. 

How much does all this cost?

The current range for a homebirth package starts at $5000 and goes up to $7,500 with many midwives offering a sliding scale to accommodate all financial needs. A typical Homebirth care package includes all prenatal care (either in your home or an office), the birth (no matter how epic), usually a second midwife at the birth, and all the postpartum care. The postpartum period is where homebirth midwifery really shines. Whereas in the hospital mothers and babies get 24-72 hours of monitoring and then no visits at all until the six week visit for mom with a single pediatric check-up for baby, your homebirth midwife will provide full care for both mother and baby typically in the comfort of your own home. This includes multiple visits in the first six weeks. Additionally, when you hire a homebirth midwife, you are getting the benefit of continuity of care, a provider who knows you and is readily available for questions and concerns. 

Can I pay for it in eggs from my backyard chickens, reiki sessions, or Bitcoin? Will my insurance cover any of this?

Though many midwives will accept a certain amount of trade for their services most families are going to pay some amount out of pocket. If you have a PPO, your insurance will likely cover your homebirth at the out-of-network rate. Sadly, if you have an HMO, MediCal, or Kaiser you will not get any reimbursement. If you are struggling with the financial piece, many midwives will work with you on extended payment plans or hardship discounts. Also, get creative! Ask your friends and family for a loan, put your homebirth on your birth registry, or crowd source. 

If I have a homebirth will my child ever be documented and have a passport, or are they off the grid forever? 

No, your midwife will provide with the paperwork and walk you through the process of getting your baby’s birth certificate. From there you can get your baby’s SSN, passport and ACLU membership.  

Isn’t a birth center the perfect happy medium between hospital and home? 

Do you really want to commute in labor? Getting in your car between contractions with birth juices running down your legs and your partner slowing over pot holes seems pretty uncomfortable. Why not stay home? Giving birth at a birth center is just like giving birth in someone else’s house. Homebirth midwives have all the same equipment and medications as free standing birth centers, and they bring it to you!