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Tips for Giving Birth at Home

written by: TheresaHalvorsen • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 9/15/2010

Home births are a great option for healthy pregnant women with low risk pregnancies who don't want to give birth in a hospital or at a birthing facility. But if you plan on giving birth at home, you've got some extra preparation work to do.

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    Benefits of Home Birth

    So you've been hearing a lot about home births lately and want to know more. Unless there are complications, giving birth at home can be a big plus for many people. At home, you're in your own environment, meaning you'll be more relaxed (which should translate to less pain). In addition, you won't have to worry about going home from the hospital or hospital procedures that you don't like and want to try to avoid (like an epidural). Finally, you can do what you want to in your own environment including having lit candles, lighting incense, having no limitation of visitors, walking as much or as little as you want or even attempting a water birth. Basically when you give birth at home, you have more control over the process.

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    Find a Midwife

    The first thing you have to get if you're going to be giving birth at home is a reputable, board certified midwife. A board certified midwife is someone who has gone through extensive training and been certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board. This woman will help you find out if you're a good candidate for a home birth (not every woman is) and will tend to you and your baby's needs during pregnancy.

    During your home birth your midwife will make sure you and the baby are doing well with blood pressure checks, vaginal exams (if needed) and fetal heart tone measurements. They may perform other interventions, but these interventions will be far less than you'd probably receive in a hospital setting. Your midwife will also help you deal with the pain of labor and help you get through it without medication.

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    Know What To Do During Emergencies

    While most births go great with few complications, or at most complications a midwife can deal with, there are some exceptions. So you will have to have a talk with your midwife and the other people on your support team about what to do if things don't go according to plan. Ideally, the midwife you've chosen is comfortable going to a hospital if needs be and has a good reputation in the medical community.

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    There Will Be No Medical Pain Relief

    During home births, pregnant women can't get an epidural or a shot of narcotic to help them deal with contractions during the birth. That means you're going to be relying on breathing, position changes and other comfort techniques. You may want to consider taking a childbirth class geared for natural birth such as the Bradley Method or Hypnobirthing. While your midwife is knowledgeable in these techniques and will help you with them, you will probably need help from other support people. These support people should know how to help a laboring woman. You may want to consider hiring a doula who has attended home births and know the challenges.

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    Consider a Water Birth

    One of the great things about being able to give birth at home is that you can give birth in whatever way you want, including in your bath tub or in a large inflatable pool in your bedroom. Many women find water births to be a peaceful and gentle way to bring a baby into the world, and it's not something offered in many hospitals. Water births are also great at relieving the pain from contractions. Be sure to talk to your midwife about the possibility of a water birth.

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    Disclaimer

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