People sometimes think that the fact that they live in an apartment might inhibit their ability to have a home birth, but this is far from the truth. In fact, we have attended home births for people who live in apartments – and even smaller spaces, such as RV’s – many times.
One thing that people ask us about often is whether the birth will be too noisy for an apartment – should they notify their neighbors? First, you should know that many, many times, birth isn’t as noisy as you might think. Or if it is noisy, it’s mostly at the very end. But, that being said, labor is so individual, and some people make more noise than others (side note: we always want people to feel free to express themselves however they wish – “labor song” is part of the process), so there is the possibility that some of your neighbors might hear birth noises.
Whether or not to talk with your neighbors ahead of time is completely up to you – if you have a good relationship with them, it might be comfortable for you to share. If you barely know them, you may decide to just let it lie. Sometimes, we put a sign up on your door to let anyone who is curious know that there is a home birth in progress, but most of the time, we don’t do anything at all. In the unlikely event that someone does knock on your door, one of your support people can field the questions.
What about the birth pool? In our experience, birth pools have been very safe to use in apartments. Of course, it’s always a good idea with a birth pool to make sure there is plastic under the pool to protect the carpet, and to monitor the pool for signs of deflation or leaks. If the pool were to develop a defect, it can luckily be emptied quickly with a pump. And then, if you decide that you’d rather not have a birth pool due to space, etc., the shower is a great option for pain relief.
Other things you need to consider with apartment births include planning for parking for your birth team (it is important for at least your primary midwife to be able to park close to your apartment), and planning for your support people. Space can sometimes limit how many people are comfortable for you have around you – as with most births, it is usually best to choose a couple of people who will be the best support for you, and avoid having a large crowd. Privacy can be very important for labor progress.
Do you have an unusual situation for your upcoming home birth? We are happy to talk about how to make all sorts of places work for a great birth!