What about the mess?
This is perhaps the strangest of the misconceptions and myths surrounding homebirth. Midwives are not only capable and competent in matters of risk-assessment and safety, they are also very good at leaving no trace. At a birth, your midwives will clean up all the mess and even start a load of laundry before leaving. And, again, while pop culture portrays birth as a screaming, bloody affair, that is not the reality in the vast majority of cases.
What if there is an emergency?
Midwives are very good at continually assessing both mother and baby -monitoring fetal heart tones frequently (a practice producing more favorable outcomes in low-risk deliveries than the continuous fetal monitoring generally employed by the hospital). Midwives carry oxygen and other emergency equipment and know when to defer to other experts. Emergencies can happen, but most transfers to the hospital are not emergencies.
What about prenatal and postpartum testing?
Midwives offer all screenings that low-risk women have access to in a medical setting, from ultrasound to newborn metabolic screening. Midwives offer routine labs and can acquire additional tests as needed, and some have friendly relationships with doctors who can order tests that are outside of the scope of midwife practice. After being presented with pros and cons of various tests or treatments, some expectant mothers decline them –a decision that is theirs to make.
Who will care for the baby?
This is one of the ways that homebirth truly outshines hospital births. Though we do recommend that you visit a pediatrician (or other primary care provider for the baby), midwives assess and monitor mother and baby for the first six weeks postpartum. When you birth at the hospital, you are generally sent home within a day or two, the baby is seen a week or two later at the doctor’s office, and you’re seen for a final six-week check off from your doctor. New mothers are left alone and bewildered, wondering who to call with their questions.
At home, midwives initiate uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact with mother and baby for the first hour or two after the birth – a practice shown to increase breastfeeding success rates, as well as improved mother-baby bonding and maternal satisfaction. Midwives perform a careful newborn assessment and monitor mother and baby closely before leaving about 2-4 hours after the birth. They then return within 24-36 hours, and again at 3-4 days postpartum to assess both mother’s and baby’s condition. There are two more follow-up office visits: generally at 2 and 6 weeks when the midwifery relationship officially comes to a close. Yet, this relationship is likely to continue for years to come since bonds that are formed between the family and midwife are strong and lasting.