| Week of November 24 |
Episode 3 |
Homebirth After Hospital Birth
Stephanie Precourt, mother of four and author of AdventuresinBabyWearing.com,
joins the Bellies to
BirthCast to discuss her decision to "break up" with her
OB late in her fourth pregnancy in favor of an illegal,
midwife-assisted homebirth, despite having
had 3 positive hospital births.
transcript of the interview appears below:
Stephanie welcome. It's a pleasure to have you with us today.
Now, can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?
Well, I have three sons that are seven, six and three. I had
hospital births with them, and they were pleasant
When making our birth plan for our fourth baby, - there's many things
that we don't do in the hospital, so we had to make out a birth
plan. As we were going over it, we were thinking “why are we
doing this in the hospital?” Because we're more natural and
many things more natural, we really wanted to try the home
What were some of the things you were trying to avoid?
We definitely wanted to avoid pain medication, having to stay in the
bed the whole time, and having the fetal monitor on us. We
wanted to avoid many things after birth. We didn't want to do most of
the procedures they do after the baby is born, like vaccination,
vitamin K, the eye thing, and pretty much all the medical
Although they were really good with my last birth, we were able to do
everything natural with our last birth. It's still so
and we really just wanted to avoid that altogether.
You “don't need the whole hospital ride” right? You were opting out of
most of it.
it didn't make sense. We were just basically using their
and then leaving. However, I wanted, I felt like this time
I wanted the whole entire environment to go along with our
Did you ever have problems with your first three in having your wishes
No, except in our last one. With my first two I wasn't as
about things and as informed about things. But my
I never had the epidural or anything, but I did have an IV
with Stadol, with the first two. I followed whatever
nurses said to do. With my third, it was really
for me not to have an IV, and I did not want any Pitocin.
the baby was born, when I was delivering the placenta, because I didn't
have an IV, they shot me in the leg with Pitocin without my
consent. I did not like that. They wouldn't let me
the placenta on my own, and my doctor was not agreeable to waiting to
cut the cord. Those were things that I just didn't want to
to deal with for this last one. I would have to say it was so
important for me to birth my own placenta. I really didn't
to have to go through all that.
Especially when there's no reason when they're just …
Definitely when the research doesn't support it. That's a
good position to have.
We've talked about avoiding interventions. , Were there any other
reasons you chose to birth at home with your
I had a feeling that this was going to be my last birth. It
just a huge desire for me to have a home birth. Because, a lot of women
I've talked to love the few days that they're away from home when their
in the hospital after having a baby, because they think it's a break
and whatever. I never liked that at all. Actually,
had originally planned on having this baby at a hospital, I had already
discussed with my OB and the pediatrician that I would leave
immediately after the baby was born, if everything was okay.
just did not want to be in the hospital. I wanted that home
environment. Even though I didn't know everything to expect,
just knew that it would be everything I'm about. I had it
in my mind that it would be a wonderful experience, and it
Now, you had said that between your first two sons and your third son,
in the beginning you had gone along with the nurses and listened to
what they said. What changed between those two first children
your third son?
My oldest son had a rare form of epilepsy that started when he was two
and a half. When that began, we started questioning
everything. That was when we learned about the dangers of
vaccination. They both, both of my sons showed reactions to
vaxines. When researching his types of epilepsy, many of the
parents with children with the same syndrome that he had, we all linked
that back to the possible vaccine reaction. Once we got
on that road, it led to so many things. We started living a
more natural lifestyle. My son did not respond well to a medication to
his epilepsy. He was seizure free by a diet, the Ketogenic
Diet. It was no medication or anything. By going
natural route and seeing how many things we could do by diet, and
living more healthy and more naturally, it basically led us on this
long path of finally, when we got pregnant again, we wanted to do
everything absolutely differently than we had done before.
because we wanted to not risk whatever might have caused the epilepsy
in my first son, but do everything as safe as we could. We
so much more informed about everything. It really led us
there. When we had our third son, we did everything all
naturally. That was when I began doing a more attachment
parenting style, really, living more naturally, seeing a natural doctor
instead of always seeing a pediatrician, basically all those
sorts of things.
It sounds like that was the catalyst that showed you that there are
It's not just what's presented as what you have to go with.
Right, we definitely learned because we had first hand
experience. We felt almost betrayed by our doctors, our
doctors, because everything we went through with our son - our eyes
were opened that they don't know everything. We ended up helping cure
our son on our own. I t really opened our eyes to a lot of
things. Maybe they don't – I really do feel that most doctors
have people's best interest in mind. They want to help
people. But I don't think they always know best.
quick to shut down any natural methods. When we wanted to do
diet for our son, we were basically laughed at. Within four
on that diet he was seizure free. That showed us that doctors
not always right. From then on we went with our own
our own gut before we would put all of our trust to just a
I think you just hit on a huge point, that doctors are people.
They're human. They're not all knowing. They make
They also know what they've been taught. If they've only been
taught a certain view point, a certain model, it doesn't mean that
that's the only way. Or that it's always the best way.
You just talked a little bit about your journey to a more natural
approach and you indicated that you actually ended up changing
providers once you decided to have a home birth.
Can you tell us a little bit about that break up; how you handled
switching from the OB you had to a midwife?
I was really nervous to switch. Actually when we got pregnant
was our original plan to have a home birth. I got really,
bad morning sickness. And I ended up in the hospital with
dehydration. And during that time we started considering some
financial things. It's unfortunate that our insurance would
so much for the birth that it would be cheaper for us to just go
through insurance than to have a home birth. At that time,
with me being sick in the hospital, and needing to say who my OB was –
at the time I really hadn't decided yet if we would officially be going
with a home birth, so I just named my old OB. I ended up
to go to him for my follow-up. I just decided then that maybe
we'll just go ahead with the hospital birth. As we went
felt okay with it, but I was trying to convince myself that it was the
best decision. I was thinking in financial terms and what
not. Deep down it wasn't what I really wanted to
we got further along in the pregnancy, and were really starting to work
on a birth plan, it just really did not make sense for us to have the
baby at a hospital, and especially when I was so really wanting to be
able to birth my placenta on my own, and do absolutely everything
naturally. I just started to realize it probably wasn't going
go exactly how I wanted it to be. I felt like it should go
according to my wishes. We decided that maybe we should just
with the home birth. What I did was I called my midwife that
had originally wanted. I called her first. To see
even had availability to still be my midwife. She was
and she actually said she had a feeling I'd be calling her
Then it was very important for me to not just stop seeing my
I wanted to go and talk to him in person. Because it was just
really important to me that I did everything right. I don't
I would have felt right in my heart if I'd just ditched him.
felt like I needed to end it properly. I made an appointment
speak with him. I met with him in his office. I was
nervous, but I basically just told him my feelings, and I wanted him to
know that I was making this decision completely based on my own wishes,
it had nothing to do with him offending me or doing anything that made
me upset and wanting to leave him. It was basically
wishes and what I really wanted to do. I had told him originally that I
wanted a home birth from the beginning, so he had known that I was
wanting to go that way but then had switched. He was
disappointed, and he did want to caution me. He tried to name
all the midwives in our area that I might be seeing, because it's
technically not legal in my state to have a home birth attended by a
midwife. So, I didn't tell him who my midwife was.
admit that I have a very low risk, so I was probably going to be
okay. He was just nervous. He thought it was so
dangerous. He tried to talk me out of it, but I stopped him
quickly and explained to him that he wasn't going to change my
mind. He just said “well I think we're going to have to agree
disagree.” I said “yes.” I liked that answer.
Sounds fine with me.
And so he was not aware either that in your state certified nurse
midwives are legal?
But I wasn't going to say it.
Right. And there are very, very few
Right, yes. And do you know what; I think he probably was aware, but I
think he was probably trying to scare me.
Which is really unfortunate…
And he just kept saying how dangerous it was. I had done
research. I've watched “Business of Being Born.” I knew quite
bit about it. I don't think he's ever attended a home
birth. It would be surprising if he had.
Right. It's just really unfortunate that your story is pretty
typical; the misinformation that most obstetricians do have on the real
safety of home births, and just that spreading of that misinformation,
its fear mongering.
But I was really confident, and I knew that I wanted him to
He did say he appreciated me coming in and telling him. Which
was glad, I know he wasn't happy because he was losing a patient and he
was losing money, but, it made me feel better and I hope that it made
him feel better, rather than me just not seeing him ever again.
And wondering where you went.
Did you encounter any other challenges in terms of switching to your
midwife at your stage of pregnancy? You mentioned insurance
earlier. Did that continue to be a problem?
We didn't even try to go through insurance. We financially
up being kind of equal, because of me switching so late in the
pregnancy. We haven't encountered any problems now. The only
thing is that I have to get her birth certificate, and I haven't tried
to do that yet. I'm hoping that's not any problem.
turned one month; “Happy birthday Ivy.”
Now, in terms of securing back up support, it doesn't sound like you're
old OB stayed on as your back up provider. Were you able to
secure a back up person?
he did say that. When we had talked and I said it was important to me
that we maintained a good relationship even though I was switching to a
home birth, he said he was glad to be there for me if I needed
anything. In my eyes I take that as if I did have to end up
to the hospital, I'm pretty sure he would have been glad to be there
for me. I'm sure I probably would have had some attitude or
something, but I…
"I told you so" would have been in order.
Yes, probably. But I don't know, I would have thought that
It would have been…
Yes, but that was also another reason why I wanted to have to make sure
that he was aware and informed of what my plans had changed
That would have been kind of a back up, but we didn't discuss that
really in full.
What role did your husband play in your decision to have a home
birth? Was he supportive from the beginning?
Yes, he was. At the beginning he wasn't until he saw “The
Business of Being Born.” After he saw that he felt much more
comfortable about it; and we both agreed that it just made so much more
sense to have our baby at home. We just feel like the
would be for an emergency, and that a birth isn't necessarily always an
emergency. He was very supportive, because we both were on
same page in everything with all of our decisions, our health care and
everything. So he was very excited for it.
It sounds like some of that path was paved together as you were going
through your older son's illness.
Doing some research and seeing what options you really did have.
Right. I'm really grateful. I think that's a huge
thing, that we both are in agreement at all times. It made it
very pleasant. If he hadn't been in agreement and just said
“Okay, fine. Go ahead with the home birth, but I'm not
supportive,” I probably wouldn't have done it, because then the whole
environment around it wouldn't have been what I wanted.
he was so supportive with me and we were both on the same page, I think
that made a huge impact on the decision to do a home birth.
Did he feel more involved with this pregnancy and this birth than with
the other ones, having her being born at home?
I think he was really involved for all of them. I like to
kind of alone so I don't really get him that involved. I
just tell people when I'm ready to push. That's just my way
wanting to do it. It just seemed so right for us to do it
way. I feel like he was equally involved with all of them,
our location didn't matter that much, but I would have to say that
after the baby was born and all of those moments right after we were
just laying in bed and our children can come and crawl in bed with
us. Not being in a hospital setting, and not having all these
other strange people working around us, that was really
That was really neat, because we usually have to leave and go
home. This way it was really neat how we could be involved
the very beginning through the end, and even the afterward.
How did your boys react to their new sister?
They've still not left her alone. They love her so much, and
give her so much attention. It was so neat because we had her
during the night, so they were in the next room sleeping. My little son
got up during the night to go to the bathroom, and my husband went in
and asked him if he wanted to come see his sister. He crawled
bed with us. It was just making over her, and it was so
wonderful, because in the hospital, it would have been just completely
different. One thing that I always dreaded when I went into
hospital was leaving my kids for a couple of days. I was always apart
from them. When I saw them, they always seemed so big to me
they seemed to be so much older. The way we did it this time,
never was separated from them and I didn't have that feeling. It just
felt really nice.
Now tell us a little bit about your prenatal preparation and
care. You indicated that you had first interviewed at least
midwife and explored that option before you thought maybe the hospital
birth would be right. As you came back, what were some of the
factors that drew you to this particular midwife that you chose?
We have a natural parenting group in my area that meets monthly, and we
also have a web group. I had attended it through my birth of
third son, and there was a midwife that attended that I really
liked. She reminded me a lot of Ina May. She's very
school. That was the type of midwife that I wanted.
really didn't want to have one that was more medically
Because I wanted to do everything as naturally as possible, more the
way it was supposed to be done. She was someone I always had
mind, even when I was pregnant with my third and knew I was having a
hospital birth at that time. I just hadn't made it that far
education and didn't have the information to really feel comfortable
having a home birth. When I got pregnant this round, I
immediately thought she would be my midwife. She was who I
had in mind. I felt like she was a friend, and someone I
trusted. She was so experienced. IV was her – she
#1631. She'd done – I just felt in my mind that anything can
thrown at her, any complications or anything and she would know exactly
what to do. In my mind, she was exactly who I wanted to go to.
How did your relationship with your midwife differ from the
relationship you had with your OB?
I was amazed, even from my first midwife appointment, how much I
learned. Even though I was on my fourth pregnancy, I learned
things I never knew. I'd never known before about just so
different things. My midwife appointments usually lasted
two hours, and my OB appointments two minutes, ten minutes
I have to say that it was wonderful. I never had to
In my OB's waiting room he was always very - if I had to wait five
minutes that was long. But then, he also maybe was in the
with me ten minutes. It was always just checking “are you
and then you leave and then I had never known …. She
absolutely everything she was doing to me; and it was neat because if
my kids were here they got to learn too. They would walk
with their stethoscope and say they were Miss Linda and they were a
midwife. It was such a learning experience. It
feel medical in any way. It just felt so natural. I
even think of another word.
One of the nicest things about that is it is possible to have that kind
of relationship and that kind of approach and still have the safety
that you would have in a hospital.
It doesn't have to be one or the other. They can both exist
in the same place.
As you started planning your home birth, did you encounter any
resistance from any friends or family members to your decision?
I had bought the “The Business of Being Born” DVD, because I thought
that might be the best way to prepare our family. I thought
it was a great movie in the sense that it was easy to watch, and it
didn't seem so documentaryish, but it was really entertaining and
engaging. We had our family watch that movie. It
made them understand a little bit better. I think at first
what a lot of people assume. If they have a scary thought –
think “If they injure us, is that safe?” I think they thought
that going to be messy?” They really didn't know what to
about it, because they'd never known anybody that had a home
birth. After they watched that movie, both my in-laws and my
parents said “I don't know why you would ever want to go to a
hospital.” It really made sense to them, especially since
know I had always had really easy births and had always done really
well in labor. It just made sense for me to try it.
The hospital is kind of overkill.
For most low risk mothers most of the interventions available are just
Right. They learned a lot from just our journey to having a
birth, but they understood that most of the dangers in your delivery
are caused by interventions in the first place. Usually what
leads to an emergency C-Section or whatever wouldn't even be offered
here in the home, because I wouldn't be inducing or trying an epidural
or anything that might lead to distress that leads to all that stuff?
That cascade of intervention that we talk about can start with a simple
IV just in case.
Did you have a formal emergency plan in place in case a transfer was
We live one mile or like one point two miles from the
So we're very close to the hospital, and we just planned to have the
car ready if we needed to go. Or obviously we could call 911,
You'd probably make it there sooner.
Did you talk about any specific scenarios that would mean an automatic
Yes, my midwife had gone over what she would think would cause a
transfer, but from talking to her and knowing -I had attended a home
birth last year that ended up being a transfer. But what I've
learned is often a mom is going to need to transfer very early on
before it would necessarily be an emergency.
That was the case with my friend, she was transferred and didn't
deliver until the next day. She had plenty of time to pack
bags and all that stuff. From talking to my midwife, she
explained that all her transfers have always been something that you
knew early on.
To avoid an emergency and to prevent one…
Now we have one, we'd better go.
Right. And she did explain to me if there was an emergency
the baby, how she does the oxygen and the CPR and all the things that
she would have available, that she would have on hand and what she
knows how to do. It's not like we were doing this with no
It's not about candles and …
Although we did have candles…
You also have oxygen tanks; you also have fetal monitors, you also have
sutures and syringes. All of the supplies that were needed
Midwives come prepared.
Now tell us a little bit more about your actual birth.
I still get starry eyed talking about it, because it was so wonderful.
My water broke after five in the afternoon. It just happened
break on its own. It was a few days before my due date, so I
been feeling Braxton Hicks, and I just those preparation
contractions. I really didn't have any indications that it
going to be imminent. Then my water broke. I called
midwife, and let her know. She wanted me to time my
if I could, but at the time I really wasn't feeling much. I
to time what I thought I was feeling, and within the hour they were
about five minutes apart. She headed on over. When
here, -she doesn't do any vaginal checks or anything's she told me this
later. The second she walked in the door, she could smell the
amniotic fluid, so she knew my water broke. She also could
just by looking at my face and listening to my breathing about how
dilated I probably was. I was feeling pretty great.
wasn't feeling much pressure or anything. We ate and we kind
had a little party. We watched a movie. By probably towards
end of the movie, I was starting to feel them getting much stronger and
closer together. I wanted to go up to my bedroom and labor
alone. I had always labored in bed, because in the hospital
keep you in bed because they want the fetal monitor on you all the
time. Even with my third son, that I tried to do as naturally
possible, they insisted I stay in the bed because they couldn't get a
good read on his fetal monitor. I had to stay
time, what felt best for me was to stand in my room. I would
squat occasionally, but just standing felt so good to me. I
by my bed pretty much the whole entire time. There was one
when I thought “I'll try getting in the bed on my left side,” because
that's what I had always done before and could breathe
couldn't even make it through one contraction, and I was standing
up. I was so grateful I could move around. It
getting very intense, and I remember just praying that it wasn't going
to last much longer. I soon felt the urge to push, so I
downstairs where my midwife was right at the bottom of the stairs. She
could hear me, and they came right up. I knew it was time to
push. I just naturally crawled over to the floor and got on
fours and felt that was best for me. I was really hoping that
was time to push, because I hadn't been checked; so I had no idea. She
said it definitely was. I pushed for eight minutes and out
Any part of your labor did you question your decision to home birth?
Not once. The only time that I got out of my zone was when I
called them up when I said it was time to push. It was like
minutes went by until I had the next contraction, and that's when I
started to have a fear of “Oh my goodness what if I'm only like three
centimeters.” That flashed through my head. But
then soon I
felt that urge to push again, and went over and got on all fours and it
was time. That lasted maybe a minute.
That can be a natural pause when the contractions change to pushing
Right, I think that just the fact that everything was going so
wonderfully; down to like little details during my labor. We
having severe flooding in our area, and heavy rains, and I had checked
my son's school web site, and it said school was cancelled the next
day. I was so excited that they were going to be
was going to send them to school, even though we were having the
baby. During my labor, I just kept having these happy
thoughts. “Oh, they don't have to go to school
just felt so happy all over. I felt the whole entire time
were doing the right thing. Everybody was in such a good
mood. There was a good, happy feeling all over. Not
did I ever question it, during that day or during the whole birth.
Looking back over the past month with Ivy, what were the foremost
benefits for birthing at home?
I really loved being in my own bed, even just that first
Those first few hours are something that I'll never forget.
not just for memory's sake. It felt so wonderful. I
like Ivy's personality benefitted from all of that. It was so
peaceful. We didn't turn the lights on for the longest
time. It was dark. We were quiet, and it was so
gentle. Being able to stay home with the kids was
wonderful. I didn't leave the house. My midwife
recommend that I stay in for two weeks, and keep the baby in for two
weeks. We did. That was no driving, no
really felt like that made such a big difference. When I had
other kids, I would come back home in two days, and I was on
Nobody had ever told me the importance taking it easy and relaxing, and
I would always get overwhelmed because I was trying to do too
much. Especially like with the heavy bleeding that you'll
after birth. My bleeding only lasted a few days, because I
taking it easy and resting. We did so many different things
time around, like how we did with her umbilical cord. It fell
within three days. There were so many things that we did this time
around that made things so much easier. It was just like it
for my own piece of mind, I feel like I was in that calm
It was wonderful.
You just mentioned bleeding. I was thinking back to how you
it was so important for you to birth your own placenta. One
the main reasons you can have so much bleeding in the hospital is
because doctors are impatient. They want to get you in, get
done. It can take twenty minutes for the placenta to detach.
Right, and they start pushing on you. It
bleeding and more recovery. But, they can patch it up with a
Exactly. You can just avoid it in the first place by letting
it happen on its own.
If you were to have another child after Ivy, would you make any
different decisions next time?
I don't think so; I think I would do it exactly the same. A
of people say that I might want to try a water birth, but the reason
why I didn't try a water birth with this one was that I wanted it to
feel like how I am normally in my house. I don't normally
tub in my bedroom. And that was just my thinking. I
like “I think I could just do it on my own without the
And so my midwife did say maybe next time I'd want to try water, so I
guess that would be more of a possibility. But a part of me
like this would be my last birth because I can't imagine topping that
birth. But my midwife said “of course you could top it.”
We never know what's in store.
Exactly. I did feel like this is the one we end on.
It's such an amazing, it's an amazing…
way to go out…
Looking back on all your different experiences and most recently the
birth of your daughter at home, what's the one piece of take away
advice you'd like to share with any other women considering a home
birth, at the end of their pregnancy with their first child?
that experience of having the hospital birth to the home birth, what
would you say to them?
I would probably say that the most important thing is to go with your
heart and your gut. If you really, really desire to have that
home birth, I would try to put aside any fears that you might have that
re the fears that are mainly myths, or are just assumptions.
There are so many ways, going the hospital route, that you'll get
talked into doing something that might not be how you wanted to do
it. I think it's so much easier to have your ideal birth
experience stolen from you by going that hospital route. When
you're at home, it's so much easier to go along and you're in your own
home. It's an environment that you're used to, you're
with. I feel like your body naturally progresses more
quickly. The overall – like I said from the beginning to the
birth, even afterwards. The hours afterwards.
much that you get to experience, so much more. It's just like
heightened experience. Of course, if you birth in the
it's amazing. People do it every day. But the home
it's just something that is so hard to describe. It's a whole
feeling. It's not just having a baby. Your mind,
boding with your family, the bonding with your baby, without all these
strangers around you doing things. Even if you are able to
natural birth in the hospital, unfortunately, there's sometimes a vibe
or an attitude that a nurse or a doctor will give off because they
don't approve of your decision, even though you have the right for that
decision. Those type of things, especially when you're
after giving birth, can affect your mood, they can affect your
attitude, and it's just a trickle effect, I feel. To do it
naturally in the home; it's almost like you're protected in your home
from those negative things of people that disagree with how you want to
go about things.
Thank you so much Stephanie for being with us today and sharing your
stories with us, so that other women can learn a little bit more about
home births and what it's really all about, and what it's not
about. I'd like to thank you so much for sharing and take
care. Give Ivy kisses for us.