Q: My first baby was born in a hospital, and I was very unhappy with the fact that they continued to push pain meds, even after I told them that was not an option for me. Overall it was not a good experience. Now pregnant with my second baby, my husband and I are considering a home birth. What are the pros and cons of home birthing?
A: Home birth can be a wonderful option if you're having a low risk pregnancy. Talk to the homebirth midwives in your community and discuss what health factors may risk you out and make hospital birth safer for you and your baby.
Many studies indicate home birth is as safe--and sometimes safer--than hospital birth for low risk women. Homebirth is actually the standard of care in many countries throughout the world.
Pros may include freedom to move around in labor, much less intervention and having whomever you want to support you during labor with you. Many women find homebirth to be a natural, healthy way to welcome their babies.
Cons may include not being able to have pain medication if you feel you need it, and, if you midwife doesn't have hospital privileges or a solid backup relationship with an OB who does, it won't be ideal in case of an emergency. That said, many complications can be handled by a midwife at home, and if not chances are she will suggest transferring to the hospital before it becomes an emergency. Be sure to ask questions when you interview midwives about what kind of equipment she brings with her, reasons for transferring and doctor backup.
Another con to think about is whether or not homebirth midwives are licensed or recognized in your state. Many midwives practice "underground" and you'll have to decide if you're comfortable with that or not.
Whether you choose home or hospital birth this time around, be sure to ask providers all the questions that may be important to you so you can make an informed decision. Good luck!