Ashley is the woman who got me interested in looking into different types of birth. She was also the first person to introduce me to the term doula! I always loved getting to hear her stories and I am thrilled for you to as well! Enjoy.
How many children do you have?
God planned for us four beautiful children here on earth and two precious babies who have gone to heaven before us.
How many were home births?
All of our babies were born at home. All water births. Our first son, our first rainbow baby was born in Arizona in our little apartment right after our first marriage anniversary. Shortly after, we moved to Indiana where our next daughter and son were born, and then our last (for now) rainbow baby was born.
What did you do to prepare for the births?
When we were pregnant and preparing for our first homebirth, we only knew one other couple that had had a home birth so we heavily relied on knowledge from our Midwife and the resources she provided us. We also took a childbirth class that she prepared in her office and just really tried our best to research all of the options we had to choose from during prenatal care, the birth and the postpartum period. During one of our last prenatal visits our Midwife recommended a doula to us who she felt would be a good fit for us and we agreed to meet with her. From the minute we met her, we were at ease with her presence and gentle nature and planned for her role in our birth. During our birth with our first son, she was a crucial role for keeping me focused and relaxed when I felt out of control and unsure of what to expect, losing my grip to contractions, with it being my first child. Since then, I have felt confident in my ability to birth my children and my husband gained the confidence along with me to be my labor partner.
Fun fact, we have only had a midwife arrive on time for two of our four children's births. So with one of those being our first, our doula gave us a sense of calm, keeping a safe watch over us until the Midwife arrived minutes later.
How did your husband prepare for a home birth?
My husband and I were both present for a majority of the prenatal visits with our first Midwife and we both participated in the birth class and went over all of the resources together. We kept an open dialogue about what to expect and how we were to work together once the day came.
What does it look like after the midwife leaves?
Once the Midwife leaves, our family is left to bond and recover with baby. The Midwife will usually take care of any technical items and fill out necessary paperwork, check over mom and baby and once everyone is in the clear, she leaves until the next scheduled postpartum visit. When a doula is involved, she will typically stay and make sure breastfeeding gets started and that mom is settled and answers any questions that arise. (Which was the case with our first baby and was such a wonderful tool to have as a nervous first time mom.)
The goal is to birth without fear, what was your biggest fear about a home birth and how did you overcome it?
With my first baby, the unknown was my biggest fear. Never having given birth to a full term baby, I had no idea what to expect and what the pain and sensations were going to feel like. Having a skilled Midwife and doula to give their advice and comfort the best they could was how I feel we combated that. Especially during the birth, her presence and reassuring words were what made me feel confident that I could in fact do it, when I felt I couldn’t. From then on, I would say my biggest fear was not the pain or unknown of birth, but the health and safety of my babies. Already being familiar with loss, I was sensitive to the possibility of something going wrong. Between our third and fourth baby, we experienced our second loss at 12 weeks and that was devastating. Prayer and talking about my fears during prenatal visits is what kept those worries out in the open. I distinctly remember the day my fourth baby was born, my Midwife encouraged me to take some time to pause, talk to my baby and let him/her know that everything was okay and that it was safe to join us. I had more fears with her pregnancy about loss than I had before. So, those subtle fears were what I believe was keeping me from progressing. She was born that evening after a day of reflection, quiet meditation and time alone.
What is your favorite part about a home birth?
One of the best things about a home birth is just that, it is in the comfort of your own home. Only the people you have invited into your birthing space surround you. It is predictable in that sense; it’s familiar and comfortable. The same intimate space that was necessary for creating your precious baby is the same space needed for birthing your baby. A lot of birth is in the mind of the mother who is doing the work. Birth is incredibly empowering and necessary as the woman is birthed into a mother, just as the baby is birthed into this world. There is a saying that goes, “A woman in birth is at once her most powerful, and her most vulnerable. But any woman who has birthed unhindered understands that we are stronger than we know.” –Marci Macari
If someone is thinking about having a home birth, what advice would you give them?
Find a Midwife who makes you feel comfortable, who is skilled and not too proud to know when to make the call in the event of a transfer during birth. Find and read information on all of your options and choices surrounding your pregnancy and birth. Everything from glucose tests, to eye ointment for baby. Know how and why behind everything and choose what is right for your family. A good care provider will respect your choice and help provide all of your options the best they can. Ultimately, it is up to you, the parent. “When you don’t know your options, you don’t have any.”
Take advice lightly and listen to your intuition. It is a God given tool that we each have. There will be plenty of opinions over any decision you make, especially something that isn’t familiar to friends and family. Know that you felt called to consider home birth as an option and prayer for the wisdom to make the right choices for your family.
Finally, prepare for and put time into birth affirmations to reflect on during your pregnancy and focus on during your birth. A few that I have loved over the years:
“The minute you think of giving up, think of the reason you held on so long.”
“I’m not telling you it is going to be easy, I’m telling you it is going to be worth it.”
“I birth my baby with waves, each one bringing my baby closer to shore.”
“The power and intensity of your contractions cannot be stronger than you, because it is you.”
“Just as a woman’s heart knows how and when to pump her lungs to inhale and her hand to pull back from fire so she knows when and how to give birth.” Virginia Di Orio
“Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers - strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength.” Barbara Katz