Thanks to Susan for sharing this great story about the 2011 Kentucky home birth of Rider in Louisville.
As a neuroscientist and a college science instructor, I firmly believe that knowledge is power. I try to make decisions only after considering all available evidence. When I became pregnant with my first child, I read all of the information I could find on pregnancy and birth. After reading hundreds of peer-reviewed articles in medical journals, books, and websites, I chose a midwife as my care provider because midwives have the best record of practicing evidence-based medicine.
My son Will was born in 2007 at the Midwife Center for Birth and Women’s Health in Pittsburgh, PA. The Midwife Center is a free-standing birth center run by a team of five Certified Professional Midwives and several nurses. The birth center focuses solely on pregnancy and birth. Their outcomes for both maternal and neonatal health far exceeded the national standard. It was an easy choice.
I finished my first year of teaching anatomy and physiology just before Will’s birth. Will was born completely naturally without any medical intervention. I attribute my peaceful, short labor and easy delivery to my newfound knowledge of anatomy, my self-education in pregnancy and birthing, and the wisdom and respect of the midwives who cared for me.
We had moved to Louisville, KY when I became pregnant with my second son, Rider, in 2010. I immediately began the search for the closest birth center to my home. I was dismayed to find that the closest freestanding birth centers were hours away in Ohio or Tennessee.
I investigated my other two options very carefully: birth in a hospital or birth at home attended by a midwife. The statistics from my local hospitals in Louisville were not encouraging. Their rates of labor induction and Cesarean section indicated that they did not systematically practice evidence-based care.
The published research on home birth was more encouraging. I learned that healthy, low-risk mothers who planned home births attended by midwives experienced excellent outcomes. I interviewed several midwives in Louisville who attended home births. I chose a midwife whose experience and methods presented the best possibility for a safe and healthy birth. She a
nd her apprentices provided outstanding evidence-based care throughout my pregnancy.
The night of August 13th, 2011 was so windy and stormy that we lost power just as I felt the beginning contractions of labor. While my husband and son went out to buy a generator, I labored at home and made myself dinner. I walked, breathed, rested, and focused on relaxing through the contractions. I enjoyed the solitude of my quiet home after my son and husband went to bed. Being able to focus on the contractions in a peaceful, familiar environment made them easy to handle without intervention. Standing was the most comfortable position for me, one that is not routinely encouraged in hospitals.
I called my midwife and woke up my husband when my contractions had quickened to 4 or 5 minutes apart. She arrived about 20 minutes later and my husband helped her carry her equipment and oxygen tank into the house. She listened to the baby’s heart beat during a contraction and assured me we were doing well. During my next contraction, Rider was born!
I was standing when he was born and I was grateful to be able to give birth in the most comfortable position for me without anyone interfering.
The midwife and her apprentices helped us from the bathroom where Rider was born into our bed to nurse. About
an hour later, just after sunrise, my older son awoke to the baby’s cries. His look of surprise and wonder at his new baby brother was unforgettable. I was so glad that our home birth allowed our family to enjoy the miracle of birth together so peacefully.