Are you a good candidate for having a home birth?

If you’re having a healthy, low-risk pregnancy, delivering your baby at home instead of at a hospital might be an option. Find out if home birth is right for you.

Photo: Shea Long, Coastal Lifestyles Photography

If you’re on the fence, it’s important to know that, while home birth is an option for most families, there are some situations in which a midwife would likely advise against having your baby at home. We asked Hava Glick, a Toronto midwife, what makes you a good candidate—and what rules you out.

You can consider a home birth if…

1. You’re having a healthy, low-risk pregnancy.

If your midwife decides everything’s progressing well—all of your exams and lab results are normal, and you don’t have a health condition that could impact your labour—then you should be good to go.

2. You understand the risks and benefits.

There are many perks to labouring at home. But make sure you talk to your midwife and get all of your what-ifs out of the way. If you have a question about how home birth works, then don’t hesitate to ask it.

3. You want to be involved in making the decisions around your labour.

A midwife is a good option “if you’re somebody who wants to have the opportunity to discuss your care in depth,” says Glick. Midwives generally have more time than doctors to help you decide on things like how long you can safely labour after your water breaks, and they’ll give you more one-on-one medical attention, usually staying with you for the entire labour. (Note: Midwives are not doulas. Midwives will be focused on you and your baby’s health, while a doula may provide more dedicated emotional support.)

4. You’d prefer fewer medical interventions.

If you’re trying to avoid an induction, a C-section or the use of vacuum or forceps during delivery, a home birth could be a smart choice. Even when a planned home birth ends up at the hospital, rates of intervention are lower, says Glick. James Van Der Beek posing with his kids Look! Even celebrity home births are total chaos

5. You feel confident in your body’s ability to give birth.

It’s common for people to have fears about giving birth, says Glick. “But people who are choosing out-of-hospital births tend to be quite sure that this is a process that is going to work for them. They trust their body’s ability to give birth.” 

A hospital birth is best if…

1. You’re having a high-risk pregnancy.

Complications like hypertension, concerns about fluid levels or the placenta, or a growth-restricted baby mean the hospital is the safest place for you and your child.

2. You know without a doubt that you want an epidural.

Midwives can admit you to the hospital for an epidural during labour, but if you know for sure you want one, it’s better to be at the hospital and get yourself in the lineup right from the get-go. You cannot get an epidural at home.

3. You’re planning a repeat C-section.

Midwives don’t perform C-sections, and you obviously can’t have this kind of surgery at home. If you’ve had a C-section before and want to try for a vaginal home birth, discuss it with your midwife. “Some midwifery clinics will say ‘absolutely not’ to a home birth in that situation,” says Glick, “but others will be open to trying it, as long as you’re making an informed choice.”

4. You don’t have a suitable home environment.

Your home needs to be free of safety hazards (like construction or renovations) or violence, and it has to be clean to some degree, says Glick. If your home won’t work, you could consider delivering at a birthing centre or renting a hotel room.

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