Now that I've covered a lot of "Is it safe?" questions, I think now is a good time to talk about some of my favorite reasons....
Home births are so different...beautiful. I was not hooked up to any IVs, my midwife encouraged me to eat and drink. (She said when asking the hospital why they don't allow eating/drinking, they said that a woman MIGHT need a c-section, in which she MIGHT have to be put under general anesthesia, and then she MIGHT vomit, and MIGHT aspirate the vomit. A simple solution is just to turn the mom's head if she starts to vomit, something "icky" that they don't want to have to deal with. With that many "mights", I MIGHT should stop eating before I get into a car, for the same reasons...). I was allowed to move around and get into any position that was comfortable to me. I didn't have to leave my house. My midwife and/or her assistant were with me the whole labor and birth and afterwards, to make sure all was OK. And she wasn't just there...she was a blessed encouragement for me. She prayed for me, read Scriptures to me, addressed any fears I had, and cried with me when my baby was born. She's seen me at all my prenatal visits, and remembers all the details of all my births. She knows and loves my family. She thinks that birth is an amazing process created by God and feels privileged and excited to watch it happen everyday. I can call her at any moment with any questions I have, and she will pick up her cell phone and not sound rushed or irritated when I call. When I'm in labor, I can have the room dark if I want to, play music, light candles, be soothed by a warm bath and ice water on my face simultaneously. And the best part (I think, although it all seems to be the best part), when the baby starts to emerge, I can catch my own baby, or my husband can if he wants to, and no one shouts out whether it is a boy or girl - we get to find that out on our own. And that baby stays right there with me until I'm ready to hand him/her over. The cord isn't cut until it stops pulsating, so baby gets all the blood and oxygen he/she needs, so there is no rush for him/her to breathe. No one panics. Baby gets to nurse right away. Then baby and I get to take a nice herbal bath together to clean everyone up and raise baby's body temperature for the newborn exam. I get to snuggle with baby in the bath and look at all his/her little features - and I get to give baby his/her first bath! The newborn exam is done right on the bed, right next to me, and dad gets to dress baby in his/her first outfit. Why take a baby from his/her mom to do all these things? After all, I've just labored for however long, and like every other mom - I WANT MY BABY! There is no need to put baby under a warmer - mom's chest is the warmest place in the house!
All aspects of the birth are very peaceful. The midwives don't carry on loud conversations about random topics while I'm having a contraction - everyone gets quiet during a contraction and encourages me, then talks in low voices in between. There are no loud machines, just intermittent checks on baby's heart tones with a Doppler (continuous fetal monitoring has not been shown to improve birth outcomes, and often the machines incorrectly read the heart tones). Lots of counterpressure, massaging, hand holding - whatever I need, they are willing to do.
And if you think the midwives hold out for a home birth at all costs - you'd be mistaken. :) If there is a sign that baby or mom are not handling things well, or that intervention might be necessary, she is not afraid to transport, and has great relationships with her backup physicians. But this is only necessary in about 2% of the cases. A nurse in a hospital once told me, when she found out that I had a homebirth, that she gets to see ALL the ones that go wrong. And that's just the thing. She's only seeing the ones that required intervention - out of 100 births, she's seeing 2 - she isn't seeing the other 98 that were beautiful as I've described! My midwife prays for God's wisdom and discernment concerning these decisions - you just can't go wrong when God is leading you!
And again on safety: midwives carry with them all the first response equipment that the hospital would have, to stabilize mom or baby: like oxygen, neonatal resuscitation equipment, IV fluids, pitocin for stopping hemorraghing, suturing equipment, etc. But she says that most of the things expire before she actually needs them! Last we talked about this, she told me in 20 years she's only had to transport one baby!
Babies sometimes die. Situations come up that no one could prevent, not even a hospital. I heard of a lady whose baby had a rare form of dwarfism, whose lungs would not be able to expand properly to support life, and this was known even before the baby was born. But she still chose the home birth because there she could have a peaceful birth and be able to enjoy the few moments she would have with this baby. In our culture, death is often hard to accept. But as believers we understand that God has our days numbered, every life has a purpose, however short, and that God controls who lives and who dies.
So as not to end on a somber note, I'll say that we are all so thrilled to be welcoming this baby soon, and, the Lord willing, in our home once again! What a miracle it is to watch a child be born, and how humbling it is to see God giving us this precious gift to nurture and teach in His ways. Life is truly precious.