Reactions ranged from an incredulous "What!?" to a calm, "That's cool," when I told people I was going to give birth, not just without drugs but in my own home. The reaction I had the hardest time with was, "I wish I could do that". I didn't decide to have a natural home birth because I think I'm stronger or better than other moms or to make anyone else feel bad about their choices. I made a choice for me. You might want to watch this Jim Gaffigan clip to get you in the right frame of mind first. Here's a little about how it went down:
I had just barely dozed off around 11:30 pm when I felt myself drenched in fluid! Fortunately my water had broke with Chiquita so I knew I hadn't just peed myself, but that my water had broke. After changing clothes and putting on an adult diaper (thanks to my midwife and doula I had them ready for after birth!) I texted my midwife and doula to let them know. About two hours later when my contractions were getting going I called my midwife and doula and asked them to come. My contractions were still 15 or 20 minutes apart but they were strong, my hubby was already starting to stress a little, Chiquita was still awake (maybe she had a premonition, whatever it was she hadn't slept yet that night) and they were willing.
When my midwife showed up she started hauling in luggage and setting up. I knew she was bringing equipment but it looked like she was moving in! While she ran around inflating tubs and stashing medicine, my doula tried to help me battle the back pain that started after the first few contractions. She massaged my back with essential oils, did counter pressure, used a rebozo, and heating pads at different times through the night and next morning but relief was fairly temporary.
Hypnobabies (my doula was also my instructor). I used the deepening script to take a little nap, but it was hard because laying down on my side or sitting in any fashion make the back pain worse. Around 3 pm my hubby went to fetch someone to watch Chiquita and she fell asleep in the car (Hallelujah!).
When my contractions were about 5 minutes apart, sometime when morning was coming on, my midwife okayed me to get in the birthing tub! She discouraged it earlier since it can slow down the birthing time. That was a huge pain relief! That was when the rest of the home birth team showed up, a second midwife and an assistant. After hanging out for a while we did a check and found that even though I was fairly dilated his head was still in front of my cervix, rather than right on top of it and since that meant we weren't going as quickly, it was time for me to get out of the tub and move around. They wanted me to go up and down the stairs (two at a time, ha ha!) but with the back pain one time up and down was about all I could do. We did a few abdominal lifts to try and reposition him (I felt much better doing it myself leaning back against my hubby than having him do it, he was a little rougher than I was on myself). Again I decided to try and get a little nap - the pain of laying on my side wasn't enough to discourage me, I was just really tired. Chiquita came and hung out with me for a while, giving me hugs to make me feel better.
Finally another check at around 11 am showed I was almost completely dilated and I could get back in the tub. This time hubby got in with me since I would be staying in until the baby was born. I tried lots of positions to try and get more comfortable - nothing was really comfortable but changing it up helped. Chiquita came in a few times and surprised me with how chill she was. Just checked on me to see how everything was going and if baby brother was here yet. Even though I was in pain I was staying pretty relaxed and positive... until I wasn't that is.
After the fact it's hard to pinpoint exactly when it was, but at some point just before pushing I started to freak out. My back hurt so bad and I was so tired and my contractions were so strong that I just felt I couldn't do it. I told my midwife I couldn't do it and I didn't want to do it! In that moment I sincerely wished I hadn't decided to do this crazy natural home birth thing. The hospital would have given me drugs and it would have been so much easier.
Honestly, I'm not going to lie, I completely lost it.
I started hyperventilating and having a little tizzy. I asked for Tylenol, knowing it was the only medication available at that point, but turned out it that they didn't bring any and I didn't have any in the house. My midwife tried to get me to slow my breathing down by putting her hands over my mouth and that kind of snapped me out of it (totally freaked me out). They also put some drops under my tongue (I'm not sure what). I remembered I had some Midol, which is acetaminophen (same as Tylenol) and when they agreed to let me have some I relaxed. By this point I could actually reach in a little and feel my son's head and pushing started in seriousness. During pushing they gave me oxygen, which helped a LOT, particularly just in helping me slow down my breath. I got to crowning and that gave me a total new energy - it was finally really happening!! However, while I was taking a breath between contractions he slipped back in a little. No way was I letting that happen again! I powered through the next pushes and got to crowning again, but a little farther so there was no going back, and one more set pushes had him out.
He was finally in my arms at a little after 1 pm. I was SO wiped out. Pushing my baby out seriously took every bit of physical and emotional strength I had. We hung out in the tub waiting for the placenta. They brought hot towels for baby and added hot water to the tub to keep him happy.
As tired as I was my mental state had already changed. I knew I'd gotten to the best part. I did a hospital birth with an epidural with Chiquita and I knew that at this point I was just as worn out (though unable to feel my legs) as I was now. This time I got to be at my own house and Chiquita got to come right in to meet baby brother and hang out with us (she brought him her bath toys to help him not cry). The team cleaned everything up while we chilled in our own bed. There were no shift changes, no moving to a new room, no extra hoops to jump through or people to deal with. Only a few hours after all the commotion our little family (a little bit bigger) was just settled in, hanging out together, calm and relaxed.
Am I glad I made the choice to do a home birth? Absolutely. I feel like it really was the best way to get the natural birth I wanted as well as a lot of other things I wanted. My midwife let me be in charge and really made me feel like a client instead of a patient. If I could do anything different I would probably go to a chiropractor during my pregnancy to try and avoid back problems.
Do I think you should do it? If you want to. If you're committed to going natural and you don't have any known risk factors I personally think it's your best choice. If you aren't convinced that you don't want drugs then it's probably not for you.