I had never actually considered having a home birth until relatively recently. But as I've been thinking about labor and our birth plan (thankfully we have a looooong time until any of this needs to be set in stone), I'm beginning to think that this might be the best option for us. I know it's not for everybody, I fully expect to come up against several pairs of arched eyebrows, but I think that being a parent is recognizing what works best for your family, even if others wouldn't necessarily go in the same direction.
So how have Gez and I come to this decision? Well, first of all, I use the term "decision" here pretty lightly, as there are so many variables that could come into play within the next 28-ish weeks. At any rate, I know me- the things I tend to stress over and fear are the things I am unfamiliar with or unable to control. I know that if I were to plan a hospital or birth center birth, once I actually did go into labor I would be so worried about the timing of everything- making sure I got to the hospital/birth center early enough, but not so early that I'd be sent home (something I know that would be really discouraging for me). I'd worry about the drive there, the traffic, the parking. I'd stress about the way things are done in the hospital, and whether or not they'd be sympathetic to our birth plan and wishes- I know we'd definitely be briefed on all of this, as well as given a thorough tour, but I also know I'd still worry about it despite that.
If I plan on giving birth in my own home I know I will cut out these stresses and worries. One of the best ways to naturally reduce pain during childbirth is to remain calm and relaxed, and I know I will feel much more calm and relaxed at home, although I know many women would feel much more relaxed in a hospital with lots of doctors close at hand. When making these decisions, I think it all comes down knowing yourself, and knowing what's going to freak you out (besides having to squeeze a watermelon through a coke can- we all have to face that little chestnut no matter where we decide to give birth). At this point (and this may change) I am less freaked out by the pain of having a baby than the actually logistics of going somewhere else to do it.
It's also quite important to me to have a med-free birth to the extent that it's possible. Obviously, the most important thing is the health of a baby, and if that requires an inducement, a cesarean, or an epidural then of course everything else goes out the window. I'm fully cognizant of the fact that about 1/3 of all planned home births result in a hospital transfer, and I'm going to be as realistic and flexible as possible. I also think that here in the UK home birth is far more accepted than in the US, and many midwives actually encourage it where the baby and mother are healthy and willing; and it's law that 2 midwives be present at each home birth, which means that you usually get more attention and targeted care than you would in a hospital.
So if everything goes as planned and we have no complications, little Baby Jones will be born at home in early April 2010!