Why We Chose to Do a Home Birth With a Midwife

quizical baby

When people learn that we are doing a home birth with a midwife, we are met with a variety of reactions: enthusiasm, confusion, wariness, understanding, and anger. We hear a lot of “That’s interesting . . . {insert awkward silence}” “Why did you decide to do it that way?”  “More power to ya, I’ll take my epidural!” Even though more and more women are returning to midwifery, home births, and natural births in general, there are still a lot of misunderstandings and confusion circulating about these practices, especially in the medical world. Now, I am not a doctor, or medical expert. I also am not anti-doctor or medicine (though I have not had very many positive experiences either).

My husband and I came around to the idea of midwifery and home birth over time. It began with our miscarriage last April. We could not have been more giddy or full of joy and questions then we were with our first pregnancy. We didn’t know anything about the options that were available for birth. I was hesitant about  the idea of an epidural, but that is as far as my reservations went. Right away, we called up an OBGYN clinic whom we had heard good things about. I had also been there once before for a routine pap smear. I was not very impressed, but pap smears are never a fun experience. . . They told us that the earliest we could make an appointment was when we were 8 weeks along–so we booked it. I had looked online at the doctor bios and picked a lady that looked nice–there wasn’t much else to go on. I just knew that I wanted a woman who had given birth herself to be my doctor.

At 8 weeks I started bleeding, I immediately called the OBGYN office. Unfortunately, not only was I not allowed to talk to a doctor, but the nurse didn’t say anything other than “Go on pelvic rest.” I took the next couple days off work, since my job required a lot of pushing and lifting. I tried to move up our appointment, which was still a week away, but the receptionist made a big issue out of it because it meant I would have to switch doctors. I still would not be able to get in for a couple days, and when I did it would be with a man. If I was not miscarrying, I would be “stuck with him” for the rest of the pregnancy. That was not reassuring. After two days, I was still bleeding, and we were desperate. I googled “midwives” because one of my co-workers had been talking about her natural, home births with a midwife. The first one I found in our area was Alicia Witt. She had excellent credentials and information online.


When we called, she answered right away and made plans to meet with us within a couple hours. It was a bit odd showing up at a house for a doctor’s appointment. Mitch was hesitant, but our fears were quickly eliminated. The office had everything you would expect, only instead of a cold, sterile feeling, it was warm, welcoming, and decorated with artwork depicting the Israelite midwives and Bible verses. Alicia listened with interest and compassion. She searched for the heartbeat and wrote us up an ultrasound request form. She managed to get us in for the ultrasound within another two hours. By the end of the day, we had our heartbreaking results.

Alicia walked with us through the confusion and the pain. She prayed with us, and agreed with me that trying to let the miscarriage happen naturally first, without a DNC, was a good choice. I knew I could call or text her 24/7. She scheduled us for a follow-up ultrasound to make sure everything was passing out of my body ok. Mitch and I had never encountered a doctor that even came close to her ability to genuinely care about us as people, share our faith, and treat us with compassion. In addition to everything, when we tried to pay her for her time, she refused. She didn’t take a cent of our money. Now, I know I have never met a doctor who refused payment!

Alicia referred me to Taking Charge of Your Fertility, a book about natural birth control, planning, and conceiving. It was so helpful! I understood ovulation phenomenons that had always confounded me. This method is also much more accurate than many of the “natural family planning methods” out there. I even wrote an article about this topic for a guest blog on a site dedicated to fertility. I knew I did not want to mess around with the birth control pill again. After being on it for almost three years, I was tired of the weight gain, low energy, and depression–all of which vanished when I quit taking it. Even though it had been a few months, Alicia thought that some of the leftover hormones may have still been in my system and contributed to my miscarriage.

It took my body a full month to pass everything, and Alicia encouraged us to wait at least one menstrual cycle before trying to conceive again. With my new knowledge from Taking Charge of Your Fertility, it was easy to conceive when we were ready in July.

When we learned we were pregnant again, we called Alicia and set up our first appointment. Now, she comes to our home at least once a month for our regular appointments. We talk, take blood pressure, record weight gain, do a urine test, and listen to the baby’s heartbeat. She’s also has us do all the routine ultrasounds, blood tests, and other tests for things such as gestational diabetes. We are getting all the same tests done with her that we would be doing with an OBGYN, but our level of care is much more intimate.

Since neither of us receive insurance benefits through our careers, we are paying for expensive independent policies. Fortunately, maternity just became available, but with all the changes that have been happening, we are paying double what we were before. And, of course, the majority of health insurance companies only recognize a handful of certified nurse midwives and usually don’t cover home births or birth centers. Alicia is a certified and licensed midwife. She usually has another seasoned midwife and students with her at the home births, as well as emergency plans in place (we live one block from the hospital). We were worried that we would not be able to afford her on top of all we were paying with insurance (even though her rates are much lower than hospital costs). Alicia listened, asked us to fill out a form about our income, and offered us a reduced rate and the ability to pay it to her over time at whatever monthly amount we decided.

The idea of a home birth jolted us a bit at first. We had warmed up easily to natural births and birthing centers, but home birth took some prayer and searching on our part. My friend from work shared some excellent resources with us that helped relieve most of our fears:

    • The Business of Being Born
    • More Business of Being Born
    • Gentle Birth Choices

We trust Alicia. We have an emergency plan in place. Just as with an OBGYN, we are monitoring the pregnancy closely. If there are any major complications or concerns, we will change plans. I also knew from the beginning that I was not excited about giving birth in a hospital. I didn’t want a pushy doctor, cranky nurse, or strange environment. I would much rather be surrounded by people that I trust in the comfort of my own home.

Our families have been mostly supportive, though cautious, about our choice. It was wonderful to have my mother-in-law and Mitch’s stepdad there for the ultrasound and to meet Alicia. My mother-in-law is a nurse, and I was encouraged by her approval of Alicia. Each day I grow more confident in our choice of a midwife and homebirth. However, I am careful not to push this option on everyone. Not everyone would be comfortable with it, and that’s okay. I believe women should have the birth experience that makes them feel the most at peace, whether that is in a hospital, birth center, or at home. Plus, I realize that not everyone who desires a home birth is able to have one. Some people cannot birth at home due to an ongoing medical complication. Others cannot because of location. I am sad for many of my friends back in Nebraska who cannot have a home birth due to strict state laws. Moreover, there is only one birth center in the entire state! Hopefully, as more people catch on to this healthy option, state laws will loosen up.

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How do you feel about midwifery and home births? How did you decide what birth method was right for you?

24 thoughts on “Why We Chose to Do a Home Birth With a Midwife

  1. This just made my decision of wanting a home birth that much stronger (when the time is right, of course). Maybe if I show this to Jon he will start to change his mind too. I just hope that I can find a midwife around here that is as good as Alicia.

    • I am sure there are some great midwives in Missouri! Unlike OBGYNs, you can get together with and, in a sense interview, midwives to find one that you really click with on a personal level. 🙂

  2. I’m excited about your decision! I’ve done a lot of reading and research about this for my interest and for a research paper and I like the idea of home birth, but I don’t think it will be an option in our future. I don’t want to do a home birth on my own without a midwife, and I believe laws in Nebraska concerning home births with midwives are pretty strict, though I haven’t looked into it too recently. And the last time I checked, the only birthing center in Nebraska is in Bellevue. I’d like to be a little closer to the place where I intend to birth. 🙂 So it seems that when that time comes in our lives, I’ll be birthing in a hospital. But, I do agree that they are uncomfortable, cold, and focused more on medicine and policies than lifestyle and sincere care.
    I actually read Taking Charge of Your Fertility and I thought it was very eye-opening about how the female body works. It’s encouraging to hear that you were able to use that information to help you.
    I wish you well with your pregnancy and labor! I admire you for your dedication to this decision, despite the strange feedback. I suppose no matter what you do, people will always have an opinion!

    • Very true! And I have to remember that just over a year ago, I would have thought the idea of a home birth was strange too. Yeah, Nebraska has some strict policies that are disappointing. I know Sarabeth did manage to find a certified nurse midwife in Hastings who works within the hospital, so hopefully when the time comes you can still find a way to have the experience you desire too! We have not looked into it ourselves yet, but we have heard great things about doulas and their assistance/encouragement with natural birth within hospitals. That might be a viable option as well! Parts of Taking Charge of Your Fertility clicked with me more than others, but the parts that did made sense of how to tell when I was ovulating. I just remember thinking how I wish I had always known and understood my body’s cues. I usually did’t go as far as tracking my temperature. In York, while I was on birth control, the doctor doing my pap smear told me “Wow. Are you half way through your cycle? Let’s put you on a prenatal vitamin!” I was really confused, because we were not trying to conceive, but now I understand that she probably saw my discharge and the position of my uterus and concluded I was quite fertile . . . I just wish she could have taken the time to explain why. I think that is another struggle I have with some doctors: they don’t explain their decisions clearly.

      • I did not know that about Sarabeth, maybe I’ll have to talk with her sometime. 🙂
        The book did a good job of helping me understand that some of the things that I experience each month are normal. I’m surprised that doctors and schools don’t teach that to girls, and often mothers don’t know all the facts either. Thanks for sharing Nathana!

  3. I did so much research and planning with my first baby, but was quite stuck with a hospital birth because in Nebraska it is illegal for a midwife to attend a home birth! And I had heard that the birth centers did all the things the same as a hospital and I wasn’t willing to drive an hour for one anyhow… Jayden’s birth was long and drawn out, labored 24 hours at home and another 16 at the hospital. Everything fell right into place as predicted–they broke my water at their earliest convenience. Put an IV starter in my wrist, insisted on the fetal heart monitor–stuck in bed with a tight elastic band around your belly. After so many hours of me “not progressing” they offered Pitocin of course, so I gladly took an epidural with it… Anyhow. I did not end up with a c-section, but the doctor pulled Jayden out instead of waiting for my body to do the work. There were 5 people present all yelling at me to PUSH!! (Gee, thanks) nurses there to “show me how to nurse” (a little space please!) and then kept for four extra days because they deemed him too jaundice to go home.
    A year later we lost our next pregnancy at 13 weeks. Reading your post today has made me cry for her all over again. Remembering the pain and frustration. Driving home from the appointment by myself with tears streaming down my face to have to walk in my house and wait for Ben to get off work– dreading having to tell him, but longing for his love and support.
    After moving to Kansas we were blessed with another pregnancy and I immediately began looking for a midwife and home birth options.
    I am extremely pleased to say that 5 days ago I have birth to a beautiful and healthy baby girl in my own home. It was long and terrible and painful and I thought I was going to rip open! But I did it, my midwife and husband were the only two present and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I actually delivered her in the bathroom–on the way from the tub to my bed… I had her standing up. Which looking back on it, is super empowering to say. “I had my baby standing up!”
    … I should probably get off your comment page and go write my own article about it. 😉

    Thanks Nathana for sharing your story.

    • I would love to read more about your birth story on your blog! Link it up here or on The Engaged Home Facebook page when you post it! 🙂 I am so happy for you–it sounds like an empowering experience. I fully expect the pain to be beyond what I can comprehend, but I have always felt like the pain needs to be experienced, then washed away in the euphoria of new life. (Maybe I take this too literally, but in a way, God ordained it.) I appreciate your point about Nebraska. I need to go back and mention that in my post. Not everyone who wants a home birth is able to have one. I know several people in Nebraska who want to have one, but cannot because of the state laws. 🙁

      I love the intimacy of home birth that you mentioned. Our midwife usually works with another and may bring a student, but I am planning on it just being her (and her help) and Mitch. I may change my mind later, but that sounds most comfortable, intimate, and supportive to me.

  4. I am so very happy you found such an amazing woman to be your midwife! From everything I have heard from my Mom, and my two sisters-in-law a midwife is always the way to go. Excited to be hearing about your journey as you walk through all these exciting new learning experiences! Keep writing. 🙂

  5. I do fully support your decision for home birth, and know you have prayerfully sought out the best decision for you. My body wouldn’t have been able to handle that, and all 3 children required medical intervention, before and after their births! That being said, I know you are close to a hospital , and feel very confident in your midwife, that she will direct you there if needed. Love you guys. ,

  6. I had an accidental home birth and it was my best birth (I’ve had 4). My midwife wasn’t here, which I hate that she missed it, because here it’s illegal. The plan was to deliver at a hospital with her, but it was so much better here. We had so much fun. Your midwife sounds so wonderful, and I love the Taking Charge book, it’s amazing what we don’t know about our own bodies. And we should know it!

    • I agree! I was shocked at how little I knew about my body. Reading that book and working with a midwife has really been an empowering decision. I am glad your home birth went so well! Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  7. Your story reminds me of mine a bit! (http://syncopatedmama.blogspot.com/2014/01/firing-my-doctor-part-1.html) I gave birth with a midwife at a birth center (not attached to a hospital, it was really just a home that wasn’t mine to have to clean up! 😀 ) It was a wonderful experience and I’m so happy for you getting to do it, as well. I had LOTS of people telling me I was crazy, but they didn’t do all the research I did and I felt I was in such capable hands. I also think TCOYF is a wonderful book and will be letting my daughter read it early on so that she can be more aware of her body.

    • I look forward to reading your birth story Lisa! I think having your daughter read TCOYF now is a great idea. I remember the little I knew ahead of time really gave me confidence during adolescence and all the changes my body went through. I only wish I had known more. It took me until I was 25 to figure out what felt like some pretty basic things!

  8. I am so sorry for all that you went through and am happy that you found a midwife you can trust for this pregnancy. I had two hospital births, and now that I am pregnant with my third, I am opting for a home birth as well. I received many of the same surprised responses from others, and even my husband was a bit apprehensive at first. Sitting down and writing my 20 reasons for having a home birth (http://anupstreamlife.com/2014/10/20-reasons-im-opting-for-a-home-birth-part-1.html), however, helped me work through the research and my thoughts on it all. My husband and I now have peace about our decision and are preparing for the big day. Blessings to you for a wonderful home birth!

    • Thank you Veronica! I look forward to reading your post–thank you for sharing! It is wonderful to be at peace with your decision. That was a big factor for us as well, but I agree that writing it out helped me process it.

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