Would you have a homebirth in someone else's home?

June 1 | Guest post by Lara
Offbeat Home & Life runs these advice questions as an opportunity for our readers to share personal experiences and anecdotes. Readers are responsible for doing their own research before following any advice given here... or anywhere else on the web, for that matter.
Water Birth Onesie by Etsy seller TheLavenderLeopard

My husband and I are currently planning a homebirth with our amazing midwife. While midwife-assisted homebirth is not currently supported by the legislation in Illinois, we're really lucky that living in a big city (Chicago) means we can still find a certified midwife who is willing to attend our birth.

We are also currently in the midst of making the transition to begin our farm "downstate," and my husband is looking for a job near the farm. If he finds said job, we need to move whenever it starts — before or after the due date. We have not been able to find a single midwife practicing within two hours of our new home — none.

Our options at the moment appear to be a) we resign ourselves to a hospital birth in our new hometown, b) hubby declines any job that begins before our due date (and puts us in some serious financial hot water,) or c) we move pre-baby and accept the very sweet offer of a dear colleague of mine that we can come stay in her house in Chicago near my due date and deliver there with our midwife.

I realize this is an incredible offer — a mind-blowingly, heart-burstingly generous offer. But I'm still left wondering how it would work, exactly.

So here's my question: has anyone out there had experience having a "home birth" that wasn't actually in their home?

  1. There are some CPMs/DEMs that do waterbirths at hotels with the big bathtubs…

    2 agree
  2. I'd say as long as you're comfortable there, do it. And you just have to be reasonably comfortable, really- its probably more comfortable than a hospital (and one in a new town, at that), right? Also, I assume this means you'd get to continue care with your current midwife, which I think is an important factor to consider. I bet, mama, that you'll do well in whatever location you choose!

    5 agree
  3. I would accept the offer. I'm assuming that you are close and comfortable w/ the friend and that the friend is very supportive of home birth! Go for it!

  4. I think if you are comfortable with it, do it. I think it is great that you have that option!!

  5. I would take the offer, if it was me in your situation. You are obviously very serious about having a homebirth, since you have already found a wonderful midwife, so it is very important to you. Look at it this way: Which would you regret more? A hopsital birth or homebirth in a trusted friend's house?

    2 agree
  6. I don't see the issue – you mentioned the option of a hospital, how would this be different? If this is a good enough friend to make this offer, I'd take her up on it rather than go to a hospital.

    1 agrees
  7. I assume that there are many differences between the states and the UK. Why is it such a big deal not to be in hospital?

    My gut response would be to have your baby in hospital with all of these potential reasons that you can't have a home birth…

    1 agrees
    • i am american, and i live in the uk…i still had a homebirth with NHS midwives. There is a lot more pressure at a hospital (either in the states or here in the UK) to have your baby on the hospital's timeline.

      There was a bit more flexibility for me by using NHS services at home. They offer these services (and we pay for them!) for a reason.

      1 agrees
  8. I live in a state in which midwife-attended home birth is not legal. Some midwives attend women at home anyway (at potential legal risk to themselves, which is unfortunate), but there are also a number of birth houses right across the state border in a state with better laws, and I know women who have delivered in these birth houses. They would prefer to be in their own homes, but still welcome the non-hospital, midwife-driven setting.

    So, this does seem a not uncommon practice.

    If you are comfortable and your friend is comfortable and you will have continuity of care, this seems like a good move for you. Good luck!

    6 agree
  9. Hi 🙂
    I am currently practicing as a midwife in Canada. Before I completed my midwifery training, I worked as a doula and had a birth house. Women and families from underserved areas, where there were no maternity care providers, would come and stay at my home to give birth. Everyone stayed for different amounts of time, and we really incorporated them into our home for the time they spent with us. We all loved it every time, and we are all left with beautiful memories of sharing those experiences. Leaving home to birth is never ideal, and choosing planned place of birth poses many challenges. Ultimately you need to choose what feels best and safest for you. Homebirth with a skilled/trained/registered midwife (qualifications vary by region), is indeed a very safe option for low-risk women. Bottom line, is go with your intuition, but giving birth in someone else's home is a great option especially if you are comfortable in their home.

    8 agree
  10. I'd say if you're comfortable in your friend's house and she's happy to have you there and you'll get your midwife there, it seems like the best option.
    I would say though that you ask your friend to let you and your husband have veto power over who is in the house when you're having the baby.

    6 agree
  11. I had a home birth in a small rented apartment on a university campus. At first I was worried about the small and not exactly 4-star apartment, but my midwife assured me that as long as we were comfortable, she was okay with it. So not exactly someone else's home, but definitely not 'ours'… if you prefer a homebirth to hospital birth, I would go for it. We also have friends who went for a home birth at a relative's house in Nova Scotia, since they were from a province without midwives (at the time).

    1 agrees
    • Our home birth was in a small rented apartment too. I think what made it a successful birth (in addition to health and a little luck) was that it was at home…not necessarily our ideal home
      or even our own but home as in a place where one has the freedom and creature comforts to be able to surrender to the process. It sounds like your friend's home might be that kind of place. If so, I would encourage you to plan your birth there and to spend as much time there as possible beforehand so it can become as much like home to you as possible!

      Good luck to you and your family!

  12. My friend planned to give birth at home, but due to a crazy storm and a power outage ended up giving birth at her midwife's house. With all the things she had to say about giving birth she never talked about the location. I think once you're in the process, the exact location (as in which home) matters little as long as it is safe and private and has your birth attendants.

    1 agrees
  13. I originally planned on giving birth at my midwife's assistant's house or a local hotel, because all the local midwives had been told they weren't allowed to attend births on base. I ended up going to the base CO and ultimately having him and the Command Master Chief write me a letter saying to their knowledge there were actually NO regulations against home birth on base–but if I hadn't been able to birth at home, I totally would have done it at someone else's house. Absolutely, no question.

    • That is so interesting! We're Navy too – would never have considered that situation. Good to think about should the situation ever arise in our area(VA).

      • I am currently Navy, never heard of this problem but would love some advice on getting TriCare to pay the midwife. It seems the problem stems from the fact that I (the pregnant one) am also the active duty one. In VA they tried to scare me into thinking I had no choice but to deal with Sewell's Point and Portsmouth (aweful experience both clinics) now settled in Monterey CA with an awesome midwife but fighting Tricare.

        • I just saw your post and have been googling for answers on if TriCare will cover midwife/at home birth. My husband is reserve so we have tricare reserve select. (I also live in Monterey). I was wondering if you had any luck getting TriCare to pay for anything?.

          • Hi Amanda, I have been seeing Maggie Bennet as my midwife. It seems that TRICARE will pay for the few labs she ordered and the Rhogam shot I needed for an incompatable Rh factor, and I am hoping they will pay part of the final bill but the word I got from the 2 other active duty women who used her is that it all seems to depend on who processes the claim when you send it in. The nearest nurse-midwife which they wil cover (but no liscensed midwives) is in Santa Cruz.

            1 agrees
  14. I would want to learn a couple things first about the situation and the actual house. I would be concerned about the basic housekeeping stuff (are they publicly clean and privately gross?) so maybe visit first to see if you jive with the place? And then secondly, try to get some information on the comparative risks and benefits of being exposed to another family's germs that will be in their home. I've heard a home birth is considered safer in terms of germ exposure, because the mother has already built up immunity against the things that linger in her own home, vs. being exposed to foreign stuff in a hospital. But to add in another family might make it complicated in that regard.

    So those are things to learn more about as you decide. Ultimately, my advice is to follow your instincts as much as the situation will allow.

    1 agrees
  15. my first kid's birth was in a birth centre, which was essentially having a home birth in someone else's home (where i live, it's a freestanding house that belongs to a local midwife… has a great tubs, unlimited water, the same equipment they'd have at a home birth, a kitchen, and a living room and that's it)… if you're comfortable and that's the best option, i would recommend it!

    2 agree
  16. Interesting. I was just discussing with a friend how she delivered at her midwifes house.

  17. I had a home birth at my mom's house and that part worked out well. I had just moved to a new (shared) house before my son was born that wouldn't have worked very well for a number of reasons (no room for birth tub, etc.), and it certainly didn't feel like home yet. I had stayed at my mom's house, and worked there, and was very familiar with it, but it was pretty different from how I imagine having a birth at MY home would have been. My favorite thing about it was I didn't have to clean up ahead or after–also, I had a difficult birth with lots of back labor, and it was actually really nice to leave the place behind (after a night of sleep).

    I second the comments above about making sure the cleanliness is up to your standards! Also about having veto power over who is there. We had all agreed ahead of time that my stepfather would go to a hotel for the duration, and when I first showed up in somewhat early labor, my mom began to waver about whether he would really go that night. After 30 minutes of him interrupting timing contractions with random conversation, my sister took my mom aside and said it was time for him to go. Whew!

    And yeah, most of the time, I was not very concerned about where I was.

    1 agrees
  18. I would totally have a home birth in someone else's home! I had to travel from Juneau to Seattle for a VBAC attempt recently and although I had to plan my birth at the hospital I would have loved to have stayed "home" in the apartment vacation rental we rented for a month while waiting for the birth. In the planning for birth phase I thought I wouldn't even be that comfortable laboring there for long, but once I was in labor I really wished I could just stay there. Even though it wasn't MY home it was much more comfortable and peaceful than the hospital.

  19. Yes! We were renovating and staying at our neighbor's house while he was traveling, and we planned a homebirth at his house. We ended up transferring, but the first phase of labor went swimmingly, which I'm sure is due to my ease in the environment. We did some work to make it comfy by our standards, covering the tv and bringing in softer lighting, but it was great. I'd say it's more important (to me) to be able to control *who* is there, rather than where you are. So even though your friend is offering the place, make sure you can have them not be there if that's more comfortable for you. It was shocking to me how many people just assumed they'd be at my birth, and I had to explain to almost all of them that I needed a small group of people around me who were experienced with birth, and who totally trusted the process. That played a much larger role for me than the actual location. Hope this helps!

  20. Yes! Do it: it's all about being comfortable, so you can give birth calmly. I you feel safe at that friend's house go for it!

  21. what a wonderful friend!

    using their house sounds like a great option to me. but, why don't you talk to the midwife about it? maybe they can sit down with you and your friend and discuss any concerns or issues? that way if your friend doesn't already know some of the ins and outs of giving birth at home, they can be more comfortable, and then you can be more comfortable.

  22. Ok, this brings up a lot of questions I have always had about homebirth. I don't have any knowledge at all about birth, but it seems like a generally messy process… What is involved in cleaning up after the fact? Doesn't it get very messy? What would the friend have to deal with afterwards? Very curious.

    • There may be a list online of home birth supplies, but off the top of my head you need a box of chux pads, five clean towels, five clean washcloths, several newspapers and some kit for newborns, containing some other things (forgetting) and an umbilical cord clamp and a tiny little hat.

  23. I did this! I stayed at a friend's house (with my little boy)for three weeks before my second child made her appearance. While not the "ideal" home birth, it was the ideal answer for the situation. Someone did mention cleanliness, and that is important. My friend happens to be the cleanest, most organizzed person I know, so this was not an issue. My husband was there, her husband took the kids to the park for the birth, and I tried to make sure I helped out a lot with the housework and food bill so I wasn't a drag. Al in all, I think it was harder on my friend than it was on me, I am eternally grateful to her and her husband for putting up with me for so long (and still being my friend afterwards) and I can say from the bottom of my heart that if you are comfortable with the idea, it can work beautifully.

  24. Go with your friend's idea if you can. Otherwise there could be some birth centers that would provide a similar benefit. Anything I can say to you won't be as important as this though: don't get pressed into an induction at 42 weeks unless you KNOW that the baby is getting huge or is in trouble. My husband and I planned a home birth in Chicago, and the birth pool mocked me from the living room for eight weeks. I went to get induced and after a terrible labor over days I had an emergency caesarean.

  25. Now that's my idea of a birth center. Have a longggg talk with your pal. and a long one with your midwife. then another with your pal. Then do it! I drove three hours in labor to avoid the hossie, and I don't regret it one bit. It was perfect.

  26. Hi, I'm planning a home birth (in 6 weeks!) in a sub-let situation. We're here for a total of 4 months and our friend whose place it is is very supportive. Trust your instinct, but I say go for it if your colleague recognises the blessing that is to have new life arrive in your home! Bless!

  27. I had a home birth 2-3 weeks after moving two states away in a rental home. It was "our" home. I wouldn't have had a problem birthing in someone else's home, though, if that had been my best option.

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