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Doula Digest: There’s No Place Like Home

By: Naomi Starsiak

As I’m writing this, Central New York is having its first big snow of the winter. Piles of fat, fluffy snowflakes have covered everything and all I want to do is curl up under a blanket – which leads me rather naturally to think of home birth.

When a pregnant woman chooses a home birth there is a marked difference in the style and attitude of the care she receives. From the beginning, her involvement is much greater than a woman in a hospital practice. Home birth midwives work in the area of normal birth, so the initial interview focuses much more on what “normal” is, what the parameters for a pregnancy being too risky for a home birth are (things like pre-existing diabetes, high blood pressure, and other like conditions that need medication to manage), and how a mother can stay healthy.

While some midwives do have an office where clients come, there are a lot who do home visits. While a visit to a doctor’s office generally is a lot of hurry up and wait, home births midwives have much more one-on-one time and expecting mothers are much more involved in their care at a doctor’s office you pee in the cup and leave it on a shelf, a midwife will explain how the dipstick works and will say, “let me know how your pee is”.

The same thing happens when it is time to deliver. No rushed calls to make sure older children or pets are watched while you go to the hospital, it’s a few chats by phone while you’re in early labor and the midwife stopping in to check on you and hang out. Rather than having to put on a fussy hospital gown, you can wear a nightgown that offers full coverage; and if you feel a little chilly you know where the thermostat is!
Home birth also offers the option to have as much emotional support in the form of family and friends as you want. I was honored to be at one home birth where the laboring mom had her husband on one side, her mother sitting behind her, a teenage niece by the door with a look of wonder on her face, and her sister, step-father, and older child waiting and listening in the kitchen. What an amazing atmosphere of love for that little one to be welcomed into!I have to admit, after seeing the marked difference in attitude and atmosphere between a hospital and a home birth; I can’t imagine why any woman who could give birth at home wouldn’t.

Naomi Starsiak is a birth and postpartum doula, a placenta encapsulator, a natural birth consultant, and the co-owner of A Peaceful Birth doula & childbirth service. You can find her on Facebook at a question? E-mail it to Naomi at


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