What Happens After a Home Birth?
I have to admit, I'm a little more than intrigued by home birth.
I see the glowing, serene pictures (always artistically black and white, of course) of overjoyed parents, the look of sheer happiness and exhaustion on the new mother's face, the love that seems to shine on their other children's faces as they meet their new sibling, and I can't help but marvel at what looks like a picture-perfect affair.
As a nurse who worked more than three years in labor and delivery, I know that birth isn't exactly always a picture-perfect affair. It's messy and painful and sometimes complicated.
Which leads me to my next point. Perhaps because I have worked as a labor and delivery nurse, I can't help but ponder this question, but one of the things I have always wondered about the particulars of how a home birth goes down is simple:
What comes after a home birth?
It may require having had actually cleaned up after a woman's birth, but I honestly cannot fathom having to deal with that in my own home after my own birth. Exhausting.
So all talk of safety or hospital vs. home birth debates aside, I talked to a home-birthing mother to find out what other articles won't tell you—the afterbirth of home birth. (Pun intended there, folks.)
Kristine Ginther has home birthed 4 out of 5 of her children and is passionate about the topic, so I fired away my questions at her.
What happens to the birthing tub after the home birth?
“The tub is actually inflatable! But don't go thinking of a kiddie pool just yet. The midwives I have encountered in my years of home birthing all have special birthing tubs. These tubs are designed for quick inflation, and they come with a pump to drain the water, special nozzle attachments for any home faucet, and they also come with specially fitted disposable liners. When you're done, you just drain the water, pitch the liner, deflate, and fold up! The midwife will pack it in whichever container it was brought in and take it home for the next client who requests it.”
How exactly do you drain the tub?
“The pump attaches to a hose. (Depending on the midwife, they either provide the hose, or they put on your to-get list an inexpensive garden hose, but most midwives have a hose for their tub.) And no. No tub dragging—the hose stretches to your tub or any other place to release the water. (Some women have finished basements and they set up their birth down there and use the laundry tub to drain it. The birthing kit has that awesome, brown disinfecting liquid to clean up anything afterward, like your tub, etc.)”
Um, what about any “chunks”?
I know, I know, it's gross. But it had to be asked. “[The midwives] do an awesome job with cleanup—mommies aren't involved!” Kristine said. “The dad, or even any other birth helpers there (a lot of midwives have an assistant or doula with them), take care of cleanup. I do remember a cute little green net sitting around after my last home birth … Haha. So they make sure it is all [cleanly] disposed of! All while mommy bonds with baby, bathes, etc.”
What happens to the placenta?
“When you have a home birth, your midwife gives you a list of things you will need,” Kristine explained. “One of those items is a pan to catch the placenta, which is typically the disposable 13×9 pans you can find in your local store. The midwife will bag it up properly.”
How does all the baby testing get done?
“When your baby is born, the midwife has a checklist for checking the baby, such as weight and height, APGAR scoring, hernia check, reflexes, etc., and she will come back to your home to do the newborn screening (the heel stick) to send to the state. They do make sure you have a pediatrician picked out, and if you do not, most have a list of pediatricians in your area, and sometimes [they have] a list of pediatricians their own clients love and refer. The parents also get information on hearing screening as well.”
What about the vitamin K shot for babies or mothers who need pitocin (to stop bleeding after birth)?
“There are some midwives that are certified to carry certain medications in their kits, such as pitocin or vitamin K. I have never needed them, but I know that those items are available.”
How is the birth certificate handled?
“The birth certificate is usually written out the day of the birth or the day after. The certified paperwork is in the midwife's kit and ready to be filled out. Once it is filled out, it is a quick trip to city hall or wherever the birth certificates are processed and notarized, although some parents may have to go to their county.”
Did you have these same questions? What else do you wonder about what happens during – or after – a home birth?