Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Home birth the only option for this Raleigh mom

Posted November 7, 2010

When she was 30 weeks pregnant, Jen Barker went on the usual hospital tour to learn more about the place she'd labor and deliver.

She knew she wanted a natural birth, but as she went through the tour that day she wondered whether it would even be possible. Her guide talked about how she'd give birth in one room, move to another room and all the possible interventions during the process. Jen Barker Home birth only option for this Raleigh mom

When she left the hospital, she broke down in tears.

"I freaked out," she told me.

So at 30 weeks, Barker left her obstetrician and moved to the Women's Birth and Wellness Center in Chapel Hill where certified nurse-midwives deliver babies with as little medical intervention as possible and most moms and babies are home within six hours of giving birth.

Because she was two weeks late when she went into labor, Barker actually ended up delivering her son at the hospital. But it was on her terms.

Her midwife came along with her. Techno music, her music of choice, blared in the delivery room. And, after signing a host of papers, she went  home with her newborn son the same day she gave birth.

In fact, 12 hours after delivering her first child, she was in a Raleigh restaurant eating sushi and drinking sake - two favorites she missed during her pregnancy.

Barker, a triathlete, said she found labor and delivery exhilarating.

"It was just kind of fun," she said.

Barker had thought about a home birth with her first child, but couldn't convince her husband. Pregnant with No. 2, she broached the subject again. Barker said once he met and talked with Deb O'Connell, a nurse-midwife I featured last Monday, he said yes. O'Connell owns Carrboro Midwifery.

"I'm perfectly healthy," she said. "There is no reason why I can't do a home birth."

Barker is due to have her baby at home in the next week or two. Hear more from Barker about why she's having a home birth and whether she's worried about pain in the video.

And in the next few months, I hope to feature Barker and her new baby again to learn how it all went. Best wishes Jen!

And a note ... there are only a handful of certified nurse-midwives who can legally attend home births.

They include O'Connell of Carrboro Midwifery. O'Connell tells me the others in this region are: Nancy Harman ( in Bear Creek near Sanford and Siler City; Donna Galati of Monarch Midwifery in Fayetteville; and Olivia Marshburn of Midwifery Services in Hampstead in Pender County.


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  • radmadmid Nov 16, 2010

    JAT get a grip. No midwife would EVER accept you as a homebirth client - I'm so glad there are hospitals there for people like you. But dont tell me I have to have the same as you! I am an educated woman and perfectly capable of weighing the relative risks to myself and my child of a variety of choices; do we fly or drive? do we have chicken or beef? do we vaccinate or allow nature to deal with chicken-pox? Really, you need to educate yourself about homebirth before you start pontificating about the wisdom of women!

  • Avila Nov 15, 2010

    What I find very interesting in all these posts, is that there are several posts telling of unexpected emergencies during birth, even death (which I am very sorry for,) but there is not one story posted of a bad outcome at a home birth. I, myself, had one hospital birth, 3 home births, and one last hospital birth. At my second home birth the umbilical cord was wrapped around my son's neck twice. My midwife unwrapped it. He was fine. Midwives are prepared and set up to handle many emergencies and will not hesitate to transport if the situation warrants it.

    Home birth isn't for everyone (obviously) but it is a very safe alternative to the hospital for many women and babies. If it wasn't, women wouldn't be doing it and midwives wouldn't be practicing.

    JAT - you need to find another hobby and quit commenting on something you obviously know nothing about and have no personal experience with.

  • pirategirl12 Nov 14, 2010

    Congrats to the new mommy! I hope mom and baby are doing great!
    I will say, I would choose a hospital birth for personal reasons but I would also like a midwife or doula with me. :)

  • chmccann Nov 9, 2010

    LIVEITUP, I'm sure the baby was right there in the sushi restaurant with his mom & dad. People who are invested in breastfeeding tend to bring their babies with them wherever they go. (And before someone objects, I'm sure it was a family-friendly restaurant, not a 5 star place unsuitable for babies.)

  • momnay Nov 9, 2010

    Had a midwife with me as I delivered both of my healthy, baby boys and loved every minute of it. On a couple of ocassions I had to see the "doctor" and they were very impersonal and questioned my choice for a natural delivery. The midwife who guided me through the delivery was especially helpful to help me deal with over zealous nurses and hospital staff. She encouraged me to stick to my plan for a natural, no drug delivery - and I've never regreted it! There was one issue that came up and she walked me through it and gave me all the options including major medical intervention and let me know the risks with all options. Most midwives do a great job and it is sad that they are treated as outcast by much of the medical community including many hospitals.

  • LIVEITUP Nov 9, 2010

    Home birth or not...who was with the baby while Mom was out to sushi and sake?? The furthest thing from my mind after giving birth was "man, I need a beer". I can't imagine leaving a 12 hour old baby to go get a drink...

  • misterprecedent Nov 9, 2010

    There are lots more diseases and germs for a newborn to catch in a hospital than in a home. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with a woman leaving her newborn in someone else's care for a hour or so while she eats a meal.

  • jedichick Nov 9, 2010

    Jen has been a friend of mine for many years and her baby boy was born 2 days ago! I don't agree with home births personally but she did her research and it's her decision, not mine. I say congrats to her!

  • wakeresident Nov 9, 2010

    Midwives are not witch doctors who show up and burn incense and boil water. Well, if the mom wants it, I guess they would. They bring things like... neonatal resuscitation kits (I just butchered the spelling, I know), medicines (including pitocin in case of hemorrhaging), suture kits. In fact, they even stay with you the entire birth, unlike doctors. My midwife saw my progress the entire time, instead of asking someone else (a nurse, not even a doctor, nuses have LESS training than midwives) how it was going. They do more than just catch and panic. I had more attentive care during my home birth than at the hospital. With my second, the nurse freaked out because the doctor wasn't there. She actually held my baby in. Which is extremely dangerous for the baby, not to mention excruciating for mom. I'm not sure when we elevated doctors to god-like status and forgot our own bodies were designed to give birth (or evolved, whichever you choose).

  • wakeresident Nov 9, 2010

    "Well to each her own and I realize "stuff" can happen at the hospital as well as at home but WHY take the risk? This isn't some sort of benign thing you are doing and it seems to me that the safety of the child would be more important than what the mom feels like doing. Who feels like staying in the hospital but really, if something goes wrong during your home birth experience what are you gonna do? Wait for the ambulance? You may not have that kind of time."

    Those of us who choose home birth are aware that hospitals pose risks, too. Why take the risk of a hospital birth? Remember, look at the outcomes. Homebirth has the same, if not better, outcomes. So, it would appear the hospital is actually the risk.

    To everyone who claims they or their baby would have died if you weren't located in a hospital, most complications arise from interventions. That pitocin, epidural, having your water broken, etc, are all not normal, and can lead to problems.