10 Questions for Homebirth Dads with Jerry Shannon
Jerry is a graduate student in Geography at the University of Minnesota and an active dad of two sons. His wife Sarah helps lead the local chapter of the International Cesarean Network (ICAN).
1. Why did you choose homebirth?
We chose homebirth because it was the only situation that we felt would assure my wife, Sarah, a chance to have the birth she wanted. Our first child was born by cesarean section after a series of medical interventions. After talking with several OBs and midwives in the area, it was clear that any hospital birth would be highly monitored and that the specter of another cesarean would always be in the background. Doing a homebirth was the only way out of that system.
2. Whose idea was it, yours or hers? If hers, what convinced you to agree? If yours, what gave you the idea?
It was Sarah’s idea originally. I had some concerns both about safety and the cost, since insurance probably wouldn’t cover it. After reading through some of the research, my fears about safety got a lot less. This second child will be our last one, and this was an important enough event that we found money to cover the cost.
3. What homebirth books or resources did you find to be the most helpful?
Sarah showed me several articles, none of which I can recall specifically. We watched the Business of Being Born, which was also helpful. Interviewing homebirth midwives influenced my decision, too. The midwife we worked with had attended hundreds of births as a doula and had done over a hundred as a midwife, so I felt confident that she knew what she was doing.
4. Before the birth, what fears or issues did you have surrounding homebirth (or birth in general)? How did those change for you after experiencing the birth?
There’s the obvious fears of complications, uterine rupture or hemorrhaging specifically. We live less than 5 minutes from an emergency room, which helped make me feel better about that. The birth went perfectly, and I’d say afterwards that as long as there is a backup plan if complications arise, I’d feel no fear in choosing this again. I also was nervous about being on our own so soon after the birth, but honestly, it was much easier being at home in our own space and not having to worry about the hassle of finding food/setting up the hospital room/etc. It probably helped that this was our second child.
5. What do you wish someone had told you before your first homebirth? What advice would you give to a first time homebirth dad?
I’m not sure what advice I wish I’d had. While I was initially skeptical, I’ve been converted to the virtues of homebirth. It was much more comfortable and less stressful than our first birth. And I think it’s really important that Sarah was able to choose the birth she wanted.
6. Which part of the birth did you find to be the most difficult or challenging for you?
I’m kind of a doer, so it was hard for me to sit still and just hold Sarah’s hand for much of the labor. She had to tell me to stop talking more than once. I wanted to be helpful, but the most important thing was to be present as an emotional support for her.
7. Did you have support during the birth from your guy friends? If so, what was the most supportive? If not, what would have helped you the most?
Men in my family supported our decision, but I could tell that everyone was nervous about not being in the hospital. I wouldn’t say my guy friends disapproved. But this was definitely something we were choosing on our own. Our main support came from ICAN–the cesarean support group that Sarah’s been a part of.
8. How was your interaction with the midwife during the birth? What could have made that better?
The interaction with the midwife and her assistant was great. For the first hour or two of the labor they were busy getting the supplies set up. Getting the birth tub to the right temperature was difficult, since our hot water heater kept running out. But we just kept working at it until it was at a temperature she felt comfortable with. Our birth went from midnight to 7 am, and the predawn hours were pretty quiet for everyone. We just sat around the birth tub and tried to be supportive of Sarah as she labored.
9. How has the relationship with your partner changed after having a homebirth together?
For Sarah, having the successful HBAC was huge. I think the fact that we both decided on it together, largely on our own initiative, definitely strengthened our relationship.
10. Would you have another homebirth? Why or why not?
No question. I’m a homebirth evangelist. Obviously, there are cases where closer medical supervision is necessary. But given the lower cost of homebirth and the fact that it was way more comfortable to be in our own space, I wouldn’t think twice about doing it again.
Bonus: Will you describe the emotional/spiritual side of your birth experience from a man’s viewpoint?
Birth is an emotionally intense experience. Being able to do it on our terms made it all the more significant–this process was so much more empowering than a hospital birth. It’s also cool to be able to walk through our dining room and point to the exact spot our son entered the world.
[Wow, another successful homebirth after cesarean (HBAC)! Thank you, Jerry, for being willing to share your story. Readers - if you know any other homebirth dads who would like to share their answers for this 10 Questions series, contact me at derek (at) naturalpapa.com]
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Image: schmollmolch at Flickr