Hi! I'm April. I love my hubbs, my babes and my life. You can find me here or over on my website, A DAY IN APRIL .

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What Home Birth Really Looks Like {30+ Incredible Pictures!}

Home birth is something I’ve grown passionate about in the last few years.  I began my medical training in emergency medicine and learned quickly that having a baby at home was “dangerous and irresponsible-everyone dies.”  I believed what I was taught because, as an ambulance worker, that’s all you see-trainwrecks by irresponsible midwives and dire circumstances.  It wasn’t until I was pregnant with my second child that I really started to look deeply into the idea of homebirth.  I started to realize that not all midwives are created equal and they aren’t well regulated in the US.  Where I live (the state of Utah) anyone can essentially start calling themselves a midwife and delivering babies, so researching who you’re hiring is especially important.

Soon after my own second birth I stared working for Cyndi as her Assistant.  She is a Certified Nurse Midwife, meaning she’s essentially a Nurse-Practitioner that has specialized training in midwifery.  She can prescribe medication, place IV’s, is certified in Neonatal Resuscitation (both to perform it and teach it) and carries a hospital room with her in a very large Mary Poppins bag.  Nurse-Midwives are the happy middle ground or bridge between the homebirth and hospital world.  I’ve also had the privilege of photographing and working with other midwives including CPM’s and DM’s and have been very impressed or disappointed (so I’m not saying that a CNM is your only option, there are responsible midwives across the board).

A 2012 study found: “Differences in practice between CNMs and MDs seem to be well documented, particularly in the use of technology. Yet, the findings provide evidence that care by CNMs is safe and effective. CNMs should be better utilized…” The review, published in the January 2012 issue of Women’s Health Issues, also found reduced incidence of perineal lacerations (tears in your vagina) and a higher likelihood of breast-feeding in births attended by certified nurse midwives.  Patients of CNM’s tend to also be better educated about their births and better prepared for birth and breast-feeding.

What many people don’t realize is that a key part, probably the most important part of a midwives job is risk management.  This means that if red flags arise throughout your pregnancy and birth, you may find yourself “risked out” of your midwives practice and escalated into the care of an OB.  We’re not homebirth or die around here.  This is why homebirth can be such a safe and gentle option-by having good prenatal care with a vigilant midwife you can assure that you’ll have a safe experience delivering your baby at home.

But what about the part where everybody dies?  Well the 2 things you run into with full-term, healthy, low-risk women is the risk of bleeding and the risk of baby not wanting to breathe.  Those are quickly remedied.  A good midwife should be trained in Neonatal Resuscitation, have an assistant that is trained as well, and carry all of the necessary equipment to perform it.  According to American Academy of Pediatrics “Approximately 10% of newborns require some assistance to begin breathing at birth. Less than 1% require extensive resuscitative measures.”  Those are great odds, and of the few we’ve needed to resuscitate, every one has perked up almost immediately with very little assistance.  In terms of bleeding, CNM’s treat it using the same drugs and procedure that they do at the hospital.

Not everyone is a good candidate for a home birth and not everyone wants to have one, and that’s fine.  My mission is to help women see and understand what their options are, and to also see that home birth can be a safe and wonderful option.  Staci was gracious enough to let me capture and post this beautiful and intimate experience of her birth at home with Cyndi, to show off some of the key elements of a home birth.

Home Birth Photos

Staci was GBS positive (the swab test they do towards the end of your pregnancy).  This meant she needed antibiotics before delivery to prevent possible infection.  She wasn’t a fan of the IV so she kept it covered for the 10 minutes it was in.

Home Birth Photos

People often assume that Cyndi and I show up, put a stick in your mouth, corral you into a bathtub and deliver your baby in a huge mess, pack up and leave.  It’s a little different than that-we’re really big on chucks pads (no mess), safety and allowing you to labor how and where you want.

Home Birth Photos

Before the birth Staci ordered her birth kit.  It included chucks pads, mesh panties, a peri bottle, cord clamps, straws, measuring tape, baby hats, and several other needed supplies.

Home Birth Photos

Staci had decorated her guest bedroom for the birth with birth affirmations from her blessingway.

Home Birth Photos

You’ll notice the huge bag (Mary Poppins bag) next to Cyndi as she sets up oxygen and resuscitation equipment.  We set it up before every birth and hope we never have to use it.

Home Birth Photos

Unfortunately Staci had a very small water heater-meaning we had to go old school and boil water to help fill up her birth pool.  Laboring and delivering in water is a great form of pain relief and many women choose water at some point during their labor.  It makes me laugh every time I have to use the phrase “Go boil some water” during a birth because it feels so Little House on the Prairie.

Home Birth Photos

Staci trying to look like she’s in labor.

Home Birth Photos

Staci actually in labor.

Home Birth Photos

It’s pool time.

Home Birth Photos

Home Birth Photos

Home Birth Photos

Things were actually getting serious and starting to hurt a bit more.

Home Birth Photos

Home Birth Photos

Staci’s husband was incredible and hopped in the tub with her to support her.

Home Birth Photos

We check fetal heart rate using a doppler instead of mother’s needing to wear a continual monitor.

Home Birth Photos

Home Birth Photos

Home Birth Photos

Home Birth Photos

Home Birth Photos

Home Birth Photos

Baby!  Sweet relief.

Home Birth Photos

Home Birth Photos

We quickly assess baby on mom’s chest to be sure everyone is doing well.

Home Birth Photos

We closely monitor how baby is oxygenating using an sp02 monitor immediately after the birth.

Home Birth Photos

Home Birth Photos

Home Birth Photos

Home Birth Photos

Anatomy lesson!  How cool is this placenta?!  Staci’s amniotic sack (bag of waters) was made of steel and didn’t want to break.  You can see it here stretched over Cyndi’s hand.  That is where her baby lived for 9 months!

Home Birth Photos

Home Birth Photos

After the birth we give the parents and new baby a chance to bond and breast-feed.  Then we follow up with Postpartum Instructions.

Home Birth Photos

Postpartum Instructions are a list of the do’s and don’ts for postpartum-including eating nutrient dense food and resting well.

Home Birth Photos

Home Birth Photos

Cyndi performs a full newborn assessment, checking reflexes, vitals and weighing and measuring.

Home Birth Photos

Home Birth Photos

Home Birth Photos

Daddy gets to diaper and dress baby for the first time.

Home Birth Photos

Home Birth Photos

If you have more questions about homebirth or birth in general, feel free to contact me or comment below.  Like I said before, my mission is for women to be informed and make the best decisions for them.  Any way I can promote awareness about something I feel could be beneficial to the birth world, I do it!  Here are a few more articles about birth found on my blog:

Inside Homebirth: What does a Homebirth look like?

Why do I want an Un-medicated Birth?

Choosing a Care Provider

And special thanks to Alecia Dawn Photography for allowing me to use many of her photos.  I was attending this birth as Cyndi’s Assistant and could only snap a few in the beginning before I had my hands full with other duties.  We had quite the fun birth team attending this birth.

See More on TodaysMama.com!

Creepy-Cool!  This is What Giving Birth Feels Like for Your Baby

Pregnancy Time-Lapse Video

Twins? No they don’t run in my family

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Comments (40)

  1. Hope 12/23/2016 at 10:39 am

    I tried for a homebirth with my little one last October. I labored for just over 48hrs at home after my waters ruptured. My midwives back up MD wouldn’t let me labor at home any longer and said she had to bring me into the hospital. Texas has lots of regulations on their state licensing of midwives so she had no choice but to comply. My baby was never in distress and my contractions were very mild, I was just dialating slowly, by Mondern medicine standards anyway. So I ended up in the hospital on PIT. I hated it! It took everything to an unbearably excruciating level. I was maxed out on PIT when I finally gave in to an epidural because all I could do was cry silently and wryth on the bed in pain. It was forcing my body to go faster than it wanted to with all the synthetic hormones. I finally was told that I could push and ended up flat on my back. I couldn’t breathe. I had to ask for O2 and they put a mask over my face. I thought I was going to die before I got my daughter out. When she was safely here they finally set me up and I had black spots swimming in front of my eyes. I then went into a horrible set of culvulsions. It was terrifying. I made my husband walk away with our newborn and called for my mom to stay with me because I didn’t want anything to happen in front of my child. The doctor proceeded to violently push my stomach to deliver the placenta quicker. I was in so much extra pain.

    I am 35weeks pregnant with our son and I am planning a homebirth here in Ga. My midwife is wonderful and her back up MD is beyond amazing! There are less regulations here and the amount of time I can labor is solely at the MDs discretion. He is a huge homebirth advocate and has allowed women to labor for 7days before. He monitors them of course but if baby and mama are fine then so is he. I am so thankful!!

    Everyone talks about how scary homebirth is but I am terrified of having to go to the hospital again. It was 1,000,000X more scary than the nice peaceful labor I was having a home. I also never would have been forced to stat flat on my back!

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  3. Tovia 10/04/2016 at 5:12 pm

    Do I have to report to the hospital after giving birth to BABY at home. I really want to have a home birth. This is my first child and I just want it to be comfortable and natural also safe.

  4. Leighann 09/15/2016 at 12:56 pm

    Thank you for sharing these beautiful pictures!! I had always thought when I got pregnant that I’d have a home birth. My husband felt unsettled about my decision and encouraged me to get checked out by an ob-gyn before we paid the deposit for our midwife. I did, and we discovered I had a fibroid the size of a softball blocking my cervix 🙁 I still mourn the loss of my dream of having a beautiful home birth, but am so grateful for modern medicine that enabled us to have a beautiful, healthy daughter despite my body’s oddities. Still, I’m grateful other women get a chance to have this experience, and share it with the world!!

  5. Kimberley Langley 08/30/2016 at 10:46 pm

    lovely.Thanks for sharing such an intimate experience.

  6. Sue 06/16/2016 at 11:00 am

    I can’t seem to find a comment policy on this website, so I don’t know if you rejected this comment before because it had links or just because it challenged your claims. So I’ll try again without the links and hope that you’ll allow dissenting views.

    You cite a study about the safety and efficacy of CNMs, but fail to note that the data were derived from “deliveries in hospitals, not home births or stand-alone birthing centers” (see the full text), so the study is irrelevant in a discussion of home birth. You also quote the AAP about newborn complications. Why not quote their statement on home birth? It says “Hospitals and birthing centers are the safest settings for birth in the United States” (see May 2013, volume 131, issue 5 of Pediatrics).

    Since you’re interested in statistics, I hope you’ll be willing to look at the statistics of home birth risk. Every study done on planned, midwife-attended home birth in the United States has found significantly increased rates of babies dying at home birth. For instance, in 2014 researchers from Weill Cornell Medical Center analyzed over ten million births from 2007 to 2009, and found a death rate 4 times higher at home birth than hospital birth (see “Term neonatal deaths resulting from home birth,” Grunebaum et al). While CNMs in the hospital have a good safety record, a 2010 study found that home birth with CNMs had twice as many deaths as the hospital, and home birth with CPMs had 3.5 times more deaths than the hospital (see “Infant outcomes of certified nurse midwife attended home births,” Malloy).

    Homebirth midwives are not as skilled at dealing with neonatal hypoxia as you think. This study found that homebirth babies suffer 17 times as many brain injuries as those born in the hospital: “Home birth and risk of neonatal hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy,” Wasden et al.

    You can see these studies and more at ishomebirthsafe at blogspot. If your mission is to help women “see that home birth can be a safe and wonderful option,” you may not want to share these studies with them. But women deserve this evidence to make fully informed decisions.

    • Rachael Herrscher 06/17/2016 at 12:48 pm

      We’ve never deleted a previous comment from you. Might have been a technical glitch on your end? We’re always up for discussion over here!

    • Ellen 07/15/2017 at 9:16 pm

      Thank you so much for posting this information. I had always planned to have my baby in the hospital, but after my perfect, easy, uncomplicated pregnancy ended up in a emergency, emergency c-section in a matter of minutes, I am more grateful than ever that I was in a hospital. My son had a serious heart rate drop, had to come out within a few minutes, had to be intubated at birth, and was in NICU for 2 weeks after. He is perfectly fine and was unscathed, however, if I had been ANYWHERE other than in the hospital and being monitored, the result would have certainly been tragic. Everyone thinks “oh, that won’t happen to me. I’ll be fine!” But in truth, this can happen to anyone and I pray that if and when it does, you are in a hospital. In the words of our amazing and eloquent NICU doctor, “home births are all fine and beautiful until you need a trauma surgeon. Women come to me and ask me to save their babies and I tell them that what they really needed was a trauma surgeon and there is no substitution.” I hope that my story can perhaps make some women rethink their decision to do a home birth. It is so, so much more risky than a home birth. The outcome is to have a healthy baby. Please don’t take the risk of being in my situation but not being in a hospital.

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  9. Keith shaw 04/03/2016 at 2:33 am

    Dats cool how does it feel to deliver a baby i came close to having to do one but other circumstances came up

  10. Emily 04/01/2016 at 10:47 am

    Amazing!! What a beautiful birth story. I loved my two home births and love seeing articles like this pop up in my Facebook feed. Thanks for educating and normalizing home birth.

  11. Deserea 03/31/2016 at 11:31 pm

    This is the most beautiful post! 10 yrs ago I wish I would have educated myself about this option… It’s Perhaps my only life regret. What a beautiful and detailed description of the process. And 3 babies later and I’ve NEVER seen a placenta, so thanks. Loved the heart umbilical cord too ❤️ Loved this!

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  13. Lisa 02/08/2016 at 7:06 am

    I birthed both at home and at hospital. The statistics clearly point to the safety of home birth. I transferred to hospital when things weren’t going as planned, and my midwife advised. I find it annoying that people are posting that “home birth is a choice,but don’t choose it for the ‘wrong’ reasons”, after posting a horror story or two.
    What “wrong” reason could there be? By the end of 9 months, a mom certainly knows what she’s in for by choosing homebirth! Women who chose to do so are avoiding the many, many procedures that are foisted upon hospital birthing moms, who are then told their birth was still “natural”. I know many women whose babies were harmed by such routine interventions, but instead of being outraged, they say, “Thank God we were there!”
    Come on, ladies. True choice means not doling out a bad outcome as the reason to choose the “bigger evil”. True choice means sticking to logical facts, not fear-based anecdotes. We owe pregnant women that much.
    Birth is unpredictable. Home birth is beautiful. If you don’t want one, don’t have one. But know that if you choose one, it is as safe a choice as any other. Perhaps even safer.

    • Linda 02/09/2016 at 8:11 pm

      They only wrong reason is if you attempt it against medical indications. I wish I could have had home births, but I had preeclampsia with both my children and was advised to give birth in a hospital for all of our safety. Thankfully nothing went wrong with either birth, in fact because I labored longer at home with my daughter, she was almost born before we got to the hospital!

  14. Mandy 01/30/2016 at 6:15 pm

    These are gorgeous photos, and I am happy to see alternative views voiced in such respectful terms.

  15. Avery 01/30/2016 at 5:42 pm

    Gorgeous photos and post. Brings back wonderful memories of my homebirth. I have a few good photos but nothing like these. I am currently pregnant with #2 and trying to decide where to birth. For #1 my only options were homebirth with an excellent CNM or a hospital birth in facilities with 30-40% c-section rates. I choose homebirth and couldn’t have been happier with pre-natal care, birth support, and post-natal care. With this pregnancy I now have the choice of an in hospital CNM led birthing center with a 10% c-section rate. It seems like a great choice and yet I Ioved my homebirth so much. These photos really remind me of how relaxed and supported I was and how easy the transition into parenthood is.

  16. Irene Barajas 01/30/2016 at 4:35 pm

    Firstly- That baby looks so alert, like he’s already got this being earthside thing down pat! ♡♡
    Second- I’ve had one hospital birth and two home water births with a direct entry midwife. The home births were SO MUCH BETTER. My midwife was incredibly knowledgeable and supportive. At my most recent birth with her she had an apprentice with her throughout the entire pregnancy/birth. It made me so happy to see another midwife in the making! I have had serious thoughts about being a doula or midwife myself once my kids are a bit older.

  17. Sarah 01/30/2016 at 3:40 pm

    I agree that low risk women should have the option to birth at home but you make it sound like NRP and pph are the only possible complications. Anybody regardless of a healthy pregnancy can have a cord prolapse or placental abruption in labour which are way more serious and require an immediate OR. I think its important to factor those in when making a decision as well.

  18. Terrie Lemley CNM 01/30/2016 at 7:06 am

    Thank you for your post. I too am a CNM doing homebirth and this VERY accurately depicts how birth looks with me! I was a hospital midwife for 13 yrs. And while I tried very hard to keep birth normal in the hospital, it was very hard! I love my work now and feel I offer a very needed option to women.

  19. Elaine Page 01/28/2016 at 9:11 pm

    April!! You have won me over with the picture of baby still attached to the placenta! I now want to see if this is even a possibility for me, we need to have a serious sit down chat about this!!

    • April Davis 01/31/2016 at 8:35 pm

      Elaine! I don’t see why it wouldn’t be, you’ll have to discuss is with your doc next baby! xoxo

  20. Lensey Collins 01/28/2016 at 6:02 am

    I’m sitting here crying with joy for Staci and her family!! I want to thank her and you for sharing such an amazing experience in photos! I have birthed three babies in a hospital and wish I had known how much better this route could have been.

  21. Danette 01/28/2016 at 2:54 am

    First of all, I have to say wow. These photos are truly amazing, and I always get a little teary and broody when I look at newborns. I always wonder what it would feel like to have another little one. A number 3! Maybe one day, one day not so far away.

    However, on the topic of home birth, I have to admit that it scares me. I’ve never really considered it. A close friend of mine had a home birth, lasting 28 hours, and her son’s development has been affected by the lack of oxygen during birth. After seeing that, and the mere thought if giving birth with no pain meds, I was scared enough to stick to a hospital birth.

    There were complications after my daughter’s birth which caused me to lose 2 liters of blood (little more than half a gallon). Turns out I had an atopic uterus, and had to go into theatre for an emergency procedure. My obgyn said afterwards that if they didn’t act as fast as they had, I wouldn’t have survived that day. If I was at home, and had to be rushed to hospital, it would have been too late.

    Needless to sa, I’m forever cured of the idea of home birth. It’s not something that I will ever be comfortable. My son was also born in a hospital, with good pain meds for mommy. We were only in hospital for 24hours, and this time all went smoothly.

    That being said, I admire the mommies who have the courage to do it. It looks like such a beautiful and peaceful experience.

    U just realize, that this is not for me. I hope that the other moms out there will know what will be in best interest of them and their little ones. And that they don’t make their decision based on the wrong reasons.

  22. Sheila 01/28/2016 at 12:02 am

    This is by far the best article and photo compilation I have ever read regarding home births, midwives and the mothers choice, risk, safety and well-being! Thank you so much for your thoughtful and accurate piece!

  23. The Mean Mama 01/27/2016 at 8:28 pm

    That baby is healthy, plump, and pink. I had positive experiences in the hospital, but love the idea of a home birth.

  24. Jennifer 01/27/2016 at 8:05 pm

    I delivered two babies preterm, one was breech and needed a c-section. My third pregnancy went full term and I delivered with a CNM in a hospital setting as I was a vbac and this was standard protocol. It was by far my best birth experience. Now, pregnant with my fourth I wish I could try to deliver at home if I go full term but I now live in a state that will not allow a CNM to deliver me at home for regulation purposes so I am again, stuck with a MD in a hospital again. While I value the hospital birth experience, having the option to deliver how you want is so empowering to women.

  25. Joanne 01/27/2016 at 7:10 pm

    What a beautiful baby!!!! and I think it’s wonderful that you gave birth to him at home ,I just have a question wouldn’t it have been easier to do in the hospital what are the benefits of homebirths

    • Staci 01/27/2016 at 7:50 pm

      Since I had both hospital for my first three and home for my last two I have found it easier at home. Everyone has different experiences, but for me home birth had a lot more benefits. I have very fast easy labors so to not have to rush to hospital as soon as labor sets in is easier. Going natural at home in my comfort zone, either in tub of warm water or whatever position I want to be in and not hooked up to monitors, ivs and bed. Being able to hold my baby if she needs oxygen and or any attention. Getting to go strait to my own bed after labor and staying there. Not being woke up and bothered by nurses every couple hours. The CNM has all the medical background, equipment as you can see in the post. If you are not high risk and have done your research, trust your midwife its seriously awesome!

  26. Natalie 01/27/2016 at 2:19 pm

    As a nicu nurse, I can’t see why even if you are low risk, you would take a chance having a baby at home. I have seen many devastating things with home births even when they were considered “low risk.” I have no problems with CNM, but you should be in a hospital with all the emergency equipment needed for those “just in case” situations. You can still have a very natural birth In a hospital. It is so sad to see a family lose a perfectly healthy baby just because they didn’t want to be in a hospital.

    • Staci 01/27/2016 at 4:59 pm

      I’m sad that you feel this way, as strongly as you feel about home births I feel bad things can happen just as easily in hospital as well. I’m grateful we as woman have these options to deliver how we want. I gave birth to 3 of my children medicated in hospital and had all great experiences. I’m also happy I had the opportunity to birth 2 children at home and each one was very special. I felt very well taken care of as you probably read from the post CNM don’t mess around and if there is any sign of complications they are taken to the hospital. As far as being safe I felt just as safe with my midwife and all the medical care she gave me as I did in hospital, it was just in a way more comfortable setting. To say we are putting ourselves and babies at risk by home birth is true but you could say the same thing about birthing anywhere. 🙂

      • Ellen 07/15/2017 at 9:31 pm

        I am glad that you had a positive home birth experience. What you need to realize is that you were very, very lucky. I was a low risk, very healthy, perfect candidate for home-birth, spontaneous labor, etc. I chose to have my baby in the hospital and thank God that I did. I was one of those “just in case of” emergency situations. My pregnancy was perfect. I was a marathon runner prior to becoming pregnant. However, my son had a sudden heart rate drop, had to be delivered emergency c-section within minutes, and had to be intubated at birth, and spent time in NICU. If I had not been in a hospital, he would have most certainly had brain damage or have died. The statistics about home birth are real. Sadly, there are many women that needed emergency procedures like mine but were unable to have them because they were at home. Home birth is NOT a safe option. Period.

    • Staci 01/27/2016 at 5:02 pm

      Also I want to thank you for your work as a nicu nurse I think you are all true angels and maybe the reason you have a stigma against home birth is because you probably see the worst of births and deal with all high risk woman. My sister just delivered a baby at 31 weeks and so for her we are truly grateful for hospitals and Dr.s.

      • Ellen 07/15/2017 at 9:40 pm

        No, I doubt that the NICU nurse deals with “all high-risk” women and worst case scenario situations. She deals with women like myself that are very healthy and unfortunately end up needing emergency procedures. NICU does not discriminate. What kind of birth we each have is nothing more than luck. I hope to have a more “lucky” birth in the future, but I realize that it’s not totally in my control.

    • Stevie 01/27/2016 at 7:41 pm

      I have always opted I have my babies at the hospital with the CNM. It was a better fit for my health needs and my personal desires. With that said, I can think of one absolutely really good reason to not have a baby at the hospital and that is infectious disease. No matter how careful hospitals are, they’re crawling with germs. That’s just the nature of being somewhere where people who are ill also go. Honestly, that’s just the nature of going ANYWHERE a lot of people congregate . Right at the beginning of the swine flu outbreak, I was “lucky” enough to catch it from the hospital while I was there to give birth. We were just exceptionally lucky that my baby did not catch as well because it was before the doctors and nurses really realized what it was and it took them weeks to figure out what was going on with me. The U.K. now recommends that low risk mamas deliver at home birthing centers instead of in the hospital. Bad things happen at home and at the hospital. It’s just most important that people understand the risks associated with both and decide what they feel is best.

    • Ellen 07/15/2017 at 9:23 pm

      Thank you so much for saying this. I was one of those “just in case” emergencies and I am thankful every day that I was in a hospital.

  27. Danette 01/27/2016 at 1:00 pm

    Some of this article is correct some is complete false and misleading.

  28. Dianne 01/27/2016 at 11:13 am

    Cannot get over how ALERT this newborn is!

    • Heather 01/31/2016 at 2:00 pm

      I read an article that babies born after a non medicated labour are more alert at birth. Both of my children were born with no pain control ( other than my ability to relax) and they were as alert as this baby. Loved being able to really “meet” my kids in those first few moments.