When a Planned Homebirth Becomes a Hospital Birth

Births don't always go according to plan. Births don’t always go according to plan. This mama’s homebirth plans changed rapidly when her midwife dropped her from care at 38 weeks.

We all have a particular plan in mind when we envision our births, and changing those plans abruptly can be hard to accept. Autumn Reese, a mom of two from Ohio, had to face her plans for her second birth rapidly changing. She is admittedly an emotional person, so the change wasn’t easy.

Here’s my interview with Autumn:

Q: Tell me about your first birth.

“My first birth with my daughter, Eliana, went perfectly. I went into labor naturally at 39 weeks, on Memorial Day, and my labor progressed perfectly. Everything went according to my plan, and she arrived perfect and healthy.”

Q: How did you plan your second birth? Were the plans any different than your first birth? 

“Well, when I conceived my second child, I knew I wanted another homebirth so long as I didn’t develop any issues. This time, I decided to use the midwife that assisted my first birth. She had a different method and was very crunchy, kind of “hippy” and I thought she was dreamy. I was sucked straight into that.

Everything was normal throughout my pregnancy, but she was conceived I didn’t eat enough veggies and protein. I had to keep a food journal, and she wasn’t happy with me. I wanted to make changes, but that’s hard!”

Related: How Telling Your Birth Story Can Heal Your Birth Trauma

Q: When did your plans change from a homebirth to a hospital birth?

“At my 36-week appointment, my son’s heart rate dipped down into the 90s. My midwife told me to get an NST done and a biophysical profile (BPP) to ensure things were okay. I went to the local hospital, where I received an NST, but they refused to give me a BPP because the NST indicated that the baby was fine.

My midwife was sure that my placenta wasn’t nourished enough because of my low protein intake. She was angry that the hospital refused to do a BPP and wasn’t nice to me. I found a diagnostic ultrasound center that performed a BPP, and my son was fine!

She came to my 38-week appointment and his heart rate was around 111. She said it was too low and that my body wasn’t nourished enough. Then, the midwife said she wasn’t comfortable delivering me anymore and she dropped me from her care.”

Q: How did you handle the change?

“Honestly, I cried for days, and I was utterly heartbroken. I’m very emotional and I had to quickly adjust to the idea of birth in a hospital. At 38 weeks, I had to adjust fast because I had no idea when I would go into labor.”

Related: Photographer Captures Corgi Doula Supporting Mama Through Homebirth

Q: So, what did you do next?

“Well, the midwife gave me some recommendations, but they refused to take me because I was so far along. They told me to go to the ER if I was in labor and they would give me an OBGYN, but I need a connection to the person delivering my baby.

I found a midwife group at a small hospital an hour away at Jefferson Hospital in Pittsburgh, and they agreed to take me! It gave me hope.

They quickly scheduled me for an appointment, and I was already dilated. The midwife felt it wouldn’t be long before I had the baby. I had a total of three appointments, and each midwife I met was wonderful!”

Q: Tell us about your second birth!

“I went to my 40-week appointment, and I was really dilated. She asked if I wanted a sweep and I said yes because we lived an hour away. My husband and I planned to go to dinner and the movies, so I hoped to go into labor. So, she did the sweep, and my husband and I went to see the movie IT.

Throughout the movie, I had contractions, and we ended up leaving. The contractions slowed in the car, so we went to dinner. Then, we walked the stairs at the parking lot, but the contractions didn’t develop a pattern.

We called the midwives and they said to come. I was 5cm dilated, but the contractions were scattered. I expected the midwives to mention induction methods or Pitocin, but to my surprise, they told me to walk or to go home and sleep. That was a breath of fresh air to me, so we decided to go home and sleep.

We went home, I took a bath and ate a peach before heading to bed. I woke up at 4 am and it was the real-deal labor. I had a bloody show and my contractions were coming rapidly. My husband pulled the van up, but I didn’t think we would make it. It was an hour away!

My husband drove fast, and I labored in the backseat of the van. I was sliding around and it was horrible. I noticed I was in transition with contractions on top of each other, and I really thought the baby was coming in the van.

If I sat straight up, there was too much pressure, so I hunched over a box of sheets I needed to return to Kohls, and that box was my saving grace. I lived for the breaks between contractions, focusing on my breathing, and I was totally silent. I savored every second to gain energy for the next contraction. It was insane, but we made it to the hospital.

My husband helped me into the hospital, and they wheeled me into L&D. Laboring in a wheelchair is horrible! I changed in the van into the birthing gown I selected, and the nurses hooked me up to the monitor. The baby was low, but they found his heart rate. He was perfect.

Nikki, my midwife, was so encouraging! My husband was my true labor partner, just like with my first. He was in front of me on my knees and I could feel the baby moving down. It’s the most surreal feeling. The midwives couldn’t see, so they asked if I could lean back.

That was okay because that’s how I delivered my first. So, my husband moved behind me and I sat up to move. I held my midwife through a very strong contraction. I was totally silent, and she asked if I was okay. That’s just how I labor. I’m silent and I internalize everything, preparing myself. In my silence, I’m good. I feel strong and powerful.

Finally, I leaned back on my husband and my son came out in a few pushes. My entire labor was 2 hours and 45 minutes. Gabriel came out screaming, and he was perfect. My midwife and I pulled him onto my stomach – I only had one hand available because of how I was laying – and he was SO rolly! I couldn’t believe it!”

Q: WOW! Your birth was intense. Overall, was a hospital birth as bad as you thought or are you pleased with it?

I loved my hospital birth! My philosophy on birthing is that its natural so leave it alone if the risks are low. With my first, I felt a homebirth was my safest option to avoid unnecessary interventions. I was more afraid to deliver at a hospital and to be put on a clock.

Now, I found Jefferson Hospital that I love because they gave me what I wanted just in a different setting. I felt so safe. I would have a homebirth again, and I would deliver at Jefferson Hospital again!

They listened to me and heard my voice. I had options, and they didn’t tell me what I could or couldn’t do. The nurses and midwives were so encouraging. Nurses change EVERYTHING! My nurses were amazing.

Q: What is your advice to mothers, particularly ones seeking a homebirth?

My advice is to research as much as you can! You need someone who is knowledgeable if something is wrong. You don’t want someone who will underreact OR overreact, leading to a c-section.

Make sure you are comfortable and ask as many questions as you want. Ask where they studied and how many births they’ve attended. Ask about their transfer policy. Don’t assume you have a good midwife, and don’t let go of a good one once you do!

My second piece of advice is for any mom seeking a natural birth – live for the breaks. Take each contraction as they come and don’t think about the next one. Live in that moment. You can do ANYTHING for 90 seconds, and you can make it through the contractions!

Photo Credit: Autumn Reese 

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