Home Birth in Hawaii: Our Water Birth Experience
Is Giving Birth at Home Legal?
Most people don’t realize or consider that a home birth is an alternative option to a standard hospital birth. It’s legal in the state of Hawaii and many other places around the world. And it should always be, since giving birth naturally and at home is a fundamental human right.
More so, midwife assisted home birthing has been practiced by humanity for thousands of years. Way before hospitals came into existence.
In the state of Hawaii, however, a new 2019 law regarding Traditional Midwifery limited the freedom to choose a Traditional Midwife.
Lots of Hawaii families showed up to protest against it at Honolulu Hale, including our family with our home birth one year old to urge Hawaii lawmakers not to pass this law. The law passed.
This law grants 4 years to traditional midwives to continue their practice as is, but by the end of the 4 years the midwife needs to be “certified” in order to continue her practice legally.
However, there are no “certifying” schools in Hawaii, so traditional midwives would have to move to the mainland! And pay lots of money and spend a lot of time to get the certificate. Even if the traditional midwife has practiced for many years and has a great track record.
The following video shows the rally at Honolulu Hale in support of traditional midwives. The rally was also covered by the local news.
Our Home Birth Experience
Home births are usually done with the assistance of one or more traditional midwives, since time immemorial.
The midwife gets to know the mother-to-be on a very personal level. A solid relationship is established through pre-natal visits, the birth, post-natal visits, and friendship.
We were blessed to have two traditional midwives one of whom was also a doctor of naturopathic medicine.
Our Home Birth Midwives Were Amazing!
The Naturopathic Doctor (ND) was also a very experienced traditional midwife with decades of practice in Hawaii. Along with our traditional midwife who worked for this same office they made a great team.
They were a perfect pair, truly loving what they do, very knowledgable and aware, very positive, fun, and most importantly they were on the same mental philosophy as us. Natural, simple, traditional. With love and soul.
From that point most of our prenatal visits were at the comfort of our own home! The prenatal (and postnatal) visits were very positive, informative, fun, and human. Something we didn’t feel with other prenatal (mainstream doctors).
Every once in a while we went to our naturopathic doctor’s downtown office and those visits were very nice too with the complementary benefit of second opinion.
We were truly blessed to have them.
How Much Did It Cost?
$3500 in 2018. This included everything such as pre-natal, post-natal visits, the birthing pool, and even placenta pills made from the mother’s placenta. A a cute bonus was a heart made out of the umbilical chord!
Was it worth it? Absolutely!
$3500 may seem like a lot compared to a zero-dollar no-cost hospital birth, but we didn’t want a hospital birth. And I believe that “you get what you pay for.” So, sometimes free is not the best option.
When it comes to such an important event like giving birth I didn’t mind paying. Also, the insurance did cover for some of it – mostly the in-office visits.
The Water Birth
When it comes to home births, it’s popular to give birth in the water – also known as the Water Birth.
It makes sense. The embryo inside is submerged in embryonic fluid for around 9 months. So a water birth is a great transition, but it’s also more comfortable for the mother.
In our case the midwives brought a special inflatable pool large enough to fully fit the mother-to-be (5’8). They set it up inside of our living room and filled it with warm water.
Some mothers choose to use their bathtubs or even large bodies of water like the seas, the ocean, rivers, lakes or waterfalls! But our bathtub wasn’t large enough and the ocean was too wild of an idea for giving birth for the first time.
Even the simple idea of giving birth at home (with all the home’s comforts) seemed wild to some of our friends and relatives. Some didn’t know it’s even an option. Simply because the mainstream hospital birth is so standardized in people’s minds of our time (Others questioned if it’s safe. And so did we.
Natural Birth Means..
To us Natural Birth means: no injections, no vaccinations, no pharmaceuticals, no pain meds, no epidural shots, no invasive or controversial procedures. We simply focused on maximizing nutrition (through clean organic food and quality supplements) and a healthy, active lifestyle.
We are very fortunate and truly blessed. Our baby has never gotten seriously sick, and never even had a diaper rash. (We mostly use reusable cloth diapers.) She’ll be turning 2 soon.
Why Give Birth at Home: The Risks (of Hospital)
The reason why we decided to do a natural home birth was actually out of safety and philosophical reasons. For many years we’ve enjoyed and lived the natural organic lifestyle. And so we thought that giving birth in the hospital was too risky and unnatural for us.
Giving birth – creating life is one of the most (if not the most) important events in a person’s life. Doing it the natural way was on our mind, naturally. And we like to keep things simple.. as much as possible in the complex urban environment of Honolulu.
We already knew that giving birth in the hospitals usually comes with a lot of interventions we didn’t want and didn’t agree with. From chemical injections to unnecessary c-sections or other invasive procedures we didn’t want to risk getting.
Also, learning grim statistics that newborn mortality rate in the United States hospitals is quite high, despite it being an advanced developed nation pushed us more towards a home birth.
We knew that any birth is risky whether done at home or in the hospital. But, we also understood that there are different degrees and types of risks.
It was determined that my wife is in the low risk category based on her prenatal checkups, blood tests, good health history, and biological age (she was 31). Throughout her pregnancy she was also very energetic and even regularly worked out! She rarely felt ill.
Even though she was in a low risk category, we still had a plan B: to go to a predetermined hospital of our choice if something goes really bad. Luckily nothing went bad that require plan B.
When Birth Risks Materialized
Everything went according to plan A. Most everything. Other than pushing the baby, which is naturally painful (especially without any chemical numbing agent) my wife had a tear during delivery.
Tears in the vaginal openings are not uncommon, especially when the baby is larger in size. Our newborn baby girl weighed 8 pounds and 2 ounces at birth. Not the biggest (luckily!) and not the smallest. Just a solid baby. Very large babies often require c-section.
The tear was carefully stitched together by our experienced midwives in the bedroom. No hospitalization was necessary.
More Birthing Risks: The Umbilical Chord
When our precious baby girl was coming out, her neck was slightly tangled in her umbilical chord. If this were to happen in a hospital, then this would most certainly involve a c-section.
C-sections are all too common nowadays. Some women even choose this invasive and unnatural procedure to quicken the delivery!
Sometimes c-sections are medically necessary and must be done to save lives!
In our case, the midwife quickly recognized that the umbilical chord was around the baby’s neck, when the head started to come out. She quickly and carefully moved the umbilical chord over baby’s head to remedy this potential chocking hazard.
Umbilical chords often wrap around the neck of newborns. It’s an obvious hazard that can choke the baby if not taken care of properly. Luckily, umbilical chords are flexible, soft, somewhat stretchy, yet tough.
So, they can be pulled on without breaking and stretch enough to be untangled from a baby’s neck or another body part.
The Prenatal Visits
Prenatal Ultrasound: Against Our Consent
When my wife was pregnant we decided not to do any ultrasounds out of safety considerations after researching on the dangers of ultrasound. Ultrasound subject the developing fetus to unnaturally high frequencies of sound in order to create a black and white image of the fetus, supposedly.
You don’t need to be a musician or sound engineer to know that a high pitched sound can crack a glass! We definitely didn’t want to subject our precious embryo baby to the documented risks of ultra sound.
We explicitly told our first (mainstream) prenatal doctor (MD) that we don’t want any prenatal ultrasounds. The doctor stated that ultrasounds are safe, while I was reading scientific research that showed otherwise!
The same doctor also told us we don’t need iodine because we’re surrounded by the ocean, so “it’s in the air”!! Just breathe. We thought it was a very ridiculous thing for her to say.
During the next prenatal visit to this doctor an ultrasound was performed on my wife without her knowledge or consent! It was actually performed against explicit demands of both parents during the first visit!
When my wife told me about the fact that the doctor did an ultrasound without our consent and knowledge I was shocked, disappointed and angry.
My wife was disappointed and shocked too. But at the same time very happy. Happy to see the black and white ultrasound image of our tiny 11 week-old baby fetus for the first time.
I completely understood her emotion and instead of focusing on the negative I did my best to focus on her happiness from seeing that ultrasound picture of our tiny baby inside of her for the first (and only) time.
That was the last time she saw that doctor who broke our trust more than once and that time was in a major way. A way that in my mind constitutes medical malpractice.
My wife tried another mainstream doctor for prenatal visits. He quickly failed in what we were looking for.
After that we were 100% with our midwifes (one of whom is a Doctor of Natorpathy).
Our Midwife prenatal visits were great. Mostly at the comfort of our home and occasional downtown Honolulu office visits for second opinion. We liked to to switch things up too once in a while.
Labor of Love
The labor lasted about 6 hours. When the contractions started to become obviously more frequent we called our midwife in the evening. She showed up shortly after, along with the doctor midwife. They quickly set up the inflatable birthing pool for the home water birth and filled it with warm water.
It was just the six of us at home, all in the living room during the birth: myself, my wife giving birth, the baby (inside), two midwives, and wife’s mother, who was very supportive.
Others wanted to come to witness the birth, but we wanted to keep it very private, as it should be. A home birth is not a spectacle. It’s a very private experience and having that comfort is very important, especially for the mother-to-be.
After heavy pushing and lots of pain, the baby’s head started to appear.. in the water. The umbilical chord was quickly pulled away from the neck and head and then baby came out into the water into the midwives hands who was patiently waiting to catch the baby all along. And out into the air!
The Water Home Birth: of a.. Natural Wonder Baby
Baby was calm, quiet, and her eyes were open. She was seeing the outside world for the first time! It must have been a weird experience for her, but she didn’t cry. It was night time and our lighting was dim at comfortable levels. There was excitement in our living room. It’s a brand new baby!
We didn’t know weather it was a girl or boy yet! The only ultrasound was done too early to tell. So I asked the midwife and she showed us.
It was a girl! That girl that everyone wanted so much! That girl that puts smiles on strangers faces and brightens people’s lives with her wonderful soul. That girl, that reconfirms that Life truly is a miracle.