“We have made the hospitals so much more home-like now…there is no reason for someone not to want to come to the hospital.”

While I have another post which gushes about why I love hospitals and OB’s and I love having someplace to take my clients when they are NOT healthy or when they have complications – I would like to address the above statement that I hear so many times and try to explain why, regardless of the amenities and atmosphere, someone would still want to birth at home.

I am famous for my analogies.  Why do I use them so much?  Because I find that it helps explain a new concept by relating it to something you’ve already experienced or learned in life – that way I have a starting point and don’t have to “start from scratch” to explain things.

I’d like you to imagine that you and your partner are sitting at home watching television.  Without prior warning, he reaches over and gives you a little kiss on the cheek.  You barely notice it.  A little bit later he gives you another kiss, this time lingering a little longer.  Then it’s your ear…your neck.  The two of you have not made love as of yet, but you knew you would someday and you begin to wonder if maybe the day is today. Your engine starts very slowly as you try to keep watching the television…but you find him too distracting and soon you’re kissing him back and the television is completely forgotten.  Soon you move to the bedroom for more intimacy and you find yourself in the throws of passion, growing higher by the minute, lost in the moment where everything else fades away.

Right when you are throbbing, ready to begin love making….he says to you, “I think it’s time to go.”  You weren’t even thinking about it, but he’s right….you had planned when this day arrived to check into a really nice hotel that is about 25 minutes away – this particular hotel specializes in romance and love making.

A typical room at Banner Desert in Mesa, AZ

Still kissing, trying to maintain your concentration on the event, you get dressed and head to the hotel.  When you get there, they ask you a bunch of questions regarding what credit card you plan to use, are you certain you will make love, having you fill out paperwork with emergency contacts, etc.  Finally they show you to your very luxurious room with a huge jetted tub and vibrating bed.  The bellhop hands you a basic teddy and says that you are to wear this throughout your lovemaking.  You tip him and he leaves.

Banner Baywood Hospital, Mesa, AZ

You change into the teddy and meet your partner back at the bed.  He starts kissing you again – and you feel your engines, eventually, begin to rev up again.  Your eyes are closed and you feel your body responding to his every touch…

…and there is a knock at the front door.  It’s the bellhop bringing you a plate of strawberries and a bottle of high-end champagne.  Your partner says, “We don’t want strawberries – and we really don’t want champagne.”  The bellhop explains that the strawberries are required by the hotel…they specialize in romance and know how to make a first encounter memorable.  He assures you that there will come a time when you will probably want the champagne…after all, the champagne will allow you to relax and might even help make you more comfortable since some people find the intense feelings of intercourse and orgasm overwhelming – but for now they just need you to eat the strawberries.  You get up and eat them as quickly as you can and the bellhop leaves.

Rolling around, under the sheets, you feel your partner press into you and what you’d prepared for is finally happening!  The rest of the world ceases to exist and he is your entire world…

…and there is a knock on the front door and a bellhop comes in.  You cover up with the sheet as quickly as you can and the bellhop asks if there is anything you need and asks if things are moving in an adequate and timely manner for you.  You assure him that yes, you are fine…and would prefer privacy, thank you!  He explains that it is his job to make sure that the romance of the moment is maintained in an adequate fashion and that he is only here to help.  He will be back shortly to check on you and your progress.

He leaves and you resume your lovemaking.  Your breathing has increased, your start to moan with pleasure..

Mom having an average vaginal hospital birth

…and the bellhop knocks and quickly enters.  Your flushed face and sweaty brow indicates to him that you are probably getting close, so he turns on the light and tells you that he recommends being in missionary for optimum penetration and satisfaction and so that he can monitor your responses better.  You close your eyes, trying to focus on your partner.  You feel someone touching you and you jump and ask, “what are you doing??”

The bellhop explains that he is just trying to move things along, that he doesn’t want you to get exhausted.  He begins stimulating your clitoris – you ask him to stop, and he explains that it appears that this is taking longer than they would expect.  He knows that you dont’ want it done, but says that if he doesn’t do this then it is likely to be a while and you will likely get sore.

* * * * * *

Without going any further, I can already tell that you find this scenario both ridiculous and the bellhop annoying. My question for this couple would be – if you don’t want to utilize any of the things the hotel has to offer, then why are you going there?  I don’t understand families that go to the hospital with a birth plan that includes “no IV, no analgesic pain relief, no epidural, no episiotomy, no no no no….”

Safety?  Is that what you’re saying?  Please show me research that shows that you are safer delivering in a hospital than you are at home with a trained midwife.  Go ahead…I’ll wait.


Okay, so while the “what if” and “safety” guy is off trying to find something to backup the claim that hospitals are safer, I would like to continue to explain why someone might prefer to stay home.

Seconds after birth - in her own bed

Have you ever taken a nice 2 week long vacation somewhere really fancy and nice?  Think back to that vacation – and think about how you felt after about 6-9 days.  Did you start missing your home?  But why would you miss your home? After all, look around you!  You are in a fancy resort being catered to…why would you possibly be missing your home??

Mom and dad in their own bedroom

Home is where you can be yourself.  Home is YOU – your life, your gathered ‘stuff’, your memories, your rules!  You can do whatever you want in your own home…it is your place of safety as well as the one place without additional requirements and rules.  It is the place you can fart and not have to worry about who heard you.  It is the place that you can get a bite to eat anytime without asking and without hours or restrictions.  It’s the place that you can do whatever you want without asking permission and without worrying about what others think and without apology.

And usually, coming home after this vacation causes a huge sign of relief – after all, it’s HOME!!  It doesn’t matter how nice the curtains were at the resort or what special tricks the beds do or how much the staff try to cater to you…I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s just not HOME.

Me, the midwife - watching/waiting

(I notice that ‘safety’ guy is still out looking for research to backup the claim that hospitals are safer)

Think about this: childbirth is the ONLY time that a person will willingly admit themselves to the hospital with absolutely nothing wrong with them.  You are not sick, you are not broken, there is nothing pathologically wrong with you or your condition…yet you will check yourself into the hospital.  “Pregnant” is not something wrong with you…and despite what you might have learned on television, it doesn’t mean that in a moments notice that something WILL become wrong with you!  And everytime we interfere with ‘healthy’, you run the risk of making it Unhealthy!  Think about it….if you are perfect and healthy and take a medication or undergo a procedure, you run the risk of causing yourself complications.  (this is why the ‘safety’ guy will probably never come back.)  High risk?  SURE!  Then there is something wrong with you!  But for a NORMAL pregnancy?  A HEALTHY woman?  If we do anything other than watch you and wait…it can have negative results.

The moment of birth! In her own home...

And all of the comfort and emotional concerns and convenience of having a homebirth…it’s NOT placed above safety!  If it were safer at the hospital I could understand a good debate about it…but it’s NOT!  Not for a healthy person…not for someone who is ‘just pregnant’.  So what is the benefit of going to a hospital?

Yeah…I, too, thought that was an excellent question.

So yes, hospitals…we appreciate the effort you have made, really we do!  The sterile, cold, draped labor rooms where moms were confined to beds and wheeled out into another room as she is ready to push and draped from head-to-toe has been replaced with curtains and Labor/Delivery/Recovery rooms and flat screen TV’s and private rooms and light dimmers.

But I’m sure even the most stubborn person must surely concede….there’s a reason this saying is so famous.  “THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME.”


  1. Tiffany wrote:

    I thought this was a great post. I really do agree with the sentiment that there’s no place like home. No matter how hard a hospital or birth center might try, one is truly never as comfy as they are at home.

    Tuesday, March 2, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Permalink
  2. Noelia Waldo wrote:

    I LOVE the analogy. I agree 100%. Hospital births are great for people that are high risk or just want the epidural…but why go if you are healthy, low risk nd don’t want ANY interventions at all?

    Tuesday, March 2, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Permalink
  3. Katherine wrote:

    I just have a couple of questions. #1, what if there is very little room in one’s house? i.e. I would love to attempt a home birth, but there is just no room as I can see it, to do so. #2, who makes the determination whether or not someone is “high risk”? Do previous surgeries come into play? What about mesh that is sewn into one’s abdomen? The fact that they had to have a c-section their first time? They live at least 30 minutes away from any hospital? I desperately want to have a natural, calm, healthy birth, and I’m watching the OB I have right now already try to lie to me and manipulate me into doing things I don’t want done. The birth center in my state will not provide me with any care, however, because I had a c-section last time (which they were very happy about because that meant they didn’t have to deal with me anymore). I watched those midwives force procedure after procedure on me, try to force me to let them induce me, break my water, strip my membranes, and absolutely disregard when my actual due date was, as opposed to what “they” said it was based on “averages”. I’m a little scared of midwives now. Not that the doctors were any better!

    Tuesday, March 2, 2010 at 12:38 pm | Permalink
  4. Michelle H wrote:

    Perfect analogy. I’m sharing this with my clients.

    Tuesday, March 2, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Permalink
  5. Shari wrote:

    Oh Stephanie, how I love you! The analogy made me giggle but that IS the perfect way to explain it to those who just don’t “get it”!

    Tuesday, March 2, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Permalink
  6. Amy Drorbaugh wrote:

    To the above poster: about having very little room. That’s really not a factor as I see it. I have a fairly spacious home and I only labored in 3 places. My bed, the toilet, and the bath tub. Also the great thing about homebirth is you don’t have to stay in one place. You can labor in the backyard, the kitchen, or up and down the street! As far as safety you’d have to talk to a midwife about your specific circumstances. I’m sure Stephanie can answer that question better.

    Stephanie- I LOVE the analogy! I remember in my first 2 births thinking, “would you just leave me alone?!” I was totally one of those women with the home birth birth plan but still headed to the hospital. 😉

    Tuesday, March 2, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Permalink
  7. Amy Drorbaugh wrote:

    Oh and also for the above poster, I live 45-55 minutes away from the nearest hospital, which my CNM used to try and talk me out of my homebirth. But in the end it was a good thing we stayed home because my baby came in just 33 minutes! I’d much rather have my baby in the bathtub than in the car.

    Tuesday, March 2, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Permalink
  8. Rean wrote:

    Hilarious! Love the analogy!

    Tuesday, March 2, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Permalink
  9. Shari wrote:

    I labored almost entirely in the birth tub which we had in our bathroom. I don’t think space is an issue at all.

    Tuesday, March 2, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Permalink
  10. Kolleen wrote:

    GREAT analogy!! I agree with Amy…space shouldn’t be a huge concern (it was one of mine before having Lena too), we have 3 br house and before Lena had 3 kids living there full time 2 kids visiting regularly and the 2 of us – talk about a full house!! I gave birth in a 5×5 bathroom but could labor walking through my house. Neither the labor or delivery (however um, quick it occurred) were a problem with space.

    Tuesday, March 2, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Permalink
  11. Amy wrote:

    So true. For me, the only option is to have my babies at home. The only space I used was the floor in my bedroom, toilet, and bathtub and bed for only about a minute(that was not comfortable at all).

    Tuesday, March 2, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Permalink
  12. Michelle wrote:

    This post reminds me of my wedding night. As soon as hubby and I were under the covers going at it for the FIRST TIME, the bellhop came in with wine and chocolate covered strawberries. Surprise!

    Maybe we were better off at home! 🙂

    Tuesday, March 2, 2010 at 3:29 pm | Permalink
  13. What gets the baby in gets the baby out, right? Maybe women should go to the hospital to make a baby. Ya know, have their temps monitored, check for signs of ovulation, and make sure everything is sterile when the time comes for intercourse…
    Wait, I think we make more babies when we trust and listen to our bodies… Let’s birth them the same way <3

    Tuesday, March 2, 2010 at 6:39 pm | Permalink
  14. Kate wrote:

    Your best post yet, Stephanie. You are a master storyteller. I’m glad you stopped the analogy where you did because I was about to tell that bellhop where he could put his strawberries. 🙂
    An excellent point and well said.

    Tuesday, March 2, 2010 at 7:13 pm | Permalink
  15. Rebecca wrote:

    Great analogy! I just had the conversation the other day that I could not imagine having a baby in a hospital. It was the best feeling to be in my own home with my own things, able to eat or drink what I wanted when I wanted and decide who was present and when I was interrupted! I loved being able to lay in my own bed, shower in my own bathroom, and have all of MY amenities available to me.

    Tuesday, March 2, 2010 at 10:52 pm | Permalink
  16. Jessica wrote:

    @ Katherine: Unfortunately, not all midwives are as wonderful as you generally hear described. Stephanie has posted a previous blog addressing the “Bad Homebirth.” She clarified that it was not a bad outcome in terms of the health of Mom or baby, but still beyond unsatisfying for Mom.

    Because Midwives don’t have to prove their empathy and their compatibility with your preferences for labor and delivery when getting their license, I believe that it is the responsibility of the Mom (and partner, where applicable) to interview potential caregivers, whether it be a Midwife, Doula or OB before the birth and ask whatever questions you need to to ensure that you’ll be partners and in agreement throughout the experience.

    Tuesday, March 2, 2010 at 11:53 pm | Permalink
  17. Kathleen wrote:

    Great analogy Stephanie!! You’re an amazing storyteller and have explained this beautifully.

    Wednesday, March 3, 2010 at 12:37 am | Permalink
  18. Julie Westover wrote:

    BRAVO! I am grateful I’ve had homebirth experiences… The difference, in my book, is that my 1st birthing experience convinced me that childbirth is a natural unfolding rather than a medical emergency & I didn’t want to return to the hospital unless there were an emergency; so, 2nd & 3rd babies were birthed in my apartment homes & I would definitely choose a familiar place to birth… it’s sacred space.

    Wednesday, March 3, 2010 at 1:27 am | Permalink
  19. Sarah wrote:

    This is great. We had a home birth against the advice of our midwife who thought I was “high risk” because I was over 40 and because we live an hour away from hospital, what made me do it tho was our hospital was swamped by a minibaby boom and was offering $100 grocery vouchers to women who left within 6 hours of birth – I figured if they were so crowded and busy it would be awful anyway so opted to stay home and only go there if we absolutely had to – which of course we didn’t. Bithing at home was a fantastic experience and made me want to give birth again. BTW our daughter is now past 2 incredibly healthy and has never seen a Dr in her life.

    Wednesday, March 3, 2010 at 2:07 am | Permalink
  20. Darcy wrote:

    Great analogy!

    I admit that I used to be in the camp that went to the hospital because it was “safer”, but after having my first home birth just two months ago, I will never go back to a hospital unless for an emergency!

    Wednesday, March 3, 2010 at 8:41 am | Permalink
  21. Rebekah C wrote:

    *applause* I thoroughly enjoyed reading this!

    Wednesday, March 3, 2010 at 8:51 am | Permalink
  22. LOL Stephanie! We are sisters in analogy… check out my “The Case for Home Conception” post here:

    Wednesday, March 3, 2010 at 9:37 am | Permalink
  23. Jayme wrote:

    Katherine: The size of your house definitely does not matter in a home birth. My house is very small, plus we have (now) 4 kids. We moved our kitchen/ dining room table into the family room so that we coud set up the labor pool. A lot of people just bith in their bed, or sofa, or wherever you end up, thats one of the great things about a home birth! If you find the right midwife, and discuss your desires early on you wont be having problems with stripping membranes, breaking your water, or forcing any procedure on you. For me the absolute best part of a home birth was AFTER our daughter was born, my older children getting to be involved, my husband being involved (he caught her and handed her to me), doing natural cord clamping (she was attached to the placenta for a little over an hour) and never having her away from family or out of my site, and being able to crawl into my own bed, with baby and husband to get a good nights sleep!

    Wednesday, March 3, 2010 at 9:44 am | Permalink
  24. Vickikate wrote:

    Well said, thank you! I’ve done the range and there certainly is not anything like giving birth at home, and having done that, I’d only ever want to give birth at home!

    You won’t be surprised to know that my home birth was the least painful of all my 6 births, and I had the least pain relief, just water, love and massage.

    Wednesday, March 3, 2010 at 2:41 pm | Permalink
  25. Lindy wrote:

    I love the analogy! Given all the hang ups and issues our culture has with sexuality, is it really any surprise we have such trouble with natural birth???

    Wednesday, March 3, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Permalink
  26. Robin wrote:

    Best analogy yet! Great posts and comments from your readers as well.

    Thursday, March 4, 2010 at 8:12 pm | Permalink
  27. I always tell my residents that when it comes to normal labor, do as much nothing as possible. Anything you do can screw up something that is already working fine.

    But first they have to tell women to go home when they are in latent labor, which lots of people don’t want to do. They want that epidural now!

    Friday, March 5, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Permalink
  28. First let me say that this was a very awesome post! Love the analogy!
    I did have my first baby in a hospital not wanting any drugs and as little intervention as possible.
    ~”My question for this couple would be – if you don’t want to utilize any of the things the hotel has to offer, then why are you going there? I don’t understand families that go to the hospital with a birth plan that includes “no IV, no analgesic pain relief, no epidural, no episiotomy, no no no no….”~
    That was our 3 page birth plan. We went into the hospital because we didn’t know any better, we didn’t know homebirth was an option. It was free medical covered by the state to go into a hospital and my family had their babies in the hospital, so why wouldn’t I? I was not high risk and there was nothing wrong with us. But we did not know any midwives, doulas, or anyone who had a homebirth. No one had asked, “so who is your midwife?” “are you giving birth at home?” noooo it was “who is your doctor?” “What hospital are you going to?” It wasn’t until after I had her that I started looking into more birthing options and really educating myself on birth in general. Then enter the new ICAN chapter of Arizona….
    NOW we are expecting our baby at the end of this month, maybe early April and have a great midwife team to help us with our homebirth. We believed then as we believe now that birth is a natural process and does not need or want interventions, but our lack of knowledge and funds took us to the hospital.

    Saturday, March 6, 2010 at 12:58 am | Permalink
  29. Kathryn wrote:

    I just discovered this blog and have been reading since last night. I have to say that if I been aware my insurance covered a homebirth, my second baby would have been born at home. I had him at the hospital and spent most of the time uncomfortable. He was sunny side up and walking around and such helped with the contractions, but once my water broke, the resident wouldn’t let me get out of bed…I could only labor in the bed, couldn’t take a shower even though I was covered in amniotic fluid…couldn’t even change out of the hospital gown that was SOAKING wet! Nobody even thought to grab a washcloth to at least sorta wipe me down except for my mom, who works for hospice and takes care of people confined to beds all day. No one would listen to me when I told them what I knew of my body (I tend to kind of just sit there, even with Pit, unless my water breaks…then I’m laboring and delivering in 4 hours, and I haven’t had more than 5 minutes of pushing for either baby). We’re waiting to find out if we’re expecting #3 and if we are, we’re going to do everything we can to do a homebirth, hopefully with Stephanie!

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011 at 11:12 am | Permalink

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