110. 7 Tips To Have An Empowered Home Birth
"In the production world we create a call sheet for a shoot day, which is a document sent out to the cast and crew that outlines where they need to be for the following shoot day. It contains ALL the important information for the shoot like the contact details of everyone on set plus their job descriptions, the predicted weather, nearest hospital, filming location address, AND the scripts scheduled for that day of filming. So…I used the template of a film call sheet to create a home birth call sheet."
Bringing my first baby safely earthside made me realize that I would love for every woman to experience an EMPOWERED BIRTH, no matter where they deliver. To me, an empowered birth means you are confident and calm because you trust your team and have prepared. You minimize stress and anxiety by knowing what to expect because you’ve done your homework so that you can make informed decisions. I am very grateful to have had a safe, magical, home birth with my son. I’m a director and due to the unexpected nature of birth, I instinctually treated my home birth like it was an upcoming film shoot. Carefully planning and prepping every last detail but also being open to things shifting and changing on the day, which is a lot like my job. Also, I assembled an epic support team. I realize I’m based in Los Angeles and you might be reading this from anywhere in the world, but I wanted to include my care provider’s specific job description, degree, and IG links because they are great resources and I’m hoping you can find similar resources in your area. Everything I did below played a big part in the positive birthing experience that I had.
Before I dive into my personal story, I want to note that I realize everyone has their own journey. I respect all routes and ways of laboring and delivering. Do what you can with what you have in the season you’re in. I hope that sharing my story helps someone else (even just one person!) have a positive and empowered birth. I am not a medical professional and this is not medical advice, be sure to ask your care provider about everything.
1.Make a plan! (including options A, B, and C)
Make a plan but then also be open to change. Expect the unexpected. Find some quiet time with your partner to discuss and create a birth plan together. A birth plan is a Word document that has your ideal medical decisions as well as some of your medical history. For example, I included things like “as much skin to skin as possible,” and “delayed cord cutting but not too long because we want to store the cord blood stem cells,” etc. I also encourage you to create a vision board, this includes images and phrases you want your birth to emulate. For example, I wrote phrases like,“Baby is under 8lbs,” and “I have a successful water birth,” and “I do not tear!” There aren’t enough exclamation points for that last one, Ha. Don’t just write it down, but also look at your board throughout your pregnancy and visualize a scene where you are holding your baby and you are both happy and healthy, covered in warm, bright light. Researching topics to create a birth plan and vision board helped me feel confident going into labor.
2.Find a care team that’s right for you (and don’t stop until you know it’s right!)
Birth is not one size fits all. A care provider who works wonderfully for your friend might not be the right person for you and it’s perfectly OK if an OBGYN is not your cup of tea. You don’t have to feel bad about moving on to someone else. Solidifying your team is a very important and personal decision and it shouldn’t be rushed. For example, if your care provider rolls their eyes when you hand them your birth plan, they may not be the right fit for you. I searched for several weeks to find the right midwife and also ‘backup’ OBGYN. However, I never viewed my OBGYN as a ‘backup’ because I always knew there was a very real possibility I might deliver at the hospital (for whatever reason). I interviewed several people and I didn’t stop until I had a strong gut feeling that I had found my team. I ended up going with Naomi Drucker RN, MSN, CNM of @losangelesmidwives and Dr. Daniel Niku MD, MS: OBGYN @dannynikumd. Naomi is a wonderful midwife who blends a safe, integrated, medical approach, with a holistic, warm, loving, and nurturing mentality. She has hospital privileges at the same hospital as my OBGYN, and she is very open to hospital or home birthing routes depending on what Mama or Baby needs.
3.Prepare your body and mind
Similar to when I’m directing on a film set, my team is EVERYTHING! I assembled the best team, a Marvel superhero level team of truly incredible healers and care providers and I saw them frequently throughout my pregnancy to prepare my body and mind for a home birth. I believe keeping my body in alignment helped contribute to a positive and quick home birth experience. I worked with a Chiropractor (@DoctorBerlin DC), Doula (@thedoulabell), Acupuncturist (Jason Starr LAC), Pelvic floor physical therapist (@theoriginway DPT), Pilates instructor & physical therapist (@JackieFischer DPT), Massage therapist, & craniosacral therapist.
4.Take an in-person birth class
I perused a lot of online birth classes but we opted for in-person and it was VERY helpful. My partner and I really bonded while doing a class called “Labor Together” with a lovely husband and wife team named Juliette and Jonathan. We learned so much, tried positions in real time (not just looking at figures), and we connected with fellow parents going through the same season of life. I also think we both appreciated getting to hear Jonathan’s ‘dad’ experience and advice. It made me realize we had been getting a lot of advice to prepare me for MY experience but it was so nice for the dad to be able to hear about birth from the partner’s perspective. This class set the tone for our labor which was going to be very intense and intimate due to our home birth setting.
5.Create a call sheet
In the production world we create a call sheet for a shoot day, which is a document sent out to the cast and crew that outlines where they need to be for the following shoot day. It contains ALL the important information for the shoot like the contact details of everyone on set plus their job descriptions, the predicted weather, nearest hospital, filming location address, AND the scripts scheduled for that day of filming. So… I used the template of a film call sheet to create a home birth call sheet. This included: the contact info of ALL my care providers (everyone who would be present at my home birth as well as the backup team), emergency contacts, our home address, pertinent parking information, the weather, the nearest hospital, and our birth plan.
6.Create or find a music playlist
I really enjoyed exploring the music for my birth. I ended up going with a playlist that was created by Surya Spa, an ayurvedic spa started by Martha Soffer (who I’ve gone to for years.) If you can find an ayurvedic resource in your area, they are very good at preparing and nurturing pregnant Mamas. I got an Ayurvedic prenatal massage during my third trimester and that’s when I heard the most heavenly music. I looked up their Spotify profile and they have the best playlists, for example one is called “Rooting deep,” and another “Welcoming the fullness of life.” We blasted this music for 12 hours straight.
7.Explore natural pain relief options
- TENS machine: Before my labor, I had no idea what a tens machine was! And wow, I couldn’t have done my home birth without it. It is a common muscle stimulation device used by professional athletes.
- Essential oils: A great way to take your mind off of the pain.
- “LABOR-ADE:” Staying hydrated! I created an at-home healthy Gatorade which includes filtered water, fresh lemon, Himalayan sea salt, organic honey, and liquid calcium.
- Ice: Having lots of ice available for eating or putting on your head and neck (you get really hot during labor). I remember the sensation of holding ice cubes was helpful.
- Breathwork: Taking an in-person or online breathwork class so you know how to actually breathe during labor.
- Taking a warm shower or bath
- Get juicy: Make out with your partner before, during, (and after) labor. I got this advice from @iamhaizehawke and it was so powerful when she told me this! Look into each other’s eyes and say sweet things, kiss, caress, touch, stimulate, and LOVE on each other– this made a huge difference for me. I felt loved, engaged, and calm.
Writer, Director, and Mama bear to River, Rylee Jean Ebsen is passionate about helping families by sharing invaluable lessons from her pregnancy and home birth journey. Incorporating her knowledge of filmmaking, Rylee has a unique, producorial approach to birth. After trying every product on the market (much to her husband’s chagrin, ha) she’s curated a list of MUST HAVE items for pregnancy, labor, natural birth, breast-feeding, and postpartum. You got this, Mama!
Amazon Storefront: https://www.amazon.com/shop/directorrylee
If you want to hear more about Rylee’s home birth story, check out her episode of “Informed Pregnancy Podcast” with Dr. Berlin.