WHMS was formed because our leadership recognized the limitations in access to community birth for low-income families. As a team, our providers have committed to making our care accessible to more families. Sliding scale fees are available, as is billing for many major insurers including Medi-Cal.
Is it safe to give birth outside of a hospital?
The largest study of planned, midwife-attended home birth suggests that birth at home is safe for low-risk birthing parents who are attended by a skilled provider. This means that parents giving birth to a term, head-down, singleton baby at home with a trained midwife are at a low risk of complications.
Outcomes of the study included...
Most families who plan a home birth do indeed give birth at home (89.1%)
Most families who plan a home birth have a vaginal birth (93.6%)
Most families planning a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) at home have a successful vaginal birth (87.0%)
Most families planning a home birth are exclusively breastfeeding at 6 weeks (97.7%)
The primary reason for transfer of care in labor is an arrest of labor progress, and urgent transports for fetal distress are rare.
About 5.2% of parents planning to birth at home ultimately give birth by cesarean.
Is it legal to give birth at home?
Yes, it is legal to birth in your home regardless of whether you rent or own. No landlord can forbid you from birthing at home, and most landlords never notice the birth took place. Our midwives are Licensed Midwives, credentialed by the Medical Board of California specifically to attend out-of-hospital birth. We will help you get a birth certificate for your baby as well.
Is it messy to give birth at home?
Not usually. Prior to your labor, you will acquire a kit of disposable items; some of these items specifically are to keep your home clean. Our clinical staff take special care to not disturb the appearance or function of your home or your carpet/furniture, and clean up messes that occur outside our standard precautions.
Is it noisy to give birth at home?
Not usually. People in labor often feel as though they are louder than they are in reality. The loudest time in labor is often a few minutes. Even when labor is very intense, the sounds a person makes in labor are typically not audible from outside the home.
What happens if something goes wrong?
As a complication is developing, often there are changes in pregnancy that indicate a parent or baby may need more advanced care at the birth. If your health changes during your pregnancy or birth and it is no longer advisable to birth your baby outside of the hospital, your midwife will facilitate a transition to a hospital-based provider. A member of your midwife's team will accompany you to the hospital to provide labor support, and our postpartum care is resumed on our usual schedule once you are back home.
Complications during labor, birth and the immediate postpartum (in any setting) can occur suddenly. Your midwife will bring many of the skills and supplies necessary for the stabilization of a parent or baby in a sudden emergency. These supplies include oxygen, sterile instruments, supplies for IV hydration and antibiotic therapy, resuscitation equipment, and several medications for bleeding.
In the event that a birth deviates from normal and is unsafe to carry out at home, or if the midwife expects that a parent or baby will not safely be stabilized out-of-hospital, a transfer to hospital-based care will be initiated.
What pain relief options are available outside of the hospital?
Pain is a normal and healthy part of giving birth, and something many families also worry about. We do not promise you a pain-free experience, however we may make suggestions to help your labor be more comfortable and efficient. These suggestions might include:
Changes in position
The use of water (such as a shower or tub)
The use of heat (such as a heating pad or hot water bottle)
Changes in activity
Techniques to reposition your baby and make labor more efficient
Welcome Home Midwifery Services, Inc. does not offer pain medication to laboring clients, however most parents who plan to birth outside of the hospital find they do not need it.
If you are concerned about labor pain, we strongly recommend that you hire a doula alongside your midwife team. Research suggests that doulas can decrease labor pain, and in addition they can lower the rate of cesarean birth, shorten the length of labor, and help babies breastfeed more easily. Doula support from an Apprentice Doula is automatically included in our fee for home birth services. Let your midwife know at your first appointment that you'd like a doula.
Do you offer water birth services, and is it safe to give birth in the water?
Absolutely. Most of our clients choose to use a tub in labor, and for most families this is an appropriate and safe option for pain relief and relaxation. Warm water eases pain, helps many people relax, and adds freedom of movement and buoyancy. Babies born in the water are not at an increased risk of infection, nor are the people giving birth. Water birth does not cause babies to drown either; when the baby is born and brought to the surface of the water immediately, it waits to take its first breath and gets oxygen from the umbilical cord in the meantime, similarly to how a baby lives on the inside of the uterus.
When clients labor or birth in the water, WHMS staff use waterproof equipment to monitor the baby and birthing client.
Will you attend my vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC)?
We believe that VBAC and HBAC (home birth after cesarean) are choices that should be offered for all healthy families. This is a service we routinely offer, including to many individuals planning vaginal birth after multiple cesareans (VBAMC).
What should I do with my other child/children during my birth at home?
What should I do with my other child/children while I am having a home birth?Please have a trusted adult present at your birth who is specifically in charge of attending to your other child or children, including leaving the room with them if they are having a difficult time. If this trusted adult can take the children to another place altogether, that can be even better for some families. A lot of the time, labor occurs during the night and smaller children are not woken up until after the baby is born.
Who regulates midwives in California?
There are two main credentials for midwives in the state of California.
Licensed Midwives (LM) are licensed and regulated by the Medical Board of California. Licensed Midwives provide primary care services to birthing parents and babies during the childbearing year. Most Licensed Midwives provide care in homes, however some provide care in birth centers, clinics, and hospitals.
Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNM) are certified and regulated by the California Board of Registered Nurses. Certified Nurse-Midwives are primary care providers for women throughout the lifespan. Certified Nurse-Midwives mostly provide care in hospitals, however sometimes provide care in homes, birth centers, and clinics.
Welcome Home Midwifery Services, Inc. employs Licensed Midwives. For more information about our clinical team, click here.