Have you ever run a marathon? How about a 10k run- fun runs, as they’re sometimes called, although I can’t imagine why?!  I’ve run a few 10k runs (about 6 miles) in my lifetime, and have the medals somewhere to prove it.

For some I’ve trained, I’ve been healthy, I’ve been in the right frame of mind. For those the race was easy enough, and I’ve made good time. I’ve not really enjoyed it, but did enjoy the feeling of achievement afterwards.

For others, I’ve not trained at all. In fact, I joined my family in a race last year. I had been ill for a few weeks before, I hadn’t been eating the right kind of food, and I had done absolutely no training. I also had to borrow shoes from my mother. Needless to say, I didn’t run a step. I walked the whole way, and considered giving up at the half way mark which happened to pass by the stadium where the race ended.

While it was a great experience and I really enjoyed walking and chatting with my dad for over an hour, we only just made the cut off time, and we totally missed the finisher’s goody bags. I don’t think we even got medals. My dad is a seasoned long distance runner, so this must have been rather frustrating for him, but he was sweet about it. I had said from the outset that I would try to finish the race.


I view home births the same way. When someone tells me they have bought a birthpool and are going to try for a homebirth, my heart sinks a little and I strongly suspect (usually correctly) that they will end up transferring to hospital or have a less than desirable experience. Why? Because it’s like turning up at the starting line having bought your running outfit and calling that your ‘race preparation’.

Understand when I say that this isn’t a judgement on anyone who’s ever had a ‘failed’ homebirth. Sometimes you can do everything right, and it still doesn’t work out. Sometimes you can be well trained and perfectly ready, and you twist your ankle in a hole, or misstep, and end up with race marshals carrying you back to the medical tent.

Sometimes you can be perfectly prepared, doing your bit, reading research, watching birth videos, talking to other home birth parents, and complications develop that mean you can’t go through with a homebirth. It’s like waking up on race morning with the flu. Or being up the night before vomiting. Or developing a chronic illness the week before. It happens, and there’s nothing for it.

Jennifer from True Confessions Of a Real Mommy after the 5km Warrior Dash at 18 weeks pregnant

But no athlete prepares for a race saying she’s going to try to compete. She either is, or she isn’t – unforeseen circumstances aside.  If you’ve had a child, if you’ve given birth, you know that it can be pretty much an endurance event that would rival anything in the Olympics.

When people ask me whether I’m going to try for a homebirth again this time, I say “No. I’m having one.”

That may sound arrogant and smug to some, and I appreciate that you can’t please everyone, but preparation is key. You can go as far as you can go, then you have to let nature take her course, but you can do your part. You must do your part.

You need to know what to expect in childbirth. You need to know what childbirth looks like and I don’t mean the version of it that Hollywood portrays. You need to know common problems that can occur in homebirths and what you can do about them at home. You need to know that your midwife’s views on childbirth correspond with your own. You need to have your coping mechanisms and pain management strategies on hand. You need to know what to do if manageable complications arise. You need to write a birth plan, even if only to see what you haven’t yet thought about.

I remember a midwife once telling me that the best births she had ever attended were the ones with prepared and well researched mothers. Imagine organising a race where no one had trained? What would the final stats look like? Not great, I assure you! Injuries, non-completions and finishing times alone would be disheartening for the organisers.

So yes. I’m having a homebirth again. And I’m doing my ‘training’ (hypnobirthing, relaxation techniques, breathing techniques), and I’ve bought my ‘outfit’ (birthpool) and I’ve gotten to know the support team (my midwife, a TENS machine, natural remedies for use during labour).

For me, there is no trying. There’s only doing, or not doing – with a full awareness that sometimes life changes your plans.

Want to read more?

  • My post on Natural Parents Network with Tips on Preparing for a natural childbirth
  • Dionna at Code Name Mama writes on what to do with young children at a birth as well as how to prepare young children for birth.
  • Lauren at Hobo Mama writes about preparing for pushing, (kind of like a runner, preparing for a race!) as well as giving birth like mammals do.
  • Lauren also has a really good example of why I believe birthplans are important: They give you the chance to really examine your options, well before the birth.
  • Melissa from Vibrant Wanderings shares the resources and thoughts behind preparing herself for childbirth. She also shares her birthplan, which once again demonstrates the value of knowing your options before the birth!
  • Mamapoekie has a fab list of birth affirmations. (I had repeated my affirmations so often during pregnancy, my husband whispered them in my ear through contractions! It was amazing!)
  • She also has a great list of the physical things you may need during the birth.

* Image Credit: I have NO idea who to credit for this image, but sadly, no, it’s not a picture of me.



I’m Not Trying For A Homebirth, I’m Having One

  1. Great post. I’m a hypnotherapist and I’m always telling my clients that their brain doesn’t know how to ‘try’ to do something, that by using the words, try, might, hope, could or should, they are just adding a block when they set a goal, giving them an excuse to fail. Just as yoda said “do or do not, there is no try”.

    Looking forward to following your story and hearing about your hypnobirth 🙂

    1. Thanks Sophie. I’m not gung-ho about it to the detriment of mother or child, but I think ‘trying’ is setting yourself up for failure – and yes, trying is a way of preventing feeling too disappointed if you don’t ‘get it right’. Which is fair enough… but counter productive in my view.

  2. I love this post! I have a little pet peeve, okay, maybe it’s a big one… the word TRY. We use it in hypnosis instead of the word DON’T because that’s how your subconscious mind interprets it. So when we don’t want you to be able to do something, we tell you to ‘try’ to do it.

    We are HAVING a home birth in June! 🙂

  3. I know this first hand:
    When I was pregnant with my first baby at a young and uninformed 21 years old, I said this, more than once

    “I’m going to try for a natural birth”

    And what did I get? Epidural, pitocin, AROM, episiotomy (which, I’m not actually all that upset about, after discussing it with my midwife, I feel it was warranted), three hours of pushing and a “lazy” baby.

    With my second baby I instead said: “I want to have a natural birth”

    And I got one…not without begging for an epidural…but I got one.

    I’m due in about 4 weeks and my new mantra is now: “I’m going to have an amazing, drug and intervention free birth at the hospital”

  4. I love this! I also hear “I’m gonna try to have an unmedicated birth” or “I’m gonna try to breastfeed,” and then I know the odds are probably pretty small of it actually happening. I didn’t *try* for my two homebirths–I prepared as best I could, my body and baby fully cooperated during the process, and I *had* two babies at home.

  5. Before my home birth with my first child, I had so many people asking me the “what if” questions, and our midwife did inform us of her transfer protocols, but we didn’t dwell on it. We prepared, and had a fantastic experience. Now pregnant with my second and people are asking if we will “try” for another home birth, and tell me how LUCKY I was that it worked out for my first one…like I just found a great birth experience lying on the sidewalk or something. I am a competitive road cyclist so your metaphor really resonates. Wonderful!!

  6. Oh Luschka, Thank you for this, I’m already making plans for our next baby and I’m going to have a hbac. I’m saving up for an independent midwife and doula, my son’s birth wasn’t traumatic at the time just disappointing but it was the aftermath that was traumatic. I had researched active birth and everything but once i was induced i knew the levels of intervention would just escalate. goodluck with the birth x

    1. Thanks so much Lucy, and best wishes to you going forward too! Have a look at the links Holly provided below – you’ll find fantastic hbac information there!

  7. best of luck to you.

    i just hope you can recognize the need for transfer if it arises. all the positive thinking in the world can’t bring a dead baby back to life.

    1. You are too right about positive thinking not bringing a dead baby back to life. And it doesn’t matter where you do that positive thinking either: be it hospital, birth center, or home. Sometimes babies die. But, when we educate ourselves and surround ourselves with educated, trained professionals, bad situations can be recognized to in time to manage them in appropriate ways. Such as a transfer, use of medication, or surgery. What is important is to SUPPORT WOMEN to birth where they feel is best for them, or KEEP IT TO YOURSELF.

  8. Thanks for sharing your commitment! I had a hospital birth, but I was Bradley prepared and through MANY obstacles achieved the natural birth experience I was looking for. The Hubs and I are currently exploring homebirth for a future baby. Believe it or not, he’s 100% committed to the idea, it’s me that is still waivering!

    I agree that when people say they are going to “try” natural that I often think “enjoy your epi”. However, I also said “try” to have a natural birth until I had been fully educated regarding birth and then my terminology and mindset totally changed. I knew I had to be 100% committed and willing to do ANYTHING (reasonable and safe) to achieve my goal. 5 days past my due date I was visiting a Mayan Masseuse and I had an accupunture appt scheduled for the next morning (I then went into labor natually). I was 100% in it to win it…I knew I had to be. And it paid off. I think that’s where some natual/homebirth hopeful fall short. They say “try” in advance so they can save face later or not be embarrased if they don’t acheive it. But there is no need to preface with “try” if you really want it. And there is no need to feel embarrased if you fail!! I think eliminating “try” would help a lot of women get in the right mindset.

    Oh my god this is the longer comment ever. I’m ridiculous!!

    Thanks for all the great content in this article! The links and info are really useful. Bookmarked it already. Thanks again.

    1. I find it sad that people feel the need to ‘save face’ as you put it, but I can understand the viewpoint entirely. I wrote a while back about being afraid of this birth – not because of the birth, but because after the last, my expectation of birth is so high – Ameli’s birth was AMAZING, that this one has a lot to ‘live up to’. That and, because of posts and views like this, I feel that if I ‘fail’, it’s a high pedestal to fall from and I would suffer the loss of the ‘birth experience’ with a FULL understanding of what I lost. If that makes sense at all!

      I do think ‘try’ is an unhelpful word in relation to birth though… Thanks for the lovely comment!

  9. I’m planning a VBAC too, at home with an independent midwife and doula. I’m not “trying” for a VBAC. I won’t go quite so far as saying I am definitely having one, because you never really know what is going to happen, but I have done absolutely everything I possibly can to give me and my baby the best shot. I’ve avoided the NHS, surrounded myself with wonderful support from women who TRUST BIRTH, done Natal Hypnotherapy, had therapy to overcome my trauma from my previous birth, kept fit this pregnancy (though I could have eaten better!), avoided negativity and prepared emotionally for all eventualities.

    For those also planning a VBAC, there are some invaluable resources.

    To list just a few.

    Go get the birth you deserve, every one.

  10. I love that you compared birth to a race. I didn’t have a natural birth the first go around, but I’m going to have one for my second. My husband is a little doubtful, and I’ve explained to him this same metaphor. I’ve told him, “I’ve conquered running post-baby through a clear training plan, and we’ll do the same with childbirth!” Good luck!

    1. Yeah – it was an obvious choice for me – a race, yet not a competition… birth shouldn’t be a competition, but most competitive road runners I know (I have a family full!) may well be in a race with other people, but I’ve only ever heard them talking about beating their own times, and their own places, never anyone else’s- perhaps different if you’re in the top ten, but that’s a small percentage! Thanks for the comment 🙂

    1. Thanks so much for your lovely comment. I am so glad you had that third birth experience. I loved your post and would like to link to it in a future article I have planned, if you don’t mind?

  11. Oh I love this post! I’m going to have to share it on my Sunday Surf this next weekend. I really really enjoy when people are not only positive, but headstrong.

    I’m going to admit that I’m completely nervous yet at the same time, so fuc*ing determined that I’m driving everyone around me totally nuts. It drives ME crazy when people are like “well you are going to try for a vbac but be prepared for another csection.” It’s like, why would you say that to me? Why is it any of your business anyways? Not only am I going to have a VBAC, but I’m also going completely natural!

    When I was pregnant with my first I was 16 and lived in small-town nowhere. I’m super suprised that at 16 (okay so I’m only a couple years older now but I feel a little more knowledgable) I was interested in the idea of a waterbirth. Everyone I knew IMMEDIATELY shot it down and told me I was freaking nuts and I’d kill my baby if I did that. Then I decided I didn’t want pain meds – and again I was told I wasn’t strong enough to pull that off. When I mentioned a birth plan to my OB she said that those were stupid and there was no point making one because then everything would go the opposite of what I wanted and she wouldn’t really look at it anyways.

    So I decided to not even research anything about birth. Everyone knew how it was going to go for me – I’d have an epidural and I’d be in the hospital on bed. I finally did create a birth plan and all it had on it was I want to breastfeed and I want my husband to cut the cord. Guess what? He didn’t get to cut the cord AND they supplemented my baby when I fell asleep without my permission.

    (SO sorry – that was a bit of a rant there. Needed to get that out.)

    This time around, hell. fuc*king. no. I can tell you that even though I still haven’t experienced labor (I was “induced” the first time but never got to an actual contraction). I know all about it now, y’all! I am learning what the whole process looks like, I’m researching all my options, I’m working out, practicing hypnosis, and not letting anyone boss me around this time at.all.

    This post was really really helpful to me, I guess you could say. After reading it I feel even more determined and loud about it 😉 Oh and thank you thank you for the other links I’m heading that way right now.


    1. I’m so glad you found this post useful! With my daughter’s birth I felt the way you do at the moment. I’d been so let down by the medical community, and so ‘dropped’ by my doctor, and so mismanaged, that I had NO faith left in the system and I felt the only way I was going to make sure my daughter survived to term was by doing it myself. I had a wonderful midwife on the day, but I knew my stuff. I knew ‘their’ rules (i.e. 1cm an hour, or you transfer to hospital so I didn’t call them till I was almost 30 hours into labour.) and I knew the research behind every single rule. I made myself a whole file which I’ve been reading through – (don’t worry, I’ll be regaling you with it all in the weeks to come 😉 )

      I am adamantly headstrong, too, but I think trust in your care provider is paramount. Find out their transfer rates, find out their section rates, speak to other’s who’ve used them. Don’t just go by what they SAY in your appointments. (A good friend of mine had an OB who swore blind she’d have a natural birth, and when she was 8cm and the midwife said she was doing well, the OB stormed in and said she needed an emergency CS. It was a lie. The midwives in that hospital [I know one who works there] have been threatened with legal action if they contradict the OBs in front of their patients!)

      More than anything else, however, I believe in following your gut, even if it means going against what you originally wanted, following the voice inside.

      All the best to you. I love your blog and can’t wait to see your story unfold!

  12. Well said, Luschka. Of course anything can happen, but so much of birth has to do with what the story in your head. We are capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for!

    1. So true – and as Jennifer says in her comment above, anything can happen ANYWHERE. I think you’re so right – we have power for so much when we allow ourselves!

  13. I wasn’t given the option for a homebirth with my first as I was told being only 4″11 and diagnosed with scoliosis when I was 6 months pregnant I would have an elected cesaeran the day after my due date.Thankfully, I went into labour on my due date and the midwives let me go through a natural labour.With my second I had another hospital birth but in water.When it came to my third I chose a home birth even though my mid wife was adamant I would need ‘permission’.At 37 weeks I was given the go ahead.A week before I was due I became ill and was put on pre-eclampsia watch.I went into labour 3 days before I was due and everything was going really well until there was meconium and the midwife found the baby was breach.I was rushed off to hospital and I gave birth with some assistance from a doctor 10 minutes after my arrival.I am pretty gutted I didn’t get the home birth I knew I could achieve but I gave birth naturally to a breech baby with no drugs or gas and air.I think if they had found the baby was breech (despite visiting the hospital every day for last week leading up to the birth), they would of insisted on a c-section and I’m glad things turned out as they did.

    1. Yeah, I think they would have. My midwife has already mentioned ‘if the baby is breech’… but I’m not worrying about that. If we find out the baby is breech, we’ll just have to go with it. Research shows us that breech vaginal is safer anyway! It actually makes me a bit mad that your midwife basically panicked – I wish they were just properly trained on the NHS! Why don’t IM’s worry about breech births?

  14. I so thought that was a picture of you, I was reeling with jealousy.

    I always thought I wouldn’t like to give birth at home, but after giving birth to my daughter without any pain relief and little intervention it would have been lovely to have done it in the comfort of my own home.

    Good luck with your home birth.

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