Is Homebirth Safe? Discussions with Friends and Family

How to handle unsupportive friends and family when you choose to birth at home.

Having a baby at home can be one of the most exciting things to pursue in your life. You may encounter people in your family and/or your friends not share in that same joy and enthusiasm. Where you would expect to find support, you may be met with rejection and discouragement.

It’s hard to overcome, but here are some ways to handle unsupportive family/friends should you find yourself in that situation:

Start with Solid Boundaries

Having solid boundaries with family and friends is imperative. You do not owe anyone an explanation on anything, and it’s best to build these boundaries now. Otherwise, you will be explaining yourself for every decision you make around parenting.

What to say:

“I understand your concern, but this is my decision.”

“I understand you’re scared, but if you continue to question/pester me about my decision, I’m going to need space from you.

“If you continue to guilt trip me, I’m going to have to end this conversation.”

“Please stop asking me about my choices. I’d appreciate it if you did not bring up this topic anymore.”

Cultivate Empathy

Cultivate empathy and sympathy for your loved ones. They love you and want to see you, and baby, as safe as possible. They think they are helping you. Saving you. You might feel like you are being treated like a child, uneducated, or even feel threatened. Everyone’s feelings are valid! While navigating these difficult situations, it’s best to keep as calm and understanding as possible. I find text to help with this. It gives you a moment to breathe before replying.

What to say:

“I respect your perspective, but I do not have to see it that way.”

“Your feelings about this are understandable. I am aware of potential negative consequences of this decision also. I have a different idea of how to approach those concerns, but that doesn’t mean I can’t see and hear your fears.”

“Thank you for loving us and wanting us to be safe.”

Choose a Safe Midwife to Give Birth With

Your friends and family can feel better about you birthing at home knowing that you have a competent and knowledgeable team. Start interviewing midwives with the questions listed here.

Being an Atlanta birth doula for many years, my favorite tip is this: Try to narrow it down to interviewing 2-3 midwives. Ask each midwife what they know about each other. Midwives are rarely competitive, they have to use each other as backup! Choose a midwife that comes highly recommended by other midwives. If that midwife is booked, ask her who she would recommend.

What to say:

“I have worked hard at choosing my birth team. My midwife is very experienced and well trained. She brings the supplies needed for me and baby to be safe and healthy.”

“My midwife has had training in many different areas. I feel really safe knowing she will be with me.”

“My midwife has stats from her practice that align with the type of birth I am hoping for.”

Know the Facts

Homebirth is safe! Knowledge is power! Your family may believe home birth isn’t safe because that’s what they’ve been taught. Know the facts about home birth safety, so we can educate them on what is real and true. Change the narrative!

What to say:

“Homebirth is safe! Look at the studies!”

“I know you mean well, but please just listen without offering your opinion or advice.”

“I hear you, and you make some valid points. However, I see some of what you are saying very differently. I’ve done my research, would you like me to share what I’ve read?”

Share the Research

The studies support you!


National Institutes of Health

The Lancet Discovery Science

CBC News

Dr Sarah Wickham

American College of Nurse Midwives

What to say:

“The majority of studies across a variety of countries have shown no increase in mother and/or baby deaths for a planned home birth. Additionally, maternal outcomes are consistently better for home birth, including less intervention and fewer complications. Satisfaction with the birth experience is also higher at home.”

“A study found that those who planned to give birth at home were less likely to experience a c-section, operative vaginal birth, epidural, episiotomy, and oxytocin augmentation. They were also less likely to suffer a 3rd or 4th degree perineal tear, infection or postpartum hemorrhage. No cases of maternal mortality were reported and they saw no evidence of serious events in nearly one million women.”

Explain the Backup Plan

No matter how much prep work you do before your birthing day, your family will hyper-fixate on the WHAT IF. Having a clearly communicated backup plan can let them know you have literally thought of everything. Hopefully alleviating some pressure on everyone.

What to say:

“My midwife has all the training necessary to safely birth my baby at home. Should we feel as though more specialized medical attention is necessary, we will be transferring to the local hospital.”

“Should we decide to transfer to the hospital, my doula and/or midwife will be joining me.”

“In case of emergency, we will call 911. The local hospital is XX minutes away.”

Ways to Compromise

You certainly do NOT have to bend in any way, but if you are open to it, there are some ways you can compromise, but it might cost extra money. You can have a back-up hospital midwife or give birth closer to the hospital. If your home birth midwife is willing, you can also ask if she is comfortable meeting your most difficult family member.

What to say:

“Although unnecessary, we are enrolled in dual obstetric care. We are seeing our home birth midwife, along with our hospital practitioner.”

“Should the need for transfer arise, I will have previously established providers at the hospital waiting for me.”

“Since we live so far away, we will be giving birth somewhere not far from a hospital.”

Wrap it Up

You can’t talk about this forever. At some point, you will all have to move past this. Not everyone will understand. It’s possible your choices can cause strain on your relationships. Try not to stress too much about it. Stress hurts you and your baby. You can read more about that here.

Treat yourself well and find a new community for support.

What to say:

“Being able to disagree while still respecting each other is so important to me. Are you willing to work with me to protect the health of our relationship?”

“I’m glad we can disagree without impacting our closeness.”

“It is not my intention to make you feel like your thoughts and opinions don’t matter. I am choosing what is best for me and my baby.”

“I will not be able to discuss this matter any further without inadvertently harming my baby, through the stress this causing.”



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