What are the pros and cons of homebirth? Registered nurse Elizabeth Parsons and her husband, Noah, share their insights today. They are parents of five children, some of whom were born at the hospital and others at home. Elizabeth was a pediatric nurse for 9 years before coming home full time to empower and educate about natural alternatives for healing.
Today, Elizabeth and Noah explain what to consider when making this birthing decision. They discuss the importance of knowing your rights and birthing options, whether you decide to labor at home or in the hospital. They also delve into the difference between midwifery and OB/GYN care, throughout pregnancy and after delivery.
Finally, they share their own perspective on the birthing process (they much preferred their homebirth experience), along with resources for making an informed decision, and their most recent (and surprising) homebirth experience.
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Within the below transcript the bolded text is Hilda
Women once gave birth at home with the assistance of family members and midwives. The shift to hospital births started in the 20th century. Now it seems there is a shift back to home birth. What are the pros and cons of home birth? Will you be among those opting for it? This is Episode 366 and our guests are Elizabeth and Noah Parsons.
Elizabeth started out selling DIY Organic Elderberry kits nationwide. She has a large following in the health and wellness space online. She is passionate about empowering individuals to take charge of their health, educating them about the pursuit of natural alternatives for healing. Elizabeth is a Registered Nurse who worked as a pediatric nurse for nine years. She and Noah have five children, some are born at the hospital and some at home. Together, Noah and Elizabeth explain what to consider when making this important birthing decision, home or the hospital.
They discuss the need to know your rights and birthing options wherever you decide to give birth. They also delve into the difference between midwifery and OB-GYN care throughout pregnancy and after delivery. Noah and Elizabeth share their own perspective on the birth process and their most surprising home birth experience.
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Noah and Elizabeth, welcome to the show.
Thank you for having us. It’s good to be here.
Tell us about your birth story. I understand there was a twist at the end.
There was a little bit of a twist and one that you don’t necessarily hear about. We have 5 children and the last 2 are twins. We had them in the height of 2020. It was a decision that we made to have them at home. We went through the pregnancy. I didn’t get any ultrasounds. I was being cared for by a midwife. We only usually do the twenty-week ultrasound because we don’t know how those affect our babies.
It’s seen widespread as something that carries no risk, but that’s not entirely true. We try to limit those. Usually, we only do the anatomy scan, but with COVID going on, I did not want to deal with the hospital or any of that. I chose to forego it at this time. Everything was pretty much on par with my other pregnancies, but towards the end, I was uncomfortable.
It was always a joke between Noah and me like, “What if we ever had twins? What would that look like?” He’s always wanted twins. I was always, “I could never do that.” I was not necessarily a ton bigger towards the end of the pregnancy, but I was uncomfortable and my hips hurt. I told my midwife, “There’s not two in there.” She had checked for two. She checked the positioning with the Doppler and never heard two heartbeats. She was like, “Just for peace of mind, why don’t you go get an ultrasound just so we know what we’re expecting?”
The day before I went into labor, I went for a last-minute ultrasound. She said, “There’s just one baby in there.” We knew it was a boy. We did a simple blood test at thirteen weeks. She said, “He’s head down. I see just one baby.” The next day, I went into labor and everything was pretty normal. I delivered our first boy and kept having contractions.
After birth, there’s a little bit of an adrenaline rush and that oxytocin high. You’re not aware as well as you would be in any other circumstances. I don’t think it registered to me, but my midwife knew by the way I was contracting after I had already birthed the baby. Six minutes later, I felt the urge to push, and out came another baby boy. We had baby boy twins at home, and it’s an amazing story. We’re grateful.
It’s funny how this second baby boy was hiding in there.
The crazy thing is we wanted to double-check that right before her due date. We went into the ultrasound. We were like, “For sure, it’s not twins. That’s the only reason we’re here.” She’s like, “Yes. I’ve been doing this for so many years and it’s not twins.” At that point, we had slipped that from our minds as a possibility. When the second boy came out, we were dumbfounded. Even though we had been thinking about it all along, we had ironically deferred to the experts in this case. It was a surprise and a blessing. We were especially thankful. If we would’ve known, we might have been forced to do something different because they’re twins.
They were breech.
It all worked out in the end. We were thankful that we could finally have a natural birth where we didn’t have to fight with the medical provider as far as getting to make our own choices.
The medical system has a lot to do with money. C-sections are several times more profitable than natural birth.
Let’s talk about that a little bit. Elizabeth, you’re a registered nurse. Why didn’t you opt for a hospital birth on this occasion?
All of my previous births took place in a hospital. There are various reasons for that. I went through the system and I’ve experienced births in the hospital. This baby was a surprise. When we found out we were expecting, I said, “I am not birthing this baby in the hospital. I will have a home birth. I don’t care what we have to do, whether insurance covers it or not. We’re not doing this in the hospital.”
There are a lot of reasons for that. Noah touched on it, but the main one being when you do things the way that we do and you want to do things naturally in the way that your body was designed to do it, you have to fight every step of the way for the birth that you want. I didn’t want to have to do that again. I wanted somebody that would come alongside me and trust my body and how it was designed for birth. I knew that the only way I was going to get that was a home birth as opposed to a hospital.
Let’s get specific. What are the things that the hospital wants to do their way versus the things that you wanted to do a more natural or your way?
I’m a guy, so I’ve never experienced birth, but I’ve seen it. I’ve also been told plenty of stories from husbands of wives that have told their wives’ birth stories. I hear it all the time. It starts out, “My wife wanted to do more natural.” If I hazard a guess, most women want to do a natural birth. When we say natural, we mean an unmedicated vaginal birth, the way that we believe was designed by God. There are a lot of reasons for that.
There are so many things going on in the woman’s body with the hormones leading up to birth. Hormones are chemical messengers. They have a purpose in our body and expect to go through that birth process to fulfill them. There are a lot of crucial reasons why natural birth is so much better for the woman, for the baby. The baby gets exposed to the woman’s flora going into the birth canal, which sets the baby up for having way less risk factors as far as allergies and so on.
It expels a lot of the fluid from the lungs of the baby. A woman is also set up for having way less complications with natural birth. The story that I commonly hear is, “My wife wanted to do natural and then she went past her due date.” These due dates are one size fits all. “She went in for her scheduled Pitocin-induction where they induce you.” These things are common at night because the doctors don’t want to be up. They want to start you with the Pitocin at night.
By the morning, maybe you’re progressing and you’re closer. The woman’s already somewhat tired from being up all night. If it isn’t progressing the way they want or expect it to, one thing leads to another. They put you on the intervention train and it doesn’t stop. There are no stops for it because that’s their ecosystem. It’s a different ecosystem than the natural ecosystem. The stories go like, “They put them on Pitocin and it’s not progressing quickly enough. They have one tool in the toolbox. They put them on more Pitocin and then they have to break the water.”
Even if the woman doesn’t want to do an epidural, those Pitocin contractions, with no amniotic sac, are extremely painful, from what I’ve been told. They bring in the anesthesiologist and do the epidural. If the birth continues to stall out because the woman isn’t getting to use those natural contractions, that she’s in touch with her body, then ultimately, it goes to C-section. That’s why we’re seeing that some hospitals have C-section rates as high as 60% percent or more.
Even outside of the actual labor process, to answer your question more specifically, the things that I typically felt I had to fight with providers on are even choices leading up to birth. The period in which you’re leading up to birth is as important for the preparation and having a successful birth as the actual birth process itself. It’s about finding a provider that aligns with your values.
There were times I felt I was fighting every single step of the way from the moment I went for that first appointment. They don’t necessarily say, “This is the plan. These are the risks that are associated with that. We’re going to do these ultrasounds. You’re getting your vaccine. This is what we’re doing here.” They tell you, “This is what we’re doing.” They don’t necessarily phrase it in a term where you have a choice.
I don’t do any of that. I don’t get my vaccination. I think it’s 28 weeks when they offer it to pregnant women. I don’t do a lot of the ultrasounds. I do an alternative to the glucose test and that’s something that women don’t know that they have a choice for. They get handed the glucose drink that’s got 50 grams of sugar, BDO, and corn solids. They take it because they think they don’t have a choice, which is not true. Even when I would express my, “I want a different option for this,” because there are other options, I was met with resistance.
You have to know your options. The only way to come to that is through education. You have a choice about the glucose test. You have a choice with the position that you give birth in. We put women on their backs to push and that’s not even physiologically the best way for women. It’s the worst way because you don’t have gravity to help you.
When you have an epidural, that’s another thing because you’re numb. You have to be on your back, but you do have options. They don’t have to break your water. When you have the amniotic sac intact, it’s a natural buffer for those contractions. I’ve experienced with all of the births that I’ve had. I did get induced. I had Pitocin with my first child because she was almost 42 weeks. The doctor was saying, “Fluid is decreasing.” It’s a little bit of scare tactics. “We don’t want anything bad to happen.” I did fall for that for my first baby. We got induced and I dealt with Pitocin contractions for eighteen hours.
By the grace of God, I was still able to do it naturally, but it could have gone a lot worse. You learn as you go. There are so many choices that women have. I want them to know that if you’re educated and know what choices you have, it’s much easier to stand up for yourself and your baby. Even if you have a birth in a hospital, it’s 100% doable.
My husband and I did the Bradley method of birthing. We got educated about what our rights were. Otherwise, I would’ve had no idea. Even the minute you walk into the hospital, at least when I did it, they were like, “We need to give you an IV.” I was like, “I don’t want an IV. I will stay hydrated with ice chips or what have you.” I knew it could be a cascade of interventions.
First, you get the IV, then they’ll put something in there to speed up the labor or whatever. For them, it’s convenient, but it’s not something I wanted. I didn’t want something in my arm with some fluid dripping in when I could perfectly well take it through my mouth. Elizabeth, you mentioned a vaccine. What vaccine do they offer pregnant women at twenty weeks or so?
It’s the TDAP vaccine. It’s supposed to protect women from pertussis and the idea is to get those antibodies going with the vaccine so that your baby is also protected. It’s not given as a choice to women. It’s like, “This is what we’re doing. These are the things that we do.” They don’t necessarily do informed consent for that.
Since you’re a nurse, tell us what you know about the vaccine schedule for pregnant women or for babies. What did you learn about that as a pediatric nurse?
In school, we were taught minimal, just the schedule, what the specific vaccines were for, maybe when and where those are typically given, and then maybe some basic adverse reactions that can come from that. Over the course of my hospital career, there are things anecdotally that you see working in a hospital as a pediatric nurse. You would see kids come in. Once my eyes were opened, it was so clear and that muddy water was cleared out. I could see like, “This could potentially be a vaccine reaction, but it’s not recognized. Kids have seizures twelve hours after a vaccine.”
You try and bring that up to the doctor and it’s dismissed. There’s no correlation at all. It’s hard to be in a system where you don’t feel you’re listened to. Vaccines are on this pedestal and they can do no wrong. I saw it differently. Once you do your research and know everything there is to know in history, it’s so clear to you and you want everybody else to have that clarity as well.
What was the turning point for you? You said you had a moment when your eyes were opened.
Having a kid, getting pregnant, you’re not only taking care of yourself anymore, but you’re caring for another life that you’ve been entrusted to. We should do our due diligence as mothers. We research car seats, how to feed our babies, the best cribs, and all of this stuff. Why are we not researching vaccinations?
Why are we not taking the time to educate ourselves with something that’s injected into our little baby’s body from hours old? They’re injecting our babies Hep B and Vitamin Care. Those are things that are given on the first day of life typically. It doesn’t make sense to me why you would just trust the experts when it comes to that? Why would you not want to make sure with something so massively important?
It’s also important to educate yourself through a quality birth course, especially if you’re a first-time mom.
Noah, were you in favor of vaccination for your children? Did you also have some eye-opening moments before your first baby was born?
I never was. I was vaccinated as a child. It started out for me as something that I didn’t trust because I hadn’t studied it and I knew the risk of potential side effects. I took a vaccine right before the birth of our firstborn and it made me sick. It’s the sickest I’ve probably been in my life that I can remember. I was already dealing with an autoimmune disease. That pushed me over. That might have helped me to start putting two and two together.
Once I went down the rabbit trail and started researching a lot of the vaccine history, how many of these diseases were eradicated before they even introduced the vaccine? Since then, I’ve gone further down the rabbit trail with the likes of even Dr. Tom Cowan and Sally Fallon Morell. They’ve written a book called The Contagion Myth.
At this point, I don’t see any purpose in getting a vaccine if viruses have never been proven to be isolated. They’ve never been proven to exist. I’m in that camp. That might be one thing where Elizabeth and I slightly differ, but it doesn’t change the reality that vaccines have a history of causing negative side effects. We see that, especially with the environment that we’re in. It’s telling when we had a higher overall mortality rate in 2021 than we did in 2020.
After “vaccines” were brought into the picture for COVID. As you said, once your eyes are opened, it’s hard not to see them. Maybe the same is true with how we see pregnancy. In other words, maybe this is an issue that the medical system sees pregnancy as a condition that needs to be treated instead of something natural that will bring about a new life into the world. What do you think, Elizabeth?
That’s something that I stand beside 100%. Pregnancy is not a disease or a condition that needs to be intervened in in most cases. For the most part, women are led to believe a lie that a woman’s body doesn’t know what it’s doing and that this isn’t a completely natural thing. It’s profitable to operate from that mindset of fear. When you can make somebody fearful of something, which a lot of women are fearful of birth, you can convince them to do a lot of things. When you remove that fear, it allows for so many more possibilities. You just have to have a mindset shift.
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Talk to us about those possibilities. I want to have you contrast one of the hospital births you had and the one you had at home with the twins.
It’s night and day. There is no comparison. With my hospital births, you go to these appointments every four weeks in the beginning. It’s like you’re being put through the system they have. You go in. You get your weight. You pee in a cup. You see the doctor for maybe 5 to 10 minutes. You waited probably twenty minutes, sometimes more, to see them.
They ask you the same questions every time, and then you’re on your way. You do that for nine months. Every single time you go, you have to fight all of these things. You can maybe find a provider who is a little bit more aligned with your values. I didn’t experience that with my hospital births. Even people who claim to be more natural were still very pro all of these interventions.
I had hospital midwives at one point, too, with other pregnancies. In contrast to that, with my home birth, my midwife came to my home. Our visits were an hour at least if I had more questions or needed to talk more about things. She was available to do that. I still got all of the safety things. She would still test my urine, blood pressure, and all of my vitals. She would also ask me things that you’re not going to get asked with traditional OBs or traditional midwives. “How is your diet? What does your diet look like? Do this nutrition log for me for a week, so I can see maybe where we can improve. How are you sleeping? Are you getting any exercise?”
These are things that maybe the modern Western model doesn’t see as valuable. That was so different. Nearing the actual birth, there was space. I can’t describe it any way other than she gave me space. When I was in labor, she let me do my thing. There was this trust in my body. She would check in and then like, “How are you doing? Here, eat this peanut butter toast. You haven’t eaten anything in a while.”
Whereas in the hospital, it’s constant. There’s a revolving door. “We have to get this IV in. You need fluids. Don’t eat anything.” Even though you’re about to run this marathon, “Do not eat anything just in case we have to take you into a C-section and you were to aspirate.” It’s insane that women are told that they can’t eat anything when they’re doing these labors. There was trust in my body. There was trust in the process and an understanding and a calmness. There was so much more peace in my home birth.
In the hospital, there’s a lot of busyness and unnecessary monitoring, those fetal monitors that they’ll put on your belly. Even if you’re doing a natural birth, you have to come back and get strapped to the bed to monitor that. I understand why. I’m speaking as a nurse. I don’t want to be misunderstood. I don’t think that nurses are inherently doing this evil thing. I understand why they’re doing it. They have to protect themselves. They have to make sure that the baby is okay.
The thing that a lot of people don’t understand is the cascade of interventions. He calls it the intervention train. You’re on their time clock the moment you step into the hospital. If you aren’t following that time clock, then they’re going to take it up to the next intervention. It’s hard to stop that snowball once it starts. What a lot of people don’t understand is that the things that happen in the hospital are often a result of all of these interventions that they’re doing.
Do you want to add anything to that, Noah?
The environment is so crucial. I’m one that believes that the body is self-regulating and self-healing and that we’re fearfully and wonderfully made. The other one sees pregnancy as similar to the allopathic world and how they treat symptoms versus a root cause approach of more of a naturopathic mindset, believing in the body. That fear and that stressful environment is something that we didn’t like from day one, from the first time we ever went to a hospital where we’re like, “Why can’t we take off this fetal monitor?” She wants to get up and walk around.
By getting pregnant, you’re not only taking care of yourself anymore, but you’re caring for another life that you’ve been entrusted with. So we should do our due diligence as mothers.
In that fear environment, they hold all the cards. If you don’t respect and do what they say, they try and scare you into compliance. It’s almost like gaslighting. I don’t think that they’re intentionally trying to do that. They believe that the best thing for you is to go through their process. When you say, “I want to do it naturally,” they smile at you like they know better, like, “That’s cute. We know what’s going to happen. We’re the experts.”
You can’t even ask why respectfully. It’s almost this moral superiority of even asking why. That’s so unscientific. The scientific method is based on why. I’m a scientist. I’m an engineer. Why is a great question. If why is not honored, how do you build a level of trust and respect? I would say the why in the medical system has a lot to do with money. C-Sections are several times more profitable than natural birth.
If you’re 100% natural, then people might think, “Why do I need a doctor?” Note that in some cases, interventions aren’t necessary. We’re not saying that. We believe in the modern advancements of the medical system. If I have a gunshot wound or I’m in a car wreck, I want to go to the hospital. For many things, our bodies are so much more complex and we’re equipped to deal with these things. It’s shown to have much better outcomes and way lower risk of complications for doing it naturally.
There are statistics. Low-risk women who have planned home births, it’s just as safe, if not safer than the hospital. That was something that we had to come to an understanding about. Even with our mindset, there’s still a level of fear there with the what-ifs. When you look at the data and the outcomes of home births and the C-section rate versus the C-section rate in the hospital, some hospitals are over 60% C-section rate. The average in the US is 30% now. Whereas for home birth, it’s around a 5% rate of C-section. That’s not a coincidence.
I was wondering if you could offer any resources to the readers because you said one of the most important things is to educate yourself about what you can do and take hold of wherever you decide to give birth in the end. What resources would you recommend for folks to look into this thing?
There are good books out there. I resonate with Ina May Gaskin and her natural Guide to Childbirth. She’s empowering women. We come from more of a biblical perspective. I enjoyed redeeming childbirth. That was a book that speaks away from the fear of birth and shows how birth is not a curse. We can do this. We can honor our bodies and trust the process that God has designed. It is also important to educate yourself through a quality birth course, especially if you’re a first-time mom. There is value in that.
With our first child, we did the hospital “natural” birth course. It was awful. We didn’t learn anything. Now there are so many good resources and birth courses online that are offered. Being educated about what is going to happen and knowing not just what is going to happen during your birth and pre-birth, but why it’s happening, when you can understand the why behind things, does take away a lot of the fear. There are some great courses out there.
Go ahead and mention them, Elizabeth, because folks are going to want to know.
Happy Homebirth Academy is one. Another one is Pain Free Birth. Mama Natural also has a birth course. I haven’t personally been through that one. Those would be the top three that I recommend checking out.
Did you want to add something, Noah?
For husbands, one thing that we can do is to encourage and remind our wives to breathe. I was thinking about some of the classes that we did do at the hospital. Elizabeth said they were not helpful for the most part because they didn’t talk about natural birth. They didn’t talk about positions, changing, moving around, and using contractions, but they talked about breath. That is something that husbands can remind their wives to be breathing. Breathwork is useful in a lot of areas of life. We can control our minds. We can slow down our stress by our breathing, going back into the parasympathetic state.
Even doing things like weight training or a Baptiste yoga, where you’re learning to breathe with exercise, with muscle contractions, can be helpful. The baby gets oxygen the same way that the mother does. She has to breathe in. It’s crucial to be getting those breaths, even through the difficult times of pushing. That’s something that husbands can do. In addition to being a support, being an encouragement is to remember the breath. The breath is key and crucial.
Noah, it’s been fun to have you be a part of this conversation because usually, we talk to the moms, but the dads need to be involved, too.
That’s something that is necessary. When you’re pregnant and you are looking at, “What do I want my birth to look like?” there are some important things that you have to keep in mind. Having a supportive spouse is top one of those priorities. Take ownership of your birth experience and what you want that to look like. Know your non-negotiables. Know what’s important to you and also be educated about it. Know why you’re choosing to go that path. If you’re going to be birthing in a hospital, you are going to face some resistance.
Having that knowledge helps you to be caught confident in your decision. Having a supportive spouse and also provider is another important thing. You can interview doctors. You can interview midwives. There are things that you can ask to see if you guys are on the same page and see if you resonate with that provider. I’ve seen women switch providers at 38 weeks and change to home birth because they didn’t feel they were being supported. It’s so important to have a supportive provider and a supportive spouse because your spouse is the one that’s there through it all. Noah was my rock during all of our labors.
This has been great. Thank you both for bringing your information and hearts to this conversation. I want to wrap up with a question I often pose at the end. If the reader could do one thing to improve their health, maybe or may not be related to pregnancy and childbirth, what would you recommend that they do? Noah, let’s start with you.
I would say trust your body and educate yourself. Fear is an obstacle that can be overcome by education, through wisdom and having love in a situation. Don’t treat anyone’s problem as an isolated thing. Seek overall wellness through diet, lifestyle, your environment and living with less toxins in your environment. The things that the Weston A. Price Foundation talks about are all important to living your best life.
Elizabeth, what about you?
Focus on the whole health of the body, especially in terms of pregnancy. We’ve been talking about birth a lot. The whole health of the pregnant mom, there’s physical prep involved, staying active and eating well, whole foods, getting rest, getting sun. These things that are not often focused on can improve your health, especially through pregnancy.
Trust your body, and keep it well so that you can nourish that little one, too. Thank you both again. This has been a great conversation. I appreciate you.
Our guests were Elizabeth and Noah Parsons. Visit their website for resources on a number of holistic parenting topics. Go to PurelyParsons.com. For a recent review from Apple Podcasts, Ivy Kimberly says, “There is so much value. This podcast has given me support and information on what I inherently know. It’s affirming to listen along and have both my mind and my body screaming, ‘Yes!’ I learn something in every episode, even if it’s not a topic that I feel is relevant to my life on that day. Thank you all so much.” Ivy Kimberly, you are welcome. Thank you for your review. Every single review that’s posted makes this show more appealing to someone who hasn’t read it yet. Thank you. I want to invite you to stay well, my friend. Thank you for reading. All shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.
About Elizabeth and Noah Parsons
Elizabeth began growing her online community in 2018 by speaking about vaccines as a registered nurse. In 2019, she began selling DIY Organic Elderberry kits nationwide and has since grown to over 120k followers on instagram. You’ll find topics ranging from natural wellness/remedies, marriage, faith, homeschooling, birth, and homesteading. She is a wife, mother to 5 (including surprise twins, born at home), and worked in the hospital setting as a pediatric RN for 9 years before coming home full time in 2020. She is a voice in the health and wellness space and is passionate about empowering individuals to take charge of their health, advocating for root cause change rather than covering symptoms, and educating about the pursuit of natural alternatives for healing.
- The Contagion Myth
- Guide to Childbirth
- Happy Homebirth Academy
- Pain Free Birth
- Mama Natural
- Apple Podcasts – Wise Traditions