While home birth in and of itself is legal in all 50 states, here in Nebraska it is illegal to have a home birth with a certified nurse midwife. Any midwife who attends a home birth in Nebraska could be charged with a felony. Nebraska is certainly in the minority, as Alabama is the only other state to outlaw midwives attending home births. So for women who desire to have their baby in the comfort of their own home, they are forced to do so unassisted (without a care provider).
Large crowds have gathered at the Capitol in Lincoln, in the past, to urge lawmakers to change this law to allow midwives to attend home births, but it is still something that remains illegal.
Despite the fact that midwives are not allowed to attend home births in Nebraska, many women are still choosing to have their babies at home, alone, with only the help of their partner, and maybe some close friends and family; meaning no medical provider is there to help if something were to go wrong.
Some women are okay with this. In fact, women all over the United States choose to have their babies at home with no care provider present. For the women and families who desire this, I’m glad they have the option.
For women and families who aren’t comfortable with this option, there are a few other choices to consider. For families who still want the care of a midwife, they can hire a midwife for prenatal care and have the midwife deliver the baby at a hospital or birth center. Nebraska does not recognize certified professional midwives (CPM) or direct entry midwives but they do recognize certified nurse midwives (CNM) and it is perfectly legal to give birth with a CNM in a hospital or birth center, here in Nebraska.
Usually, a CNM is a midwife who first received a bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited nursing school, worked as an RN, then continued their education through a nurse midwifery program. CNMs are also able to write prescriptions and provide well-woman care. As for direct entry midwives, the training requirements vary and may include self-study or apprenticeship.
At this time, there is only one free-standing birth center here in Nebraska. It is located in Bellevue, right outside of Omaha. As for hospitals, there a few spread out all over Nebraska, from Omaha to Scottsbluff, that employ CNMs. I personally saw two different midwives during my first pregnancy, and the care I received from these women was excellent!
For women who want a hospital birth with a home birth atmosphere, it is important to discuss your desires with your care provider, be that a midwife or physician. Every woman has different priorities when it comes to their birth, but for those wanting a more natural birth you may want to consider asking the following questions:
• Will I be allowed to eat and drink during labor?
• Will I be required to wear a fetal monitor the entire labor? Do you have wireless monitors? If yes, will I be allowed to walk around the hallways or stairs during labor? Do you have waterproof monitors? If yes, will I be permitted to labor in the bath or shower? Will a bathtub, jacuzzi tub, or shower be available in my room? Will I be able to labor on a birth ball or use peanut ball if desired? Does the hospital/birth center have these available?
• Is there a restriction on how many people will be allowed in my room during my labor and birth? What about in the OR if a cesarean is necessary? Will my partner be permitted to room-in with me overnight?
•Will I be required to give birth in a certain position or am I free to utilize whatever position feels most comfortable?
• Is your hospital/birth center breastfeeding friendly? Do you have an IBCLC or lactation counselor on staff who I could speak with before or after being discharged?
• Is your hospital/birth center doula friendly?
• Will I be permitted to bring items from home to make the environment more comfortable for me? These items may include your own pillows and blankets, clothing, photos, battery operated candles, music, and anything else that might help you feel more comfortable and relaxed.
• On average, how many women successfully give birth without pain medication?
• How long is the average stay after an uncomplicated vaginal birth? Will I be allowed to go home with my baby sooner, should I so choose?
For women who aren’t comfortable birthing at home but still want a homelike environment, having the answers to these questions can help them prepare. Usually providers and nurses are pretty easy going and want you to have a positive birth experience. Sometimes all it takes is clear, respectful communication.
Some other things that may increase your chances of having the birth you envision are selecting a provider who supports your childbirth philosophies, writing a birth plan and discussing it with your care provider, and hiring a professional doula, who will support your choices, and continue to support you if you change your mind about things you originally wanted.
As a doula, I have attended childbirths in all three of the tri-cities area hospitals (Kearney – CHI Health Good Samaritan, Grand Island – St. Francis Medical Center, and Hastings – Mary Lanning Healthcare) and the nurses and providers have been very respectful and accommodating to the mothers and their partners, who were seeking a natural birth. From the few mothers I spoke to recently about their experience with their hospital surrounding natural childbirth, all were pleased with how they were treated and their overall childbirth experience.
Central Nebraska Doula supports all women and their choices surrounding their childbirth and what is best for each individual. Because of Nebraska’s laws and for liability reasons, at this time Central Nebraska Doula does not attend unassisted home births.
I would love to hear from you! Central Nebraska Doula provides professional doula services in the Tri-Cities, including Kearney, Grand Island, and Hastings, and the surrounding areas. If you are interested in receiving personalized care through doula services please feel free to contact Central Nebraska Doula.