Thoughts on Homebirth Transfer
by Mary Esther Malloy

[Editor’s note: The following article is a resource that midwives can adapt and pass out to their clients about homebirth transfers. This is an excerpt of an article which appears in Midwifery Today, Issue 109, Spring 2014. View other great articles and columns in the table of contents. To read the rest of this article, order your copy of Midwifery Today, Issue 109.]

I have given birth twice in a birth center and once at home. I have never transferred, but I have had to plan for transfers and as a doula I have supported a number of new parents through transfers. I have also followed the healing journey of many women in my talk groups who had planned to birth at home, but who ultimately gave birth in the hospital for a variety of reasons. I have put together the following notes on transfers for midwives and doulas in the hopes that some of the strategies and perspectives suggested might be of help to your clients if a transfer needs to happen.

I’ll begin with a perspective on homebirth offered by a woman I worked with a few years ago. She said, “I am hiring a birth professional for the care I want. I hope I give birth at home, but I understand that there is a continuum of where I might give birth—home or hospital. What matters to me is that I will have my midwife with me. I think of it more as hiring a person I trust than planning a birth in my home.” Her attitude struck me as a very open place from which to enter birth. She was passionate about what she wanted (a high level of individualized care from a birth professional she trusted), and there was an ease about the birth itself.

If the best and safest course for you and your baby is to give birth in a hospital…

1. Practice acceptance.

Keep in mind that birth is sacred. Period. There are no second-class births. A person is being born; a family is being born. This is of the highest order of sacred in my book. Draw on the strength, love, support and expertise of your team (partner, midwife, doula, hospital staff). Keep them in close.

Mary Esther Malloy is a New York City-based doula, birth counselor and Bradley childbirth educator who has the pleasure of parenting three children ages 3, 9 and 11. For more about Mary Esther, please visit

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