The Home Birth Question
When you first discover that you’re having a baby, there are so many things that run through your mind. You move at 60 miles an hour through family dynamics, work, home suitability, how a baby will fit in to your life as it is now and somewhere way, way ahead is the birth itself. Now we get on to what you’ll need to have ready, pain relief, feeding and the like and when all that’s hit you like an express train, there’s the venue. Bit like planning your wedding or a big birthday party; where’s the best place to go?
For many women (and men), where you give birth may be obvious. The local hospital is the place of choice for many women and in some areas, there’s very little choice in that. The community hospitals that offered birth centres have disappeared from our landscape and many women are left with travelling further to another hospital as being their only alternative to going for the local one.
There is however, another option. I speak from the heart on this one because it’s the option that I went for twice, with two different outcomes and I believe that both reinforced my belief that it was the right choice to make.
I went for a home delivery. Admittedly I did have some insider knowledge on the process which gave me huge confidence in my choice but there are many women who don’t have my background who still make the same choice.
Before I go on, let me just say that home births are not for everyone and if you don’t think it’s the choice for you then that’s absolutely fine. If however, it’s something that you’ve never considered or you’re still deciding, then I hope my experience helps you to make your decision.
I didn’t really have any strong views either way when I went for my booking with my first pregnancy. I went through the usual paperwork with my Midwife and as we neared the end of the appointment, she asked if I had decided where I’d like to deliver? I said that I was happy with the local hospital and then she asked if I had thought of a home birth. I hadn’t previously given it any thought but it immediately sat comfortably with me so I responded that yes, I liked the idea of that.
My husband seemed (to my initial surprise) quite happy with this concept and later explained that as I had experience in this subject (I had practiced as a midwife) then he trusted my judgement.
My belief in the system came from the fact that I knew that I’d have to tick a lot of boxes before they would let me deliver at home and just because I’d made the decision at booking, it certainly didn’t mean it was a done deal. This proved to be the case when they thought my baby was a bit on the small side and I had to have a scan at 36 weeks. It wasn’t until 39 weeks into my pregnancy that they decided that he was fine and I could go ahead with my home delivery.
I went into spontaneous labour (another box ticked) and followed all the advice of who to phone when. It all seemed to be going well until my Midwife decided that I wasn’t progressing as I should and once I stopped ticking the boxes, she transferred me in to our local Maternity Unit and the staff there responded accordingly. I’m pleased to say that after a couple of hitches, he was born with no problems.
This experience, although not ultimately the one I had planned, proved to me that my belief in choosing a home birth was the right one. The system worked as it should. Stay normal and you get to stay at home, stop ticking the ‘normal’ boxes and they make the right decisions for you and your baby.
A couple of years later I was pregnant again. Another home delivery planned and this time, everything went according to plan.
This one is my big selling point for a home delivery. I went into labour late in the evening and within a couple of hours had 2 Midwives with me. We had prepared the room with copious plastic and old bedding and towels to reduce the mess and I spent my labour sitting on an exercise ball at the bottom of bed, being able to use my own facilities and knowing that if I needed to go anywhere, it would just happen.
The Midwives were lovely and didn’t interfere any more than they had to. My daughter was born early morning and within 5 minutes, my son and my mum had been in to see us. I was able to lie in my own bath while everything was bundled away. The Midwives took all their equipment, the old bedding was put in a bin bag and as it was bin day, it went straight out for collection. Within a couple of hours, I was in my own bed and the only difference to our room was that we now had a crib at the bottom of the bed with sleeping baby in it. There was no mess, I could eat and drink what I wanted and when I wanted and see my son whenever he or I wanted.
Two very different experiences of home birth but to me, both were important in their own right and both show that it is a safe option and when it works, there’s nothing like it.