There is SO much I love about homebirth, but I’ve managed to narrow it down to seven things to share with you today, they aren’t in any real order and I’d love to hear your experiences too. Here goes:
7. Giving birth at home is as safe, or safer, than giving birth at a midwife led unit or on an obstetric unit, for low risk second (or more) time mums*. This is a biggie – I mean everyone want’s theirs and their baby’s safety to be paramount after all! I’ve heard more people than I can remember say they were surprised to realise that it is so safe to birth at home. Hospital birth has been our society’s norm for so long now that I can see why it feels ‘out there’ or unsafe to go against the grain, but you can reduce your risk of intervention including unplanned c-section, instrumental delivery or episiotomy by planning to give birth at home. I believe a lot of this power comes from the fact that most women who plan to give birth at home do so after learning about their options and understanding more about birth…so even if you ended up giving birth somewhere other than home you’re still likely to have a better experience from your planning and exploration.
*First time mums and babies are statistically more likely to be affected by negative outcomes, however many still feel it is better/safer for them to birth at home in their individual circumstance’s as they feel labour will be more comfortable and flow more easily there requiring less support or intervention – every woman who wishes to birth at home should be supported to do so.
6. There is no need to think about when the perfect time is, to make the move from home to your chosen place of birth. It’s a delicate balance – head in too early and you risk interrupting the beautiful hormonal balance which is driving your labour, which can slow the experience down, there’s a chance if you go in ‘too soon’ that you’ll be asked to go home and return later which is a less than ideal situation for most labouring mothers. Head in too late and there’s a chance that you won’t have time to get comfortable in your birthing environment, or even that you deliver your baby on the way in – doesn’t happen often, but there is always a chance! When you have chosen to birth at home you can feel secure in your birthing space from as early on as you’d like, and if your midwives feel you’re not quite in need of their assistance yet, you get to stay put and they will return later.
5. You are guaranteed that whatever birth space or equipment you want to use, is available to you. If you have created a beautiul birth environment, hired a pool, have your birth ball inflated just how you like it or anything else; you can be sure that Mrs Smith from down the road won’t be using it just as you want it! For the record most women who birth in a MLU are able to access the things they want including the pool, but the uncertainty can be a worry in the final weeks for some women and being able to organise everything at home can be hugely comforting, as you know you have everything you might need in place. It allows you to create the exact birth environment you want without having 4 million things to pack up ready to go, that process can be really therapeutic towards the end of pregnancy, just as spending time in that environment can be once its created – get that oxytocin flowing!
4. You have continued 1:1 support once a midwife is with you. That doesn’t mean that they are under your feet or observing you too closely, but it means you have their full attention, and they aren’t going to be expected to divide their time between you and other jobs. Once they are with you, you are the only woman in their care and that allows them to really get to know you and your birth wishes, and to take their time with observations which creates a more relaxed environment for everyone.
3. Birth is treated as a normal life event rather than a medical event. Midwives supporting women at home are used to working within the home environment and are just as skilled as any other midwife, and they often have additional skills or abilities to support natural birth and rely less heavily on technology when providing care. They are working within and respecting your home and family environment, giving you more control birthing anywhere else. The overall feeling is that this is a normal event going on within a family home which creates a less hurried atmosphere where both you and your care team can work more autonomously.
2. You are also able to have as many (or few!) birth partners / supporters as you want, including children. It felt like such a gift to be able to have Florence with us when Lenny was born – totally normalising birth for her and enabling her to be a big part of the transition within our family. Not every family will find this ideal, but for those who want older children present, homebirth facilitates it for you. Being in full control of who can come into the birth space is hugely reassuring for many families, and for some having more than the 2 birth partners allowed in hospital is essential for them to relax and labour well. It also meant no unexpected or unwanted visitors or extra staff coming in. Feeling sure of who was in my environment helped me feel able to switch my conscious thoughts off as I felt completely safe.
1. Your own food, shower and bed afterwards… I mean I get that safety is always going to be the most important thing, but after the effort you put in during labour, there is soo much comfort to be found in the familiar surroundings of your own home. To be able to shower and move to your own bed free from the fear of your maternity pad showing or being judged for ‘walking funny’ (I know I know – you’re all in there for the same thing, but this was a massive worry to me!). To be able to lay down with your boobs out and a naked baby on your chest because you know that the lady next doors hubby wont accidently walk in in his also sleep deprived condition. To know that it doesn’t matter how much noise or light you and you baby create when learning to feed overnight. And being able talk about the fear of going for the first wee’s / poo’s post birth without fear of judgement is something I feel so grateful to have experienced!!
We cover birth in all setting on our courses, and as much as I love homebirth that doesn’t make it right for everyone. Wherever is right for YOU to give birth is where you should be and I hold no judgement for that choice. I plan to follow this blog up covering other places of birth, so I would love it if you dropped me a comment or message telling me the things you loved best about where you gave birth to help me write a piece reflective of actual experiences!
If you want to know more or fancy trying our course’s out, head here to learn more. A private course with myself or Chloe (in Upminster) allows you to tailor the content more so if you are keen to explore birth in one setting more than others you are able to do so with ease. I’m also happy to take on shorter private sessions to explore homebirth if it is wanted.