Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will have seen and read the headlines last week about NICE encouraging low risk women to opt for a home birth. These new guidelines have had mixed responses from women and midwives all over the UK. It raised a lot of questions from some of my pregnant women who previously hadn’t considered a home birth as an option.
I decided to ask a few of my friends who have had a home birth to tell me why they choose a home birth and how it exactly made them feel.
‘I wanted to have my baby at home where I felt calm, relaxed and in control. I had complete confidence in my midwives and felt like it was just a natural process that I could best do in my own environment. The best thing about having my baby at home was being able to get into my own bed straight away, cuddling our new baby, introducing her to my two young boys and having a lovely cup of tea and toast.’ Natasha Mum of 3.
‘I had a home birth because I believe giving birth shouldn’t be too medical; it’s a natural process & a home environment can provide a perfect setting to keep calm & relaxed. I also had full confidence in my midwife & my husband that they could support me through it. Having a home birth made me feel incredibly proud of my body and my mind. It gave me an enormous sense of empowerment & encouragement if we decide to do it again! I loved the feeling of being safe at home & I could climb into my own bed afterwards with a cup of tea & cake!’ Sam Mum of 2.
I had home births because I knew home was the place I felt most comfortable. By feeling comfortable I knew I would feel more in control and therefore relaxed. The more relaxed I felt the less pain I would feel. Giving birth is a natural & normal process one which doesn’t always need medical intervention. Having my babies at home enabled me to be in control during birth and to relax immediately afterwards.’ Ali Mum of 2.
This next home birth story is by Zoe. I had the pleasure of attending both of her births both in hospital and at home. Here she explains why she also chose a home birth for her second baby Delphine born earlier this year. (She’s defiantly not a hippie in fact she’s one of the coolest Mums I know)
I know I’ve been lucky with both my labours, i actually feel guilty talking about them sometimes as so many other women have had bad experiences. But I guess its good to know that labour isn’t all bad or scary – yes there are some toe-curlingly painful moments but they pass pretty quickly (then come back) but sometimes it can be ok.
I prepared for labour by doing pregnancy yoga classes and i learnt about the stages of labour, i read some amazing inspiring stories about women giving birth in the back of trucks in the 70s in a book called Spiritual Midwifery, i read a bit about the principles of hypno birth and reminded myself that everyone had been born, its a natural thing so whats with all the hype!? By the end my pregnancy i was really looking forward to giving birth.
I would have liked to have had a with my first baby but we moved house to a new area on my due date, he arrived 4 days later (once we’d unpacked and i was relaxed) so it wasn’t an option i could plan for. Instead we had him at the hospital in a birth room and had as similar experience as a home birth as we could in the hospital it was amazing. We registered ourselves at the hospital in the morning when i was 1cm dilated, then went back home until later that evening when i returned at 6-7cm. The birth room was really nice – there were coloured lights, a private bathroom, birth balls and a large bath which i got into and had him about 5 hours later with no pain relief apart from gas and air.
For me the actual labour part of being at the hospital was great – I had amazing midwives (Clemmie) who were supportive and really listened to what i wanted and who definitely didn’t panic/ pressure me, they made me feel relaxed and able to focus on my labour. However once we were moved down (I guess around 1am) to the ward it wasn’t so fun we were given a curtained off bed and a chair for my husband, next to some guy who was singing (not very well) to his new baby, people watching tv, talking, and lots of crying babies.
We had to wait there until 5pm the following day for a midwife to give me a Anti D injection (i am rhesus negative) then at last we could go home. That day was horrible – we were tired and hungry and just wanted more than anything to take our baby home.
As I had such a straightforward first birth we decided to go for a home birth with our second, obviously as any mother would be i was worried about if anything went wrong what would happen but i thought this was a chance i was prepared to take in order to have the reward of having my baby and family at home straight away – with my bathroom, bed, clothes, music etc.
As my due date arrived the thing i was most anxious about was having my toddler in the house while i was in labour and felt that I couldn’t relax while he was there so he went to stay with my parents and a the next day I went into labour
I was having mild contractions throughout the day bouncing on my birth ball watching Orange is the New Black, my husband working upstairs feeling relaxed that I didn’t have to go to the hospital or anywhere else. After having a sweep in the afternoon things moved quickly I remember leaning on my banister at the bottom of my stairs with my Tens machine on finding it to be the only place i wanted to be as my contractions were getting stronger. I told my husband to get off his conference call and come downstairs. Clemmie arrived at about 4pm, I got in the pool and we talked about shoes!! And then I felt like pushing – my baby daughter was born about 20 mins later. My placenta came out naturally in the water, then I got out and I lay on my sofa with a baby, cup of tea and a biscuit – it was amazing! We even used the water in the pool to water the garden!!
When I would tell people that I was planning a home birth they would mostly react with ‘ooo you are brave’ – why? my Mum was born at home, Call The Midwife? I think its all part of the negative ideas that are attached to labour and the fear that its a horrible, painful and scary experience.
Women need to go into labour focused, relaxed and informed – be strong and not scared!