A homebirth is one of the choices that is available to us as expectant parents and yet it only makes up 2% of births here in the UK. But there was a time that having your baby at home was considered the norm and you only went into hospital when something was wrong.
So in this day in age with all the medical intervention on offer, why did I choose to have a homebirth? Well I’m glad you asked.
The second time around it’s been a no brainer, after a positive experience last time I knew straight away I wanted to have my second baby in the same environment. In all honesty, you just can’t beat getting into bed, all three of you (mum, dad & baby), and having pizza and tea together without any hospital smells, sounds or people surrounding you. Yes, I had doubts the first time, who wouldn’t when you are constantly asked if you’re mad? If I’m honest I debated if I should do it again this time around too, but more in the name of research as I talk through what to expect in hospital on my course but I have to admit I don’t have a first-hand experience of that.
I know I still haven’t answered the question, why did I choose a home birth (much to my mothers displeasure) for my first baby? Well, I made an educated guess is the honest answer. After attending active birth yoga and hearing some lovely stories of homebirths, then also attending hypnobirthing Ross and I quite liked the sounds of the pro’s.
No deciding when we should head in to the birth centre
No stressful drive to the hospital
Two midwives with you and only you
Home antenatal visits
Being in the comfort of your own home
100% guarantee you’ll have a birthing pool
Getting in to your own bed afterwards
All the same pain relief and treatment that is on offer at the birth centre available to you
Of course, we were both worried about the con’s side of things, not being at a hospital should anything go wrong mainly. So I looked into it and as I always flag I’m slightly OCD on needing to know every ounce of information when I make a decision. So, I researched, researched and researched…. Looking into the figures reassured what I already knew, that labour isn’t a medical emergency like it’s shown to be in the movies. You are not hurt or injured in-need of fixing by doctors, your body is preforming a completely natural act, that surprise, surprise it does know how to do whether you want it to or not.
I always say that labour and your attitude towards it has a huge impact on your experience, and I had a very open attitude towards my planned homebirth. I viewed a successful homebirth as the best-case scenario, 45% of first time mums transfer to hospital and 72% of them because the mum wants more pain relief than the gas & air on offer at home. My view was that I might end up in hospital, but I have a good chance of staying at home, so let’s give it a go. Also, the biggest selling point for my husband, was viewing it as keeping our options open. By this I mean; If you have decided on a home birth and let your midwife know this you can always change your mind on the day and transfer into the labour ward. However it doesn’t work the other way around, you can’t be perfectly happy at home labouring away and just decide that you’d like to stay put and for the midwife to come to you. Best case you will get a midwife if someone is free after a lot of pushing for it or you will end up with a paramedic delivering your baby. Which isn’t ideal for either of you and then you still have to go into hospital to be checked, losing out on the best part of a home birth in my opinion (cuddling up in your own bed afterwards).
I decided to hire a birthing pool for my homebirth and on the day the stars aligned and Everley was born in the pool in the middle of our kitchen. This time around after looking at the stats it confirmed what I knew in my gut, homebirth is actually safer for second time mums resulting in less intervention and quicker recovery.
So, if a homebirth is an option why is the take up rate so low in the UK?
In my opinion, the rise in birth centres being the number one choice for most mums plays a part in the decrease of homebirths as many view this as the perfect alternative and the middle ground (I know I did for a while). So much so that 46%* of mums-to-be in the UK decide on a birth centre as their chosen location. It’s shocking when you hear that only 9%*of them don't transfer to the Labour Ward either during or after birth! And it begs the question why? That’s worse odds than successfully staying at home…. Is it because we know the pain relief is just down the corridor? Is there more pressure to transfer to the labour ward to ‘move things along’ if we’re not going quick enough? Does the transfer of location from our comfortable home impact the labouring woman to such a degree? Who knows the answer, but it’s something I would like to get to the bottom of that’s for sure, but another blog post topic.
Don’t get me wrong hypnobirthing isn’t all about a homebirth and breathing, I support women who choose every type of birth from C-Section to at home on the sofa, from private care in the Lindo Wing to the local birth centre. My main objective is to educate parents on their options, and to ensure they leave the course feeling empowered and confident enough to make the decisions that are right for them. Understanding how your body works and how you can have a shorter, calmer, relaxing labour by learning a few simple skills.
* - stats taken from the Better Births Maternity Review - NHS