I’ve been meaning to get my big post-natal butt in gear for ages to write a article on home birth, so when I saw the news this week that NICE are now urging low-risk pregnant women avoid hospital births, and that 45% of births are actually ‘unsuitable’ for labour wards, I thought now was as good a time as any.
NICE are also recommending the NHS take on board the delayed clamping procedure (blog post here). This news is hopefully a step in the right direction towards changing the UK’s mindset towards labour. If you’re considering a home birth, I hope this post will help you in some way. You can also check my “pros and cons of home birth” post for more info too!
WHY IT MAKES SENSE:
If you’re having a pregnancy with no complications, I can assure you that what you are considering is common sense. To produce those magic birthing hormones, which help you have a quicker, less painful labour – you need to be in a dimly lit, calm, happy, familiar environment… Sounds like home, right?
So isn’t it crazy that a hospital delivery ward is the complete opposite? Bright lights, strange smells, noises and people. This kind of environment triggers adrenaline. Adrenaline is the hormone that you want to try your hardest to avoid producing in labour! Production of this slows everything down, then you are on the road to unnecessary medical procedures or caesarian.
LET’S BREAK IT DOWN:
Still interested? Good! At around 30 weeks you will be told if you are suitable. The midwife will then come round to see if your home is accessible enough. A place with 12 flights of stairs and no lift is probably not gonna work. Soz lighthouse keepers 🙁
If you are given the go-ahead, you need to have a think about where you will be labouring. I picked the back room in my house as it was less attached to the neighbours – I was quite anxious about them hearing all the noise, so I got my partner to warn them beforehand – they just shrugged it off. There was also room for the birthing pool in this room. I actually only ended up being in the pool for about 20 mins, as I did most of my labour in the front room on a chair (one of those Chandler & Joey style TV chairs that flip up!) with my TENS machine on watching comedy shows.
If you are thinking about a water birth, then now is the time to start booking a pool. If you are happy to do it out of water – and this is great too – start to think about what you will be on for the final leg – bean bag?, old duvets?, birthing ball? You’ll need to be comfortable for that final pushing stage. Also get yourself a massive sheet of waterproof tarpaulin, this saves a lot of faff at the end – everything on top of it can all be bunched up and thrown away together when your birth is over – no mess and no floor cleaning required, and stock up on a SHED load of old towels.
Now here’s where it starts to get good. When you meet your community midwives you’ll
get to meet the person who is most likely to be there with you for the birth (you would NEVER get this with a hospital birth – you are lucky to even get a midwife in most places!) this is great and such an important part of the birthing journey. You also no longer have to schlep into hospital appointments in those final weeks – THEY COME TO YOUR HOUSE!
In the final week the midwife will bring round a box containing everything she’ll need for the event. Don’t get excited you naughty lot! The gas and air comes with them on the day 😉
SOME THINGS YOU’LL HEAR:
Be warned, if you do choose home birth you have to be prepared for a lot of people calling you “brave” or “silly” or some downright rude people saying you are irresponsible and endangering your babies life (no seriously, be prepared).
You will hear things like “I/my baby would’ve DIED if I’d had a home birth! Because XYZ went wrong, thank god I was in hospital” lets look at this statement.. (a) How do they know they would’ve died? (b) 9 out of 10 times the complications they suffered were a result of them BEING in hospital in the first place (i.e being in that environment interfered with birth – slowed it down, made it more difficult OR the hospital wanted the bed and so started giving them drugs, medical procedures to hurry them up etc) (c) If they had underlying problems they wouldn’t have been accepted anyway!
See this quote from a midwife:
“I want to reassure you that as a midwife I often deal with emergencies. Midwives are highly skilled, we can give emergency medicines to stop bleeding, resuscitate mums and babies, deliver babies when their shoulders are stuck… All following exactly the same steps that a doctor would take. Even a ventouse can often be averted using a “supported squat” position
The only thing we cannot do is a Caesarean section. However, even the most urgent of caesareans are “aim to deliver within 30 minutes”. In 4 years I have seen 1 case where a woman’s baby needed to be born in less than this, and it was a known unwell baby and she had an epidural and syntocinon drip. This woman would have given birth in a hospital anyway, so it is important not to automatically think “If this had happened at home, the baby would have died”, because such women would be strongly advised against birthing at home.”
A month before:
- Order/buy a pool if you wish to have a water birth
- Order your TENS machine
- Start packing stuff away in the area you want to give birth (do it now and get it out the way).
A few weeks/week before:
- Choose some funny films/programs to watch. This sounds nuts, but watching this in the early stages helps you produce the right hormones and will speed you up like no-ones business… It’s also a massive distraction)
- Choose some nice music and get a playlist sorted
- Get some candles and try to choose some that have a scent that helps in labour
- If you opt for a pool – get it up and running if its one with a pump (use it as a hot tub in the weeks leading up for back pain!) or do a trial run if its an inflatable
- If you’re not giving birth in water – think about getting something comfy to on for the pushing stage – a bean bag, birthing ball, old duvet, futon mattress, chair etc
- Start stockpiling old towels and buy yourself a big piece of tarpaulin
- Pack a hospital bag for you and baby (just in case – you don’t want to be faffing about in that scenario)
So there we go – I cannot recommend home birth more highly. I only wish I’d had one for my 1st baby too. Best of luck to those of you choosing one and feel free to ask any questions in the comments below – I’d also love to hear your stories!