Wednesday 18 October 2017

Why It's A Shame Fewer Women Are Having Home Births

According to The Guardian, fewer women are now choosing to give birth at home. The number of babies born at home in 2016 was lower than it has been for 15 years. Home births account for around one in every 50 babies born. The article blamed midwife shortages for the drop, with many women reportedly unsure about opting for a home birth in case midwives weren’t available on the day.

Having given birth both at home and in a hospital, I cannot stress how much nicer it was to give birth surrounded by my creature comforts. Giving birth at home meant I was able to relax and enjoy the privacy of giving birth in my own living room.

When I was pregnant with Ebony, I felt anxious that we might not be allowed to have a home birth on the day. I had heard stories of women who had planned to give birth at home only to be told that there were no midwives and they would have to head to the hospital, instead. It was something I felt really worried about until the antenatal teacher at my NCT class told us to just insist that we were having one. I’m sure that’s really difficult for midwives, but I know we would have done it if we had needed to.

The second time around, I felt slightly less worried simply because we’d done it before. However, a few weeks before the birth I saw in a Facebook home birth group that a woman in my village had ended up in that exact situation. She went to hospital and ended up having a lovely birth, but I was still worried that the same thing might happen to me. In the end, of course, I ended up having being high-risk and needing to give birth in a hospital (or, at least, only really feeling comfortable with that option because of the potential risk to the baby in my situation), so it’s impossible to know whether it would have affected me.

Having had both a home and hospital birth, I can say without a doubt that, if I were to do it all over again, I would definitely choose to give birth at home. If you’re pregnant now, or planning to be soon, and are wondering where you might want to have your baby, I thought I’d share some of the reasons why I think a home birth is the better option. In the 1960s, a third of all babies were born at home, but that number has decreased drastically. Now, just 2 percent of babies are born at home. So, here are a few reasons why you might want to consider being in the minority:

1. Continuity of care
I had one amazing midwife who stayed with me throughout the labour and birth, and two equally lovely midwives who arrived in time for the birth and who stayed to do the postnatal care. The midwife who arrived at 4am stayed with me throughout the labour. She wasn’t looking after other women or dashing out of the room to help her colleagues, she was perched on the sofa, drinking tea, in my living room, offering reassurance where needed and scribbling her notes by candlelight (we did have electricity, she just lit a lot of candles). She stayed after her shift finished and was there to meet Ebony when she was born.

When she left, I was looked after by two other midwives who were both lovely. They did the new baby checks and my postnatal care and were with me right up until they left. In hospital, my midwife was called away to look after other patients (the hospital was busy and understaffed that weekend), and it took a long time to get away from the delivery room and into the postnatal ward so I could sleep. I remember there being a lot of waiting around involved the second time.

2. Privacy
I gave birth to my first daughter in the living room at our first home. I spent most of my labour in the pool. The lights were off and I was surrounded by candles. It felt really calm and peaceful and completely private. Laurie and the midwife sat near the pool and we weren’t disturbed until the gas and air arrived by taxi at 7:30am. In the hospital, things were much busier. There were lots of people coming and going. And, while I’m sure that was because I was classed as high risk, I didn’t like that people kept just wandering into the room while I was in labour.

3. Everything you need is right there
Packing a hospital bag is hard. Even if you spend hours online researching what you need, you’ll probably still end up without things you would have like to have with you on the day. Like towels, why are hospital towels so ridiculously small? If you choose a home birth, everything you need is right there with you. If you decide you want different music, or to change your clothes or to use a pillow - you can take your pick from the stuff you have in the house instead of relying on hospital supplies. I also really loved the pool I used at my home birth but found the hospital one way too uncomfortable - I didn’t like not being able to fully control my environment

4. There’s no car journey
The good thing about giving birth at home is that you’ll hopefully be exactly where you need to be when labour starts. You don’t need to worry about whether it’s the right time to go to the hospital and you don’t need to endure the car journey from hell while you shout at your partner for driving too fast during contractions. Instead, you can use the early labour to get your room setup, relax and maybe even get some rest.

5. You don’t have to stay in hospital
You won’t feel great after birth, Empowered, sure, but other than that you’ll feel pretty grim. You’ll be covered in all kinds of fluids, you’ll be bleeding heavily and you’ll be exhausted. You know what makes that worse? Having to use hospital showers and change your maternity pad in the communal toilets and being interrupted every few hours in the night so nurses can take your obs. It was so nice when I had a home birth because, once the midwives left, it was just me and my new family. I had a shower in the privacy of my own bathroom, I changed into some clean pyjamas and I snuggled down in my own bed. It was perfect.  

I honestly can’t recommend home birth strongly enough, it was absolutely the right choice for me and my family. If you’re thinking about having a home birth, talk to your midwife about it at your next appointment.

fb com


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...