Tuesday 23 October 2018

My 10 Favourite Things About Home Birth

If you saw my post yesterday (find it here), you’ll know that I have proclaimed this week as Home Birth Awareness Week. It’s already a thing elsewhere in the world, but this year we’re joining in. People will be sharing their home birth stories online and, hopefully, speaking up about home birth in general. If you’d like to find out more about Home Birth Awareness Week, take a look at this post which explains all the details and how you can get involved. To coincide with this week of awareness raising, I thought I’d share my 10 favourite things about home birth. So, here they are:

#1: Having All My Things
I am not good at packing. I am disorganised and leave things till the last minute. And the last minute is not a good time to discover all your clothes are dirty and your camera battery has died, but this is what usually happens to me. I am not good at thinking ahead and working out what I will need. It is much easier for me to just stay home with all of my things so that I can’t forget anything. Having a home birth means you can change your mind about what you want or need because you have all of your things with you.

#2: Privacy During Birth
I have given birth in a hospital and I have given birth in my living room. One of the things I remember about being in hospital was that I saw a lot of different faces. There were midwives, student midwives, doctors, healthcare assistants coming in and out of the room at various stages. It didn’t feel like I had much in the way of privacy. What I remember about my home birth is one midwife, one bloody perfect midwife, stationed on my sofa for pretty much the entire duration of the birth. Two more midwives arrived shortly before my daughter was born, and those three midwives were the only people I saw that day.

#3: Not Sharing Those Midwives
This one might be a little selfish, but I liked having my midwives all to myself. They weren’t running out of the room to check on other women or being called away to help their colleagues. They were just in my house with me and that was lovely. Hospitals are short of money and midwife numbers are down. Midwives are overworked, maternity wards are understaffed, and the midwives are run off their feet. I felt wonderfully supported by the midwife at my home birth, she was present the whole time and she was perfect. I’m not embarrassed to say that I was glad I had her all to myself.

#4: The Lack Of Journeys
The furthest I travelled during my home birth was upstairs to the bathroom. I didn’t have to pull on my coat or step outside in the dead of winter and have contractions mid-car journey. I was just home. I stayed put, safe and warm inside the house I felt comfortable in. I didn’t have to walk through a hospital reception or under the bright lights of hospital corridors. I was in control of the atmosphere in my home and everything was exactly as I needed it to be. And when the birth was over, I didn’t have to get dressed or be discharged or sit in a car to be driven home. I didn’t have to bundle my baby into a car seat or take her outside. We were already exactly where we needed to be. She was home. We were home.

#5: My Own Shower
You know what’s not nice? Hospital showers. The floors are grainy, they look dirty even though they are actually probably way cleaner than your average home shower, the water pressure is crap and it’s hard to ignore the real fear that a stranger could walk in at any moment. And the post-birth shower is particularly grim. All you want is to be clean. Having a home birth meant I could get clean in my own shower at home. I didn’t have to use a communal shower or worry about somebody bursting in. It’s not a big deal, perhaps, but it made a difference for me.

#6: Being In My Own Bed
There is nothing quite as comforting as being snuggled up in your own bed. And women really deserve some comfort after they’ve given birth. Even the most beautifully simple birth leaves you exhausted and needing to heal. With a home birth, you can put yourself to bed in your own bed. You can catch up on some much-needed sleep in the comfort and calm of your own home. You don’t have to deal with the unnaturally plump hospital pillows or the squeak of the waterproof sheet hiding on the bed. You can just be back where you feel safe, at home in bed. And then you don’t have to get up again until you feel ready. Nobody is going to be hurrying you along telling you they need the bed, it’s your bed.

#7: No Wards
Wards are the worst. They are noisy and uncomfortable and, even with the curtains firmly drawn, you are never really alone. Even if by some miracle you get a ward to yourself, there is the very real threat that someone will be admitted any moment and take away your privacy. You might share a ward with three other women. That’s three women and their babies and partners and visitors. It’s not quiet or calm or private. Without stating the obvious, your home is your own and you won’t be forced to share it with strangers.

#8: Not Needing To Be Discharged
Getting discharged from a hospital is not easy. Firstly, you have to find a member of staff, good luck with that because the government scared them all away. Then you need to find one with the time to organise our discharge papers. This is pretty much impossible. You end up packed and ready to go but stuck in the hospital until somebody has the time to set you free. At home, you’re just free. The midwives pack up and leave and it’s just you and your brand new family unit getting to know each other.

#9: Having My Own Food
I didn’t want toast after the birth. I wanted a Linda McCartney sausage sandwich. The midwife was dubious about whether I’d be able to keep it down, but I did keep it down. And if I’d been in the hospital, those Linda McCartney sausages would have been nothing but a dream. I liked being at home where the kitchen cupboards were stocked with all of my favourite foods.

#10: Feeling Safe
Everyone has their own reasons for choosing a home birth. Mine was probably because I knew I would feel safer at home. Some people may feel the opposite. For some, the nearby doctors and medical equipment may offer comfort. But for me, those beeping machines and medical staff offered no comfort. The very idea of them made me feel worried. I just wanted to feel safe and calm and in control. And I knew that, for me, that meant staying home in my own surroundings. And that is my overriding memory of my home birth, that calm still feeling of safety. I felt supported and love and empowered. And it was perfect.

What’s missing off this list? Share your own favourite things in the comments section.

Get Involved With Home Birth Awareness Week 2018
Don’t forget, the more people who take part, the more awareness we can raise. If you have a blog post about home birth you’d like to share, please link it up here. If you use Instagram, be sure to share your home birth story with the hashtag #HomeBirthAW18

Thank you!

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