There was a time when every woman gave birth at home. Then there was a time when almost every woman gave birth in hospital. Now the trend towards home births is growing again. Why?
Women who decide to have their babies at home are often greeted with horror and disbelief and the question, ‘What if something goes wrong?’ Well, the statistics show that home birth is actually safer then hospital birth. In the paper by Beverley Lawrence Beech entitled Obstetric Care – Benefits and Hazards and available from AIMS (The Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services) it says: ‘Analysis of the infant mortality statistics in the UK revealed that, had women stayed at home at the same levels as they did in the 1950s, our infant mortality rates would be four points lower than they are now.’ Definitely food for thought.
So what about the subjective experience of home birth? The first thing about giving birth at home is that you don’t have to decide when to leave to go to hospital. As Michel Odent, the instigator of water births says: ‘The first intervention is leaving your own front door,’ and it’s well known that one intervention leads to another ….. It’s a fact that a woman’s contractions very often slow down as soon as she reaches hospital. This is simply an animal reaction to being in a strange place, and no matter how much care is taken to make birthing rooms homely and welcoming, they’re still a strange place. So this makes labour longer. At home labour progresses naturally and gently.
An animal will find somewhere private to give birth. In her own home a woman has her privacy, with just her husband or birth companion and midwife for company, and midwives are very experienced and know to respect the privacy and peace of mind of a woman in labour. Talking of the experience of midwives, their technical knowledge as well as their hands on experience is superb, and we are extremely lucky to have the system of midwife attended birth in this country.
Then there’s the facility to eat what you want when you want at home; to have a choice of your own CDs playing quietly in the background; to have some candles burning giving a soft light for a night time birth. And after your baby’s arrived, you have the comfort of your own bed for you and, if you want, your baby, and the people who you love around you to care for you.
As it says in Nicky Wesson’s book ‘Home Birth’, ‘A majority of women who have experienced both home and hospital deliveries prefer to have their babies at home.’
Copyright The Hypnobirthing Centre 2007