What can you tell me about homebirth?
Homebirth was the accepted way to give birth before childbirth became increasingly medicalised. This is slowly changing, with homebirths on the increase and midwives will often suggest and even encourage mothers to consider this as an option to give birth, particularly for second and subsequent low-risk pregnancies. 2.3% of births in England and Wales took place at home, according to the Office of National Statistics, 2017.
Am I allowed a home birth?
Your midwife should explain that you can choose to give birth at home, a birth centre, if available, or in hospital. Unless there are any significant risks to you or your baby, there is every reason to give birth at home.
What are the pros and cons of home birth?
As with all places of birth, there will be pros and cons and you need to assess them logically based on your own individual circumstances.
- Being in a familiar environment makes you feel more relaxed and able to cope.
- Privacy and therefore producing and maintaining oxytocin levels.
- You don’t have to interrupt your labour to travel to hospital.
- If you have other children, they can be with you as long as you want them to be. The person looking after them can collect them when you are ready for them to go.
- You are guaranteed one-to-one care as a midwife will be there just for you with a second midwife being present when you give birth. The technical support is the same as in a midwife led unit.
- The facilities that are available at a home birth in terms of pain relief are the same as in a midwife led unit. The same applies in the very unlikely event of the baby needing help to establish breathing.
- Your partner can be with you after the birth, whereas in a hospital he or she may be asked to leave for the night – although this is different for every hospital.
- Higher chance of an intervention free childbirth and the need for pain relief is usually less.
- Less likely to tear.
- Relaxing in your own home post birth with your family is an ideal environment for you and your baby.
- Birth is an instinctive process of the hormones (oxytocin) and the subconscious mind. Leaving home, your natural safe place, interferes with this process.
- There is a possibility of being transferred into hospital mid labour.
- Epidurals are not available at home.
In this article, we have just focused on homebirth, but you can see the other options for places to give birth here.
What do I need for a homebirth?
Every mother has different ideas for their homebirth so here is a list as a starting point for some of the things that you may want. Of course, this is all discussed with your midwife in advance so you feel completely confident when you go into labour.
- Your KG Hypnobirthing audios.
- Plastic sheets/table cloths are a good idea to protect your floor, sofa or bed.
- Old, clean towels and sheets.
- Blankets and pillows to keep you warm and comfortable.
- A birth pool if you want to give birth in water – these can be hired/purchased online.
- Music playlists, candles, essential oils – whatever makes you feel relaxed.
- Snacks and drinks for you, your birth partner and midwife. A bendy straw so you can drink without changing position.
- Old but comfortable clothes to wear during and after labour.
- Birth ball.
- A baby blanket to keep your baby warm after she's born.
- A hospital bag packed but waiting just in case you do need to transfer.
Is homebirth safer than hospital?
Every birth is different, but some recent research has shown that mothers having a planned home birth had a lower rate of severe trauma, such an assisted delivery or haemorrhage than those planning birth in obstetrics units. Read more here.
Here are some lovely KG Hypnobirthing home birth stories. There are plenty more on our website:
Suzanne Shaw Experience of a Homebirth
Suzanne Shaw chat with Katharine about her homebirth; “After my birth I wanted to jump into my own bed, have a cup of tea and some jam and toast and watch TV. And that is what I did.
I was always going to go to hospital, I felt safe there and thought that is what you should do. I think it was an assumption it would be safer, if anything goes wrong it is all there.
You’re not informed about the benefits of homebirth at all. A women wants to be in her own environment in a safe place to be able to have the best possible labour. And you’re not educated on that, you are not given that information.”