10 reasons to choose a home birth
Firstly, let's get this straight. For those of you who know me you know that I had a scheduled C section when giving birth to Rupert. A home birth, was never a consideration for me. But when my fabulous uni friend Lydia Barlow announced she had made a career move from Fashion to Hypnobirthing, I was intrigued, and contacted her to find out why.
It appears she had such a traumatic birth at hospital with her first child Rosie then when she became pregnant again she was adamant she wanted a home birth. So, today Lydia is a guest blogger and will be sharing with you all her reason why why she chose a home birth (i must admit, it's even got me considering one if I ever have another baby!) And the great thing is, Hypnobirthing isn't just if you are planning a home birth, it can be used for wherever you choose to have your baby whether it be at home, in the birth centre or on the labour ward.
Over to you Lydia! (Ooh and this VERY glam jumpsuit that Lydia is modelling can be bought here!)
"When I first told people my plans to have a home birth, some looked at me as if I was completely mad, so I started to become a bit selective about who I mentioned it to. Luckily for me I had enough people around me giving the thumbs up in support, and after all it was my choice. Home birth can get a bit of a bad press as being reckless or selfish, but that couldn’t be further from the truth…
1) Home births are less painful!!!!
Basically home births hurt less! When you are completely relaxed, free from any tension and feel safe, labour can be efficient and manageable. Like many others I’m sure, I feel at my most relaxed in my own home, probably nice and cosy on the sofa - so to give myself the best chance of a calm, swift labour that’s the room I chose to have my baby in!
Oxytocin is the love and labour hormone, and it is directly affected by your emotions. It is produced when you feel safe, relaxed and somewhere private. A warm dimly lit room, which is quiet, without lots of distraction going on, is perfect to produce tons of oxytocin. In this environment you will also maximize your endorphin production too, which is the body’s own pain relief, so the winning combination for a smooth birth!
2) It’s the best VIP care in my opinion!!
It is known that continuity of care has a huge impact on a woman’s experience of birth. Women who have the support of a doula (someone providing emotional support through pregnancy and labour) are shown to progress better, have shorter labours, less need for pain relief drugs and fewer interventions – such as episiotomies, epidurals, forceps, ventouse, and C-sections. Isn’t that just incredible, all that just because of good emotional support? It makes you think, doesn’t it?
If you have a home birth with the NHS you have two experienced midwives looking after just you, which you wouldn’t get in hospital. The famous birth expert Ina May Gaskin often talks about her observations of cases when labour progress actually reverses, so instead of dilating the cervix closes back up, and this usually happens at the presence of a stranger in the room, which interrupts labour and has an effect on the mother’s hormones. So I was happy to know that at home I wouldn’t have my midwife swapping shifts during my labour, and I would get that continuity of care!
3) You don't have to worry about the right time to turn up at the hospital
There is always the worry when is the right time to get in the car and make your way through traffic to the hospital. Most first time parents are known to arrive at the hospital too early and have to go back home again, only to return later! Having a home birth, I found it incredibly comforting to know I was in for the night. I find it difficult to drag myself out for the evening at the best of times!
Any interruptions during labour slow progress down, as it’s all to do with the adrenaline you produce by changing your environment, and adrenaline is your worst enemy during labour. So by staying at home I knew I would avoid all these interruptions and added time. Of course if you are a Hypnobirthing mum you will be able to keep that adrenaline at bay and maximize oxytocin hormone even whilst waiting at a red light!
4) I wanted first dibs on the birth pool!
There’s no need to worry about who is diving into the birth pool first if you’ve hired your own! You may have heard about the hard and fast rules of when you are ‘allowed’ to get into a birth pool but this is mainly because midwives have the difficult job of juggling the resources amongst the women. So if you are in the pool and another woman comes in further dilated than you, she is going to need that pool! I decided, rather than playing the dilation lottery, I would be much more at ease knowing my pool would be waiting for me!
Being in a birth pool makes labour easier as the water supports the weight of your body, which means your circulation is good so oxygenating blood can flow to your uterine muscles, and also means more oxygen for your baby. It can be said that the pool can be too relaxing sometimes which can slow progress, but if that were the case you could just hop or clamber back out onto dry land! It is a good dea to wait until you are in established labour and it really helps to have the pool as something to look forward to rather than jumping in straight away!"
5) I DIDN’T want access to an epidural!!!!
I had already been there, done that and got the t-shirt with this one …and it was a lousy fit. So I actually didn’t want an anesthetist and an epidural knocking around the place!
‘But you don’t win a medal for going without an epidural” - no you don’t, but it it’s widely accepted that efficient ‘pain relief’ doesn’t necessarily equal maternal satisfaction. It was pretty comforting knowing I would avoid all the possible complications that can go with it.
If you did decide you wanted an epidural, you would tell your midwife and she would arrange for you to transfer into hospital. Even if you were in hospital already you would have to wait for the anesthetist to be free, so depending where you live the waiting time could be about the same. In terms of ‘pain relief’ at home you would have everything available that you would find in a midwife- led unit or Birth Centre. So gas and air, and pethidine can be arranged (I would definitely do your research with the latter as it crosses the placenta, but it’s there if you wanted it).
You could use hydrotherapy and hire a birth pool, which is said to be as good as a shot of pethidine, and I believe them! Also, you would be able to use a TENS machine and of course, Hypnobirthing is the best preparation for birth in my opinion!
6) I wanted to avoid interventions!
‘Where you give birth can affect many things, from how likely you are to have a caesarean to how comfortable and confident you feel’ - Which? (Birth Choice)
For me, because I had already had a birth that was medically induced with interventions that followed, it was super important for me to give birth where the chances of medical intervention were lowest and this is shown to be at home, (Birth Place Study 2011). I was doing everything I could to prepare for a natural labour for my baby so it just made sense for me to be at home, simple.
7) But what if you have to transfer to hospital??!
The most common reason to transfer from home to hospital is for ‘failure to progress’ a couple of words that are pretty damaging for a woman in labour to hear! But anyway, ‘failure to progress’ by definition is not an emergency. Home birth midwives are always experienced and I knew I would have two caring just for me – that would mean no popping to the next room or to the neighbours to check on their progress! That meant if things were to go ‘wrong’ they would pick up on it immediately and I trusted them. When things go wrong in labour it is very often a slow build up with signs along the way, and believe me your midwives would be on it if there were any signs.
8) What about all the mess?
Your place ends up slightly tidier than before!!
The assumption that birth is a messy affair is wrong! It’s really not that messy and your midwives bring plastic sheeting to cover your sofa, bed, floor or wherever! So after you’ve done your bit of giving birth, you can sit back and relax and your midwives (probably with a bit of help from your birth partner) will tidy everything away and help empty out your birth pool! I swear our place was in a bit of a better state after they had left, as if nothing had ever happened - apart from the newborn baby demanding our attention 24/7!!
9) No overnight stay on the postnatal ward (whoop … Mexican wave!)
This is a hard one to grasp if you haven’t had a baby already, but skipping a night or a week on the postnatal ward is pretty bloomin’ amazing. Even if you had your own private room on your own private ward, nothing beats the bliss of cuddling up in your own bed after you’ve given birth! It’s much nicer to be flicking through the take away leaflets than faffing around desperately trying to get someone to sign your discharge papers!!! I also had this feeling that if I was in hospital there would be something that I or the baby would be kept in for- this was probably a bit of a hang-up from my first experience.
10) Benefit for the baby
Last but definitely not least - if you are planning to have a home birth you are most likely aiming for a natural birth and all the health benefits that go with it for your baby, such as helping their breathing by clearing out the amniotic fluid from their lungs and supporting their future immune system. Also being at home meant we would both avoid the risk of picking up a hospital infection.
I knew that if I were calm and relaxed my baby would get the benefit, so entering the world calm and alert and this is what I wanted. If you were planning to breast-feed it usually goes a bit more smoothly when your baby is wide awake and not sleepy from any drugs that might have been in their system (but of course not always, and we can all struggle!). Oxytocin is again one of the main hormones behind successful breast-feeding and it flourishes in all the same circumstances as birth and conception!"
Have you had a home birth or are considering it? Let me know in the comments below!
Lydia is a trained Hypnobirthing practitioner. She runs https://myhypnobirthlondon.com where she empowers women to have confidence whilst giving birth (She is also a really, really lovely person and someone i spent many years with partying at Bristol Uni!) She provides hypnobirthing courses in your own home or at hers (in London) and the cost of the course ise is £370 per couple and includes The Hypnobirthing Book, MP3 , course manual (relaxation scripts included) and ongoing support by phone or mail up until the birth of your baby.