Why I'm Planning a Homebirth

Before we go any further, let me draw your attention back to the title of this post: homebirth makes for an interesting topic of conversation, people have differing opinions, based on different expectations, perceptions, fears, preferences and experience. This is by no means designed to "convince" anyone that a homebirth is right for them or their partner -  the only person who can make that decision is a pregnant couple themselves. I'm pro-homebirth, in that I think it's a positive choice when made by those who've researched all of their birthing options thoroughly and feel that birthing at home would suit them, their family, and their baby, best of all.
 
If someone has been advised by their doctor or midwife that a homebirth may be inappropriate, or they simply feel safer or more comfortable birthing in a hospital or alternative environment, if someone is scared of giving birth at home, or believes that they'll be at high risk of something going wrong  - then I'm never going to tell them that they should be having a homebirth.
 
I am by no means anti-hospital birth. I had my first child on a consultant lead labour ward in a large hospital.
 
It's sometimes difficult to talk about pregnancy and childbirth without sounding as though you're accusing other people of making the wrong decision. This post does not set out to argue that a homebirth is better than any other birth, only that I believe it's better for me than the alternatives available.
 
As soon as I started thinking about Baby's birth, before I very first met with my midwife, I'd already thought seriously about my desire to birth at home. It's something I'd decided on years ago, before this baby was even conceived - that if I found myself pregnant again, I'd probably look to give birth in my own home. There are a number of reasons why I came to this decision, and thankfully I have the full backing of my midwife. Below I've set out the reasons that I'm preparing for my first homebirth.
 
 
 
  • I have a child at home to consider. As far as I'm aware, a majority of people with older children rely on their parents to provide childcare whilst they're in labour and giving birth to their new baby. I've known of friends have their parents fly in from the other side of the world, partly to meet their new grandchild, but also to be on hand to care for their older grandchildren whilst the birthing couple go to the hospital. That can't happen here, and so it raises the question of where Seb would go were I to plan a hospital birth. Of course I have a few friends locally, most of whom would be only too happy to look after him, but at full term a baby could be expected to arrive anywhere between 37 and 43 weeks in to this pregnancy. I couldn't reasonably ask any of my friends to be local, and on call 24/7, from the 6th July until 17th August. Hopefully, Seb will be able to go to his Dad, but seeing's as his Dad has decided to go on holiday for a majority of the month of July, and when back in this country, will be at work in central London a lot of the time, this isn't the most reliable of arrangements and as such, planning a homebirth means that I know that if nobody is available, he'll at least just be able to stay with us.
  • My first labour was speedy. Seb was born in five hours, after my waters broke spontaneously with no signs of labour beforehand. That's pretty quick for a first baby and as such we've been advised to expect just a few hours this time around. Yes, I live ten minutes from the hospital. But if you consider the possibility that I'd have to wait for someone to pick Seb up, get down from my second floor flat to wherever Boyfriend had been able to park, make the journey, get in to the hospital and checked in to a hospital room and be examined, a huge chunk is going to be taken out of my labour time just getting into position. The risk of me giving birth in the car park is considerable.
  • I'm planning to use natal hypnotherapy. I'll write a whole separate post on why I'm planning a hypnobirth, but you can read a little more here. However, the whole point in natal hypnotherapy, and the only reason that it is so effective, is that it allows you to pass your labour in a state of deep relaxation, or self hypnosis. It is impossible to get in to a state of deep relaxation whilst making arrangements for your son to be collected, making your way down several flights of stairs and wandering along the road, travelling by van, or whilst talking to hospital staff... so I wouldn't be able to begin using natal hypnotherapy soon after the onset of labour, which would potentially result in me needing to rely upon other forms of pain relief (which I might do anyway, but I'm looking to decrease the likelihood).
  • I want a waterbirth. I've been told from ultrasound scans to expect a larger than average baby, and so I'm pretty confident that birthing in water would be a positive move. Prior to this information though, I'd already decided that a waterbirth would be right for me as I find warm water so relaxing. If I think about where I most like to go to relax, it'd be a warm bath - so it seems to make sense to recreate that favourite, relaxing environment for the Baby's birth. My local hospital does have several birth pools, but these are available on a first come - first serve basis, and so it's impossible to know in advance whether you'll be able to use them. By having a homebirth, I can hire my own birthing pool, get in it as soon as I want to, and stay in it for as long as I like, it'll be my pool and I won't have to ask anyone's permission to use it.
  • I want to birth my way. I'm pretty sure I'd be an obstetricians worst nightmare. I've got a very clear and positive idea of how I want my birth to play out. That doesn't mean to say that I'm ignorant to the fact that quite often, births don't go exactly "to the plan", and that you need to be prepared for all eventualities. The problem is, that I am, prepared for all eventualities. I have a detailed set of requests for how I'd like my birth to be handled, whether it's the home/water/hypno birth I'd prefer, or an emergency C-section, or anything in between. My main birth plan (my "ideal" birth, if you like) is detailed and perhaps relatively "demanding". I'm more confident that my choices will be upheld at home, where the midwives effectively step in to my territory, rather than me entering theirs. They're on my soil. In my home, during my birth, I have rules. That's not to say that I am intending to completely disregard any medical advice or guidance (otherwise I wouldn't be having midwives present), but I do not want to be subjected to any internal examinations to determine how dilated my cervix is, as an example. It's much easier to express this wish, and for the midwives to accept it, in my home, where I'm running the show, than on a hospital ward where everything is governed by procedure and protocol.
  • I'd like to avoid any unnecessary intervention. It's reasonable to assume that no doctor or midwife would intervene in a woman's birthing process other than when entirely necessary, with an episiotomy for example, or the use of forceps, or by providing drugs to "speed up" a "slow" labour. Unfortunately, this isn't entirely the case and whilst I blooming love the NHS, there are an alarming rate of hastily performed interventions that are performed without necessary evidence that it'll be beneficial to Mother or Baby. Women who plan a home birth are significantly less likely to have to transfer to a hospital for intervention, than those already in a hospital are to receive it anyway, and yet this has no effect on birth outcome. Homebirthing women are not having the episiotomies, forcep deliveries or drug induced labours that they'd probably be offered in hospital, and yet they're not experiencing more difficult or dangerous births as a result. If you know that you're likely to ask for (and are comfortable asking for), certain procedures, such as an epidural, then you'll need to be in a hospital.
  • I don't want to ask permission to do anything. If I want to go for a walk around in a hospital whilst in labour, I need to let someone know. If I want to go outdoors to get some fresh air, I need to let someone know. If I'd like a drink, I need to ask someone for a drink. If I need the toilet, I need to tell someone that I need the toilet, and once my baby is born, I'll eat and drink whatever is offered, because that's "what there is". At home, I can walk around, I can nip outside, I can get up and get myself a drink, a snack, put a movie on, go and use the loo, without explaining to a soul what I'm up to and why. Quite frankly, this makes me feel a lot more confident about getting on with birthing my baby!
  • I hated waiting around to be discharged last time. This was such a rubbish bit of the hospital birth experience for me. Waiting for a doctor to come round, cast a five second glance over my son and I, and tell us we could go home. I felt as though I was waiting all day (I think I was). I just wanted my own tea (and as much of it as I wanted), my own favourite foods, and my bed, my bath, my cats. By birthing at home, I intend to use my own shower, with my favourite products, get in to my own bed, with my boyfriend and our newborn baby, and have a big bacon and egg sandwich and a mug of Earl Grey. I don't want to be disturbed by a soul until I'm ready, and if that's not until several days later - then so be it.
  • Home is where I feel safe. I live here, as such, I've spent the last year filling this flat with things that I like. I like the colour of my sofas, I've chosen and nourished the plants (apart from the small palm that my cats have pretty much eaten), there are photographs that make me smile, and the smell of the place is comforting and familiar. I'd rather experience one of the most intense and life changing events of my life here, where I've personally curated everything down to the wine glasses to my own taste, than in a hospital, where everything looks awful, feels awful and smells awful!
 
 
These are my main reasons for choosing to give birth at home and it is really important to stress that I had a straightforward birth with my first son, I felt positive about my birth experience and as such it's made me feel very confident and positive about giving birth again. Thanks to my own attitude and experience, plus my decision to use natal hypnotherapy before and after the birth, I have almost no fear what so ever of child birth, which makes a huge difference.
 
I will add though, that of a survey of women who'd birthed both at home and in a hospital, an impressive 99% said that they would choose to give birth at home if they did it again. I would imagine that the remaining 1% experienced nasty complications during their home birth which meant transferring to hospital - but that's a pretty reassuring statistic!
 
The Dad Network

2 comments:

  1. Anonymous2/6/15 23:17

    As a dad, I much preferred the home-birthing experience to hospital birth. Our first was a home water-birth. Our second was a planned home water-birth that ended up being delivered by me on our living room floor. And our third was a planned home water-birth that ended up being a hospital birth when my wife's waters broke during a hospital check-up (to be fair, she was 19 days overdue at the time!)

    At home, we spent the weeks leading up to the birth using the pool together as a way of relaxing and spending quiet time together. When labour started, I was able to potter around being as normal as possible, safe in a familiar environment. And I was much more involved in the whole process from start to finish (a little too much so in the case of our middle child!)

    For our third child in hospital, I was stressed because I had had to make a mad 25-mile dash to drop off our two boys at a friend's house and speed to the hospital, where I arrived with 20 minutes to spare. And I felt pretty much like a fifth wheel in the delivery room too, even though I was keen to be an active participant and one not without some hands-on experience already!

    The best thing about our home births, though, was the fact that we were already at home. There was no having to leave mum and baby behind in hospital overnight for checks - with the first two we were immediately a family from the moment the midwife left our house after completing the paperwork. All births are special, but our two home births were doubly so.

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  2. Sounds like you know exactly what you want and I hope that it all goes smoothly and to plan. Good luck with everything :) Thanks for linking up #bigfatlinky

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