home birth

 

Earlier in this pregnancy, I wrote that I was strongly considering a home birth but was still not completely sold on the idea. And Sam was definitely not sold on the idea.

One of my first thoughts after having Arlo in hospital was “God, I wouldn’t want to do this at home”. It was messy (and not just the last bit). Plus, that’s a lot of racket to subject our neighbours to (we live in an old terraced house, I swear we can hear each other whisper through the walls)

So, what’s happened since then?

Well, we had our initial appointment with a midwife from the home birthing team, who not only really identified with my way of thinking without trying to influence us either way, but also offered some sensible solutions for containing any possible mess (Why did no one tell me to put on a pad during labour with Arlo??)

I was still unsure about a home birth. I couldn’t figure out whether I would be more comfortable at home or in the birth centre. With Arlo, I needed to be on my feet and walking through the contractions – with a birth pool taking up the majority of our dining room, I wouldn’t have much pacing room. Plus, would it feel claustrophobic for me to have Sam, two midwives and a birthing pool in our 3 x 3 metre dining room?

But, as I had more appointments with my midwife and the due date loomed closer, making the thought of labour seem more ‘real’, something changed. Without me really being aware of it, the thought of being at home had now become the most comfortable option, my preferred option. I think that the more I saw my midwife and the more familiar I became with her, the more I could clearly picture doing this at home. It was no longer the impractical or scary option.

Sam is still not happy about it. He would rather we went to hospital. For a while we skirted around the issue, not really wanting to confront it and force an ultimatum. But eventually one of us would have to make a decision, because I couldn’t relax and prepare until we had ‘a plan’, and because I felt bad to string along our case-loading midwife only to opt out of her care at the last minute. And so I made the decision that we were definitely going to try for a home birth.

It has not been the most straightforward decision to make. I feel that there are quite a few pros and cons:

Cons:

It’s more work for Sam. More for him to concentrate on. Not only is he birth partner, but he also has to take in the role of host for the midwives, and cleaner after it’s all over.

It’s more stress for Sam. In his own words “Arlo’s birth was stressful because it was a completely new situation. Having done it once before, I feel like I have a good idea how things would go in hospital, and now you want to do things differently and put us in another unknown situation”.

It’s more disruptive for Arlo. If we were going to hospital, someone could come and look after him in his own home. He’s never spent a night away from home without us so this could be a big deal for him. (The worse case scenario will be that we have to wake Arlo up in the middle of the night and pack him off to grandparents). Having him at home for the birth is not an option we are considering, it would be far too distracting for both me and Sam, and in the event of an emergency transfer to hospital we can’t be waiting around for someone to come and look after Arlo.

It’s more expensive. Hiring a birth pool, buying tarp, mattress protectors, etc, adds up. A birth in hospital or at the birth centre costs nothing.

The safety issue. I read somewhere that, ultimately, choosing to have a home birth is showing more respect for the mother’s comfort and the process of labour rather than giving priority to the baby’s safety. Whilst I don’t think it’s as black and white as that statement, I do sort of agree – if I was hugely concerned with a possibility that things could go wrong, there’s no way I would be considering a home birth. My choice to have a home birth is because I’d rather be here in labour, I haven’t really considered what the baby might prefer in this situation (although I am a believer in the ‘happy mother, happier labour, less distress for baby’ way of thinking).

Whilst the safety of both myself and the baby is praying on Sam’s mind, I don’t find a need to really think about it – I am optimistically assuming that everything will go to plan and things will be similar to Arlo’s labour (why do I get the feeling that I am jinxing myself by writing this??) When the time comes, I know I am not going to be stupid about this, if I feel in any way unsafe at home or that we might be better off at hospital, then hospital is where we will go.

Pros:

Not having to move location half way through labour. I can just relax, get comfortable, get on with the natural progression of labour. Dominating my thoughts in early labour with Arlo was, “Right, when should we leave for the hospital?” Sam doesn’t drive, so as with last time, we would be reliant on taxis. So there’s also, “Let’s call the taxi company, check someone is available and there isn’t a wait” and “Lets make sure i’m not in the second stage before we get in the taxi”.

With Arlo, once we got to hospital, it took a good few hours to acclimatise to the new setting. I do think that a move during labour can slow things down a bit. For me, knowing I have to take a car journey in labour means I will always rock up to the hospital earlier than necessary. With Arlo, I could have stayed at home for another few hours at least, but all I wanted to do was get to the final location straight away so that I could just get on with it with no worries. None of this is an issue if the plan is to stay at home.

I can’t imagine that there is a better feeling than being able to rest in my own bed, eat my own food, Sam not have to abide by visiting hours, putting our baby straight into his or her own bed rather than a fishbowl cot amogst all the germs floating around a hospital.

I can better control my own comfort at home. There is no worry that the birth centre will be full, or that there won’t be any birth pools available. I already know how to get comfortable in my own home, I won’t have to figure it out in hospital whilst I’m in the middle of labour. I find the inflatable type of birth pool used at home far more comfortable than the hard pools like the one I used at hospital with Arlo.

The one to one care that comes with having a case-loading midwife. Because we have chosen a home birth, I’ve had the same midwife for every single antenatal appointment. And better yet, all appointments have been here in my own home. Except for the unlikely event that my midwife is busy when I go into labour, I will know exactly who will be with me at the birth. The combination of being familiar with my midwife and being in my home surroundings means that I already feel very prepared for this labour and have a pretty good idea of the coping mechanisms I will be able to call upon.

So, if there are no complications in the next few weeks, we will be doing this thing at home. I feel very positive about it at the moment and am trying to convince Sam that it could be good, it could be enjoyable. We will be able to do this birth exactly how we want to… and he will get to eat all the sandwiches that he can fit in (he was starving the whole time we were in hospital having Arlo).

It does make me a bit nervous that it has been my decision alone, as if that makes me more responsible should things not go to plan. But I am quietly confident, because I have to be. And I am very appreciative of Sam basically bowing to my wishes – silently agreeing to take on all the extra roles at the birth, and wanting to keep me happy despite not being completely at ease with the safety of a birth at home. He’s not even sent me any links to “home births gone wrong” websites in the last two months, now that’s what I call progress.

7 comments

  1. As someone who has had 5 homebirths I cannot recommend them enough, it’s a whole different experience from the one you get in hospital and the feeling of giving birth and then having nice bath in your own bathroom and getting in to bed with your other half and new baby for a nap cannot be under-estimated!

    The last 2 homebirths I had I was a good 20 miles from the nearest hospital so that was a big consideration for us – the time it would take to transfer if there was a problem.

    Papasaurus isn’t one for blogging but he was skeptical when we had our first home birth (luckily I had had them before so could reassure him), and I knwo it’s not a ‘man’ thing to do, but if you like I could get him to write down what he thought before and after and email it to you if that helps xx

    1. Ah thanks Annie. I am quite excited about our home birth plan at the moment, and I really do think it’s the right thing for me…for ‘us’. Don’t worry about getting Papasaurus to go to the trouble of writing down his thoughts (unless you would like the excuse for him to do it anyway!) – Sam’s not really one for taking advice, I think it will be a case that he has to experience it himself in order to form an opinion. I’m just hoping after it’s all over, his opinion will be “That was alright actually”, rather than “NEVER AGAIN!” ; )

  2. You should totally do what you feel comfortable with, and sounds like you’ve thought it all through. Did you watch any of the Home Delivery programmes on ITV recently? I saw the first one, and it made home births look really normal and natural, and all the women had very positive experiences. I’ve never really thought about a home birth – mainly because I have to have hospital births for medical reasons – but it made me really think about it. Maybe get Sam to watch? Love the idea of bribing him with sandwiches 🙂

  3. I think you’ve really thought the decision through. I really hope it is a great experience for you all.

    I’d have loved a homebirth. I think had it been possible for me, it would have removed much of the stress and ultimately increased the chances of me actually labouring and giving birth. I have deep seated issues with hospitals stemming back to horrible health experiences in my past. Sadly the risks posed by health – and many of those very experiences – means home birth is really not an option. I’m excited to read about your experience though!

  4. I had a home birth with my son 21 months ago. I had not considered home birth as an option until I was almost 30 weeks and my midwife suggested it. I had concerns about transfer time in case something happened as my local hospital is almost an hour away but she reassured me that getting to the hospital would be very quick by ambulance. Turns out she was correct as even though the whole labour and birth itself was fanstastic, relaxed and, at times, comical the midwives thought my son was ‘dusky’ and not being quite as lively as a newborn should, and that he needed a bit of extra oxygen so we were ‘blue lighted’ up to the hospital, where he stayed for three days in the NICU ward while he was checked for possible infection. Thankfully there was nothing wrong with him, other than needing a little helping hand by the fabulous NICU team at the Norfolk & Norwich Hospital.

    While we did not get that lovely feeling of spending those precious first hours all snuggled up in our own home it hasn’t put me off having another homebirth, and in fact we will hopefully be welcoming our daughter into the world in the comfort of our own home at some point within the next 5-7 weeks. I cannot fault the care and attention I recieved at my last homebirth – the midwives were fantastic – part of the reason I decided to have a home birth was because I knew I would have at least one midwife with me throughout my entire labour, and two at the very end, giving me their undivided attention, and unfortunately that is not something that can be said of hospital births at the moment where a midwife might be split between several women.

    I would say that I am probably more confident and relaxed about the idea of a homebirth this time due to having had to transfer at the last one – I know that should I need to transfer again we will be there in just over 30 minutes (those paramedics really know how to drive quickly!) and getting the expert care we obviously need, but hopefully this one will go swimmingly this time.

    Sorry for the long post! Hope you have a fabulous home birth experience – they really are wonderful!

  5. it may feel like it’s your decision alone but to me it signals a real strength in the relationship you have with Sam that he trusts you’ve researched it thoroughly and are making the decision that feels right for you and your baby. It may not have been his choice but he’s supporting your home birth knowing that if circumstances require it you will also put your trust in him to make a decision he feels is right for you and the baby if you needed him to.

    We knew we wanted a home birth from the outset and our plan was very much a wishlist of what we did want rather than what we didn’t want, so it felt like a very empowering, positive starting point for us. I wasn’t able to stay at home in the end – E was 10lb 2oz, back to back and stuck so I did need every intervention going but it wasn’t as stressful as I would have imagined if given it as a ‘what if … ‘ scenario before hand. My experience of stress has been that it comes from worrying about what might be – when you’re right in the thick of something difficult you don’t have time to think you simply act and are always motivated by what’s right for your baby. Your body knows how to birth a baby and there’s power in trusting your instincts that this is the right decision for you.

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