Why we’re having a home birth
“Oh, I’m sorry,” says the midwife. “We’re short-staffed this evening, and very busy. You’ll have to come in.”
Not off to the best start; but I tell my wife, who by this point is in so much pain she really doesn’t mind where she has the baby, as long as it’s soon. And so we head to the hospital, and three hours later our second son, Noah, is born. Fast forward a couple of years, and we are expecting our third child in August. And this time, fingers crossed, we’ll get our home birth.
Initially, I was quite hesitant when my wife suggested (whilst pregnant with Noah) that we have a home birth. Instantly, my thoughts turned to what could happen if something goes wrong – will we get to the hospital on time? Is home the safest place to have a baby? But, after looking into it a little more, my fears were allayed.
It’s worth saying at the outset that not every mother is suitable for a home birth. Most midwives prefer a hospital birth for the first child, and older mums or those susceptible to illness may find it recommended that they give birth in hospital. If you have any doubts, your midwife will be able to help you choose the best option
The fact is there are a number of advantages to a home birth over a hospital birth. The biggest is probably that both you and – more importantly – your partner are in familiar surroundings. The hustle and bustle that you find in hospital corridors is replaced with the background noise of your favourite TV programme. Your wife can have as many cups of tea as she wishes, and can relax in the comfort of her own bed afterwards. On a more biological level, the fact that mum is more relaxed means she will release more endorphins, feel-good hormones which will calm her down and possibly lead to a less painful labour.
There is also the huge advantage of one-to-one care. Hospital midwives have the unenviable – and admirable – task of managing many mums at once; in your own home it is just you, your partner and the midwife, who will bring pain relief with her, such as gas and air and a Pethidine injection. It is usually the same midwife that your partner has seen throughout her pregnancy, and has built a rapport with; and, after your baby has been born, the midwife will make regular visits for the next few days to check that everything is OK.
We are fortunate enough to live just ten minutes away from the nearest hospital, which means that if something does go wrong an ambulance can come and take my wife into the operating theatre in the same amount of time as if she was actually in the hospital itself. And so my fears and worries have been calmed. The only thing I have to worry about now is gathering enough shower curtains and old sheets to cover the living room floor…