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Home births rock (but more important is the right to choose where to give birth)

This article kept me awake last night trying to find a succinct and reasoned response to its rather narrow minded and judgemental response to women choosing to give birth at home.

I respect Melanie’s choice of a hospital birth – for the majority of women its the best place for them to birth their babies and its a sign of how developed our society is that women have a safe medical environment in which to do so. That said, for other women it is not the best place and again, a developed society should offer them the choice of a safe alternative – for me and for many other women that is at home.

I am not a sandal wearing hippy – far from it, I’m more likely to be found in Jimmy Choos than Birkenstocks and yet I gave birth to my daughter at home and am planning to do the same with my second baby this autumn.

Why ?

Because of the impersonal way I was treated when I had to attend the gynae A&E during my first pregnancy when a doctor didn’t introduce herself before starting an internal examination and refused to answer my questions and left me deeply concerned about the care I would receive in hospital.

And most importantly because I found an independent midwife, Lynn Walcott, with whom I was able to build a relationship during my pregnancy, whose air of calm competence reassured me and who I knew I could trust to draw on her years of experience to spot problems early enough for us to head to hospital should things go wrong.

In fact the birth of my daughter was not uncomplicated, I had a post partum hemorrhage, but Lynn was there and dealt with it calmly. My sole memory of the period, when my husband tells me I drifted in and out of consciousness, was of being able to look across into the kitchen and to see him calmly sitting in the rocking chair by our Aga cuddling our new baby and telling her all about the world she had just joined – no shouting, no panic, no bright lights, just a calm introduction to the world and the knowledge that we were in safe hands and it would all turn out right.

I can’t help but contrast this experience to that of my friends who had similar issues. This is why my next baby will be born at home if at all possible.

But this is not about forcing women give birth at home, despite the fact that both my husband and I are vocal in raising awareness of how this can be an positive choice, but about letting women continue to have the choice about where to birth their babies be it home or hospital.

It is also about raising awareness of the issues facing independent midwives, a wonderful group of women who may be unable to continue to provide their unique one-on-one care if certain legislation is implemented in 2011. Please do consider clicking through to the Save Independent Midwifery Campaign and register your support – this is about choice.

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10 comments to Home births rock (but more important is the right to choose where to give birth)

  • Concept Design Form

    >I had a wonderful home birth and totally agree that women should have the choice. The Times article did annoy me – unresearched to the say the least. Home births, for those without complications, are as safe as hospital births and offer mum, dad and baby a beautifully calm start to life as a family. I do wear birkenstocks, but only out of comfort in the summer and teamed with my mainstream, high street clothing. I’m not a raving hippy, but someone who, after researching, decided that a homebirth would provide me with a calm, relaxing environment in which to birth, where I would feel more in control and therefore better placed to avoid going down the slippery slope of interventions so often used in hospital settings. I am also planning my second homebirth sometime in Novemeber.

  • Monica

    >You are completely right! We should have the choice and it should be supported and we should also have the right information given to us by the NHS to make our choice!

    I personally don’t know what my midwife is gonna say when I mention doing my birth at home. I am allready 32 weeks and had very poor midwife care up to now. In all my appointements I have never had the same midwife!!!

    You are welcome at my blog for a chance to win some freebies each month!


    Monica xxx

  • Monica

    >Forgot to say… What a cute baby in the pic!!!

  • Muddling Along Mummy

    >Thank you Monica – that’s my daughter curled up in our bed the day she was born

    I just with that all women were supported in their choice of where to birth and then received the right care to help them have the most positive experience doing so

  • zooarchaeologist

    >I like the sound of your aga! Yes, agree with you totally. Sounds like your home birth was a good experience. I had both mine is hospital, the delivery experience was good but post- delivery experience poor. I had considered home birth and wanted to go along with it but due to the way the hospital areas are split the community midwife’s are not attached to the hospital that I wanted to go to in an emergency. It was a dilemma. However, if I ever had baby number 3 I would definitely go for a home birth as I feel that I know what is coming and confident in my ability to cope with the pain- both times I only had gas and air.
    Good luck with baby 2 🙂 x

  • Katherine

    >It seems a lot of parents to be are left woefully unaware of their options surrounding child birth> I had D#1 in a big,busy Manchester hospital…it wan't straight forward but the hospital experience wasn't great. S#1 was a domino at the same hospital but with the midwife who provided my ante-natal care thorughout; home after 2 hours, straight forward, entonox only so different from before. S#2 was born in local midife unit; again straight forward, entonox and birthing pool…fab; so what are they going to do with this lovely little,homely unit? Close it down,in favour of a brand, spanking new super, central hospital, of course…crazy. My dad was born during a Manchester air raid in an Anderson shelter; not ideal but goes to show home births are possible whatever the circumstance!

  • Noble Savage

    >I had a homebirth in September and it was absolutely amazing. The fact that birthing at home is now considered a bit ‘weird’ when it was absolutely the norm until recent decades just shows how medicalised our view of childbirth has become. Most people give birth just fine without all the beeping machines. In fact, it’s the beeping machines that cause birth to go wrong more often than not now. It’s very sad.

    I’ll definitely be supporting the Independent Midwifery campaign and will continue to advocate for home birth as a choice for all women. Thanks for highlighting this issue.

  • Cave Mother

    >Hi MAM

    You are completely right in what you say. I just read the article and it really annoyed me. The bit I dislike most is the phrase “for the vast majority of us the only intelligent, progressive, logical place to give birth is within shouting distance of the benefits of 21st-century medicine”. When do they think midwives trained? Midwives are highly competent professionals just like doctors. Should anything untoward occur they know when a hospital transfer should take place. Like you, I had a home birth with my first baby and like you I do not wear sandals, except when it’s hot and I have painted my nails. The message we get from the media is “Women need hospitals to give birth”. We should be hearing “Women are strong and have the power to give birth wherever they choose”. Grrr. Homebirth is one of my pet topics, as you might be able to tell. My blog (on homebirth, attachment parenting, breastfeeding etc) is at cavemother.blogspot.com

  • rainsinger

    >I had an excellent home birth in December 2007. It also had its complications (post partum haemorrhagee) and my not diagnosed until after the baby was born stress-fractured pelvis which made me want to kill everyone and made me seriously consider sodding it all and having an epidural because my labour had stalled at 7cm and I was exhausted and the pain of a baby pressing on a broken bone was relentless and not unlike battery acid being poured into one’s hips.

    But I loved my homebirth (being able to labour in water in privacy and comfort and as long as I wanted) and I would have one again unless there were serious counterindications.

  • Coding Mamma (Tasha)

    >What an annoying article. Personally, I’m inclined toward the middle ground and am really hoping that this time I’ll get to use the suberb midwife-led unit that’s just up the road (and that I marched and wrote letters to save three years ago). But I know that my midwife is a specialist and proponent of home births so I wuold feel very safe in her hands if I decided to go down that route.

    We were considering home birth last time, because the possible closure of the afore-mentioned birth unit. At first I was a bit wary of it, but the more I read, the more I realised what a good and healthy option it was.

    In the end, the choice was taken away from me, because my waters broke a few days before 37 weeks, which meant neither birth-unit nor home-birth was open to me. Rosemary spent her first week in SCBU due to some small breathing problems. I believe that this wouldn’t have happened at the birth-unit or home, because I think it was entirely down to being strapped to monitors and forced to lie prone on a bed the whole time and added to by not having proper help to get her to latch on (which I would have got with our local midwives), because her breathing problems were ones that are often settled by colostrum.

    This time, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that baby will stay put until 37 weeks, so I can have my birth of choice, which will be at the midwife-led unit. Mostly because I don’t want to have to kick the dog out for the birth, and he’s not much good around strangers, but also because I would kind of like a rest after giving birth, and if I’m here, I’ll probably get up and unload the dishwasher and even go and do some work!

    It is very important to have the choice and opportunity to give birth where we want to and to be supported in whatever way we need.

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