Find out what your options are if you're considering having a home birth.
Nowadays many women choose to have a home birth, not least because the idea of giving birth in their natural surroundings instead of in a potentially crowded hospital wing can have great appeal. However you might be reluctant to bring your baby into the world away from the security a hospital provides, and may not know if a home birth is right for you. To help you decide, we explain more.
Is a home birth suitable for me?
Giving birth in the comfort of your own home can be a viable option for anybody who doesn't have a history of pregnancy complications or other health issues. Your doctor may recommend that you have your baby in a hospital if you are expecting twins, are overweight, or have had any problems with either this pregnancy or previous deliveries. He or she may also recommend you deliver in hospital if this is your first baby.
If you are expecting your first child, you may want to have your baby in a hospital because you may not know what to expect or just want the extra feeling of security a hospital can provide. However, whether this is your first baby or your fourth, there's no reason you shouldn't have a home birth if you wish, as long as you are in good health.
Ultimately your decision to have a home birth will come down to how prepared you feel to go through with the birth at home, or whether you'd prefer to be in the care of hospital staff on the big day.
Why have a home birth?
There are plenty of reasons why giving birth at home can be beneficial to you, but you'll have to think about all the pros and cons carefully to decide exactly how you'll feel welcoming your little one into the world in your own home.
One of the main appeals of giving birth at home is the idea of how comfortable and safe you'll feel. It's likely you'll feel much more relaxed and at ease in surroundings you are familiar with and with your own things to hand. This sort of comfort and assurance can make you feel less stressed about giving birth, and could help your labour run more smoothly.
Statistically, home births also involve less medical intervention than hospital births. This is because while at home in your own surroundings you are less likely to have complications in labour or to need to have medical treatment such as an episiotomy.
A home birth is likely to offer you more control over your birth experience because you can decide how many people are present in the room, and you can arrange the settings to suit you. So if you want a particular piece of music on in the background, a candle-lit room, or an arrangement of your favourite cushions to lie back on, you can have these things - and anything else you think would make your birth run smoothly. However it's worth noting that arranging your surroundings in this way will be somewhat possible in a hospital too.
Another benefit of giving birth at home is the fact that as soon as you have given birth, you'll be able to relax and recover in your own bed straight away. Giving birth in hospital means that you'll have an inevitable home journey to make at some point with your newborn, but if the entire event takes place at home this is one less thing to worry about.
What else should I consider?
If you are thinking of having a home birth there are some things worth considering that may sway your decision. Firstly not all medical authorities will be able to offer services for home births, so it's worth finding out what's offered in your area before deciding on home or hospital.
Some home births do result in a transfer to hospital mid-labour, if hospital treatment becomes necessary, so this is also something to take into account.
If you are going to have a home birth it's important to make your home warm and comfortable in preparation for your delivery date, and also to try to minimise outside noise as much as possible. If you have a noisy next-door neighbour or a yapping dog that lives nearby, it may be an idea to have a chat with your neighbours about your planned home birth before the day.
You may also want to make sure that you have a landline phone nearby when you are giving birth, so that you have a back-up in an emergency if your mobile phone isn't working.
How do I arrange a home birth?
Once you've decided that a home birth would be right for you, it's best to discuss it with your GP as soon as possible after you've found out that you're pregnant. Your GP should be able to advise you on how suitable you are for giving birth at home, and should be able to put you in touch with a local midwifery service. You can then arrange the details of your home birth with a local midwife.
A couple of weeks before your delivery date, your midwife will come to your house to deposit any equipment and supplies she'll need to assist your birth, so there's no need to provide any equipment yourself. On the day of the birth itself your midwife will be present, as well as another midwife to help out, and anyone else you want to be present. Your midwife will guide you through the birth experience, and an ambulance will be on the end of the phone if needed.
After the birth your midwife will check the weight of your baby and make sure everything is in order, then leave you to enjoy your new bundle of joy. Your GP should then visit you in the next day or so to check you and your baby are healthy and well.
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