I say home birth, you say…?
Common responses are “Why would you ruin your carpets/ freak out your neighbours/ RISK YOUR LIFE AND YOUR BABY’S?”
I’ve planned two of my own home births one of them I transferred in, one of them I birthed in my living room (or as my eldest describes it ‘pooed Rory out in the front room’). It would take something really remarkable for me to plan anything else (especially as I don’t want any more children living in my house, but even if I did, you know what I mean…).
As a hypnobirthing teacher, I’ve seen a whole load of initial reactions to the idea of home birth.
Here are my top 5 myths…
1. It’s brave
Not really- it’s far safer than most people imagine. You can check out the stats here at The BirthPlace Study, but there are actually benefits to home over hospital for some women. You NEED to feel safe to labour well, and that’s why choice is so important; different women have different needs. For some women, it would take more of their courage to venture into a hospital.
2. It’s gonna leave the house in a right state
Unlikely. I mean, you’ve gotta do the prep. Shower curtains on your floors are a good precaution, lots of old towels available, but it’s not like you’ve gotta go all Breaking Bad and create meth lab conditions throughout your whole house. For most of it you’ll probably either have a pad on, or maybe be in a pool (so yep, things can get a bit murky in there…), any mess is easily contained. AND your lovely midwives do most of the clearing up, thank all the Gods.
3. BUT MY POOR BED…
Interesting. What made you think you would give birth there? We are so conditioned to see birth on a bed as the norm, but it’s unusual for home births to happen there. The role of the hospital bed is to contain the birthing woman, to keep her in one place where the process can be managed with monitors and drips and is easily accessible. At home, there’s no need to go anywhere near the bed. Living room, kitchen, bathroom, wherever you fancy is fine.
4. I’m not allowed though – am I?
I’m not saying that everyone should have a home birth – you definitely shouldn’t unless you really want to. But there are so many women who believe they’re not allowed to, who should be supported to birth at home according to NICE guidelines. Low iron, VBAC, high BMI, first time mum, I hear them all and it’s outrageous that any woman is left believing she has no options. Ask for the guidelines, ask for the evidence, and make a truly informed choice. You’re always ‘allowed’. Doesn’t mean you always should, but it is up to you.
5. My eldest will be traumatised
Have a chat with women who have birthed at home with siblings around, this isn’t what they usually describe. Remember, kids haven’t been conditioned to fear birth, or to feel squeamish about it in the way we have. Not yet, anyway. Maybe they sleep through labour, maybe they are transfixed, maybe it’s a non-event just like most of the seemingly odd stuff adults spend their time doing. Plus you don’t have to arrange childcare while you go to hospital. You know your child best, of course, but they may well handle it better than you imagine, so ask around.
So there you have my top 5. I’m sure there’s a ton of other stuff that needs clearing up (I mean what to expect, not the bodily fluids) but it’s a good start. If you think a home birth could be a good option for you, talk to your midwife. You can also check out the Home Birth Reference Site for lots of questions answered and resources.
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Keri Jarvis is Founder of Do It Like A Mother. She inspires women to beat their birth fear via hypnobirthing that makes total sense, and she’s a mindset mentor for motherhood and business. She has two sons and one husband, and lives in Essex.