• Bea Christie

Are You Planning A Home Birth?

A short history

Until 1800s most people gave birth at home without pain relief. Anaesthesia became popular in the 1850s after Queen Victoria used it during her birth.

1906 is the year 'twilight sleep' was developed, it offered a painless birth but at a cost most didn't realise. A blog focusing on twilight sleep is on its way for those that are interested.

In 1948, shortly after WW2, the National Heath Service (NHS) started up. Thankfully twilight births were becoming less and less sought after by this point. As modern medicine advanced, including safer pain relief for labouring people, so did the want for hospital births.

Previous to this, birth still usually happened at home; or in a special home run by midwives. Historically, birth was a social event, birthing people were normally surrounded by family, friends and even neighbours. With the increase of hospital births came the decrease of birth support as typically men didn't attend births, with the exception of doctors. Fathers only more commonly started attending births in the 70s.

The 90s brought a softer approach, with more respect, to the way we provide care to pregnant people.

Today not much has changed since the 90s, there are many options for people getting ready to birth their babies; but for some people home births have been advised against for questionable reasons.

In February 2012 the National Maternity Review stated 87% of births took place in hospitals and 11% took place in midwife-led units, meaning only 2.4% of births were at home.

Even though recent studies show that having a birth at home is just as safe as having a hospital birth, especially when low risk.

Its common for people to fear the what-ifs around birth. Birth in media has pushed the notion that it should be seen as a medical condition that requires lots of interventions for it to be safe. This is not the case for many people.

There are a few reasons it may be recommended that you birth your baby in a hospital, but these are just recommendations. It is up to you to do the research relevant to your situation and make decisions that are right for you.

Some of the benefits of having a birth at home

Many people choose to have a home birth after being dissatisfied with the care provided to them, either during or after a hospital birth, and because of this they seek an environment that they can feel more control and freedom. A home birth also provides a comfortable and familiar setting, allowing you to focus your energy on your body and get the oxytocin flowing. You also keep that oxytocin going by cutting out the adrenaline filled car ride to the hospital. You can welcome anyone you wish into your birth space at home, including older children, there might be limits to the amount of support people you can take to a hospital setting. There are far lower incidences of medical interventions at home births, so if you wish to have a natural birth this is something to think about.

Plus who would say no to their own bed, shower and favourite mug after giving birth?

Some of the downfalls of a home birth

There is limited pain relief available at a home birth, you will not have access to an epidural. You can use gas and air along with other pain relieving methods such as a birth pool, TENS machine and hypnobirthing.

Birth can be messy and its best to prepare for this with plenty towels and protection for furniture. Get some bin bags ready for a quick clean up after baby is born.

Where in the home?

You may want to think about which room of your house you plan to give birth in.

Depending on the length of labour and time you give birth you may want to think about where you will sleep after everything has settled. if you plan to birth in the living room and your bedroom in up a set of stairs you may want to have your duvet and Moses basket ready there so you can get some rest without having to climb the stairs.

Think about the size of the room if you wish to have a birth pool, do a trial run with your pool before the big day so you can see exactly how it will be.

Something else to think about is setting up a station for baby to be checked over in the event of a traumatic birth, this can be as simple as a changing mat on a coffee table.

A rough check list of things to get ready for a home birth

  • towels

  • blankets

  • shower curtain, to cover floor or furniture

  • puppy pads

  • a bucket, incase you need to be sick

  • birth plan

  • playlist of your favourite songs

  • water bottle

  • first outfit for baby

  • nappies & wipes

  • postnatal pads

  • snacks

  • pillows

  • something comfy for you to change into once baby is here

You may wish to pack a bag to take if you decide to be transferred to the hospital.

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