What are the benefits and risks of having a home birth?
It also means that you can make yourself comfortable in one place for your entire labour, rather than having to go back and forward to hospital (particularly if it is a long labour).
If you already have children, a home birth means you won’t need to leave them, though it is important to have arrangements in place in case you need to be transferred to hospital.
Your partner will also be able to stay with you the whole time at home and they will be comfortable. They can’t usually stay overnight in hospital, for example.
People who have home births are also less likely to have interventions such as forceps or ventouse.
How to prepare for a home birth
- Your midwife will give you disposable pads but you might want to get a waterproof cover for your mattress if you want to give birth in your bed.
- If you would like water birth, lots of towels are good.
- Think about creating a calm and relaxing atmosphere with music and lighting.
- Consider what pain relief you would like.
- Be prepared with flannels to keep you cool, a bucket in case you feel sick and maybe a handheld fan to keep you cool.
- Charge your camera if you want your partner to take pictures or videos.
- Prepare plenty of snacks and drinks. Having a straw might make it easier when you are in labour.
If you are thinking about opting for a home birth, there are some important things to consider.
Home births are not recommended for any one classed as a high-risk pregnancy as being in hospital means doctors and midwives are able to monitor you more closely and step in if there are any complications.
If you have pre-eclampsia, diabetes or a high BMI, doctors recommend giving birth in hospital. Similarly, if you have had abnormal scans, your baby is breach or you have previously had a c-section, you are considered to be high-risk.
Even if you are low risk, there is still a chance you will need to be transferred to hospital once you are in labour if there are any complications.
The Birthplace Study found that 45 out of 100 women having their first baby were transferred and 12 out of 100 women having their second or subsequent baby, so it’s important that you are prepared with a hospital bag in case you need to have a hospital birth at the last minute.
Of course, the pain relief available at home is not the same as in hospital. Epidurals are not available for home births but gas and air, birthing pools and TENS machines can be provided.
To organise a home birth, it is best to speak you your midwife or GP as early in your pregnancy as possible. They can then help talk to you about whether it will work for you and who to speak to.
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