You’ve probably seen ‘my labour story’ – it was all pretty straight forward. I went to hospital one day and came home with my baby the next. But of course, every birth story is different so I want to share with you as many different stories as I can get hold of.
First, I’d like to welcome Jen to Mission2Mum. Jen is Mum to a very gorgeous little man, Archie, and had a home birth. I hadn’t even considered having a home birth. I didn’t think it was an option and didn’t think about looking in to it to find out more. But having read Jen’s story, I think I’ll seriously consider it for next time. Over to you Jen:
When I tell people that I gave birth to Archie at home the usual response is “Oh no, did you not get to the hospital in time?!” When I tell them that I had a planned home birth the response is mixed. Some people are really impressed. Some are horrified. Overall the response is “I think you’re really brave…but I wouldn’t do it myself”.
I wanted to write about my home birth because I had an overwhelmingly positive experience and I’d love for people to hear about it. I’m not especially hippy or alternative, which is sometimes the stereotype of home birth-ers. I’m just someone who thought about doing it following my very first booking appointment and decided “why not!”.
There has been some negative coverage in the media around home births. A lot of this followed a study that found there was an increased likelihood of complications for women having their first baby at home. Although the risk was statistically significant (almost three times higher), when I studied the research closer I found that it was still very low (36 women out of 4063). When I read ‘complications’ alarm bells did initially ring but actually these could be treatable problems and do not necessarily mean an emergency situation.
I felt that this slightly increased risk was balanced by research that found women who gave birth at home were less likely to need any major interventions or surgery. Apparently 9 out of 10 women had ‘normal’ deliveries at home compared with between 7 and 8 out of 10 in a midwifery unit and fewer than 6 out of 10 in an obstetric unit. Obviously you have to take into account that women birthing at home would have had very low-risk pregnancies while those in hospital may already have significant risk factors.
Another reason for choosing to give birth at home was my personal belief in the power of the mind. I felt that being in hospital would immediately ‘medicalise’ the process of labour for me. I really felt that if I was at home it would feel less medical, more natural, I would feel more in control and be less likely to need pain relief or medical intervention. I used hypnobirthing techniques to prepare for labour which I found invaluable.
Jen’s Labour Story
I went into labour a few days before my due date and began having contractions at 3am. I woke my husband up and we started to get really excited but by around 7am they stopped. I thought maybe it was just Braxton Hicks so I sent my husband off to work. By 4pm I was on the phone to him telling him to come home as contractions had kicked off again . One of the nicest things about planning to stay at home for the duration was that I didn’t have to worry about when to go into hospital. So I got in the bath and stayed there for about 2 hours. A midwife arrived at about 6pm and while she chatted to me my husband set up the birthing pool in our kitchen.
Now I am a passionate hypnobirthing advocate and would recommend it to anyone. However, there was a slight downside to it. Because I used the techniques and found them really helpful I was actually really calm throughout. Unfortunately this meant that my midwife didn’t think I was as far along as I was telling her I was. So when I told her I was going to start pushing she was the only midwife there (you need two when you actually give birth). She had to very quickly call out the emergency home birth team from the hospital to attend. They arrived about fifteen minutes before Archie did! Which was at 9.28pm, on our kitchen floor.
After he was born I held him for skin to skin, initially feeling shocked at how quickly it had all happened!
Then the midwives took him, checked him over and cleaned him up, all in our kitchen. Then my husband took him while they cleaned me up a little. They helped Archie and I to start breastfeeding while my husband made everyone a cup of tea. He then took Archie while I went upstairs to have a shower. I had a funny five minutes and started laughing (a little hysterically maybe as the midwife came in to check i hadn’t gone crackers) because it felt so weird to be standing in the shower with this strange, empty bump!
The midwives stayed for a couple of hours after Archie was born and at around 11pm it was just the three of us, in our bed!
To summarise my experience, here are what I felt were the pros and cons of having my baby at home…
- Pain relief is very limited.
- We had Archie at night and suddenly being on our own at home with a baby at 11pm was pretty weird!
- I didn’t care at the time but afterwards I did wonder what our neighbours made of the noises coming through their walls as they were watching Corrie!
- Some people thought a home birth was a terrible idea. And told us that. Having someone suggest that you are putting your unborn child’s life at risk is fairly horrible. Sure, it’s not for everyone but having your baby at home is not a decision many people make lightly.
- Transferring to hospital, in an ambulance, while in labour would have really, really sucked. It’s worth noting that research found that 45% of first-time mothers trying for a home birth transferred to hospital. It drops to 10% for subsequent births.
- Not having to worry about when to go into hospital. You know you’re at home for the duration and you can just get settled there.
- Having privacy, all your own things around you, being able to have a nice bath or shower in your own home, getting into your own bed afterwards really was amazing.
- Knowing your pain relief options are limited meant that I didn’t even consider them and just went for it!
- The midwives did a brilliant job cleaning up and when I came downstairs in the morning there was no sign of what had gone on the night before!
- My husband was there the whole time and we didn’t have to worry about visiting hours. He had things to do during the whole process, like set up the birthing pool, make everyone tea so there was no standing round like a spare part at any point.
- Although it would have sucked, I could have transferred to hospital (if I needed or chose to). Living in a big city meant that a hospital wasn’t too far away had I needed it at any point.
If anyone is interested in the study I’ve mentioned it’s called ‘Perinatal and maternal outcomes by planned place of birth for healthy women with low risk pregnancies: the Birthplace in England national prospective cohort study’. You can read more about the findings ‘here’.
I found this website really helpful as well , with loads of real life home birth stories and planning resources. ‘Home Birth’
I am definitely not saying home births are for everyone, but hopefully this might be interesting reading if you’re considering it.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us Jen. It sounds like the perfect birth. Of course, it’s different for everyone so discuss the options with your midwife and doctor to find out more.
If you would like to share your labour story with us, please get in touch by commenting below or emailing me. I’d love to hear from you. xx