To home birth or not to home birth?? Experiences pls!!

(144 Posts)
Nicky1306 Thu 17-Jan-13 15:01:34

Arghhhhh! I'm soooo confused! This baby has been breach since 24 weeks......had pretty much accepted I'd be having a section...... Find out yesterday at 36 weeks baby is head down and 4/5ths engaged! Which means I can have the home birth I wanted......but now I don't know what I want, did you have a home birth ? How was it? Would you do it again? What was great about it? What was not so great? Thanks x x

JumpJockey Tue 22-Jan-13 10:58:04

I had Dd1 at home, in a pool, and it was an amazing experience. First twinges at about 6 am, sent dh off to work (first babies always slow...!) Doula came at 9, called Dh home, they got the pool set up while I walked around the house lots, got in pool about 12 after MW agreed things were getting going, DD1 born at 2.30. No tearing or grazes, had a big cuddle with her in the water, then we went upstairs for a sleep in our own bed while DH cleared everything away! I must point out that we live about 10mins from the nearest hospital, I might have been a bit more nervous as first timer if were miles away.

We planned HB for Dd2 but she arrived a month early so had to go to hospital, but having had a very good active birth experience first time I felt confident to say actually no, I don't want to lie down on my back, if you need to monitor could you do it while I stand up? The MWs (one was a trainee) were brilliant, very hands off and only took her away very briefly to check she was ok, weighed in at nearly 7lbs so they gave her straight back to me for cuddles. So having a "this is a HB" attitude really helped make that be a good labour experience. It was quite easy to block everyone out and focus just on me and DH, curtains closed, no interruptions etc.

Someone's bound to have mentioned Ina May Gaskin, if not get a copy of her Guide to Childbirth for lots and lots of inspiring birth stories. I would definitely try for a home birth if we had another baby.

JumpJockey Tue 22-Jan-13 11:02:11

Also re mess, it seemed to be remarkably mess free - my waters didn't go until I was in the pool, and the notes say I only lost about 150mls of blood. They took the placenta away, so DH just had to get the hose from the pool out the back door and into the drain and it was all done! <preen> wink

BigSpork Tue 22-Jan-13 12:45:20

I've had 2 home births (and 2 hospital births).

One was good with amusing, mostly relaxed midwives and very glad to have done it with DD1. I had it due to poor treatment during the first hospital birth and it was a very healing experience from the trauma of my eldest.

The other was awful and dangerous as the midwives who arrived were very inexperienced at homebiths and unsupportive and I felt harassed and looked down upon throughout the whole thing (midwife one kept making horrible comments about our house, about the room we'd set up for the birth, for not waking up our friends who were upstairs sleeping from their trip to watch the kids right the moment she thought they should which was from the moment labour started) and after DD2 was born with a normal delivery, the other midwife moved her out of my sight instantly - didn't get to hold her at all for over half an hour and she has the audacity to yell at my husband for knowing where the baby hats were while he was standing in panic not knowing whether to stay with DD2 or with me who was screaming as the other midwife forced me to have the injection and began pressing down and yanking on the cord straight away. I was in more pain from that than the labour that had just ended and she caused a chunk of the placenta to come off and me to bleed really heavily (when we got to hospital, she blamed it on my lower than average blood iron count and began taunting me with the midwife3 on how I would end up with an epidural anyways for the manual removal - hospital midwife 3 wouldn't stop going on about it). Other than the OR staff, I was treated very awfully that night by midwife 3 in the high dependency wing. I still have pain and regret over that one.

I had a hospital birth for the next and, though my hardest birth (stuck shoulder, much bigger child than my others), it was the one where the birthing staff were the most supportive and it was a wonderful, healing experience after DD2 and after the horrible treatment I had with the community midwives during the pregnancy (ruined the last weeks by telling scare stories of bleeding out and how much more aware my children would be if something went wrong - in front of those so aware children. DS1 was petrified I was going to bleed out any second and didn't know why I wasn't in hospital right away. Spent the last few weeks calming him down - one of the main reasons for not having another is I don't think I could deal with the stress/anxiety/poor treatment from the community midwife who outright blamed me for my bad experiences as midwife1 was one of her students so couldn't be her). /rant

TL;DR: It can be wonderful with the right people, it can be awful with awful people, a birth experience mostly comes down to having good caring people with you.

flossfour Tue 22-Jan-13 12:52:20

Hi, I had a home birth 15 years ago with my fourth child. Unfortunately, he came early on the same day we moved house AND decided to be awkward enough to come out face up!

However, was still my easiest birth (apart from the removal men turning my hot water off so I could only have a cold bath after!) - no drugs needed, just a little gas and air, and wish I had had them all at home!

At least if you start at home, you can always change your mind!

DC 1 was a hospital birth and I disliked it- my labour was augmented when it should not have been (not just my opinion but acknowledged by the supervisor of midwives). I hated being left on my own in postnatal when dh had to leave.

DC 2 I thought about a hb but decided to go in and aim for an early discharge. Dd had other ideas and arrived at home after a very quick labour. I loved being at home with my own bed, bath and food plus dh being there for her first night.

With DC 3 I was advised to have a hb due to previous fast labour but I would have picked it anyway. I had 3 mws who were totally hands off, I felt totally comfortable and dh was much happier as well- in fact he recommends it to other dads.

I definitely do it again.

spooktrain Tue 22-Jan-13 14:27:03

DS1 - hospital birth - induced, 12 hour v. painful back to back labour, epidural that didn't work, left traumatised and with bonding issues, followed by PND. Plus the night after DS was born the woman in the bed next to me nearly died of pre-eclampsia in front of me. It was horrific.

DS2 - home birth - 2.5 hour labour that was completely manageable without pain relief, an empowering (sorry! but it was grin) experience that left me on a week long high afterwards. The midwives were lovely, very unobtrusive and quietly supportive. It was soooooo nice to snuggle up in my own bed afterwards too. The first week of DS2's life was probably one of the nicest of my life

Kaida Tue 22-Jan-13 16:00:00

I had a fab homebirth for my first (and so far only) child. I would do it again in a heartbeat. I had an easy time coping with the contractions as I was so relaxed in my own surroundings (studies have shown women feel less pain at home than in hospital), which probably shortened my labour too, and we had a birthpool. We had an independent midwife (also recommended if you can afford it) so we were guaranteed someone confident and comfortable with homebirth (and guaranteed a HB barring medical complications - the NHS kept threatening not to attend if they were too busy angry). DS obviously approved of our choice too - APGARS were 9 and 10, and he didn't even cry his entry into the world was so calm and peaceful.

THERhubarb Tue 22-Jan-13 16:26:29

Nicky1306 everyone is different as you will have gathered. I read somewhere that if you were the type of person who took paracetamol at the first sign of a headache then you probably wouldn't cope with a home birth. I was that person.

I wanted a home birth for my second. Well actually I didn't, I thought I would be all bravado and insist on a home birth knowing full well that I was 0-, slightly anaemic (sp?) and had an epidural first time round. There was no way they would let me go through with it. But they did. So as not to lose face, I kinda ended up going along with it.

Plenty of people thought I would wuss out. Plenty. Even dh wasn't fully convinced. But I didn't.

I had one of those big balls. I used it to get the labour going (probably not supposed to but it did). I clung onto it and didn't let go all the way through. Ds had a big head. That was good in one way as he came out pretty darn quickly. Bad in another as I tore (again).

The pain was bearable. I had been to NCT ante-natal classes (which I highly recommend for a home birth) and the info I gleaned from them was invaluable. I knew what to do. Of the other women in the classes with me, 4 were convinced they would have epidurals. After we had all given birth, none of the women said they felt they needed an epidural. Armed with our information we all felt in control and we all felt we could cope. And we did.

I breathed through the pain. Yes it hurt but it is a different kind of pain. I broke my tailbone 2 years ago and that had me howling in agony. This pain was productive, which sounds odd but there you go, I knew why I was in pain, I knew what was going on, I knew what stage the labour was at, I knew the pain would not last and I knew that the more painful it got, the closer I was to the end result.

I could not have had a home birth without the information the NCT provided me with.

I am so pleased I did it. I never thought I would and I can honestly say it is one of the proudest moments of my life.

Gilby Tue 22-Jan-13 20:48:32

I thought I would post as I want to give a different perspective. I had both of mine in hospital, and both labours were fairly quick- in the end I didn't have any pain relief for either (not because I wasn't screaming for it but because there wasn't time grin and gas&air did nothing). My experience in hospital was fantastic both times- the full attention of two midwives both times, my own room, a large corner bath. I was showered and felt back to being myself within an hour and home within 6. DH said it was like a quick, easy day at work hmm hmm. Best of all, I knew if the baby got into trouble that there were plenty of able people around. Yes, if it's busy the experience is different but even if the midwife is in another room you can get hold of her quickly if necessary.
There are LOTS of pros to home births, as above, but hospital births can be good experiences too. It depends, like others have said, if it's your first (difficult to know about potential problems, things which may recur)- if it's your second or more then go for it at home.

mummymafia Tue 22-Jan-13 21:53:14

I had my first DS at a midwife run birthing centre which was amazing - in a birthing pool but had to be transferred to hospital because of a few complications I had 4 days after the birth. I had second DS at home, the day after I finished work (!), in the bath (I'm small & we have a big bath! It did look a bit like a scene from Psycho afterwards!). No pain relief, all done & dusted in 4 hours. I was super lucky in the fact that my wonderful midwife lives 4 doors away & had dropped off the home birth pack the day before. It was an amazing experience, I was so much more relaxed, I was in my own bed tucked up with DS2 half an hour after giving birth, eating toast & having a cup of tea. When DS1 woke up the next morning he wandered in as normal to our bedroom to see his new baby brother had arrived which was the most magical experience for all of us. I would recommend it to anyone who doesn't have any complications - I did have to fight for it as I had PPH first time round - I figured if anything cropped up the midwife would make the call to get help way sooner than they would in a hospital/birthing centre. But it's a very personal thing & if it's your first time there is no way you can judge how you will be with the pain. If you have a midwife you trust & feel comfortable with then go for it.

Alison71 Wed 23-Jan-13 00:29:40

Hi Nicky1306, are you still in waiting/deciding? I've just read the start of the thread so apologies if I'm out of touch/repeating things. Maybe you're overwhelmed by stories now!! First of all congratulations! xxx

I've had one little girl, born at home 3 days before I was due to be induced. It was good to have a home birth planned so that I felt more confident to curl up somewhere familiar and let the first stages of contractions establish and strengthen. I had a TENS machine and was able to just curl up on a bed and get used to using that.

I think I honestly believed the midwife would come round and announce failure to progress and that I needed to transfer but no! Quite the opposite! She offered congratulations on being 7cm dilate and that she would stay with me from that point! Think my husband could have kissed her!!! (He went from being alarmed at the idea of home birth to wanting it that way and is very proud of it being at home... personally I think the dad's view is very important too but the buck definitely stops with you!) Anyway, I looked forward to the gas and air coming as TENS machine wasn't quite cutting it only to discover I couldn't tolerate it so realised I'd have to just get on and give birth.

It's so difficult to know what would suit when you've not been in the situation before isn't it?

To be honest, at the time and just after, I thought that I'd never chose a home birth again. It would have been very difficult for me to get down stairs and transfer in the middle of labour so I did feel a bit exposed in that. However as time has passed it has been very peaceful and lovely to think my little girl was born in what is now her bedroom. She'll be two this weekend.

The midwives who will do home births are very very very experienced and have absolutely no intention whatsoever to put you and your baby at risk, they are watching and monitoring all the time and have time to respond. The resources they bring with them can deal with many things, so it is really important to remember that and trust their judgement... doesn't mean you can't question them though.

Top tip from me - hedge your bets, get them ready for home birth - you can change your mind at any point right up til the actual delivery! Be open to the uncertainty, that's ok. Factors on the day matter - if the weather turns bad you might feel more secure to go to hospital when the time comes. Being a winter birth it was important for me to consider how far away hospital was should transfer in labour be needed and what the roads in my area tend to be like in bad weather and at rush hour.

Oh and if you've not seen one already, ask them to bring a birthing stool. It's not elegant but it gets you in the right position to get baby 'round the corner' which is the slow and tricky bit and where things can get a bit stuck. Was VERY effective for me.

Home birth helped me get on with it and get the baby born, if you see what I mean... with only a TENS machine or the prospect of transfer to hospital mid-labour I just wanted to get the job done! I think that helped.

Alternatively, no hospital visit means no yummy cheesy photo of you, hospital staff and baby in a car seat to ooh over after!!!

All the very best to you xxx

Alison71 Wed 23-Jan-13 00:39:28

PS - I would have punched anyone who tried to take the TENS machine off me - it helped a lot! That little push button was what I held onto!

I appreciate what Gilby wrote above. I found birthing a little gruesome to be honest but instant amazement to see a little baby after it all! I've been at an emergency caesarian (with a woman who was dead against hospitals!) and it was the same total wonder and miracle.

Missymoomum Wed 23-Jan-13 06:43:23

I've not read all the threads, so i'm probably repeating a lot of what's already been said! I have 2 children, first was born in hospital and the second was born at home in a pool. I was very lucky as both experiences were wonderful experiences but the home waterbirth was amazing. I just wish DH would let me have another baby so i could do it again! A big positive for me, apart from the obvious being in your own environment benefits, was the fact the my DC1 was just 18 months when his sister came along and with no family living near by, i didn't want to have to worry about who was going to look after him when the time came and if i had to make a quick dash to the hospital (my mum was coming over when labour started but she would need 2.5 hours at least to get to our house). As it was, first contraction started about 8pm just as i was putting DS into his cot and DD was born at 01.47 that night, so less than 6 hours including 3rd stage smile. DS slept all the way through it and his face was a picture the following morning when he came into our bedroom and found his baby sister sleeping in the moses basket. It was great to have the reassurance that there was a midwife around all the time, but she also basically left me to get on with it and was very hands off which was also really nice. However, even though it doesn't seem like the mw is doing anything, she does carefully monitor you through observation and she will be highly experienced in that should any complications arise, she will transfer you to hospital. The fact that she is with you all the time, also means that is there are any complications then they will most likely be picked up quicker at home than in hospital where unfortunately mw's just aren't able to stay with you all the time.
If you're thinking of a homebirth then i would say definitely book for one as the community mw's will then be expecting you and then, once you're in labour and you think you would be happier in hospital then there's absolutely nothing wrong with changing your mind. Good luck!!

PetWoman Thu 24-Jan-13 20:19:20

I planned a home birth for DC1 as I wanted to give myself the best chance of a calm, intervention-free birth. However, I had a very long and frankly very painful pre-labour (2 nights and a day - TENS, co-codamol, bath etc not helping) and eventually rushed into hospital because I was bleeding (though this turned out to be a normal variation of the show). Anyway, at hospital a wonderful midwife examined me in a quiet, dim room and coached me to breathe through the contractions. Finally I was able to manage the pain. In fact, it sort of stopped hurting. She gave me the option of staying in hospital (saying 'where will you feel safest?' - and I did feel very safe with her) but as I'd forked out for a pool at home and done all the preparation, I decided to head home again.

Anyway, things went well at home. I used the pool and had gas and air at about 8cm. But then I had a cervical lip so after waiting an hour to see if it would go away (and that wait was pretty painful) I transferred back to hospital in an ambulance. Wasn't great, but I was beyond caring by then.

At hospital I had a range of interventions but actually I didn't mind all the people there (something I thought I'd hate) as I knew they were there to help. And I didn't really notice them that much iykwim. DS was born with forceps eventually.

Being on the ward afterwards was good because I got lots of help with bfing (and actually I wished I'd stayed in a few days longer because the feeding problems started on day 3) but the food (when I got any) was terrible!

Meanwhile DH had a lot of mess to clear up at home.

But to sum up, I think there are advantages to both places, and you can't know in advance what your body will do. I don't think being at home automatically leads to a calm birth, and the things that you think might bother you about being in hospital may turn out to seem irrelevant. If you live close to hospital then why not book a home birth with the knowledge that you might end up in hospital, and it won't be the end of the world, or you might be lucky enough to have a beautiful calm water birth at home?

Nicky1306 Sun 27-Jan-13 17:52:21

Wow!!!! Thank you so much for all the lovely replies! grin I can't believe how many there are!!
I have been booked in for a home birth......but I'm still not sure, and DP is even less sure! X x

BartletForTeamGB Sun 27-Jan-13 19:16:24

Well done. I am all for booking home births even when you are not sure, because you can always change your mind. You are not forced into it! smile

I never for one moment imagined I would actually have a home birth, but it just seemed to go fine so it just happened. I have booked for another one this time, so we'll see what happens. Equally, there is no shame if it doesn't happen. Important thing is that you are both alive and well at the end of it.

Do let us know how it goes, remembering that we'll be most interested to hear about your new baby, not how he or she got out. smile All the best!

What Bartlet saidsmile. You can always change your mind and by booking a hb you've kept your options open.

Just been discussing Ds2's birth with dh and debating the exact spot in the living room that T landedgrin feeling all nostalgic now...

TepidCoffee Sun 27-Jan-13 21:43:28

Marking place so I can come back and read the rest of the stories later.

nappyaddict Wed 24-Apr-13 15:16:47

I want a homebirth but DP not keen. I love the idea that after the birth we can all get into bed and snuggle together. You can't do that in a hospital!!

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