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HOMEBIRTH - your thoughts and advice

(55 Posts)
iamwhaticallpregnant Mon 04-Feb-13 08:37:14

Hi all - I attended a 'homebirth' talk yesterday where the midwife advocated homebirth. To be honest she made giving birth in a hospital sound like the worst experience ever. fluorescent lights, strangers, shared toilets, invasive checks, bad rooms, exposure etc and implied that itll make your labour longer and more painful because yourbody will not like its surroundings.
On the homebirth side she made it sound like heaven. dimmed lighting and private, relaxing, safe, 2 midwives, your own birthing pools, all your choices and natural. She insisted it was "just as safe as a hospital birth" which previously we had thought was not the case so we completely discounted home births.
my partner and I are more or less convinced - but she was obviously biased ,,,, so - what do you think? and what are your experiences?

a bit of info about me - I am TERRIFIED irrationally of birth, incredibly anxious, terrified about being exposed/ having no dignity.

iamwhaticallpregnant Mon 04-Feb-13 09:46:21

thank you Merci. I think my Midwife is on holiday this week (irony of ironies!) but I will call and ask - you have made it sound easier.

bigbadbarry Mon 04-Feb-13 10:00:16

I had homebirths. I think if you are anxious then actually hospital can make that worse - or rather, it would for me. Depends whether you find hospitals frightening or reassuring. Honestly, you are going to labour at home to start with anyway - so if you book a hospital birth you will have to go in in labour. If you book a home birth you can start at home then at any time if you feel you would be happier in hospital, you go. If you are comfortable, you stay put. Some parts of the country do it like this for everybody as a matter of course.

I think maybe it is a little late, but might be worth investigating. Normally doulas build a relationship through the pregnancy.

I did a lot of research when I was pregnant and was shocked to discover that having a male near you during labour can slow the labour - not their fault, it's all around unconscious hormone signals. That's why I decided to hire a doula so that I would have female emotional support. First labours can be very long, I think around 12 hours is the average length (mine was 72!), so having that emotional support can be useful.

But only you know how you are with strangers, I don't think it would hurt to see if there is one local to you whom you could chat to, if you think it would be useful.

Labour is primeval and even in hospital, you and your husband will be left alone for the vast majority of it, and once you get to the "business end of labour" you truly will not care who is there. Nature gets in the way of all our modern-living induced phobias and niceties!

beckie90 Mon 04-Feb-13 10:10:29

My first, was low risk but ended up having a terrible time and having a 4day stay on HDU, second time was fine but it was detected I had a blood infection so again had to stay in, so whilst she is saying home births are the best, more comfortable labour, I don't doubt it, but I do not think its safer than hospital like she says, with my first I needed then and there treatment, which I don't think would have been done at home (doctors, consultants, drips, blood, anesthatist) they don't have all them at home birth I don't think) and it would have took 20mins to get to hospital. I'd love to have an homebirth but I'm just too scared to do it I feel much safer in hospital, even though I hate hospitals, that been said thats just me.

I just think first time is abit unknown, and maybe hospital is a better option for the first time, and if your scared. But if homebirth is really what you want then go for it, but the midwife really paints a bad image of the hospital and thats not true at all. Good luck with whatever you choose xx

Missingthemincepies Mon 04-Feb-13 10:22:20

I wouldn't have a home birth, but nor would I use a midwife led unit not attached to a hospital. I've seen too many things go wrong, so very quickly, to not want a hospital environment.
Statistically there is lower risk of complications with HB, but if you're one of those that does have life threatening problems there is no getting away from the fact that you are further from help. It's not just 5 mins. It decision making time, phoning for ambulance, waiting for ambulance, getting labouring woman into ambulance time, transfer to hospital and up to labour suite. 20 mins minimum. For most things this will be enough time. But I wouldn't personally take the risk, however nice it sounds. But we all view risk differently and I would never say HB was a bad choice, it's just a bad choice for me.
60% of first time mums get transferred in from home birth for failure to progress or need for additional pain relief. I remember what transfer at 7cm in our car felt like, wouldn't have fancied that strapped in the back of an ambulance.
Hospitals are not evil places. You'll get your own room and can ask for limited staff coming in (only need 1/2 midwives unless complications), foetal monitoring is available if problems (not available at home), epidural, theatre, expert paediatric staff. Everyone involved in the delivery of your baby whether at home or hospital wants to help you and your baby to be safe, try to focus on that.

TwitchyTail Mon 04-Feb-13 10:37:54

I would not have my first baby at home because the current statistics are that babies of first time mothers born at home do less well than those born on hospital. I could not take this risk. I would consider a midwife-led unit attached to a hospital though.

If I had an uncomplicated first delivery, I might consider home birth for my second and subsequent babies - IF I was very near to a hospital with full maternity services AND there was a reliable, non-overstretched ambulance service. In my job we regularly need emergency ambulance transfers and it is most definitely not just the journey time that needs to be considered.

The midwife sounds very biased with her own agenda. An uncomplicated home birth is lovely - who wouldn't want to give birth in the privacy and comfort of their own home, with the constant attention of two midwives? It is true that intervention rates are lower. But you have to look at the outcomes too, specific to your situation as a first time mother.

shelley72 Mon 04-Feb-13 10:42:18

personally, i am in favour of home births. i know you dont have consultants on hand, theatres, epidurals etc. but you do have a midwife (two for the birth) that stays with you and monitors you and the baby constantly. and would get you to hospital if needed, though how quickly i guess depends on how far you are away from the hospital and how busy ambulances are that day.
saying that i attempted a home birth with my first DC, and ended up being blue lighted to hospital as the little monkey turned his head and i just couldnt push him out. DD was breech so ELCS, but i too had already planned a home birth with her.

for me, i found being in my own environment much more relaxing, had a great labour with DS with just G&A (the end once i got to hospital wasnt great). i absolutely hate hospitals, hate the idea of unnecessary inervention, being hurried if i wasnt progressing at the speed they wanted. obviously safe delivery of the baby is the most important thing. i know things can go wrong at home, as they can with all births and to try for a home birth was a decision that i made after gathering lots of information about the relative 'safety' and speaking to our CMWs.

am now pg with DC3 and feel very sad that i will never get my home birth. i think if you had a MLU in your area that may be a good compromise? good luck with whatever you decide.

mercibucket Mon 04-Feb-13 10:45:59

i travelled to hospital at 8cm in our car and tbh i'd rather have gone in an ambulance! way faster and less bumpy!

op, there must be a replacement for your mw, i'd really recommend phoning and asking for a chat. it sounds like last minute jitters, and who can blame you !!

iamwhaticallpregnant Mon 04-Feb-13 11:02:40

Merci - yes I have called and left a message but I think I have decided that i will labour at home for as long as possible and then go to the hospital at the end stage. I think if something bad happened we would never ever ever forgive ourselves if anything went wrong and we weren't at a hospital.

I am completely shattered after the talk. I am actually quite angry at the nurse who made it seem to us all that you were doing a disservice to your baby if you went to the hospital.

mercibucket Mon 04-Feb-13 11:07:17

it is v hard in the last few weeks, i have always been v anxious. your decision sounds a good compromise. you could also start prepping your dp so he knows what you want and can ask for you eg access to the pool, an inflatable ball, to stay upright, to keep the lights off, to keep people out if not needed etc.

iamwhaticallpregnant Mon 04-Feb-13 11:14:01

Thanks Merci - he knows how i feel. I want no one in there (not even my partner really!) and would love dimmed lights and access to the pool but I think it is entirely down to luck what happens and what you are allocated. The woman honestly made it just sound as bleak as you can imagine. She said women aren't supposed to give birth in a hospital. She said that your body stops the process when it doesnt feel comfortable. I am a gibbering wreck and wish we hadnt gone. I was actually feeling semi ok before hand and now i can't stop crying.

tomatoplantproject Mon 04-Feb-13 11:28:42

I think that sounds like a good decision. I don't know about you but if I'm anxious about something I try and prepare - so pack your bags with some nice treats (my jelly babies got eaten after rathe than during the birth though!) and maybe meet with a local doula, look at hypno birthing etc. Keep your eye on the outcome too - your prize for going through birth is so special! Mine as snuggled in feeding in a very drowsy way!!

leannac Mon 04-Feb-13 11:29:23

I had a v traumatic delivery with dd 20 months ago & as a result I am now terrified of labour even more than I was last time. I've been through all the options 00's of times & have decided for my next birth (I'm 36wks now) that I am going to try a homebirth. Its a really hard decision especially given everything that went wrong last time but I really believe that if you're not in the right frame of mind during labour (& in hospital again I imagine would be pitiful gibbering crying wreck again) that you can seriously slow down your labour & make things worse for yourself. I am going to gamble that being at home will be more familiar & comfortable & hope that the difference that makes to my mental state will help with the physical side of labour too.

Plus as my midwife pointed out, by booking a home birth what have you got to lose? They will bring everything to the house & get you all set up for a home birth but you can change your mind at any stage at all, even if first contraction makes you think you might need stronger pain relief in hospital, you can always head in. But once you are in hospital if you don't like it you can hardly turn around & ask for a home birth then.

So what would you have to lose by booking it? Worst case scenario that halfway through you decide to give up & go into hospital, at least you'll have laboured more comfortably at home up to that point as will have access to gas & air etc.

I'm kind of trying to convince myself of the above too. Its got to be true! Its horrible thinking of making the wrong decision for such am important event so I totally know where all your panic is coming from!

tomatoplantproject Mon 04-Feb-13 11:34:54

Just read your last post - she sounds really unprofessional and pushing her own agenda. You might want to talk it through with a different midwife. I look back on my own experience and am just so very grateful that there was such a good team waiting in the background who swooped in to assist when things didn't go to plan.

iamwhaticallpregnant Mon 04-Feb-13 11:41:53

thanks Leannac - I completely get you. That is what the woman said yesterday - that you have nothing to lose - and I do like the idea of having gas and air at home. I will speak to this woman later and hopefully she can help. But I agree with the people who have said as it is the first baby to resort to a hospital first time.

iamwhaticallpregnant Mon 04-Feb-13 11:46:35

tomato - it wasnt even a talk about homebirths - it was supposed to be about having an 'active' birth and she said that she wasnt going to advocate home births but the entire talk turned into a homebirth talk. Honestly - I have never ever listened to such a biased talk. But even my usually very level headed partner was completely sold. She kept saying hospital births have never reduced any risk to the child/ that we were never meant to give birth in a hospital/ listed the terrors of a hospital birth/ talked about how amazing home births were/ listed writers that advocated homebirths that still werent taken seriously by medical professionals. I can't imagine a single woman leaving there who didnt feel that they HAD to have a homebirth.

bigbadbarry Mon 04-Feb-13 11:47:11

The other thing to think about is that most things that need hospital intervention do not happen very quickly. If they happen in hospital it might feel quick because you are left on your own! But at home with a midwife there all the time there is every chance that she will be able to say peacefully and calmly look, I think you should go in. If it is for an EMCS they will know you are coming and have it all set up ready (and it doesn't happen instantly in a hospital either: they have to prep and find the people...). I think your decision sounds very sensible, best of both worlds (except I think you should be prepared to not feel like getting in the car!) - and I agree with the people who say maybe have a chat with another midwife.

RoxyLady Mon 04-Feb-13 12:03:50

Id rather be in a hospital where I know I can get immediate care for my baby then being in my home

OK, I've had 2 homebirths, but I think the talk your MW gave sounds awful! I know that it's their job to prepare you for all eventualities but I think hospital-bashing is not helpful.

I chose homebirth because I knew the care I got would be more consistent, a MW comes out to you when you are in established labour and then another comes when birth is imminent. Having that 1-1 care during labour (they monitor the baby with hand held doppler) means that you're not left on your own. It's a lot more likely that issues that might be a problem are picked up at an earlier stage.

I always knew that I had the option to transfer to hospital, and that I might be advised to do so. In my first hb the MW who first came out was ultra cautious (I had a slightly raised temp, but it was during a heatwave). She sent us in to the mat unit in the middle of the night to get checked out. I sat hooked up to a monitor for 30 mins and as everything was fine we went home. I was offered the option to stay as contractions were strong and every 5 mins. DS was born at home at about 2pm the next day.

ReallyTired Mon 04-Feb-13 12:15:10

Hospital births have risks and so do homebirths. If you have a hospital birth then you have to share a midwife with 3 other women. To make matters worse the midwife who is looking after 4 women maybe newly qualified.

If you have a homebirth you have the exclusive attention of a highly experienced midwife for the the first stage and two midwives for the second stage. Complications tend to be picked up faster because you get more attention. Midwives are highly trained professionals who can deal with a lot of emergencies like a cord wrapped round a baby's head. The can even do resusitation.

The biggest danger of a home birth is a prolapsed cord because it needs a rapid c-section. However a prolapsed cord usually happens if the presentation is a breech or the presentaiton is not quite right.

Even then a prolapsed cord is extremely dangerous in a hospital enviromnent. I know a little girl who was severely brain damaged from a prolapsed cord because the one midwive was far too rushed off her feet in the hospital.

People do have positive hospital births and having a homebirth is no guarentee that everything will be lovely. I had a hospital birth for my first and home for my second. Both birth experiences were good.

aufaniae Mon 04-Feb-13 12:32:48

"She said that your body stops the process when it doesnt feel comfortable."

Well, this is true AFAIK. But, hospital is not necessarily a nightmare.

I haven't had a homebirth (high risk last time and this so not an option) but I would consider it if I was allowed.

For me, not having access to an epidural would be an issue for homebirth. I was open minded about whether I needed one the first time, although my preferred option was not. In the end I was induced. The pain was horrendous! There was no question about not needing an epidural! I have no idea what the pain will be like for me if I wasn't induced, it could well be manageable - however if it was like that I'd need one again. If I was in your situation, the fact that I'd be 5 minutes from the hospital would reassure me on this front, (you can wait a while for an anaesthetist to come even if in hospital!) So I think you're OK there.

Your local hospital doesn't sound particularly good as far as making an environment comfortable for labouring women. I wonder if this is why your midwife was so biased about homebirth?

In your shoes I would be tempted to give the homebirth option serious consideration, particularly as you're so near to the hospital and can go in any time.

However if you do decide to go in (which is perfectly understandable!) please remember you can do things like dim the lights you want to. When you get into the room, you could even push the bed up against the wall (if you want to). You could take the mattress off the bed and put it on the floor if this felt more comfortable to you. You can have music playing etc. When it seems like a medical environment we're used to giving control over such things to the medical staff, but actually in labour you can do what you like to change the environment (within reason!).

As an total aside, the thing I missed last time which I think would have really helped me deal with labour, was music. This time, I'm going to have an iPod, with a playlist of my favourite tunes which I like hearing really loud, and I'm going to blast the out while having contractions and on the gas & air.

I like the idea of it being on the iPod so I can have it as loud as I like without worrying about others present.

ReallyTired Mon 04-Feb-13 12:51:40

The pain of a natural birth is not as bad as an induction because your body has time to build up to the pain. Natural endorphins do help a little bit with pain relief. Not all women need an epidural. Childbirth is not the same for all women, women who manage with no pain relief aren't any braver. There are circumstances where having an epidural is the most sensible thing in the world.

I'm glad I had a homebirth for dd as labour was so quick. We would never had made the hospital. I am also glad I had a hospital birth for ds and had the epidural.

DoNotDisturb Mon 04-Feb-13 13:10:45

I had my first (and second) at home. I hate hospitals and felt that I'd be more relaxed at home. Home births are great but I think you have to believe that you're in the right place. I knew that I'd panic in a hospital and felt completely relaxed and empowered at home.

I guess what I'm saying is that if you have any doubts about being at home then maybe it's not for you. Doubts will be magnified once the labour starts..

LeBFG Mon 04-Feb-13 14:27:01

"She said that your body stops the process when it doesnt feel comfortable."

I wish this was true - I was desperately uncomfortable in hospital trying to stop a preterm labour this time two years ago. Did diddly-squat to stop the labour grin.

Pity the MW talk had the effect it did. I think the main thing OP is to make a positive choice at this stage. Whatever you choose (and it sounds like you've sorted this out now) do it for positive reasons (e.g. I want rapid access to pain relief) rather than negative, fearful reasons (e.g. I want to stay at home because I don't like lots of people at hospital).

This means you have made the choice, you're in control and it's always easier to tackle your fears if you feel in control.

rrreow Mon 04-Feb-13 15:22:23

I planned for a homebirth with DC1. Got a pool and everything. I am not very relaxed in strange places (I have IBS and I get really constipated when I'm in strange places, so I didn't want to be 'constipated' with a baby, iyswim and not be able to labour effectively because of being in a strange place).

As it happened I had to be induced so I didn't even get to go into labour naturally and never got to have my homebirth. My fears about not being out of my comfort zone on labour ward just ended up being not applicable. Once the pain really set in I couldn't have cared where I was or who was around me, and my body just took over and pushed the baby out without me actually 'doing' anything.

I think I was lucky though in that my labour only lasted 3 hours and my body just did stuff. If my labour had been very long and protracted I think I may have felt less comfortable. I did spend the night before in hospital (on the labour ward, had my own room as I was being induced) and it wasn't very comfortable (I think I slept for about 3 hours, but partly that was to do with terrible itching). It would've been much nicer to sleep in my own bed.

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