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Homebirth, should I go for it?

(28 Posts)
NatzCNL Sun 05-Jun-11 14:52:41

Ive been trying to read up on homebirths from others posts but have managed to scare myself doing this...!
I am expecting baby number 3, with two previous normal deliveries. Both required a little stitching but nothing major with no problems after the birth for either myself or the babies. 1st DD was born 8 hours after I went into labour, 2nd DD was born 1 hour 48mins after I went into labour - the only reason we made to the hospital in time with DD2 is because it was 4am and no traffic, and hospital was only a 6 min drive away, she was born 20 mins after we arrived.
This time however, our hospital is now around a 15 mins drive away without traffic, and about a half hour drive or more with traffic.
I am not against home birth and think it would be lovely to give birth in the comfort of my own home, but I also like the security of knowing there is a doctor near by should we need any assistance. I am currently booked into the MLU at the new hosptial, but I am so worried that we wont get to the hospital in time.
I breifly discussed my concerns at my booking in appointment but it wasn't really talked about at length. I am now 24 weeks and getting rather anxious about the prospect of another quick labour and possibly not making to the hospital in time. I really am scared of giving birth without a midwife with me.
This is my only concern with regards to the birth, and Im not sure if I would be more relaxed if we planned a home birth so that I know for certain that there will be a midwife with me.
And advice or suggestions would be appreciated. I will of course talk to my midwife again as this is worrying me a lot! sad

RitaMorgan Sun 05-Jun-11 15:00:39

I would plan a homebirth. If anything goes wrong and you need a doctor, you'll go to the hospital in an ambulance.

TRL Sun 05-Jun-11 15:15:31

Hi, I had a lovely homebirth for my 4th last year - nos 2 & 3 were short labours and I just felt I didn't want to go to hospital for the 4th. Our hospital is about 15 mins in no traffic but this is London so no traffic is only at night really. During the day it's a minimum of 30 mins and often 45-60 mins.

The midwives were extremely supportive - I was keen but also quite apprehensive and would probably have agreed to going to hospital if they hadn't been so supportive.

They brought round a box of their medical stuff and some jabs to keep in the fridge for placenta delivery (I think?) at about 36 weeks and we chatted through home deliveries, all very low key. I bought a birth pool and we inflated it about 39 weeks and my husband worked out how to fill it. Then we waited.

I went into labour about 11pm, hubbie rang labour ward immediately to warn them and there were 3 midwives there (1 student) within 30 mins and a baby within another 1 1/2 hr! Midwives cleaned up, had a cup of tea, went home - blissful!

However, there was no pressure to go through with a homebirth - had I felt when I went into labour that I wanted to go to hospital, I'd have gone. Had there been any issue with the delivery, me or the baby, the midwife would have called an ambulance and I'd have been at the hospital far faster than we can make it in London traffic.

The support I received was tremendous and until I actually went into labour, I didn't really fully commit myself to a homebirth but once in labour, I knew it was exactly what I wanted.

I guess so many things can change during a pregnancy - you can develop all kinds of things as you go along which would indicate a hospital birth - that questions about delivery tend to be dealt with nearer the time. However you should be able to gauge how keen your midwife team is on home deliveries so you know whether you're likely to get plenty of support should you choose to go that way.

Hope that helps a bit, and congrats on no 3 smile

reallytired Sun 05-Jun-11 15:26:59

There is a world of difference between an NHS planned homebirth and an unassisted birth. If you opted for a planned homebirth you would have one to one care for the first stage and 2 to one care for the second stage from experienced midwives.

In hospital you might have to share a less experienced midwife with four other women in labour. Sometimes the lack of attention means that problems are not picked up in hospital as fast as they are picked up at home. With your medical history I think you would be wise to choose a homebirth. A homebirth with a qualified midwife is safer than than giving birth in a car or at the side or the road with no medical assistance.

There is an element of risk with a birth wherever you choose to give birth.

MeantToStopAtTwo Sun 05-Jun-11 15:29:09

I had a beautiful home water birth with my third. Have you been to It tells you pretty much everything you need to know and has a huge range of birth stories.

NatzCNL Sun 05-Jun-11 15:30:03

Thanks for your messages, both helpful! I just want to stop worrying about this, still have 16 weeks to go!!!

Will speak to my midwife when I see her next and see what they suggest. I think they will be keen for me to go for a home birth. It is me who is umming and ahhing.

Also need to make sure DP is on board with that choice too.

TRL - Wow, 4 DC! Congratulations. Where were your other children when you had your baby? My DD's are 4 and 3, and DD1 will be starting primary school in September (10 days before baby is due), so stressing out about that too, am praying I dont go into labour on the school run...

I didn't worry this much with my other pregnancies, am so stressed out this time around!

NatzCNL Sun 05-Jun-11 15:31:55

Cross post with other two ladies - sorry!

Not seen that web page, but will look into it now, thank you. And Reallytired, hadn't thought about the madwife ratio before either. Thank you x

sillysow Sun 05-Jun-11 16:39:38

I would plan a homebirth. I didnt as high risk and hosp not keen, but we are 1hr away in traffic & 25 mins away at best, and we just couldnt have got there in time.

DC2 was delivered by Paramedics in the end.

Hormoneoverload Sun 05-Jun-11 16:47:36

We had a home birth with number two. I am reluctant to actually recommend as circumstances can be so different, but it was great for us. It wasn't messy, or if it was it had all been cleared up by the time I cared! I didn't have water, but lots of gas and air. We had one to one care from midwife from when dd went with grandparents and contractions hotted up until transition when mw 2 turned up. We do live five mins from hospital. hope that helps.

Wigeon Sun 05-Jun-11 20:54:09

What is making you unsure about a homebirth? From your post it sounds like it's that you are worried about having to transfer to hospital, or whether the delay involved in transferring would put you or your baby at risk. If you click on the "research" section of there is a whole section about reasons for transfer (scroll right down). Second and third etc time mums who plan a homebirth are far less likely to transfer than first time mums who plan a homebirth (I think the stats are roughly 40% of first-timers transfer and 10% of second-etc timers), and I was surprised about how many of those transfers aren't "blue light" life-or-death type transfers. Quite a few of them are things like "failure to progress" and even when women do transfer, quite a few of them don't even need any extra intervention once they get to hospital and end up delivering naturally anyway. Have a read.

From your post, it seems a homebirth would be a very sensible choice. We planned a homebirth for DD2 because it just seemed the easiest option (although ended up having her in hospital because staff shortages meant we were told there were no midwives available to come out when we rang while I was in labour!)

NatzCNL Sun 05-Jun-11 21:14:46

Wigeon, Im a worrier - have had two wonderful births but concerned that something might go wrong and will need immediate medical attention. I would love a home birth, and wish that I had done that with DD2 as she was text book perfect labour and birth with no pain relief at all, just the stress of making it to the hospital before I gave birth in the car...! Another thing that worried me is what happened to you, especially if I have another quickie. Such a shame you weren't able to have a hb.

I have been on the website and it's really helpful, will probably spend the rest of the night going on all the links on there... grin

I have spoken to a couple of friends in RL over the last couple of hours who have had home births, and am really keen to talk to my midwife about going down that route.

Sillysow, were you still at home or in an ambulance? Just curious smile

Thanks Hormoneoverload, Im glad you had a good experience, and nice to know there were 2 midwives for delivery. I used gas and air with DD1 and loved it. Did nothing for the actual pain, but made seem a lot more amusing!

Thanks everyone for your comments.

Wigeon Sun 05-Jun-11 21:38:25

Yes, do read the whole of the homebirth website grin - DH and I found it really helpful in making up our minds about planning a homebirth - especially the research section which for me was much more useful than anecdotal stories about successful homebirths (although they are helpful too). Bear in mind that the midwives carry a bunch of things to help you if you need immediate medical attention, for example, they have with them the drugs which they have in hospital if you start to bleed too much. And midwives are trained medical professionals who are able to deal with a whole load of situations even at home. Also, midwives who attend homebirths are specifically watching you to pick up any problems as early as possible (eg baby's heartbeat slowing) and they will be fully aware of the distance your house is from the hospital and the time it would take you to transfer. From what I've read, and the research I did, there are very few medical problems which happen completely out of the blue - in most (almost all?) cases the midwives will have picked up that something isn't quite right, and will advise you to transfer well before you reach that life-and-death point. I'm sure your midwife can tell you much more.

Re staff shortages - worth asking your midwife how likely this is in your area - from what I can gather, it's very rare in my area for a homebirth not to go ahead because of staff shortages and we were just very unlucky (apparently the hospital ward was particularly busy, and there was also a weekly clinic starting at exactly the time we called which was also particularly busy). I have also read that if you insist on staying at home, they have to send you a midwife, so if might just be that you have to be assertive. As I was contracting strongly every 3 mins at the time we called the hospital, I wasn't in the mood to be assertive!

There is also a Yahoo group on homebirths, which again I found very interesting to be part of. There are all sorts of knowledgeable people (including midwives) on the group and they would certainly be able to answer any question you had about homebirths / safety / stats / research etc.

owlbooty Mon 06-Jun-11 11:54:25

I've talked to my MW about this as I am planning a home birth but am still not 100% sure I dare go for it; the MLU is my second option.

What she told me is that, if there is even the tiniest thought at the back of my mind that I might want a HB (or in your case, find the delivery so quick that a HB starts looking like the sensible option) then the best way forwards is to get everything prepared as if you're going to do that. You can then change your mind at any point up to delivery!

This seemed very sensible to me. It means that the MW team get to add you to their HB list, plan a route to your house, come and do home visit etc - so they are prepared too.

I used to work on a mat ward. Transfers in from planned HBs were pretty rare and usually either requested by the mother for an epidural, or post-birth for stitching/placenta related things rather than things actually going wrong during the birth.

Good luck!

10isenough Tue 07-Jun-11 23:20:19

NatzCNL, I am 21 weeks also with my third. I'm in a similar position to you and also trying to work out if a home birth would be best but feeling a little bit panicky. I've just come onto MN to look up 'home births' in the talk section to get the skinny.

I had a very fast labour with my second daughter who ended up being born on a zebra crossing outside the entrance to the hospital. It was a total photo-finish for the midwife to come down from the labour ward, don a rubber glove and put her hand between the baby and the pavement. There was also an 'audience' of smokers and passerby's none of whom helped or were able to DH and father in law who just stood a few meters back from me aghast. A total spectacle all in all!

My midwife (same one as previous 2 pg's) has suggested I opt for a home birth. She says when I go into labour I'm to call the labour ward who will send a midwife out to me at home and if I insist on going into hospital, the MW will escort me in an ambulance. (we live 15/20 mins away).

Without sounding crass or shallow my two worries (amongst others) are the mess and whether or not I will get sewn up afterwards in the same way as I would if I'd delivered at hospital. (second and third degree tears with previous births)

NatzCNL - Please update us in the near future with your thoughts/decisions for or against a HB!


Grumpla Tue 07-Jun-11 23:25:28

Ah go for it! You won't get a decent bacon buttie afterwards in a hospital you know!

Is there a local home birth group you could go along to? Ask your local NCT folk maybe? I found that really helpful in the lead up to my home birth.

melrose Wed 08-Jun-11 15:14:35

I had a wonderful home birth with DS2 and am planning another with DS3. The attention and care I got from the 2 midwives at the birth (They send a second one when you are close to delivery so there is one for you and one for the baby) was fantastic and far more than I got in hospital.

I was also scared about the "what if..." scenarios. What reassured me is the fact that it takes 25-30 mins to pull together an emergency c-section team in an operating theatre. If you are a 15 min drive from the hospital, then you could be in theatre as fast from home as from the labor suite, if an emergency did arise. That really helped to put my mind at rest.

I recommend reading up on and also reading soem books on home birth.

Nothing could beat sitting up in my own bed with my cup of tea, having had a shower in my bathroom an hour after giving birth to DS2. I spent the day resting in bed, had a fab first nights sleep and felt fantastic the next day. The baby was ery chilled out for teh first day and my modwife commented that "home birth babies are always like that"
good luck!

melrose Wed 08-Jun-11 15:19:10

Also meant to add that if you do make the decision to go for it, be prepared to ignore the coments and looks of others when you tell them your plans and prepare to ignore the horror stories of "if I had had a home birth all would have ended in disaster..."!!!

NatzCNL Wed 08-Jun-11 15:21:04

Thanks for all the replies! I am really keen now to go for a home birth, just need to speak to my midwife now...

DP is terrified at the prospect that he will be left to deliver baby, but as I pointed out that the time in which it takes the midwife to get to us is exactly the same as the time it would take for us to get to the hospital. And if it all went super speed he would be delivering DD in the car... he started into the distance with pure fear on his face bless him! grin

There is a walk in clinic for home births at our hospital, so will be dragging DP along to get some info. Eek! Cant believe I am planning a home birth. Thank you again for all the info and birth stories xx

LieInsAreRarerThanTigers Wed 08-Jun-11 15:31:16

Highly recommend it - hired a pool from the midwife practice both times and although I couldn't go through with it first time round because of meconium in the waters, the second one was textbook and very fast. The thought of a car journey over London speedbumps stop-starting in traffic while in established labour - aaarghhh!

thefirstMrsDeVere Wed 08-Jun-11 15:33:09

I would also recommend the website linked to by PPs.

I had two homebirths because I find hospitals so stressful.
I wanted to make sure it was the right decision and found the homebirth website very imformative. It is obviously pro homebirth but I found it to be balanced and intelligent.

It was wonderful when my MW suddenly (at about 35 weeks) got a bee in her bonnet about my age, redblood count and the amount of babies I had.

I was on the oldish side (43), had a slightly low hb but wasnt anaemic and it was my 4th (birth) child. She put all these things together and came up with some very odd conclusions hmm

I was able to counter her concerns with actual medical facts and stats.

melrose Wed 08-Jun-11 15:35:24

My DH was nervous about a home birth, but he is now a big fan and looking forward to the next one. I think he felt more comfortable being in his own environment rather than hospital and he did not have to leave us afterwards.

FannyLogan Wed 08-Jun-11 15:48:26

Hi Natz, I recognise you from at&c and thought I would share my story.

Dd1 was a planned hb and was fab. Shower in my own shower afterwards, bed in my own bed, two lovely midwives and so wanted to do it again.

Ds2 - high nuchal and 1 in 3 for ds, fluid on brain and too much amniotic fluid. But amnio came back normal and my fluid went down as did brain fluid. Was booked into mlu after much arguing with consultant as felt hb given issues was a bit risky. Anyhoo, ds1 had diff ideas. Woke up 2.45am with a couple of strong ctx, rang ambulance at 3.05 (told to by labour ward) ds born 3.20 caught by paramedic in the dining room, thankfully he seems fine.

Lovely hb in retrospect! But, the midwife who finally arrived 50 mins later (bear in mind she was 10 mins away and awake, despite being on nights) was not v nice imho, we didn't really gel and despite being there for a couple of hours didn't even ask ds's name so he is down on all the records as baby - despite having q name as soon as he appeared....

I also know That a lady booked in for a hb that night gave birth alone because they had no midwives, despite repeatedly ringing in asking for one.

Both of which have made me a bit nervous about next time- if I decide to do it again! Would still book a hb though, every, every time.

Good luck!

gourd Wed 08-Jun-11 20:52:58

I had a beautiful home water birth with my first and only child. I knew it was the right option for me as soon as I found out I was pregnant, but of course you have to wait to see how the pregnancy develops before making a final decision and have that decision agreed by your midwife. Remember that it's possible to transfer to hospital at any time during your labour, if, at the time, you feel things are not going the way you wanted, or if you are unhappy at any time, or of course if there is a problem with the baby. It's OK to tell yourself that you are starting your labour at home and will just see how it goes. If you chose a home birth you still have the option of going to hospital. You can't do it the other way around though!

gourd Wed 08-Jun-11 21:03:15

Oh forgot to say, the midwives were excellent. I had a fast and pretty pain free labour, only 2.5 hours in total so I'm glad i rang the hospital about 90 minutes in - the 1st midwife arrived only 45 mins before LO arrived and the 2nd one only 20 minutes before! We had to rush to fill the pool and I was only in it 30 minutes! It was magical though. I'm so glad my partner and I were able to share such an amazing birth experience, with only two other people present - one of whom was the same midwife I'd been seeing all through my pregnancy and knew well, so it was a calm, peaceful and supportive environment, which I'm sure helped the speed/ease of delivery enormously.

neolara Wed 08-Jun-11 21:22:44

I would go for a home birth. My first labour was very short (4 1/2 hours from start to finish) and every medic I came into contact with recommended a hb for no 2. In the end, my second labour wasn't dramatically shorter - it lasted about 4 hours, but the hb was a fantastic experience. Very relaxed, very calm, supportive midwives, relatively pain free. Was completely fab.

When it came to baby no 3 I also planned a hb. It was very quick - thirty mins from first twinge to baby being born. She was delivered by my dh in the kitchen. Midwife and ambulance arrived a few mins later. Fortunately, because we had planned a hb, we had everything prepared. If we had tried to get to the hospital, 5 mins away, I would have given birth at the side of the road. I had maybe 2 contractions 5 mins apart, followed by one 15 min contraction with the odd few seconds off in between. If you have a history of fast labours, this could be you!

If you do go for a hb, I would press home to your midwife very forcefully that you had a very quick labour last time and you need someone to get to you asap when it all kicks off. When things start, I wouldn't wait at all. I'd ring to get someone out asap - lie if necessary. (When hospital asked me how long between contractions I lied and said 5 mins even though I'd only had one contraction. Given that baby appeared less than 25 mins later, I think that was reasonable!) I would also get your midwife to talk you through what you need to do should you or your dh need to deliver your baby by yourself.

I hope I haven't scared you too much, but I think it's probably better to be prepared than not. The good news is that if your baby arrives quickly, it's usually because everything is absolutely fine.

Good luck!

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