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What do people think of home birth?

(65 Posts)
ladydawnie Wed 12-Sep-12 14:11:22

I'm seriously considering a home birth for my second baby that I'm currently 34 weeks pregnant with. My first babys birth was a right nightmare, 30 hr back labour, 3 epidural attempts, a spinal block and emergency forceps. This was probably because I was 7 stone heavier than I am now, the back labour was painful so I panicked, went to hospital demanding an epidural, got on the bed and never moved again! I've also been told I have a narrow pubic arch so my first baby got a bit stuck. However, the midwife is all for a home birth this time round and told me to stay active and upright during my labour and I should be fine. I'm so keen on home birth I've already bought a birthing pool. But there's this little annoying voice in my head telling me it may not be such a good idea. I'd love to hear other people's opinions on home birth. Do people think its dangerous, even selfish to want a home birth?

newtonupontheheath Wed 12-Sep-12 16:00:05

X-post with reallytired ... Are you me?!

Exactly the same here! (although not the m1 wink )

furrygoldone Wed 12-Sep-12 16:00:56

There was a recent report that found for low risk women on their 2nd or subsequent birth the risk of adverse outcome is the same for CLU, MLU and homebirth, but that there is a much lower incidence of intervention either at home or in an MLU. The risks however will be different depending on location.

I have seriously considered a homebirth in this pregnancy but decided against it because I just couldn't get my head around homebirth pool logistics and was worried about not having enough hot water, which sounds quite trivial but it's important to me.

It's always hard to know what to decide for the best, it's a big decision to make. I tend to research my options and then go with my gut instinct, it served me well with the induction I had with DS and the only decisions I regret are those where I didn't listen to it and did what others thought was right for me.

If you do plan a homebirth, it doesn't stop you going to hospital when the time comes if you feel it is necessary.

LackingNameChangeInspiration Wed 12-Sep-12 16:05:06

honestly, I think there are only 2 viable options: hospital birth or home birth. i think stand alone MLUs should be abolished!

with home births Vs stand alone MLUs:
1. the MW is available to YOU only, not off answering phones, covering breaks next door, chatting at the desk
2. there is IMO more pressure on a home birth MW to get you transfered as soon as you need it, in MLUs half the time they don't even notice and you get transferred much later so the hospital bit ends up rougher
3. you have nothing - NOTHING - more in a stand alone MLU than you can have at home, there are no interventions available at a stand alone MLU which aren't available at home

so.. to summarise, a HB has EVERY advantage that a stand alone MLU has, but the MLU does not have all of the advantages of a HB

thepowerofvoodoo Wed 12-Sep-12 16:08:43

it's completely up to you and not selfish- it's not something i would ever want but it seems to be something they're trying to encourage at the moment, or it is maybe midwife dependent? i'm pregnant with dc2 and my midwife is trying to encourage me to have one. not my cup of tea at all, with my first i went in at 6cm, had an epidural, he popped out a few hours later and then I went home a few hours after that. i'm someone who doesn't see the point of suffering pain if you don't need to and i didn't think it was too painful up to 6cm and didn't want to find out if it got worse! so with this one I hope for exactly the same, quick epidural and painless birth and home a bit after that. midwife keeps telling me, oh, a bath will take the pain away and won't it be better at home?... not for me, with pets and dss and dsd and ds all wanting to know what's going on, it would not be relaxing! but different people like different things and it's not at all selfish if that's what you'd like.

Trazzletoes Wed 12-Sep-12 16:08:54

You aren't selfish to want a home birth. I chose not to because I want to be where the Doctors are. I dont want to have to have an ambulance and have to travel while I'm panicking about what's happening to my baby. A friend lost 1.5 litres of blood after giving birth and was told if she'd had a home birth she would almost certainly have died. There are risks in going to hospital just as there are risks in staying at home but, to my mind, the more serious risks can be dealt with faster in hospital.

Well done on your weight loss and I hope all goes well. Btw, I am a glass half empty person!

Orenishii Wed 12-Sep-12 16:15:57

I'll be booking one for my first next week, officially - but have been discussing it with my midwives from about 25 weeks now. I've had a good, healthy pregnancy so far so I'm a good candidate.

I guess I'm lucky that the community midwives are big HB advocates and have been able to fully address my concerns at every stage. A woman at work said - oh I'd have bled to death if I hadn't been in hospital. This suitably freaked me out, I spoke to my midwife, who explained very calmly and reasonably the checks they have in place to be able to see things far enough away to assess risks at every stage. The subtle warning signs are looked out for in a way they might be missed in the hospital. I'm also going to a HB birth the community midwives put on monthly, where no doubt I'll have more questions that can be answered.

The EMCS scenario is another misconception, as pointed out by reallytired.

It's a very personal decision. I wanted to get as far away from the possibility of intervention as I could and to be honest, the act of going into somewhere to give birth makes it feels much more scary than it needs to be, for me personally. I will have the exclusive attention of one NHS midwife from a group of community midwives who not only have vast experience of HBs but also fully support the decision.

I don't think they are unsafe, or selfish - that's a bizarre notion. I'm a (reasonably) intelligent adult woman, I've done all the research I can and have not made this decision on a whim, or recklessly. For me the pros - relaxed atmosphere that can contribute to a labour requiring much less intervention or medicalisation - far outweighs the relative risks of being a fifteen minute drive away from the hospital. I have bought a pool, which a lot of my anxiety was about - about getting to the MLU only to find the two pools being used - and happily set about making our home the comfiest, tidiest, cosiest nest I could in preparation and it all feels - instinctively - completely natural and fear-free as much as it can, aside from the general apprehension of wondering what it's actually going to be like. The planned homebirth makes me excited to give birth, not worried about wondering how far along I am or when I can go into the MLU.

cakeismysaviour Wed 12-Sep-12 16:20:26

I don't have a problem with people wanting home births, but personally I would choose the hospital every time (and have done).

I am not bothered about the birth being magical, peaceful etc. I just see the birth as being the horrid bit that you have to get out of the way before you get to meet your baby. grin As long as me and baby are safe and well, thats all I care about.

If you particularly want the experience of giving birth at home and the midwife advises that it is safe to do so, then just go for it. smile

LackingNameChangeInspiration Wed 12-Sep-12 16:23:24

"There are risks in going to hospital just as there are risks in staying at home but, to my mind, the more serious risks can be dealt with faster in hospital"
that depends on the type of hospital birth, if you have someone popping their head in while doing a load of other jobs and paperwork and phone manning, they can only deal with problems quickly AFTER they actually notice you have a problem

so at home, you have to factor in ambulance ride
in hospital (but in particular 'leave you to it' style MLUs) you have to factor in ringing your bell for 5 mins (if you can!) then getting it turned off by a HCA who "goes to tell someone" then finally being seen by a MW.. (and then in a stand alone you add amulance time TO THAT!)

so HB is the second fastest problem to doctor/equipment time out of the three options, sometimes the fastests

LadyMetroland Wed 12-Sep-12 16:40:39

Interesting Telegraph article on this subject recently, can't do links on phone but just Google home birth risks and it will come up.

Essentially it says latest research shows for first timers it is definitely more risky to have HB. For second or third timers with previous complications the jury is out - depends on individual circumstances. The only group that seem ok are second or third timers with low risk status.

Personally I would never take the risk, however small.

Trazzletoes Wed 12-Sep-12 16:44:02

Sorry, I may not have made myself clear, that was just my view. Definitely not one that I can back up with anything! Just my personal view and I wouldn't expect anyone else to take it as gospel!!!

ReallyTired Wed 12-Sep-12 17:10:27

I think a lot of people confuse an unassisted free birth with an nhs home birth. Many "midwives" round the world do not have the level of training or the back up that an NHS midwife has. In many ways studies of home birth in different countries is irrelevent to the UK. A malnourished woman in a third world country with an unqualified birth attendent and no back up is taking a huge risk.

LackingNameChangeInspiration Wed 12-Sep-12 17:11:56

yup that's true, in Ireland you can't have an attended home birth AFAIK so the women who choose it are essentially "opting out" of the health system

CakeBump Wed 12-Sep-12 17:16:19

I'm planning a home birth for DC1.

Its very usual in other countries, ie everyone is more or less expected to have a home birth (with no drugs, I hasten to add) unless there are specific reasons to go to hospital.

A reason could be that you want pain relief, that's fair enough, as well as something more "serious". But home births are not seen as "alternative" at all.

Saying that, I'm no expert and I would always check with my midwife or doctor and go with their recommendation, especially if I'd already had a bad experiences.

Secondsop Wed 12-Sep-12 17:18:53

ladydawnie, why does the little voice in your head think it's a bad idea? You mention both "dangerous" and "selfish". If by selfish you mean the taking up of resource, then I say stuff anyone who makes you feel this way - it's your birth and if the option is available then why shouldn't you avail yourself of it? If the midwife really isn't available you won't get the home birth anyway so it's not as if you're taking her away from anyone else.

If, though, you are worried about it being dangerous, then I think you need to weigh up whether the benefits for you are outweighed by the little voice. If the worry about risk is going to affect your birth experience, then you may decide it's not for you.

I have no experience of this by the way - am expecting my first baby and I am high risk so can't have a home birth even if I wanted one.

Also, great work on the 7 stone!!

schroedingersdodo Wed 12-Sep-12 17:37:47

That's a VERY personal decision.

A doula told me "you can always book a home birth and then change your mind and go to hospital. But you can't do it the other way around." I think that's something to keep in mind.

Apart from that, I think only you - and to a lesser extent, the father of the child - can decide.

ladydawnie Wed 12-Sep-12 18:34:11

Wow, thanks for all your great opinions/stories and links! It's really helpful to hear what others think.
Someone (a family member!) told me home birth was selfish as I would be risking the health and safety of my baby just for my benefit of having the baby at home. So basically telling me yes, I might be nice and relaxed at home but my baby might die so why didn't I just go to hospital and play it safe! I know that's a bit ridiculous but when u are pregnant things easily upset you, well they do me anyway!
My reasons for wanting a HB are that I know I will be much more relaxed at home. I used to work in a hospital and I really don't like the places at all! In fact if I have to go to a hospital I get a bit panicky. I think it doesn't help that I found labour so painful last time. I laboured to 6cm at home no problem, but as soon as I got to hospital I panicked and the pains got worse, so I was then begging for an epidural! Due to my size last time the epidurals never really worked, do the pain was gone, but it came back quite quickly when the epidural failed. I also saw 4 different shift changes, so 4 different midwives through my labour, I never had glance to bond with just one or two.
I love the idea of having two midwives at my house for a HB, which is what is offered locally. We don't have a MLU so that's out anyway. The midwife I last saw has assured me that generally problems get spotted sooner at a HB and at first sign of any problems I would be blue lighted to the hospital which is about 15/20 mins away with normal driving, obviously quicker in an ambulance. But it does scare me to think I might have to wait for said ambulance. Id like to think I could try a HB and would know well in advance of a serious problem developing, so I could get to hospital before something terrible happens. I do also like the idea of a midwife being there to support me, in hospital last time they were in and out looking after other mums too, I felt very alone and scared despots having a fab husband.
Whatever I do choose I know that if I hada home birth that went wrong and ended badly, I would never forgive myself and would regret not just going to hospital!! Argh, decisions, decisions!

ladydawnie Wed 12-Sep-12 18:36:07

Oh god, just read that back, the appalling spelling mistakes are due to me being on my phone, not pregnancy brain, honest! X

sparklekitty Wed 12-Sep-12 18:45:46

I'd like a homebirth but I think I'd be way too anxious that something might go wrong and that would probably make labour harder. I tried going for an in-between and going to a MLU but after some spotting they've said no and I have to go to hospital. I am slightly concerned about the 'cascade of intervention'.

If you feel happy doing it and you're low risk (I guess they usually say no if you're high risk anyway) then theres no reason you shouldn't do it x

CityDweller Wed 12-Sep-12 19:10:42

I am hoping for a homebirth for first baby next year. I mentioned it to mw in my booking-in apt at 8 weeks and she was all for it. But I have no issue with the potential of having to revert to hospital birth if pregnancy becomes complicated or there's a whiff of trouble during delivery.

For some reason, homebirth has always felt 'right' to me. Probably enhanced by fact that my sister had a pretty hideous hospital birth experience with DC1 due to over-intervention and a lovely, peaceful one with DC2, who was born at home in a birthing pool. I also prefer the idea of a midwife to myself at home, as opposed to being left to my own devices in a mw-led birthing centre.

CakeBump Wed 12-Sep-12 19:11:35

Yes Sparkle, I think you have to weigh up whether you'd be more relaxed at home, or more relaxed at a hospital where you knew emergency help was immediately to hand.

Personally, I think I will be more relaxed at home, so that's is what I am going for, for various reasons. It really helps that home birth is "normal" here - puts my mind at rest iyswim.

ladydawnie Wed 12-Sep-12 19:19:02

My midwife said I'm low risk, however, even though I've lost 7 stone since the birth of my daughter, I'm still 0.5 over the bmi limit of what it considered 'low risk'. So the cut off limit is a bmi below 30, mine is 30.5. The midwife said that 'technically' I was advised not to have a HB but given the fact I'm right at the borderline that I could ignore that information! The midwives in my area would be more than happy for me to birth at home, unless anything changes obviously. Hmmmm I think I'm going to book one and see how things progress. Like everyone has pointed out, I can change my mind on the day and go to hospital if I want. I'm also thinking that if the baby is in a posterior position like my last one, then I'll go in. Back labour was just too much for me and I think I would feel safer in hospital where there's drugs available! Thanks for everyone's opinions, it's certainly helping me to weigh up the pros and cons. It's great to read all the articles available online but it's nice to hear from people who have some experience with home birthing x

PlentyOfPubeGardens Wed 12-Sep-12 19:27:30

Hi, I had a posterior HB with DS (my 2nd). It was more painful than my first hospital birth but at the same time it was a lot more relaxed, if that doesn't sound too contradictory. Being on all fours and wiggling my hips during contractions helped a lot.

MoonHare Wed 12-Sep-12 20:04:44

I had a mostly positive hospital birth experience with DC1 (there were issues that would not have occurred had we been at home but nothing that left me traumatised). That said, it was awful when DH had to leave, the post natal ward was horrendous and the staff less than friendly. Plus we had remained at home for the majority of my labour and I coped well. I didn't relish the thought of the 25 min journey into hospital again and I was confident I would be fine managing labour pain at home - so opted for home birth with DC2.

It was the best decision ever. A calm and relaxed experience. Better for DH too who felt more involved. I was 9cm when the mw arrived, I credit speedy dilation to being very relaxed.

But I identify with what you said OP about the nagging voice, whenever I heard it I pushed it to the back of my mind and reminded myself of all the reasons that HB was better for my baby, me, DH and DC1. The nagging voice is really the negative comments from others, family and strangers I think.

This makes interesting reading concerning the 'terrible things that can go wrong' during birth and where they are more likely to happen - home or hosp - and what can be done depending on where you are.

Remember a straightforward birth is normal not lucky.

minipie Wed 12-Sep-12 20:30:47

I think you have to weigh up whether you'd be more relaxed at home, or more relaxed at a hospital where you knew emergency help was immediately to hand

very good point Cake. Hospitals don't make me anxious however not knowing what is happening does. So in that sense I would prefer the one on one attention of a home birth but had hoped I'd get that in an MLU. I'm a bit troubled by Lacking's views on MLUs... I had hoped I'd get pretty much one on one care there (in fact I think the website of mine promises that...)

LackingNameChangeInspiration Wed 12-Sep-12 20:36:33

yeah mine says its 1:1, but all that means is that you have a specific named MW for each shift, NOT that they will be in your room with you for the shift, even if you ask! you still get your bells eventually answered by a HCA who THEN goes to find "your" MW or else you have to send your partner on a hunt, and "your" midwife still covers breaks for other midwives in other rooms/assists them if things are going wrong, answers phones etc

- not very relaxing when you don't want to be left totally alone but also know if you don't send your partner out to get whatever you need you're left with a ringing bell for ages

If I'ld had a home birth I'ld have been transferred to hospital HOURS earlier, so the 15 min ambulance ride from home doesn't sound much to me TBH! Took hours to get a MW to do more than pop her head round the door and tell me how ?all? first labours go before disappearing!

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