As a home birthing Mum myself and a midwife, I often find myself asked the question “why do women choose to have a homebirth?” There is no one or simple answer to this question. Birth in itself is a complex issue and chosen place of birth is an individual as the birthing woman herself.
Firstly, it’s probably a good idea to define exactly what I mean by the term ‘homebirth’. I mean the planned choice to labour and birth at home accompanied by a Registered Midwife. This includes women who transfer out of the home before, during or after labour. For women who choose to birth at home unattended, the usual term is ‘freebirth’. For women who planned to birth in a hospital or birth centre and got caught short, the usual term is ‘unplanned-homebirth’ or ‘unplanned-freebirth’.
So, what are some of the most common reasons parents give for choosing to plan a homebirth?
▪ It’s safer. When a woman’s pregnancy is considered to be low-risk, it is statically safer to birth at home with an experienced Registered Midwife.
▪ Less likely to have interventions like an induction, caesarean section, epidural, forceps or episiotomy and my baby is less likely to need admission to the Special Care Nursery or have problems with breastfeeding.
▪ It feels more comfortable at home and I’m free to labour and birth my way.
▪ My husband, children, mother, sister, doula and birth photographer can be there to assist me during the labour and birth.
▪ Not tempted to use medical forms of pain relief.
▪ I can have a waterbirth if I want. I can have candles. I can use aromatherapy. I don’t have to conform to hospital policies.
▪ Traumatic previous birth (or hospital) experience that makes me fearful to return.
▪ Previous birth didn’t happen the way it should have (e.g. Induction as Obstetrician going on holidays, leading to a cascade of intervention, ending with an emergency caesarean section) and I want something different for this birth.
▪ I had my last baby in the car on the way to the hospital – it seems safer to stay at home and have the Midwife come to me.
▪ My private Midwife knows me, my husband, my children and my history. She spends an hour with me at each appointment and knows my pregnancy. She will be there for me and only me while I am labouring (and not have another labouring woman to care for and countless women to assess). I trust her.
▪ My husband won’t have to fight for me in the hospital; he can labour with me and trust our Midwife to tell us if we need to be concerned.
▪ I am not separated from my baby or my husband and other children. We add to our family in private, in our own home and life continues as normal.
▪ Pregnancy, labour and birth are normal. Our baby was created in private at home, and will be born in privacy at home. We believe in a woman’s ability to birth her babies.
▪ Birth is normal – if we need help, our Midwife is highly trained and experienced and comes with oxygen, syntocinon and other things needed to help us in an emergency.
There are many other reasons - feel free to leave a comment here or on my Facebook Page with yours.
For me, the most compelling reason is safety. The research is compelling and wouldn’t want the best possible chance for the safest birthing experience and the healthiest baby? Having said that, the woman MUST FEEL SAFE in her chosen place of birth.
Do your research. Look at http://www.mybirth.com.au/ for the statistics of your local hospital. Your first appointment with a care provider is for you to get to know them and ask them questions. If you don’t feel comfortable, keep interviewing until you find someone who fits.
Knowledge is power. It is your body, your birth and your baby. Trust in your body and trust yourself. Women are amazing J