Home Birth – Advantages and The Disadvantages

If you are giving birth at home, pre-labour will shift imperceptibly into full labour, without changes in location or attendants.

You will remain in familiar surroundings with no need to travel while in labour.

Once notified your midwife will come to your house and stay with you throughout.

You will be free to move around and take up any position that feels comfortable.

You will be encouraged to take your own time during labour.

Your membranes normally will be left to rupture spontaneously.

You will be encouraged to seek relief from pain without drugs although if you require pain medication such as pethidine it can be available if arranged with the midwife in advance.

Your midwife will try hard to help you retain an intact perineum thus avoiding an episiotomy.

Your partner and family can be an integral part of the birth.

You will have your baby with you at all times.

After the birth you will be free to celebrate as you choose.

During the early stages of labour, you will probably find it is more comfortable if you move mound. Many women feel a burst of energy and some get an overwhelming urge to clean the kitchen sort out a cupboard. This is an expression of nesting and is a subconscious urge to prepare for the imminent birth. Use this time to arrange your birthing room, gathering sheets and newspapers and getting ready all the things you, your midwife and the baby will need. Ones labour has become established, you or your partner should phone the midwife if she isn’t already on her way, as well as any other people who you want to be present.

Throughout labour your midwife will be with you continuously and she will monitor the baby’s heartbeat every five minutes with a sonicaid. She and your partner! will encourage you and help you into the most comfortable positions; some pain relief (usually gas and oxygen) will be available if you need it.

As the baby is being born you will probably find it helpful to squat. Your partner may “catch” the baby before putting him to your breast and your baby may breastfeed immediately. The cord will be clamped and cut once it has stopped pulsating, your baby will be quickly checked over, and the midwife will help you deliver the placenta. The baby will be given a thorough examination and weighed in a spring scale. You will be cleaned up and, if necessary, sutured. Then you will be ready to enjoy your new family member and celebrate together.

The Advantages

There are certain advantages to having your baby at home, such as being in familiar surroundings with all the privacy you require. Your partner can play an integral part in the birth and your other children may also be present. You will have the major say in your labour, avoiding routine medical intervention. You don`t have to perform according to preconceived medical ideas of what is normal. You will have the same midwife throughout and you will not be separated from your baby or your partner afterwards. You will avoid the risk of cross-infection from medical staff and other mothers.

The Disadvantages

Rest assured that the vast majority of home births proceed without a hitch. However, if something does go seriously wrong, you will have to go into hospital. Your midwife will always accompany you. There are three main problems that can occur – your baby may have problems being born; he may have difficulties breathing at birth (although this is often due to pain-killing drugs – one risk that does not usually occur at home); and you may have a retained placenta. Not all of these problems are emergency situations. Most breathing difficulties can usually be eased by clearing the airways, giving oxygen and massage. All midwives carry oxygen just in case.

Your Baby’s Experience

Your baby will benefit from the relaxed atmosphere at home and will have exactly the same care from your midwife as if he’d been born in hospital.

Your baby’s heart rate will be monitored by a fetal stethoscope or a hand-held sonicaid.

He will emerge into the skilled hands of the midwife, or be caught by your birth partner.

Once breathing, he will be given to you immediately after his birth and may suckle spontaneously.

His umbilical cord will be clamped, and cut once it has stopped pulsating.

The skin-to-skin contact he experiences as you give him a welcoming cuddle may help his breathing. He will be weighed and examined by the midwife; but there will be no hurry to clean him up.

Birth at home.

Your baby’s birth will be a private celebration as he is born into the intimate environment of his family. The absence of bright lights and noise will allow you to greet your baby calmly and gently. If you have other children they can get to know this new member of the family immediately and you can have them present at the moment of birth if you wish.

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