It is crucial that a mother feels safe and supported while she is giving birth. Some woman only do so, if they are in a hospital environment. If this is the case, for you, then you will obviously be choosing to have your child in hospital and should be able to count on practical and emotional support to make this happen. However, many women make this decision based on very little evidence and it would be as well to consider the pros and cons, whatever your ultimate decision turns out to be.
Reasons why you might like to consider a home birth, especially for a first child include;
*Booking for a home birth keeps your options open; if you do so, you can very easily decide on the day to go it hospital and you will be accommodated just as if you had planned a hospital birth. If, however, you plan to go to hospital and in labour discover that the last thing you want is to be bundled into a car and driven off to an unfamiliar place with people you do not know, you will not have the structures set up with the community midwife team which would make it possible to respect your wishes. (Not wanting to move or go somewhere unfamiliar is a very common feeling in labour; if a woman is forced to move, her system starts to secrete stress hormones which then shut down labour; this is why many first time mothers “need” intervention; if they had been left to their own devices, their labour hormones would have resulted in a straightforward delivery, but because they did not feel safe, labour can stall and doctors deem them to have “failed to progress”)
* It guarantees you two midwives present at your labour. In hospital woman are often left alone, hooked up to a machine.
*it makes it likely that you will have the same midwife provide your ante natal care and be there at the labour; this kind of continuity of care is not available in hospital, and yet a relationship of this kind is the best context for labour and has been shown to make interventions much less likely. It also makes for a much happier experience.
*It means you get top quality care on the NHS from the most experienced midwives and also incidentally, those Midwives most likely to support your choices as a mother. Hospital Midwives and Obstetricians are trained and expected to enforce hospital policies, not primarily to respect the needs and wishes of the individual.
* it gets you ante-natal care in the comfort and privacy of your own home, rather than having to traipse up to the hospital, wait around for a couple of hours, be processed by someone you do not know in 10 minutes. This is especially important if you have other children, not just because it is convenient, but because community midwives are very good at involving siblings; I will long remember our eldest’s delight at being allowed to hold and help with the blood samples and measurements and to hear her little sister’s heart beat. And so will she.
*it protects you from the stress of having to meet other people’s expectations, especially those of obstetricians whose focus is on getting the baby out to their own time table.
* it puts birth at the emotional and spiritual heart of the family , involving both spouses and also if you choose, children. This can have a very positive effect on sibling relationships.
* it protects you from the very real danger of life-threatening infections such as MRSA, which are very common in hospitals and which often now cause serious complications for mothers and babies.
*it dramatically reduces the likelihood of medical interventions
* it dramatically increases the likelihood of getting good support for breast-feeding and other helpful, non-pushy advice.