- There are lower rates of complication/intervention. Only straightforward births are ‘allowed’ to try at home and there is no access to input like epidurals, forceps or of course surgeons at home.
- A friend of mine felt she got a better level of midwife (MW) care. This is contentious for me. When we first phoned it was purely to check in. The second time it was because I was getting 3 contractions in 10 minutes. My hospital wanted me to come in to be assessed. We declined and said we’d wait. They called back and a midwife came out and confirmed I was only 2 cm. When the second midwife came to assess me (after waiting 3 hours), she gave me gas and air which I had requested. She then informed me she had to leave, take the gas and air with her and didn’t know when someone else would be back out. I was informed I didn’t have to transfer in but by that point giving birth without pain relief (never my plan) was not an option. However ‘normally’ you would have one with you, another one nearer the birth and the midwives are only looking after you. I would advise that, unlike me, you do not start labour on your due date which also coincides with the first ever midwife strike in 133 years!
- MWs are in control and are experts in ‘normal’ births. Those attending homebirths are more likely to be used to thinking for themselves and being in charge, rather than relying on the doctors. Equally though of course they don’t have the back up of a second opinion.
- There might be more chance of having your wishes respected and less chance of having things done to you without your consent as the MWs are guests in your home rather than you being at their workplace. I can’t say this was ever an issue for us.
- There is often lower need for pain relief (which hence reduces risk of complications, interventions etc.) as you are more relaxed. This was my hope. Again I suggest having a child coming out head first rather than ear first.
- Your home is a nicer environment. Eat and drink what you want when you want, watch TV (I watched Strictly Come Dancing, first in the bath and then finished in the birthing pool) and film or listen to music, have the lighting and furniture how you want it too.
- I wanted a water birth and this seemed the best way to guarantee it. I used the Aquaborn Eco Birth Pool and found it good for my purposes.
- Your home can be more practical especially if you have other kids.
- After the birth the whole family gets to stay together instead of having to be separated due to limitations on visiting.
- No problems with phone reception or access to wifi.
Midwife led unit
So off I trundled mid labour. Refused to put on anything more than a dressing gown so left my house in a pink dressing gown and pink tankini top only. No shoes, no underwear. Not taking anything for granted, the bag was packed at least. So what was good about the midwife led unit?
- I got gas and air (never ending supply), diamorphine (didn’t touch the sides for me) and the pain relief options are obviously easier to access. Although these options should have been available to me at home (bitter? Me?)
- A room was available with bathroom, birthing pool and bed for labouring. There were also birthing pools, rails and all sorts.
- While MWs clean up at home for you, it was reassuring for my husband I think to know that anything that happened was NOT his responsibility!
- My MW was trained in aromatherapy and used this with me which wasn’t an option at home.
- The environment was really nice.
- The team could consult with different members about what to do.
- They offered me toast and honey.
- They had access to an ultrasound.
Regretfully I had to leave MW led unit as following the ultrasound and confirmation of my ear first child, they wanted to monitor him more closely. So positives for the labour ward:
- I got an epidural. The only pain relief that worked by then. Hallelujah!
- I was surrounded by experienced and knowledgeable staff.
- I was monitored using a clip on his head and taking blood. This helped them to make the decision that he wasn’t doing well in there and needed to get out. I then ended up having an emergency C section.
Hopefully if you have yet to give birth, wherever you choose works for you. If it doesn’t, I hope you don’t remain long effected. Me and my husband were shell shocked post birth. A good few tears were shed about it in addition to all the usual hormonal swings. I felt cheated in a way.
What helped me was writing the story of what happened with my husband helping and sharing with other women in the same position. One of my NCT friends also had an emergency c section as did an online friend and it helped me to share with them and not feel alone. Others have accessed CBT or had debriefs and found this helpful.
Whatever helps you, please try and find it and never feel bad for how it turned out if you and your baby are safe.
If I did it all again, I would plan for a home birth but I would want to know a mw/pain relief would be available (and a home birth team started a month after I gave birth) and that the baby was in a good position. I did feel relaxed at home and I loved being in water early for pain relief. I don’t think I would want our older child present in the house though.
However if home wasn’t an option I would consider MLU or hospital. What puts me off is the idea of going back and forth until I was ready. I didn’t like a medical setting but I was grateful for all the input. The MLU was a lovely set up all considered. My main objection to the delivery suite was that in hindsight all that input and pain to try to get him out one way when the other way would have avoided it.