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Covid-19 has been responsible for taking away some of women's birth rights, which has been very difficult to come to terms with for almost a year now. So, turn back one month when MTW Trust suspended home births in our area for the second time in 9 months, I am SO THRILLED to tell you that they are now back in full swing. This is the best news! Birthing at home has an added bit of extra magic for many. Even with unexpected home births (hello speedy arrivals!) there is a real sense of empowerment and complete awe in what our bodies are capable of achieving.

Despite our widespread cultural notion that birth is difficult, fraught with complication and unbearably painful, this doesn’t have to be the case and the circumstances of birth are key. Given the right conditions, it will take place irrespective of a woman’s pain threshold, body shape or other measure we may use to undermine ourselves. I’m not suggesting it’s easy—giving birth is hard work, but the benefit of home birth is that it creates the perfect environment for hormones to flourish and birth to flow: one where anxiety is reduced, comfort is elevated, and oxytocin abounds.

So, the benefits.

Your own bed, your own bathroom, freedom to roam around your house, familiar environments, comforting distractions, everything you need where it always is, freedom to have food and drink of your choice, whenever you choose to, not having to decide ‘when’ to travel to hospital, I could go on for hours. While all of these home comforts may be viewed as ‘nice to haves’ during labour and birth, they actually play a far more important role in the birthing process than you might think. Oxytocin, the love hormone, the shy hormone, the birth hormone. It likes to be very much unobserved.

Other benefits include:

• You will receive one to one midwifery care in your own home. Usually 2 midwives.

• Research suggests you are more likely to have a normal birth and less need for medical intervention at home

• You are less likely to have difficulties afterwards

• It is your home, so you have control over your birthing environment, lighting, music, number of birth partners etc which are linked to better emotional outcomes for mothers

• Research has shown that less pain relief is used in the home birth setting which implies you are less likely to experience a painful labour.

• Your baby is more likely to breastfeed

• Lower rates of postnatal infections for mum and baby

  • Recovery happens straight away in your own home, even in your own bed.

  • not having to interrupt your labour to go into hospital (**see bottom of blog.)

  • not needing to leave your other children, if you have any

  • not having to be separated from your partner during labour or after the birth

  • If you want a water birth or at least to labour in water, most people can hire/borrow an inflatable birth pool to use in their homes throughout their labour. Whereas our nearest hospital has only 2 birth pools (currently 4 whilst Crowborough Birth Centre is temporarily closed). There is never a guarantee that you will labour in a birth pool within a hospital setting, unfortunately. It is pot luck as to whether one is available for you or not.

So you see, LOTS of benefits to support home birth. So many. ‘Home’ is where all mammals birth. Their safe place, whether you recognise this or not.

A fantastic article you could read is called ‘Out of the laboratory, into the darkened room’ and I urge everybody to read it, whether you are planning a home birth or not. You can find the article here.

**Transfer from home to hospital rate for first time mothers is 44% with the main reason being for ‘slow’ 1st or 2nd stage of labour. These are not emergencies. Transfer rate for subsequent labours is 12%. However, do remember that if you are planning a hospital birth than your transfer rate is 100%, as you have already decided to leave your home, and for a stand-alone birth centre you are looking at either 1 or 2 transfers (one to birth centre, and possibly another to hospital.) You may be inclined to take a look at the 'Place of Birth Study' through NICE.


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