Home Births: Don’t Believe The Hype

When I was pregnant with my second child, the midwife not only asked me if I wanted a home birth but practically insisted I’d be fine with one. Having had a very straightforward first delivery I was assured childbirth this time round would be faster and less stressful than the first and that being at home would be both easier and nicer for me. When I said no, she said I would be missing out on a great experience. Knowing from friends that no two deliveries are ever the same I went for a hospital delivery partly because I hated the thought of giving birth on my living room floor and partly because I wanted to be in a hospital in case something happened during labour. And thank goodness I did, because baby number 2 turned out to be a very problematic and extremely long delivery with a good few scares a long the way. So thank goodness for Barbara Ellen’s piece in The Guardian where she’s been brave enough to dispel the popular notion that homes births are all soothing music, burning candles and relaxed mums. Yes I do know some mums who have wonderful home births but I also know plenty who have had to make a very traumatic dash to the hospital when labour went wrong. And as the Guardian piece says this fact is backed up by the Birthplace in England study, which compared the data for 65,000 “low-risk” pregnant women. According to the stats first-time mothers attempting to give birth at home had almost three times the risk of serious difficulties. Plus almost half ended up in hospital due to complications during labour, as did almost 12% of women who’d given birth before and had been judged to have “no increased risk”. This is not to say I am anti home births. I just think that pregnant women should be given the real facts and reality of giving birth at home (as you do for giving birth in  hospital or a birthing unit) so they can make an informed decision that enables them to be prepared for what’s to come. What do you think? Are you an advocate of home births? Were you given enough information prior to labour? Let me know.