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Home Birth – Is it Safe?


Should I have a home birth

Giving birth in the UK can be very safe for healthy women with a straight-forward (‘low-risk’) pregnancy.   ‘Adverse outcomes’ for babies are rare regardless of where mothers plan to give birth, occurring  in just 4 to 5 births in every 1000. These adverse outcomes are serious, or potentially serious events, but thankfully they are not common.

Why Choose a Home Birth?

The reasons couples choose to give birth at home are varied and include;

• Wanting to be in their own environment where they feel safe, relaxed and in control. At home women tend to labour quicker, describe it as ‘less painful’ and find it an overwhelmingly empowering and positive event.
• Making the birth a family affair.  At home you can be in control of who is present whereas in hospital, generally because of space constraints, birthing partners are usually limited to 2 persons.  It is also unlikely that your partner will be able to stay overnight in the postnatal ward after the birth.
• After the birth at home you can rest, bond and feed your newborn in the comfort of your own bed in a quiet and peaceful environment surrounded and supported by your family. Postnatal wards tend to be noisy and busy places.
• Women giving birth at home are less likely to have interventions, more likely to have a normal birth, use less pain relief and most importantly, describe the experience as “ positive”.

Why Choose A Home Birth?

• Reduction in postpartum haemorrhage. A study published has found that, among women in the UK with ‘low-risk’ pregnancies, those who intend to give birth in hospital are significantly more likely to experience a postpartum haemorrhage (PPH) than those who intend to give birth at home.

• Some women with ‘risk’ factors such as previous Caesarean Section, twins, and breech presentation may want to give birth at home because they want to optimise their chance of having a natural birth. They often want to labour in a birthing pool and this choice can often be denied them in hospital. Very often in hospital they would be advised and feel pressurised into having certain interventions such as continuous fetal monitoring, IV access, epidural anaesthesia and delivery in the operating theatre. These interventions can all increase anxiety for the woman and thereby reduce the production of oxytocin slowing or stopping the contractions or making them less efficient. Women with continuous fetal monitoring can also find it more difficult to remain active and mobile in labour which can increase their need for epidural and therefore assisted (ventouse/forceps) delivery.  This is known as the cascade of interventions.

• Hospital phobia – Some women feel very anxious coming to hospital associating them with sickness and death. They see birth as a normal physiological event and feel safer at home.

• Further benefits are seen in higher rates of breastfeeding at 48 hours (80 % in home born babies compared with 58 % in hospital born babies ).

For more information on Home Births and to help you make a safe and informed decision for you and your baby, please do sign up for our Antenatal Classes.

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