There are three reasons I would rather birth at home than in a hospital. First I don't like hospitals, and I don't feel comfortable in one so I don't see it as the best place to have a baby. Secondly I don't see pregnancy, labour and birth as an illness so don't feel the need to be 'treated' by a Doctor.
Third but most importantly, statistics and research shows that if you are normal low risk pregnancy, then birthing at home is just as safe, if not safer, than birthing at a hospital because every little intervention in hospital (from an internal exam, to continuous fetal monitoring, to the use of drugs) increases the likelihood of further interventions and therefore decreases the likelihood of the best possible outcome for mother and baby.
It's important to know that I didn't enter this third pregnancy having had fast easy labours before.
Iain's was a 60 hour marathon after my waters broke involving 12 hours on the syntocin drip, gas, a failed epidural, vacuum extraction and second degree tear needing seven stitches. Had I been better informed at the time, I believe we could have avoided most of those interventions.
Angus' was a much shorter 18 hour labour, but he was posterior and it was incredibly painful start to finish. He was born in a midwife run birth centre. I used gas for pain relief, but he was eventually peacefully born weighing 4.4kg (over 1kg larger than Iain!), easily with no tearing
There are a lot of misconceptions about home birth. Here is a run-down of what a home birth is and isn't.
- Home births are attended by at least one highly experienced midwife. You do not birth alone without medical care.
- Your antenatal checkups usually occur within your own home, and are done by the same midwife throughout your pregnancy.
- You still have all blood tests, ultrasounds, etc. throughout your pregnancy (if you want to), so if something is actually not 'normal' you could then see an Obstetrician.
- A home birth midwife carries suction and resuscitation equipment, drugs for dealing with post-partum hemorrhage, and can stitch you if you tear.
- Some midwives carry pain relieving drugs.
- If there are problems during labour, you are not bound to staying at home, instead you transfer to hospital for additional care. Home birth midwives are highly experienced at picking up problems
- During labour, your midwife will be with you from the time you phone her to come, until several hours after the birth. She will clean up the 'mess' (not that there is much), and then visit you in your home daily.