All you need to know about home birthing
New mum Claire Hughes took the plunge of having a home birth and spoke to other mums who did the same.
Claire, mum to Max and Libby
‘When I had my son, Max, two years ago, his birth didn’t go as I had hoped. It wasn’t dramatic, just extremely long and exhausting. So when I became pregnant again I knew that this time I wanted our first night with our new baby to be spent together at home as a family, rather than in hospital. So, slightly nervously, I booked to have a home birth. My labour started at 11.30pm. I took a couple of paracetamol and stayed in bed, while my husband, Dave, inflated the pool downstairs and my mum arrived to keep an eye on Max. By 3am, my contractions had picked up too much to stay lying down, I went to have a bath and Dave called the midwife and Sarah, who’s a doula. I headed to the beautifully prepared sitting room, lit by scented candles and battery-powered tea-lights, with relaxing music playing and the pool ready. The water really helped and the wonderful midwife stayed in the background as Sarah quietly helped me with breathing techniques. Three hours later, our beautiful daughter, Libby, was born into the warm water within lovely, calm surroundings. Complication and drama free, exactly what I’d wished for!
Charlotte, Mum to Arthur
‘I was gripped by the fear of giving birth when I first became pregnant and thought that the best place to be would definitely be in hospital. But, at about seven months I started ‘hypnobirthing’ classes and also read the stats about home births. I saw that, despite what I thought, they were safe. We grilled our midwife about the risks and decided that a water birth at home would be the best option for me. And through my classes I began to understand the reasons for the sensations I would feel during labour. I woke up at 1.45am having strong contractions. My husband, Sam, began filling the pool that was in our bedroom, while I had tea and toast with my mum. By 3am I lay curled up in the dark concentrating on my breathing. The midwife arrived at 5am and sat with me timing my contractions. Just before 8am I felt ready to push and wanted to get into the pool. Sam topped it up with warm water and the midwife did her first check to find that our baby’s head was ‘there’. I refused the offer of gas and air– if I’d come this far I knew I could do it all. After 24 minutes of pushing, I reached down to ‘catch’ my baby, brought him to the surface and onto my chest. It was the most incredible experience of my life! Yes, it hurt but I knew my body was doing what it needed to.’
Charlotte is director of BabyCalm, and the recently launched, ToddlerCalm
Kate, mum to Cameron and Clara
‘I wanted a calm birth at home when we found out I was expecting Clara, but my partner, Nick, wasn’t comfortable with the idea. So I decided not to pursue things as I felt it was vital that he was happy with the plan, so he could support me.I was six days past my expected due date when I started having very mild cramps – it felt like the beginning of things, so I headed up to bed around 9pm to fit in some sleep. After an hour I was having strong enough contractions to need to get up, get on my birthing ball and put my Tens machine on.We called the hospital to say I was in labour, but doing fine at home. I mentioned that our son came quickly and the midwife told me I should come in. Before getting in the car, though, my waters broke. I felt the pressure of the baby’s head and the need to push – I knew we’d never make it to hospital! Nick then called 999 at 12.45am. I wasn’t frightened, but I knew I was going to have the baby here and now – Nick could already see the head. The person on the end of the phone talked him though delivering our baby safely. It only took a few pushes and she was born into his arms. Thankfully she was lovely and pink, with the cord just loosely around her neck and she cried immediately – so there was no panic. The ambulance arrived seconds later – they were wonderful, and let us keep everything as calm as we could. I cuddled and fed Clara while the midwife checked us over – I needed a few stitches which she did in our bedroom and we didn’t have to go to hospital at all.’ Cameron slept through the whole thing and came into our room the next morning to meet his little sister.’
Melanie, mum to Annabel and Peter
‘It took a while to convince my husband about a home birth – he was nervous about all the ‘what ifs’. The ward was very busy, with lots of noise when I gave birth to Annabel in hospital. She had arrived two weeks early, and despite labour being fairly speedy, we ended up with lots of intervention and a forceps delivery. When we were moved to the ward, there was a constant stream of visitors and staff making checks. I was shattered. We moved house when I was pregnant with Peter. The previous owners mentioned that they’d had their children in the sitting room and I started thinking that perhaps I could do the same. It took me a while to convince my husband – he was nervous about all the ‘what ifs’, but after reading up on the subject, he realised just how safe it was. I was a week overdue when I agreed to have a sweep, and to my surprise the midwife announced I was already 4cm. We sent Annabel to my mum’s and waited for things to start happening. Faint contractions begun in the early hours of the morning but thankfully I was able to sleep between them. When I got out of bed at 7am they became much stronger and by 8.30am were just two minutes apart. The midwife arrived half an hour later and, after examining me, called for the second midwife. Both midwives were great – really positive, calm and focused just on me. I had gas and air, but a few minutes later my waters broke and I could feel my baby move downwards. Ten minutes of pushing and Peter was born. He weighed 9lbs with a 98th centile head, but I didn’t need stitches. Afterwards, I was sat propped up on lots of cushions, lovely and relaxed, and fed Peter. The midwife had run me a bath, which felt like the most luxurious soak ever! When I came downstairs again the room was tidy and my husband was cuddling the baby. We spent the day marvelling at our son and how well his birth went.