Planning For A Home Birth

As mentioned in my Week 36 pregnancy update the other day, the plan is for our little lad to arrive in a home birth. As the name suggests, this will hopefully involve him being born at home with the assistance of one or two midwives – in essence, it’ll mean everything will be done in the comfort of our home with no need for hospital intervention.

So why have we planned for a home birth? Well, firstly, there’s timing. The midwife has told us that birth the second time around could be half the length. So as L was born in a super speedy 3.5 hours, the last thing we want is to be giving birth at the side of the road on the way to the hospital. I shouldn’t be trusted to deliver my own baby and the car seats might get messy.

Secondly, there’s the risk side of things. As there were no medical complications with pregnancy or birth the first time around, and as there’s no current complications with the second baby, then we’re ideal candidates for a home birth as we’re low risk. Obviously something could still go wrong, but there are measures in place if it does. Plus, if something is to go wrong, it’d go wrong whether we were at home or in the hospital.

Thirdly, there’s the comfort side of things. Although we had a great experience when L was born at the midwife-led unit at the hospital, we were still a bit on edge due to where we were. A hospital is never the nicest of places and you kind of want to escape as quick as possible. So, if everything can be done in the comfort of our own home in a familiar environment, then why not? Just think – I could play FIFA, drink an IPA and still support the missus!

I don’t have any major concerns about a home birth – ultimately it comes down to what the missus wants, what she’s most comfortable with and what will relax her the most. I do have a few niggles though – mainly about the unknown and whether we’ll be impacted by being at home. For instance, if we were in a hospital and anything unexpected happened, it could be dealt with straight away.

With a home birth though, if it can’t be dealt with by the midwife, it could take up to an hour for an ambulance to arrive, then half an hour to get to the nearest hospital. Will this delay have consequences? Similarly, what if the midwife doesn’t arrive in time and we have to deliver ourselves? When contractions start, I’ll ring the number we’ve been given, but things like traffic or bad weather could see her being delayed. That makes me a little uneasy.

Despite this, I’m more than happy with the decision and think it’ll work well for us. That being said, we also know that things may not go to plan. There are situations where we may not be able to have a home birth and we’re happy to take the midwife’s lead on that. It’s not like being asked to go into hospital will ruin everything for us, so it’s important to be flexible, realistic and aware that it may not happen as we’ve envisaged.

The whole home birth process has been pretty simple to date. It was something we’d always had in mind, so our local midwives were aware of this pretty early on. At around Week 30, we told them of our intention to go forwards with it and they did whatever they needed to do behind the scenes to get the process started. This resulted in the Home Birth Assessment that I alluded to in the Week 36 update, in which the midwife came to the house and talked through the various aspects.

She arrived with various bits of paper and checklists to ensure that everything that needed to be talked about was covered off. She was obviously also happy to answer any questions that we had. This chat mainly consisted of preparation and logistics, so we talked about things like potential reasons to transfer to a hospital, our childcare arrangements for L, if there was adequate parking, where were we going to put the dog and what we should do when contractions start.

We also covered what would be required. As this will be happening at home, obviously we need to ensure we have all of the right stuff available. We’d have most of these things anyway if we were going to the hospital, but there was a few additional things mentioned. This included a bag that the midwife brought with her which will be stored at our house until birth – this contained:

  • A blank My Personal Child Health Record (red book)
  • A sharps container
  • A wad of disposable absorbent sheets
  • A pair of rubber gloves
  • A medical waste bags
  • A number of white bin bags
  • Blank paperwork (birth notes, postnatal notes etc)

Planning For A Home Birth Bag Left By Midwife

In addition to this, we’ve been asked to supply some additional kit. This includes:

  • A large plastic sheet to protect the bed / sofa / floor (we’ve bought a cheap shower curtain, but decorating sheets also work)
  • A torch or angled lamp for direct light (we already have both of these)
  • A hot water bottle / radiator / heater to warm clothes and keep the room toasty (we have a portable heater, central heating and heated clothes airer, so we’re sorted)
  • Bucket / bowl [in case she’s sick I presume] (we already have one)
  • A clear surface the midwife can use for equipment (we have a selection of tables to choose from!)
  • A room thermometer (we have one on our thermostat)
  • Black bin bags (we already have some)
  • Towels (we’ve bought some new, cheap ones)
  • Refreshments for the midwife (we bought some in, but the biscuits have nearly gone, so we’ll need to get more…)

There’s then all of the stuff we’d have in our hospital bags as standard. Rather than list out all of these things again, I’ll just point you in the direction of this what’s in our hospital bags post from when we were preparing for L – we’ve basically packed the same stuff, just not as much. This means we can get to it if needed when at home, but we also have bags packed should we need to go to hospital.

And that’s about that. Deciding on a home birth makes sense for us and has resulted in very little extra effort. If anything, it’s relaxed us even more because we’re not having to consider things like finding space to park at the hospital, giving birth at the side of the road or whether I’ll be able to stay the night. Fingers crossed it all goes to plan – I’m sure there’ll be an update soon…