Home birthing changed my life, why are we so afraid of it?

Too many women discount homebirth, but the guidelines and the numbers speak for themselves

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The Independent Online

According to new NHS guidelines, it might be safer to give birth at home than in a hospital. The outrage and horror this announcement had caused among some disappoints me, but I'm not surprised.

I’m a home-birthing mother of two – yes, I was one of those irresponsible mums who chose to have my first birth at home, which would be against current NICE guidelines. Why did I take the risk? Because I had done my research.

These guidelines are nothing new. The Changing Childbirth Study was sharing this exact information, about better birth outcomes at home and in low tech midwifery units, in 1994. The only question is: when are we going to start listening? 

I made the decision to homebirth because I am a bit of a control freak.  Whilst I definitely wouldn’t be classed as an ‘Earth Mother’ I knew that I wanted as little intervention as possible. And after doing my research, it was clear that if I went into hospital I was much more likely to end up with some type of intervention.

So I got prepared, with a huge part of that preparation being hypnobirthing. I went into my labour having a really clear understanding of the physiological side of birth. I understood the role that the environment would play and the impact that would have on how efficiently my body would birth. I had a whole range of strategies and techniques to draw upon, to help me stay calm and not fearful, which massively affects how our body responds during labour.

That birth wasn’t all hearts and flowers, by any stretch of the imagination, although the first half was pretty bloody amazing, primarily because we had a incredibly supportive midwife. However, after about 26 hours I was still just 3cm dilated. I have no doubt that if I had been in hospital I would have been put on a drip with my labour being artificially stimulated.

But after some rest and reassuring words from my husband, I finally got in the pool after 31 hours of labour and everything progressed very quickly. My gorgeous boy popped into the water 2 hours later. 

I couldn’t believe I’d done it. It felt amazing, and being at home was a huge part of that.  When we welcomed my daughter into the world just two years later after four and a half hours of active labour it changed my life irrevocably.

Those births showed me how amazing homebirth can be, when you have a solid foundation and the right support. Too many women discount homebirth, because of reasons of safety, but the guidelines and the numbers speak for themselves.  Quite simply it is as safe, if not safer for some women to homebirth so now it’s time to start talking about why we're still not doing it.

Suzy Ashworth is Founder of Suzy Ashworth Pregnancy Coaching and Hypnobirthing Specialist Practice and Co-Founder of The Calm Birth School