Lucy Cavendish: Why I recommend the magic of a home birth

Share
Related Topics

Reports that first-time mothers who give birth at home are more likely to have a baby who dies will have put the fear of God into every pregnant woman. And with the health services recommending in the same week that women be given Caesareans on demand, it seems the likelihood of anyone opting for a home birth is increasingly remote.

This is a terrible shame. I've had four children, the last three, Leonard aged eight, Jerry, seven, and Ottoline, four, in a birthing pool in my front room.

Was it easy? Of course, it wasn't. When it comes to a home birth, there is no such thing as pain relief. There are no epidurals. There are no obstetricians. Mind you, I gave birth to my first child, Raymond, now 15, in hospital and barely saw a midwife at all during my induced and consequently endlessly painful labour.

Going into labour is a confusing business. All sorts of things happen that are amazing and wonderful. I remember thinking: "I'm going to give birth to a baby out of there?" But it can also be dangerous. There are risks wherever you have your baby.

When I had Raymond in hospital, it was so painful I was begging for an epidural. But that slowed everything down. I couldn't feel anything when I did give birth and was so badly bruised I was in pain for weeks afterwards, which made me depressed and miserable.

I had my second baby at home, and it was so painful I nearly bit the paws of my dog lying near me on a sofa. I harangued my midwife throughout, asking her continually when it was all going to end. She gave me reassuring answers. "Soon," she kept saying.

During the worst parts I wondered why on earth I had opted for a home birth. I'm not a hippy. I drink caffeine and eat meat. But I had loathed the experience in hospital. I felt oddly over-managed (bossy midwives) and yet under-managed at the same time. The whole process of being injected with this and drugged with that felt seriously freaky. All I wanted with my three subsequent children was to be able to relax, curl up with my baby in my bed and drink tea and eat toast.

That doesn't mean to say I wasn't worried. But my midwife, Lynn Walcott – mother of the footballer Theo – explained that if something was likely to go wrong, she would spot it as the pregnancy progressed.

Not everything went smoothly. My third son was born in such a rush I lost a lot of blood. He wasn't breathing. I remember gazing at newborn Jerry and he was, essentially, blue. But Lynn was so calm I didn't panic. She slapped him, kept him on my breast and didn't cut his umbilical cord. Eventually, he started breathing.

Was it a near-miss? Lynn wouldn't say so. I believed her and opted to give birth to my daughter at home again. This time, Lynn carefully set up her resuscitation kit in front of me to calm my nerves.

I needn't have worried about anything. It was a textbook birth. There was a knot in my daughter's cord but it was loose. Lynn felt that if I had been through a stressful labour in hospital, that knot would have tightened. At home, I remained calm and relaxed and the knot did not tighten. Lynn took photos of it, and these have been used to illustrate articles on the benefits of home birth.

I am not intending to give birth again. I've had my brood. But I really hope last week's report in the British Medical Journal doesn't put too many women off. Home birth is a magical experience. And you get toast in bed afterwards as well.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Data Analyst

£30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable software house is looking ...

Application Support Analyst / Junior SQL Server DBA

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established professional services...

Commercial Litigation

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION SO...

BI Developer - Sheffield - £35,000 ~ £40,000 DOE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Assistant Editor: Domestic violence is no petty matter

Siobhan Norton
 

There’s nothing wrong with GM

Steve Connor
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried