What is a Home Birth
Just as a woman’s heart knows how and when to pump, her lungs to inhale, and her hand to pull back from fire, so she knows when and how to give birth. - Virginia Di Orio
A home birth is when a woman chooses to give birth at home, rather than in a hospital or birth centre.
Home births are generally attended by a midwife and sometimes by a general practitioner or obstetrician.
Some mothers choose to give birth without any medical professional present and this is generally known as a unassisted home birth.
In South Africa, home births are attended by midwives and often accompanied by a doula. The woman chooses both the midwife and the doula.
The World Heatlh Organisation (WHO) has released a statement supporting the right of women to choose where they give birth. “In the case of low-risk pregnancies, with appropriate support and contingency plans, women can give birth at home. “(General aspects of Care in Labour, WHO’s Care in normal birth: a practical guide, 1997)
Your midwife will assess if you are a candidate for a home birth according to your health status and pregnancy history and profile.
Choosing a Home Birth
In South Africa, choosing a home birth is seen as being strange, not quite normal, and taking a huge risk. Maybe you belong to some funny group of hippies or just being "very brave, taking such a risk - what if something goes wrong!"
But quite the opposite is true. Home birth is the safest place to give birth if the mother is healthy and has had a risk-free pregnancy. Research has shown that babies that are born at home have better outcomes.
If you long for a birthing that is safe, comfortable and in a setting that you know, then this is for you. Since the beginning of time, mothers have birthed their babies at home, instinctively they know how. At home, the birthing becomes a normal process of life, not a medical procedure. For birthing hormones to be released and function optimally, the mother needs to be in a place where she can be calm, comfortable, quiet and in control. (see article on Hormones)
Your care during your pregnancy, labour, birth and aftercare will take place with a midwife you have chosen and trust. Your decision to birth at home will have to be discussed with your partner and you should both be comfortable with the decision. Your partner's expectations and agreed degree of involvement is an important part of the birth planning.
We advise that you gain as much information about home births that you can. Borrow books from your midwife, search the Internet and chat to other home birth mothers. Have a look at the list of books and DVD's that we recommend on our website.
So, stay away from the doomsayers.
Don't watch movies and TV programmes that portray birthing - the DRAMA!
And don't listen to all the people that cannot wait to tell you about their terrible time they had during their "deliveries"!!
Reasons for having a home birth
Respect of privacy
Self-actualisation - becoming everything that you are capable of becoming, who you are potentially in the freedom of your home
Experience childbirth as nature intended
Freedom of movement
Variety of areas to explore - garden, kitchen, lounge or bedroom
Less chance of any interventions
Optimal chance for the release of birthing hormones - VERY IMPORTANT - seldom see this happening during hospital births
The start of breastfeeding is more successful in the home environment
Partner's expectations of birth can be met
Have the freedom to play music, burn candles and incense if you wish
Make use of water for relaxation and / or birth
Your midwife stays with you all the time
You can choose who you want present at the birth
The following quotation is taken from the November 23, 1996 issue of the British Medical Journal. This issue contained four research papers and an editorial that were basically positive toward home birth.
"Conclusion: In a setting in which pregnant women can choose the place of delivery and attention at home is guaranteed, a referral system is available and adequate, and hospitals respect the patient's original decision when she arrives there, home delivery has advantages over hospital delivery: home delivery results in fewer interventions and more comfort for the mother." (Ibid. p. 10)
The power and intensity of your contractions cannot be stronger than you, because it is you. Unknown