About Home Birth
Women in midwifery care have a choice of having either a home or hospital birth. Midwives are trained to provide the necessary care and support to women who choose to labour and give birth at home. This includes being trained to respond to medical emergencies and carrying all the essential equipment and medications for common complications of childbirth. The equipment includes, oxygen for mother and baby, resuscitation equipment for babies, medications to stop heavy bleeding, suturing supplies, delivery tools, and IV supplies. Just like a hospital birth, two midwives will attend every birth with the second midwife coming nearing the end of labour to provide assistance to the primary midwife.
Who Can Have A Home Birth?
Home births are a safe option for healthy women with low risk pregnancies. The pregnancy must be 37 weeks or more and the baby needs to be head down. Your midwife can discuss with you in more detail to determine whether you are a suitable candidate for a home birth or not.
Benefits OF A Home Birth
Currently the research comparing low risk women who had a home birth to low risk women who had a hospital birth showed the following advantages:
- Lower rates of intervention including induction, augmentation, epidurals, episiotomy and assisted deliveries (forceps and vacuum).
- Lower rates of Caesarean deliveries.
- Lower rates of their baby and the mother to have an infection after the birth.
- Women at home were more likely to breast feed and breast feed for longer
Women at home often report feeling more relaxed, competent, responsible, secure, more in control, and empowered.
What Equipment Do Midwives Bring To Home Births
- Doppler to monitor your baby’s heartbeat
- Adult stethoscope
- Infant stethoscope
- Sphygmomanometer to monitor your blood pressure
- Baby scale
- Infant resuscitation bag and mask
- Sterile speculum
- Birth instruments
- Suturing instruments
- Portable suction equipment
- Oxytocic drugs – to manage a post partum haemorrhage
- Drugs to manage allergic reactions
- Local and topical anaesthetic
- Vitamin K
- Erythromycin eye drops
- Maternal non re-breathing face mask
- Blood tubes
- IV supplies
- Suture material
- Catheterisation equipment
What Can I Do To Cope With Pain At Home?
- Breathing and relaxation techniques
- Adopting different positions
- Use of warm showers and baths
- TENS machine
- Homeopathy and other alternative medicines
What If A Complication Arises?
At a home birth, midwives monitor both the mother and the baby carefully similarly if the birth were to take place in the hospital in order to detect any early complications.
When a complication arises your midwife may recommend that you transfer to hospital.
Depending on the complication and the severity of the complication, it will depend on whether a transfer by car is possible or whether transfer by ambulance is recommended.
Examples of why women may transfer by car include, need for pharmacological pain relief like an epidural, slow progress in labour, meconium stained liquor and minor concerns regarding the baby’s heartbeat.
Examples of why midwives may recommend a transfer via ambulance include, more severe concerns with the fetal heart rate, post partum haemorrhage, cord prolapse, abnormal bleeding during the labour or baby in a breech position.
In rare cases such as cord prolapse being in a hospital would allow you quicker access to an emergency caesarean section.