baby

'You need to be open to going with the flow.' What these 4 women wish they knew before having a homebirth.

Every birthing experience is unique and the way you choose (or don’t choose) to give birth is highly emotive and personal to you. 

Birthing trends continually change but thanks to COVID, there has been an increase in enquiries about home birth from women who want to stay out of the hospital system.

As part of Home Birth Awareness Week, we hear from four women who have experienced home births to find out what they would like other women to know, as well as private midwife Louise David, who specialises in helping women to give birth at home.

1. Alice: "Take a hypnobirthing course."

"I listened to Mamamia’s The Delivery Room podcast (when pregnant) and decided that hypnobirthing made so much sense to me, even more so when I discovered the role that hormones play in labour. 

"A couple of weeks out from my due date, I decided that my first option would be to have a home birth (I packed for a birthing centre birth just in case) as I wanted to stay in my birthing zone during my labour. My waters broke 10 days early at 11pm, and at 1am I re-listened to the Delivery Room episode just to be more prepared. 

Watch: Women share the one thing they weren't told about delivering a baby. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia.

"My midwife was going to come over during the day but in the meantime, I got my mum to come over in her lunch break and drop off a hot water bottle. After chatting with her for a bit I got her to run a bath. I got in at 1.45pm and had my baby at 1.57pm. My mum caught the baby while I pulled down on my husband’s arms. The midwife was late and arrived soon after to deliver the placenta. 

"When the head was out, my husband and mum freaked out a bit as she was underwater and told me to keep pushing, but I knew the baby would be fine and I told them I had to wait for the next contraction. They both told me they were glad I knew what I was doing. 

"It was so amazing to share that moment with the most special people in my life.

"My advice is to do a hypnobirthing course, or do what I did and buy a hypnobirthing audio book."

2. Renée: "Find a care provider you click with."

"My advice to women planning a home birth is to make sure they are comfortable with their decision and to know their options; for example, a publicly funded home birth through a hospital is different to a privately practicing midwife home birth. 

ADVERTISEMENT

"I would also advise to make sure you trust the care provider and actually like them. Sometimes you may need to interview a couple to find one you click with and to complete an independent birth education program so they have some tools to use at home to get them through labour.

"My midwife said to me when I was pregnant, 'Our number one goal is a healthy mum and baby, then it's a vaginal birth, then it's a home birth.' 

"I loved that, as while I was excited to have my baby at home, I realised I could still have had a beautiful, positive birth in the event of a hospital transfer."

Listen to Mamamia's The Delivery Room. Post continues below.

 

3. Becca: "Make sure your home is clean and clutter free."

"I would say that you need to be completely open to going with the flow. You won't know until you are deep in the thick of labour what is going to feel good. My needs were really different with each of my three births so I think having as few expectations as possible is going to mean you can enjoy the experience rather than resist it.

"Make sure your home is clean and clutter free! On the day Otis was born, I woke up and the first thing I did was make my eldest son and my husband tidy every visible surface! I just wanted my space to be tidy, so I wasn't looking around thinking about the laundry.

"Hire a cleaner or rope in your friends if you need to. It's probably the last time it will be tidy for a while too!

"I think it's really important to protect yourself from other people’s worries. Home birth is not that common in Australia so there's a lot of pre-conceived, outdated or fear-based ideas that people hold and I found people would throw their opinions at me.

Becca, husband Jono, Dylan, and new baby Otis. Image: Supplied.

ADVERTISEMENT

"I looked for information and advice from the midwives who do it every day and have hands-on experience rather than friends or family who have never had a home birth!

"Lastly... I know it’s not for everyone. I believe that birth is best wherever you feel comfortable and safe.

"For some, that will be at home, for others, that will be in hospital... because you know what's best for you. There's no right or wrong way to birth a baby. My two home births were amazing but so was my hospital birth so I really believe we should put all births firmly on a pedestal and celebrate how amazing every mother is!"

4. Alexis: "Look into what birthing services are available locally."

"Deciding whether to have a home birth is a personal decision. But I would say to women to consider home birth a real option. 

"Look into what birthing services are available locally and talk to other women who have personally experienced a home birth through that service. I can only speak for the midwifery-led birthing service provided by our Local Health District.

"Use the early antenatal appointments with your midwife to ask lots of questions and establish trust. I found sharing my birthing concerns with my midwife and partner extremely cathartic.  

"Mental preparation, visualisations, positive birth messages, and other Calm Birth techniques helped, as did having a back-up option in case things changed.

"I had my third baby at home and I’d love to have had the courage to try for a home birth with my second baby, but I wasn’t ready. 

"It was only the experience of things not going to plan and being transferred to the main hospital from the birthing service (during my second birth) that helped me realise transferring wasn’t such a big deal."

5. Louise, Private Midwife: "Consider what type of birth is right for you."

"I have worked as a private midwife for six years and I went out on my own because I felt it was truer to my values as a midwife. 

"I always say to the pregnant women who get in touch with me to consider the type of birth they want. There is plenty of peer reviewed evidence to show that home birthing means you are least likely to have a surgical outcome. There is also a continuity of care which can be disjointed in the hospital system.

Midwife Louise in action with a mum during a home birth. Image: Caught Photographics. 

ADVERTISEMENT

"I think many women put a lot of time and energy into researching what pram or family car they want and the same should be done for your birth and what is right for you and your family.

"While the official number of women having a home birth in Australia is about 0.2 per cent, anecdotally, I have had a huge increase in enquiries since COVID. I have gone from about two to four women per month, to three to five enquiries per day! 

"It can be lonely but I love my job and consider myself a total birth nerd! 

"Every baby born is the best birth ever and I love how birth can make a woman feel so empowered. 

"I might be on call forever but ultimately, I do it for the women."

Always consult your healthcare provider before deciding what type of birth is right for you. 

Recent NSW Health guidelines for home birth recognise that the birthing environment plays a role in supporting a woman’s sense of control during birth. The guidelines state that, 'Planned home birth is a safe alternative for women assessed to be at low risk of pregnancy complications by established screening criteria.' Read the guidelines in full  here. 

Feature Image: Supplied/Serina Crinis Photography.

Like a $50 gift voucher for your thoughts? For your chance, take our quick survey .
MMSurvey