I get it… Homebirth isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But since the speculation of Meghan Markles plans for a home birth, it has come into the lime light. From the many magazine articles on this with people throwing around their views on Homebirth, it’s highlighted what we as a culture think about women and their capabilities about birth. That for birth, we need to be in close proximity of a doctor, you know “just in case.”
So let’s look at what the research says…
Before we look I need to highlight that this research compares the types of birth looking at where women PLANNED to give birth and then what actually happened in their births. (This is important to distinguish so people reading this don’t think, well DUH of course there’s going to be no cesareans at home 🙄)
Also we’re looking here at women with no “risk factors” so women who have no complications, totally straightforward etc. and that’s in ALL of these groups. All “low risk” women but all women who have had a baby before.
So, you’d think that comparing these women there would be the same amount of instrumental births or cesareans in each birth setting right? As surely, the amount of babies needed to be born with intervention are the same in each group.
Here are the stats…
Per 1000 births.
Women who had a Vaginal birth (without assistance)
Home- 984 vs Birth unit- 967 vs. Obstetric 927… That’s a 57 more vaginal births happened at home than in a consultant led unit,
Home 28 vs. Obstetric unit 121… That means that 93 more women choose an epidural when it is readily available.
Home 15 vs Obstetric unit 56… An extra 39 women had an episiotomy (a cut to the perineum used to help baby be born quicker when is thought baby is in distress)
Home 7 vs Obstetric unit 35 … Only 7 women were transferred in for a caesarean birth compared to 35 who were already on a consultant led unit. And remember, these women ARE NOT on a consultant led unit for any reason as we are comparing women with no other factors involved.
Home 9 vs Obstetric unit 38… 9 women would have transferred in to hospital for a instrumental birth compared to 38 who were birthing with Drs around.
So are you thinking… WOW it sounds more dangerous at home as surely those birth statistics should be fairly similar so all those babies would have missed out on being born quicker when in need. Well, if we look at the most important one to consider, what about the babies.
So when looking at serious medical problems for baby per 1000 births.
Home 3 vs Obstetric Unit 3 (for second or more time mothers)
So baby’s of mothers (who have birthed before) who are “low risk” are no safer during birth in a hospital than at home.
Even when compared to a birth unit, home always comes up trumps for less intervention. So looking at those stats.. look at all those unnecessary interventions that occurred purely from being in an area where there are obstetricians around.
This could be potentially for two reasons…
- You are more relaxed at home, your labour progresses more efficiently, you require less drugs because of this and baby gets optimum blood supply. This all happens because you are MORE RELAXED.
- Hospital culture. Doctors are less familiar with “natural birth” as they are asked to come to births usually when things are deviating from the norm, which means they are more likely to advise that interventions happen when sometimes not totally necessary.
These findings have been published by NICE and there’s a really interesting table here that compares birth units too. There is also a table that compares all the stats but for first time mothers as remember all the stats above are for mothers who have given birth before.
So if there wasn’t quite 5 reasons above, here are 3 more bonus reasons to consider a home birth…
1. Home is a familiar environment. For some people home is where they would feel safest and more comfortable/relaxed, meaning that there oxytocin would be higher. Higher oxytocin means more effective contractions and higher endorphins (bodies own morphine)
2. You don’t have to stick to “hospital rules” you can light candles if you want to light candles, you can have the room exactly how you like, fill the pool with fairy lights etc. without having to lug your Mary Poppins bag into a hospital.
3. It means you don’t have to travel whilst having contractions, or sort out childcare, or worry about going into hospital to be advised to go back home if you live far away. Or worried about giving birth quickly on the journey. Your midwife comes to you, taking any logistic worries out of your hands.
Have 1 conversation about home birth with your midwife, if it’s not for you then at least you’ve had the option and made the choice. You never know, it may for you be a great decision.
I also want to add that I work with women who come into hospital to have their baby’s. So if you are booked to have your baby in a hospital, I want you to use this information to EMPOWER you.
1. I want you to make your hospital environment as homely as possible. I’ve done a whole blog on this.
2. Any advice that you are given by a midwife or a doctor, ask questions. Ask what are the risks, what are the benefits and what happens if you do nothing? This will help you determine what options are right for you. Midwives and Drs will also help you with this too. Everything in birth is a choice.
Anyone had a home birth before? I’d love to hear any tips that you have for anyone worried about the logistics of a home birth.
Making choices and how to lead these types of decision making conversations (such as where is best to birth your baby) with your health care team is something that we look at on the Hypnobirthing with Antenatal Ed. Online Course. As well as preparing you with techniques to avoid wanting an epidural (as you definitely can’t have one of these at home!). If you are booked in for a birth in a hospital then you can also learn ways to make your environment more homely and techniques to distinguish if interventions are truly necessary on the Hypnobirthing with Antenatal Ed. Online Course.