Kate Kirk

When I was pregnant with my first child I gave birth in hospital, I thought that was what everyone did. I had heard about birthing centres but I didn’t really understand where my nearest one was or how to access it.

I was more clued up about my options for my second baby and chose the midwife led unit, but this time, for my third and final baby I wanted a home birth.

When I tell people I had a home birth they respond with either: “oh how lovely” or “was it planned?”.

Well yes it was and yes, it was. It was my favourite birthing experience out of the 3 because I felt more in control and more comfortable.

When I talk to people who might be considering a home birth they generally want to know: “what about if something goes wrong?” and “what about the mess?”.

I too was worried about complications. For anyone with a low risk pregnancy the chances of something going wrong, and even of having an intervention, are actually lower with a home birth than in a medical environment. The problem is that if something does go seriously wrong then the outcomes can be worse. In the vast majority of cases it is fine and the two midwives you have can handle a range of problems. If they have any concerns you are prioritised in an ambulance to get a transfer to hospital. The hospital can prepare for you while you are on your way so (depending on how far away you live) it won’t delay getting help by much.

As for the mess? That’s all about being prepared. I chose not to have a water birth because I could labour in our large bath tub, instead I made a “nest” in the corner of the kitchen. I had soft mats (like those cushioned playmats you put down for small children to play on), a duvet covered in a waterproof cover, my birthing ball, a bean bag, a cheap shower curtain, some disposable potty training mats and some old towels.

I’ve heard some people say the midwives left the house cleaner than when they arrived. I can’t claim that, but they did take away all the rubbish and helped clean the floor. Although I had been expecting to throw them away, the towels went straight in the washing machine and came out clean. I would be a little cautious if giving birth in a carpeted area, but taking a bit more care to cover it up should prevent any stains.

I told the midwives at my 34 week appointment that I wanted a home birth and a week later they came round for a home birth assessment. At the appointment the midwife talked us through what would happen, what we needed and checked that we had suitable access and space.

The process varies slightly in different areas but where we live they asked us to call the labour unit when I was in established labour, at a similar point to when you would call to go in to hospital or a midwife led unit. During the day local midwives will come round, check on you and either stay or come back later depending on the expected progression. At night you get an on call midwife so they might not be one you’ve met before. Once they arrive they will normally stay until after the baby has been born.

When you are close to delivering you get a second midwife (although both mine arrived at the same time). I found I had a much better level of care than either of my previous births where I barely saw the midwives until I needed to push.

I loved that I didn’t have to worry about when to head to hospital or about whether I would get sent home again etc. It is important to call the midwives early enough though, it took half an hour for my midwives to arrive and the baby came half an hour after they did.

For me the absolute best thing about giving birth was afterwards. While some people need to go to hospital for monitoring of them or the babies, I was lucky enough to stay home. I got to have a shower in my bathroom, drank lots of almond chocolate milkshake (I’m dairy free) and had some toast before climbing into my bed for some rest. My partner could stay with me throughout and a few hours later my daughters (who slept through the whole thing) came into my room and met their baby brother.

If you have any questions about my home birth I’m happy to answer them. I’ve written my birth story in more detail here: https://www.countingtoten.co.uk/2019/02/my-home-birth-story.html