Contemplating a homebirth

If you’d ask me to describe my previous labour experience, I’d tell you that it was quick (particularly for a first baby), calm (for the most part) but ultimately, it was a positive experience. I gave birth to Jasmine at our local midwife-led birthing unit (attached to a hospital) which had been the plan all throughout my pregnancy.

Despite my positive birth experience at the MLBU (midwife-led birthing unit), I am seriously considering having a homebirth with baby number two. This post is basically me thinking out loud about the reasons I do and don’t want to give birth at home. Hopefully by the end of it, I’ll be a step closer to making a final decision. Of course, a lot could happen between now and then which may mean that the decision is taken out of my hands… but it’s still good to think about these things and prepare.

Reasons why I’d like to have a homebirth:

Childcare (or lack thereof):

From the moment I got my positive pregnancy test I have worried about what would happen to Jasmine when I went into labour with my second baby. Obviously I’d want my husband, Stephen, to be my birthing partner. Trouble is, we live several hours away from friends and family and there is nobody else that we know who we’d feel comfortable leaving Jasmine with. A homebirth means we could all stay together, under the same roof. In an ideal world, I’d give birth at night, whilst Jasmine slept through in her own bed, completely oblivious. I’m aware that it probably won’t happen that way though!

I’d love to be able to afford to hire a Doula to be with us at home so there was somebody else to help take care of Jasmine and allow Stephen to focus on being my main birthing partner. Financially, it’s not an option for us which is a real shame.

If I did end up being transferred to hospital then it would most likely mean that I’d have to go by myself whilst Stephen stayed with Jasmine. But that’s the worst case scenario, and if that happens, I’m sure I’d be more focused on getting the baby out safely by whatever means necessary, rather than who is holding my hand at the time.

I won’t be told that there’s ‘no room’ for me at the Birthing Unit/hospital:

One thing I never expected to happen when I went into labour the first time was to be told that there wasn’t any room for me on the birthing unit. But that’s exactly what happened and it meant that I had to stay at home longer than I would’ve liked. When they finally made space for me, I had to endure a speedy car journey to the hospital whilst fully-dilated. At this stage my body was pushing my baby out all by itself. I very nearly had myself a car park baby! Part of me wishes that I’d just stayed at home.

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There’s no place like home:

I was quite impressed with the room we had at the midwife-led birthing unit. They’ve tried to create a home-from-home atmosphere. It’s spacious, comfortable and doesn’t really have much of a hospital feel to it at all. I remember at one point Stephen describing it as being like a “nice hotel room”. That said, nothing quite beats the comfort of being in your own home, does it?

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I can only imagine that being familiar and comfortable with your own surroundings whilst in labour must help massively in terms of staying relaxed and calm. I also love the idea of being able to snuggle in my own bed with my new baby, soaking them up without the distraction of strangers walking into the room constantly or beeping machines. I’d have to make sure that I had some celebratory cake and bubbly on standby towards my due date!

Reasons why I wouldn’t like to have a homebirth:

The mess:

There are two types of ‘mess’ that concern me when it comes to having a homebirth and they are ‘general house mess’ and ‘post-birth mess’.

My house is a mess most of the time. I have a two-year-old and it kinda comes with the territory. The closer I get to my due date – the bigger and more exhausted I’m going to feel. Part of me wonders if I will find it stressful, trying to keep the house tidy enough leading up to the big day in order to ensure that I have a clean, clutter-free space to give birth in. And I know – I know – when it comes down to giving birth, the tidiness of my house will be last thing on my mind. That said, do I really want to give birth surrounded by Megabloks and miscellaneous puzzle pieces?

And then there’s the post-birth mess. You know – bodily fluids, the placenta etc.

I’ve read a lot of conflicting information online about just how messy a home birth is – some websites suggest that you cover your entire house in plastic sheeting (think Dexter’s kill room) whilst other people are adamant that home births really aren’t that messy at all.

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Because I’ve experienced birth once already, I feel like I have a pretty good idea of what to expect in terms of the mess (I’ll admit, it did shock me first time around). I’m sure a few cheap shower curtains and plenty of towels will be enough to contain the mess. I believe the midwives also provide a lot of that kind of stuff too (assuming they get there in time, that is!)

I might scare/upset Jasmine: 

I didn’t have a ‘shouty’ kind of labour with Jasmine – in fact, I was pretty much silent the entire time. But I know that every labour is different and I might not act the same way next time. With the idea being that Jasmine will be in the house with us, I do worry that I might scare her with the noises I make during the birth. And even if I’m quiet again, I’m sure she’d be able to pick up on the fact that I’m in pain and it could scare or upset her. Aside from it being a horrible experience for her, having an upset toddler on our hands is hardly conducive to a relaxing atmosphere, is it?

I am sure there are ways I could prep Jasmine for the birth though – by talking about what might happen to mummy, what noises I might make, what positions I might get in. That sort of thing. It’s definitely something I’m going to research more if I do decide on a homebirth.

No option of a water birth:

I would love to experience a water birth and I know that many people who plan a home birth buy or rent birth pools. But honestly? We just don’t have the room for one in our house (there’s the mess, remember). And maybe if it were a case of just jumpin’ on in and poppin’ out a baby – I’d be tempted to get one but it’s not that simple, is it? It’ll need to be stored somewhere before I go into labour, then when the time comes, it’ll have to be pumped up and filled with water. A quick Google search tells me that it takes 2-3 hours to fill a birthing pool (did I mention the water pressure in our house is shite?) And then of course there’s the cleaning of the pool and taking it down after the birth (obviously that wouldn’t be a task I’d be doing but still).

No, just no.

If I’m going to have a home birth, a water birth is off the cards. Unless I opt for one of these…

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Have you had a home birth? Any advice? 

If you haven’t had one – would you ever consider one or not?

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Comments

  1. Avatar August 2, 2016 / 3:57 pm

    It’s great that you are considering a home birth and looking at the pros and cons.

    I had home births with both of my children. I learnt a lot from the first one – our pool was too big and it was hard to maintain water temperature. So for the next birth I rented a smaller pool.

    My main reason for choosing home birth was due to our local hospital having to regularly shut the labour ward to new patients due to staff shortages. I didn’t want to have to travel an additional 50 miles to the next hospital.

    With my eldest’s birth we had some issues which resulted in us being blue-lighted up to the hospital when he was three hours old. The issues he had were nothing to do with the home birth and would have most likely happened had he been born in hospital but I was incredibly impressed with the ambulance service and the speed in which they got us to the hospital.

    I couldn’t fault the care I received from the midwives either. Having that one-on-one care was hugely important to me – the thought of possibly labouring alone in hospital terrified me, and was another factor in my decision to choose a home birth.

    My daughters birth two years later was the perfect home birth experience – I laboured at night, midwives came at 6am, checked me over at 6:20am and said I was only 4cm dilated. I got in the pool and at 6:40am I said I need to push, midwives said “go for it”, daughter arrived 6:53am.

    The Midwives checked me and baby over, and had left by 8am and then I had a bacon sandwich! Our son slept through the whole thing and came downstairs at 7:30am to meet his sister for the first time. The whole experience was perfect.

    Just remember that if you decide that you want to have a home birth you can always change your mind, at any point – even if you decide when you go into labour that you’d actually feel better in a MLU then you can do so.

    Sorry for the long rambling comment! ? xxx

    • Jenna August 4, 2016 / 10:17 am

      Thanks for sharing your homebirth experiences with me – they’re always good to hear and very encouraging. I kind of assumed that all birthing pools were the same size so perhaps I could look into that a bit more and see what the options are. That’s a very good point about being able to change my mind too, I sometimes forget that just because somebody opts for a homebirth that it doesn’t mean they’re totally locked into that decision. By the way, a post-labour bacon sarnie sounds PERFECT – way better than the toast I had to wait hours for last time. xx

  2. Avatar August 3, 2016 / 9:02 am

    Ah its such a hard decision to make when you can have that choice. I never had the choice as I had 2 high risk pregnancies that ended in emcs and the 2nd was a planned section. It would be amazing to have a home birth however as you say about the mess he he

    • Jenna August 4, 2016 / 9:59 am

      See, I don’t feel like I have a choice really. Ideally, I’d love to have a waterbirth at the MLBU and that would be my first choice. But not having any childcare available means it’s not really an option. Not unless I wanted to give birth by myself anyway. Haha, I’ve read the midwives are VERY good at making the mess disappear! x

  3. Avatar August 3, 2016 / 9:06 am

    I think for my second pregnancy I would consider a homebirth, but for my first I definitely wanted to be in the hospital.

    • Jenna August 4, 2016 / 9:54 am

      Same here, would not have considered a homebirth first time round – there was just too much ‘unknown’ for my liking. This time around I need to make a decision that’s not only based on what’s best for my baby and myself… but also my daughter. x

  4. Avatar August 3, 2016 / 6:43 pm

    The idea of a water birth appealed to me but sadly a home birth wouldn’t. This is purely because I ended up having an emergency c-section with my son so to me that’s the only place I could be. Hope you get some clarity soon xxx

    • Jenna August 4, 2016 / 10:05 am

      I think a lot of people feel that way and I totally understand that. If I’d had an emergency c-section first time around I think I would feel safer having a planned section the next time. Part of me worries that my second labour will not go as smoothly as my first but there’s just noway of knowing. x

  5. Avatar August 3, 2016 / 8:57 pm

    Personally I didnt consider one but thats because I opted for C sections for my births. I think that if I were to ever have a third baby I would probably go the same way again… helps with childcare knowing when it will happen! ;)
    But seriously it is a decision only you can make, and it is definitely a worry if there is nobody else to look after Jasmine. I know a few people who have had home births and its not been messy, one just bulk bought a load of towels from primark as she expected to throw them away after but a midwife put them all in the wash and they are good as new!

    • Jenna August 4, 2016 / 10:13 am

      Haha, that’s certainly one benefit of a planned c-section – that you can arrange childcare in advance! I just can’t imagine dumping Jasmine off with a neighbour or someone else she barely knows in the middle of the night. Having emergency childcare available is something I think a lot of people take for granted but it’s probably going to be the biggest deciding factor on where I have my next baby. xx

  6. Avatar August 3, 2016 / 9:08 pm

    I would have loved to have a home birth but was too nervous with my first and then had a severe blood loss so it wasn’t safe with my second. Do what feels right for you but I say go for it!

    • Jenna August 4, 2016 / 9:50 am

      There’s no way I would’ve considered it first time around but I know they’re supposedly just as safe as a hospital birth if you’ve had a straightforward pregnancy/birth before. I think I will probably go for a homebirth if I can – more for practicality, than any burning desire to give birth on my living room floor. x

  7. Avatar August 3, 2016 / 10:27 pm

    I didn’t have a home birth for either of my girls, it was never something that I considered as we live to far away from the hospital if I needed to get there in an emergency and that worried me too much. Mind you I nearly had one with Holly as all the hospitals were full! x

    • Jenna August 4, 2016 / 9:40 am

      The hospital being ‘full’ just isn’t something you account for, is it? I certainly didn’t. Fortunately, I live very close to our local hospital but if I was in the middle of nowhere I don’t think I’d consider homebirth as an option at all. x

  8. Avatar August 3, 2016 / 10:46 pm

    I had a fairly good labour last time round and would also quite like a home birth. My main concerns are the same as you, the after birth mess in my lovely white home and Rosalie being upset by me being in labour. She is a sensitive soul! X

    • Jenna August 4, 2016 / 9:35 am

      Yeah, I’d hate to think that me giving birth will scar Jasmine for life or something (although I’m sure it wouldn’t). Toddlers are pretty resilient creatures though, I think with a bit of prep she’d probably understand that what was happening wasn’t scary but exciting. :) x

  9. Avatar August 4, 2016 / 9:37 am

    It’s such a big decision isn’t it? I hope you decide soon so you can start planning xx x

    • Jenna August 4, 2016 / 9:44 am

      It certainly is. Although to be honest, the fact we have no childcare means we don’t really have a choice in the matter. I’m not sure we can find a way round it. x

  10. Avatar August 29, 2016 / 8:50 pm

    I liked the idea of having people to hand if I needed, however I had problems with my first pregnancy and then twins for the next one! I love the sound of giving birth and then being able to curl up in my bed with my husband and new baby. That would be perfect!

    • Jenna August 30, 2016 / 10:42 am

      I think if my pregnancy was either a complicated or a twin one then I’d almost certainly want a hospital birth too! I remember when I had my daughter, we had to do so much waiting around before we could leave and I was just desperate to get back to my own home. x

  11. Avatar September 19, 2016 / 7:42 am

    Hi Jenna, I’m just catching up with some blog reading and although it sounds like you’ve made up your mind, I thought I’d share with you my experiences… I had an unplanned home birth with Rosalie because my labour was so fast, so this time around I’ll be having a planned home birth, hopefully with midwife present. Regards the mess, despite being unplanned and the cord snapping & spraying around, Jim managed to clean up the living room pretty easily (we do have hard floors) and there are no lasting stains. I’d advise plastic sheeting and lots of towels, as well as incontinence sheets. I am certain you’ll find you won’t worry about your house being untidy when you’re in labour.

    I’m really sorry you feel like you are being forced into choosing a home birth due to childcare. Is there nobody you knew as a couple before Jasmine came along who you still see who would be able to step up if necessary? Or perhaps if it occurred during the day could you speak to her nursery about taking her?? (I don’t know anything about nursery as R doesn’t attend one!)

    Sorry for the ramble! Can’t believe you’re now 30+ weeks! Very exciting :)

    Jess xx

    • Jenna September 19, 2016 / 7:37 pm

      Hi Jess, it’s lovely to hear from you – hope you’re keeping well. Thanks for sharing your experience and how exciting that you are planning a homebirth this time around! :) I’ve started buying bits and pieces – incontinence mats (or puppy pads, as I like to call them) and I’m going to get some cheap shower curtains for the floors.

      Unfortunately, everyone we know lives just that little bit too far away to be of any help. We’ll certainly ask at nursery about them taking her during the day so hopefully that could be an option.

      Ahh I know, I can’t believe I’m now 31 weeks – it’s all going scarily fast! xx

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