Friday, 2 October 2009


My mother is a technophobe. In the years since we bought her first (and only) mobile phone it is telling that she's only had to top up the credit twice. It pains me to say it, but she might as well carry a small-ish stone around in her handbag, so rarely is it switched on, within earshot or of any practical use whatsoever.

Actually I am doing her a great disservice. When it comes to the crunch, with a mammoth effort (quite possibly involving roping in one of the errant teens hanging out behind her house) she can compose and send a text message. There have been precisely three ... the first (under my tutelage) said 'dear eve i luv you mum', the extra letter in love and any punctuation being a step too far. The second was to my husband after he'd left a message to tell her my first labour was relatively advanced and we were heading to hospital, and said 'on my way'. The third, a couple of weeks ago, was the longest yet. 'In America there is a bumper sticker which says home delivery is for pizzas'.

I am 38 weeks pregnant and planning a home birth for my second child, and the text is indicative of a general parental rumbling which has become louder as B-day becomes closer, disapproval nudging just beneath the surface that I am about to attempt something foolhardy, risky and somehow just a little unsavoury.

I'm not of course. Earlier this year, a study of more than half a million women demonstrated that 'low risk' labours supervised by a midwife are just as safe at home as they are in hospital. Given my baby is head down, in the correct position and I've had a previous vaginal birth I see little reason to trouble the soon-to-be-condemned maternity unit at Fairfield Hospital. I've been loaned a birth pool, and there's no risk that someone else will be in it at the critical moment, and have my midwife's approval. Anecdotal evidence suggests that being at home amid familiar surroundings helps promote the release of oxytocin, the happy hormone which helps labour progress naturally.

So why are there still so many doubters? I think for so many women, indeed generations of women, including my mother, home birth is just totally removed from their sphere of experience. They can't see why anyone wouldn't want to rock up at a lovely clean, white hospital filled with experienced professionals and hard drugs and give birth to a baby without having to worry about getting blood on the carpet. My Mum's concerns are that her grandchild and first born daughter get through labour as safely as possible, and to her, that means surrendering to the consultant-led unit, with its monitors, lights and beeps. And until more women choose to give birth at home, nudging the percentage of births from 2.something upwards, how can I be expected to to change her mind?

I'm treating the situation diplomatically of course. I laughed at the text and continue to remind my Mum that should the remainder of my pregnancy deviate from the norm I will of course reasess whether a home birth is still the right choice. As I type this on my sofa though, I look around the room filled with photos, toys and familiar clutter and know that, given half a chance, this is where I would like my daughter to be born. Straight into the heart of the family who are desperate to meet her.

And being at home, if I have a sudden mid-labour urge for a deep pan with extra pepperoni, I can, from my own phone of course, order a pizza.


Muddling Along Mummy said...

I had my first daughter at home - it was lovely and even the issues we had were dealt with calmly and without panic. Having to have no2 in hospital fills me with dread - their 'routine' interventions could have killed us last time and I worry about over medicalisation and that we'll end up with a spiral of intervention, pain relief and fuss that we avoided last time

Good on you for home birthing (and enjoy curling up afterwardsin your own bed, after having a bath in your own bath with your newly extended family)

Laura McIntyre said...

My 3rd was born at home , it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life . Its been over a year now and i still think about it all the time.
I also faces alot of people and there 2cents. My mil was very vocal how wrong it was ,hubby was not even convinced. Not sure my parents thought i was doing the right thing but they do better at keeping there mouth shut. (Strangley my biggest supporter was my 73 year old gran who as it turned out had her 4th child at home and thought i would do amazing) .
My first was born with health problems and although i was pretty sure baby 3 was fine i did do reasearch and what most people don't realise is that most issues can either be dealt with at home or are noticed before birth (erratic heartbeat etc..) im sure you know all this but i found it made people happier if i pointed this out.

Not that its anyone else's business, good luck with it all and i look forward to reading your birth story when it comes