Fans of home birthing believe that birth has become over-medicalised and are passionate about promoting the practice of home birth as a more natural alternative to the more common hospital birth. It’s a way for women's natural birthing power to come to fruition. Home birth advocates believe that how and where a woman gives birth is a fundamental right for all women and should be supported, without routine medical intervention.
If you choose to have a homebirth it is important to have good support. This support should come in the form of a professionally trained midwife and may also include a doula, your partner and trusted family or friends.
Homebirth is often perceived as being much riskier than hospital birth and raises questions about what would happen if either mother or baby required urgent medical assistance.
A professionally trained midwife who is experienced with home birth will assess whether your home, combined with the physical health of both you and your baby, make you suitable for home birth. Women who are in a high risk category for complications or medical conditions are not advised to plan home birth.
Some private insurers will reimburse for home birth and associated private midwifery, but it is wise to check your individual situation with the individual insurer to be certain.
Just because you have chosen home birth, you can still access the full range of antenatal testing and scans. Your midwife should be able to advise you on what tests you may need and how to access them.
Even though you may have the utmost confidence in your body's natural ability to give birth away from medical assistance, make sure you have a back-up hospital plan, including a hospital bag packed and ready, as well as instructions for your support people to know where to take you. If any complications do occur during the labour or birth at home, your midwife should telephone your back-up hospital and advise them to prepare for your arrival.
Home birth midwives do not usually carry pethidine or gas, but do carry safety equipment like oxygen, suction, and drugs to stem bleeding. Even if you choose homebirth but are unsure about your ability to cope without medical pain relief, you can still transfer from home to hospital in pregnancy or in labour.
Following the birth, your midwife will probably stay with you for a few hours, ensuring you are feeling well and are settling down to breastfeeding with your new baby before visiting again within 12 - 24 hours of the birth.
Officially, most midwives visit daily - weighing your baby and checking on your physical and emotional well-being - for around seven-10 days, with some midwives continuing regular visits for six weeks and beyond.
- Water birth
- Birth centre birth
- Hospital birth
- First stage labour
- Second stage labour
- Third stage labour
- Caesarian birth
This article was written by Claire Halliday for Kidspot.
Sources include Home Birth Network South Australia and the Women’s And Children's Hospital, Adelaide