Updated: Jul 20, 2020
Home birth - the act of giving birth in one's own home
- Collins dictionary
Did you know that you have three main choices when it comes to planning on where you would like to give birth. Home, Midwifery Led Unit (MLU) or the Obstetric Led Unit (where the doctors are, also called Labour Ward or Delivery Suite). MLU sometimes known as birth centres can either be attached to the Obstetric led unit, for example it may only separated by a door. Or it can be freestanding, for example located off site.
In the UK you should be free to choose your place of birth, and I would strongly recommend that you look into every option. Write down the pros and cons of each choice personal to your own preferences and circumstances. Things to consider would be what pain relief options would you like? How you would like your birthing environment to look and feel? and your clinical circumstances.
A really good study to look at whilst considering your options is ‘The Birth Place Study’. This study in 2011 compared the births of 64,000 low risk women based on their planned place of birth (ie where they intended to give birth at the start of labour). Some of the results you may find surprising. You may find yourself asking why?
In the 1960s/70s there was a huge shift from a home birth to a hospital birth, but there was never any evidence that hospital birth was necessarily safer! What had happened over the previous decade, was that maternal and infant mortality had declined - due to medical advances but also as a result of better nutrition and living conditions. As a result of this shift to hospital births, low risk women were being given drugs to induce an otherwise uncomplicated pregnancy. Hooked up to fetal monitoring machines, which restricted their movement in labour and so much more (I could talk about this for hours). This resulted in many mothers who could have had a straightforward birth ending up having dramatic interventions. Something that is still happening now! I’m not saying that these interventions weren’t warranted, but why did the baby become distressed in the first place? Why did labour slow down?
So take a look at ‘The Birth Place Study’. Have a look at YOUR options.
If you are under the care of a consultant and don’t necessarily fall into the low risk bracket, you still have options! You can request an appointment with a consultant midwife or birth choices team to discuss how they can best support you (I happen to know there are some awesome midwife consultants/ birth choice teams in the North West).
Nothing is ever black and white. Nobody can say 'you aren't allowed'. It is always your choice, make sure its a well informed one!