The facts about having a home birth

Considering having a home birth? Arm yourself with these facts before making a decision.

Birthing babies doesn’t need to be a hospital-based process. In fact, many women successfully have their babies in birthing centers or in their own homes. A baby, ideally, should be birthed by a skilled midwife, GP or obstetrician.  Let’s take a closer look at home births and what they entail.

ALSO SEE: How to choose a pregnancy doctor

What is a home birth?

A home birth is where the act of giving birth is done in the comfort of one’s own home as opposed to birthing in a birth facility or hospital. It’s usually attended by the family and a skilled or lay person experienced in birthing.

ALSO SEE: 5 reasons to consider a doula for labour support 

Who can have a home birth?

In order to have a safe and successful home birth, you should have had a low risk, uncomplicated pregnancy. Your birth attendant would need to assess whether you are a good candidate for a home delivery. The baby should be in the head down or cephalic presentation. The mother should not have any risk factors such as having had a previous C-section, high blood pressure or diabetes for example. Ideally you would have to go into labor naturally without induction.

ALSO SEE: 10 pregnancy warning signs to look out for

What do you need for a home birth?

Your birth attendant will provide you with a list and bring in any necessary medical equipment, but the following may also useful:

  • If you are planning on delivering in your bed, have a waterproof covering for your mattress.
  • Clean warm towels.
  • Extra towels if you are planning on having a water birth.
  • A birthing ball.

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  • Drinks and snacks for labour.
  • Face clothes and a spritz bottle, especially if it is hot.
  • Music and candles to create a calm relaxed environment.

ALSO SEE: 5 important things you should know about having a water birth

What type of pain management will I have access to at home?

  • Having a skilled birth attendant in labour will help to manage pain during labour.
  • Using breathing and relaxation techniques, as well as massage can help to relieve pain during contractions.

ALSO SEE: Massage during labour – why and how to do it

  • You can also consider hiring a TENS machine (tanscutaneous electrical nerve stimulation). This uses small, very low voltage electrical impulses to interrupt pain impulses. It is applied via small pads applied to the lower back.
  • Another option is nitrous oxide and air, which are given via a mask during contractions. You will need to check with your birth attendant if they are able to provide this for you.

What happens if things don’t go according to plan?

Any sign of the baby or the mother being in distress, the mother will need to be transferred to the nearest hospital. It’s important to discuss their emergency plan and who they call to assist, before signing up with a birth attendant. Also find out where your closest hospital is before deciding on a home birth.

If all goes well, a home birth can be a wonderfully calm and empowering experience for a woman.

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