Home birth: the risks and benefits

Home birth can bring you lots of positive emotions and valuable experience but it requires careful planning and unfortunately, from time to time it is not perfect at all. If you are still confident in the normal course of labor and your house has appropriate sanitary and hygienic conditions, then, of course, it’s up to you.

Why women choose home birth?

There are many reasons, why women choose to have the planned home birth, including:

  • A wish to give birth in a familiar, comfortable atmosphere surrounded by people you choose,
  • A wish to wear your own clothes, eat, drink, laugh, sing and even take a shower or bath and move around freely during labor,
  • A desire of home birth self-controlling (a woman can take any convenient position),
  • A desire to give birth without pain relief medications,
  • Cultural or religious norms or concerns
  • Previous fast labor
  • Previous negative experience in the hospital
  • Money saving.

husband support wife home birth

Risks of home birth

However, you should know that there are several indications when the risk for you and your child is very high, and therefore such labors should only take place in the hospital.

These types of risk include:

  • Narrow pelvis of the mother (or mismatch between the size of the fetus’s head and the mother’s pelvis);
  • Fetus’s positioning in womb (transverse or breech presentation);
  • Multiple pregnancy (twins or more);
  • Preterm birth (less than 40 weeks);
  • Post-term pregnancy (more than 40 weeks);
  • Toxemia of pregnancy (nephropathy, preeclampsia, eclampsia);
  • Rh-Incompatibility (when the mother has Rh-negative blood and the baby in her womb has Rh-positive blood);
  • Diabetes, heart, lungs, kidney diseases, obesity;
  • First-time birth for women older than 32 years, women over 40 years;
  • Polyhydramnios (increased amount of amniotic fluid);
  • Bleeding in the last months of pregnancy;
  • Increased body temperature during pregnancy;
  • Births for women who had C-section before, women who have had gynecological operations, abortions;
  • Women who have had complications in previous pregnancies and childbirth;
  • Large fetus, a dead baby or a child with birth defects in previous births;
  • Prolonged labor (more than 12 hours).

Transfer from home birth to the hospital?

Even if you are having healthy, low-risk pregnancy (assessed by your doctor), life-threatening problems can occur during labor without warning. In the case, if such complications occur in childbirth, such as:

  • an umbilical cord prolapse,
  • a baby’s breathing problems,
  • partial placenta delivery,
  • placenta abruption,
  • trace elements of meconium (baby’s first stool) in your amniotic fluid,
  • woman’s bleeding,

the fact that you are not in the hospital may dramatically reduce the chance of a successful ending. You and your child simply may not be in time to provide the necessary medical care. So, transfer to the hospital becomes an absolute emergency.

Remember: You can always request to be transferred to the hospital when you are exhausted and think that you don’t have enough strengths to push as hard as it is needed.

Finding a midwife

Preparation for childbirth at home requires regular monitoring by a doctor. Of course, it is better to involve the doctor in your plans for home births – in this case, he can always warn in time if any pathology in the mother or fetus is found.

Finding a midwife is the most crucial thing of preparing for a home birth. Be sure that your home birth is attended by a certified midwife who has a work permit and all necessary documentations, confirming her experience. It is always a good idea to interview her and to ask her questions like “How long have you been practicing? How many successful births have you attended? or How many of the home births end up with C-section?”, etc. No less important is the fact that she shares your opinion and agrees with the chosen decision. Such a midwife should cooperate with a nearby hospital and a doctor for quick contact in case of unplanned complications.  You may also want to look at hiring a doula for extra support.

Note: Before choosing the right midwife you have the right to interview more than one midwife without any obligation.

pregnant woman and midwife

Preparing for a home birth?

It is necessary to prepare everything that is needed directly during the home birth. The obstetrician will give the exact list of the items. But, as a rule, in some variations, this list includes plastic sheet to cover floor, sofas and beds, old or disposable pants, clean bed linen, which will be needed after delivery, baby diapers, large pads for you, first-aid kit (which is exactly what the obstetrician will say). When taking birth at home, it is obliged to have not only a standard set of tools and preparations but also oxygen, equipment for children’s resuscitation, drugs for stopping postpartum hemorrhage and a dropper.

Take care of the light: there must be a bright directional light so that midwife can examine you, as well as intimate soft lighting at the time of delivery.

Among other things, you need to prepare a birthplace in advance, this is usually a bathroom or a room close to it. Wash everything that may come into contact with you and your newborn and store in plastic bags to avoid dust and junk.

A positive mindset of the couple is essential for a successful home birth. It is very important when you are confident that you’ll be able to give birth to a healthy baby. So, prepare yourself mentally as well. Take candles, essential oils and turn on calm, relaxing music.

preparing for home birth

Even if you are giving birth at home it is a good idea to get ready your car, car seat and a bag for a hospital. Just in case!

Armed with knowledge and understanding possible risks as well as the benefits of a home birth will help you to take this crucial decision and to have the most positive and memorable home birth!

Note: Don’t forget about your insurance policy, whether it covers the cost of a home birth (not all do).

Have you ever thought about home birth? Share with us your experience both positive and negative.

 

newborn african child

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