There has been a lot of talk in the media recently about the suggestion by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), that for low risk pregnancy and if women are expecting their second baby, they should consider giving birth at home or in a midwifery birth centre.
This week, quite unexpectedly I had the strange experience of hearing an ex-client of mine speaking on the radio 4 programme “You and Yours” extolling the advantages of giving birth at home with a known midwife who has lots of experience in home birth. I was also contacted by researchers from one of TV’s daily programme “This morning” to give my views on homebirth. It prompted me to write a short piece about the subject for UK Birth Centres Ltd.
Currently out of every 100 babies being born only 2 will be born at home. The 1-2% home birth rate has been consistent for many years and with low numbers choosing home birth comes a whole generation of Midwives who do not have experience in supporting women in this way. If a midwife is used to the comfort of a high tech delivery suite and the instant access to a team of fellow midwives and Doctors, then being alone in a woman’s home can feel a very vulnerable place. If a midwife is feeling stressed and over whelmed by attending a home birth this will have an effect on the woman she is supporting.
I have been privileged to have gained a wealth of homebirth experience spanning over 2 decades; this has taught me to respect the birth process and women’s bodies. Birth is a physiological process that causes amazing adaptions within a woman’s body in preparation for giving birth. These adaptions include a hormone cocktail, one of which is the love hormone. Thanks to masses of recent research into its effects, medical science now accepts that the ‘love’ hormone is needed to initiate and maintain labour. Nicknamed the ‘shy’ hormone, it requires a dark, quiet, familiar and non-threatening environment in order to flow (the antithesis of noisy, brightly lit maternity wards with unknown faces coming and going). Its enemy is adrenalin – hence the increasing popularity of birthing mothers using hypnotherapy to stay calm and offset the negative effects of ‘fear, fight and flight.’
So in choosing to give birth at home a woman is enhancing the chances of giving birth naturally avoiding an instrumental birth, a caesarean birth and an episiotomy (Birthplace 2011; Blix et al 2012)