Why do women choose homebirth? Two of the main reasons women choose homebirth are to avoid what they have previously experienced (or anticipate what might happen) with hospital birth, and/or to have their baby with care from just
one or two midwives who they can come to know and trust.
Some other reasons are that:
Antenatal and postnatal visits at home feel much more personal than visiting an antenatal clinic with many other women
In the familiar environment of their home they often feel more in control of their labour and birth, and can have whoever they want (or don’t want!) present;
There is less risk of infection for both mother and baby;
There is less risk of an unnecessary episiotomy or caesarean.
The main interventions available in hospital are unavailable at home, but this is exactly why many women choose homebirth. Furthermore, feeling more confident, comfortable, and relaxed during labour often means that less pain relief is needed
Photograph by Victoria Berekmeri
than if you were in hospital, and labour and birth progress more smoothly so that less medical intervention is needed. Women cope with contractions using various methods such as immersion in water, shower, massage, aromatherapy and walking.
Homebirth 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 managing without medical pain relief, or if it becomes necessary during labour, you can still transfer from home to hospital in pregnancy or in labour.
Remember, choosing homebirth does not mean that you can no longer access medical or hospital care. However, one of the main factors which seems to make homebirth successful is the woman and her care provider(s) having confidence in her body’s natural ability to give birth.