Did you know that all the Kings and Queens of England including the present one, were born at home (Diana was actually the first princess to birth her babies in hospital). Today, homebirth is becoming once again a popular choice among women opting for a more natural approach of childbirth. This increasing trend can be seen with the growing number of celebrities who have chosen to give birth at home. Meryl Streep, Demi Moore, Cindy Crawford, Lisa Bonet, Pamela Anderson and Jade Jagger are just few. In UK, the government figures show that 22% of pregnant women would opt for a homebirth if given the option. In area where it is promoted by midwives and supported by GP, as much as 25% of women give birth at home compare to the National average rate of 2%. In total around 15 000 babies are birth at home each year.
The safety of homebirth
For some women the idea of giving birth at home might sound a bit strange. After all, why should you want to have your baby elsewhere than in hospital when for decades the public was persuaded that it was the safest place to give birth? The truth is that actually today, women are healthier, live to a better standard and most of all receive excellent care through all their pregnancy. All of this, along with improvement in technology, has contributed to make homebirth as safe, if not safer than hospital for women having a normal, uncomplicated pregnancy.
Research about homebirth
The World Health Organisation gave some official sanction to homebirth in 1985. “It has never been scientifically proven that the hospital is a safer place than home for a woman who has had an uncomplicated pregnancy to have her baby. Studies of planned home births in developed countries with women who have had uncomplicated pregnancies have shown sickness and death rates for mother and baby equal to or better than hospital birth statistics for women with uncomplicated pregnancies” (Having a Baby in Europe). More recently, the 1992 House of Commons Select Committee on Maternity Services, now known as the Winterton report, went to the heart of the issue in the first of more than 100 recommendations and conclusions on pregnancy, labour and postnatal care. “On the basis of what we have heard, this Committee must draw the conclusion that the policy of encouraging all women to give birth in hospitals cannot be justified on grounds of safety.” Elsewhere the report went further. “There is no convincing or compelling evidence that hospitals give a better guarantee of the safety of the majority of mothers and babies. It is possible, but not proven, that the contrary may be the case.” There is now a sizable body of statistics and research about the safety of homebirth—we have quoted just a little of it. If you would like to read more please visit www.midwiferytoday.com/articles/index.asp.
The Netherlands case
In Holland where homebirth with skilled midwives has been proven to be safe and cost effective, obstetricians and hospitals are reserved for women and baby considered at risk. As much as 65 000 women give birth at home every year which represent almost 40% of all pregnant women. As the result, Holland has one of the lowest perinatal mortality in the world and the lowest rate of caesarean among western country, well below 10% compares to 22% in UK.
Why choose homebirth? There is no place like home
The main complain women have about giving birth in hospital is that it makes them feel like a patient who is ill, rather than a person who is experiencing a beautiful, natural moment in their life. Often women choose a home birth because they see it a much more natural environment to give birth. Rather than welcoming their baby in a cold hospital room, they can at home create the special atmosphere they want using music, candle, and aromatherapy to gently birth their baby in the world.
A more easy and less painful labour
Feeling relaxed and safe help the body to release endorphins, the body’s own pain relieving hormone. Giving birth in unfamiliar environment, such as a hospital, has shown to alter this natural process. Even if a woman feels rationally that hospital are ‘safer’ places in which to give birth, in her subconscious mind she is likely to feels insecure. This causes her body to secrete the hormone adrenalin, which causes the levels of both oxytocin and endorphins to drop. She will then experience far more pain than she would in her own home.
Better chance of natural birth with less intervention
Because women are more in control during the whole birth process they are less likely to require drugs which will then increase the risk of caesarean or forceps delivery.
Less chance of infection
A 1987 National Childbirth Trust (NCT) survey found that nearly 22 percent of women in hospital contracted a postnatal infection, compared with less than 5 percent at home.
Better chance of successful breastfeeding
Research has consistently shown that breastfeeding was established more successfully following a homebirth.
Finally, 99% of women who have experienced both home and hospital birth will say that they would choose to have a home birth in the future.