Home Birth

Some people feel that giving birth at home has many advantages over a hospital birth. These include:

  • being in a familiar place and feeling comfortable in your own surroundings
  • not having to interrupt your labour to go into hospital
  • not needing to leave your other children, if you have any
  • not having to be separated from your partner after the birth
  • being more likely to see the same person throughout your care
  • feeling relaxed in your own environment, which often leads to a quicker birth and less need for pain relief
  • a lower likelihood of having a delivery assisted by forceps or ventouse
  • being able to use your own toilet and bathroom facilities
  • being able to get into your own bed after the birth
Home Sweet Home Birth

What do I need to know about a home birth?

A midwife will be with you for your labour and a maternity support worker, or second midwife, will be there for the birth of your baby. The midwife will bring all that is needed for your home birth and will monitor your baby’s heartbeat throughout labour, just as they would in hospital. Midwives are skilled and experienced at supporting labour at home.

You may find you are much more relaxed and will not need pain relief. However, if you do need something, your options can include a bath or a birthing pool, which you would have to provide. You might consider breathing and relaxation techniques, massage or a TENs machine. Gas and air (Entonox) or an injection of pain relief are available, but check with your midwife in advance. Epidurals are not available at home.

During your labour your midwife will monitor both you and your baby closely. If your midwife has any concerns, or if you or your baby need to see a doctor, an ambulance would be called and you would be advised to transfer to a hospital’s obstetric unit.

Do I need extra equipment for a home birth?

Your midwife will bring everything needed for a safe birth. This includes equipment to monitor your blood pressure and pulse and equipment to monitor your baby’s heartbeat throughout labour. Resuscitation equipment is also standard equipment.

 You may want to consider where you will give birth, as often it is not in the bedroom. A cosy space can be created in any room, and you might want to think about some old towels for the floor, especially if you plan to use a birthing pool.


What does research say about a home birth?

Women planning a birth at home, in a stand-alone  midwifery unit or in a midwifery unit next  to an obstetric unit, are more likely to have a straightforward vaginal birth than women planning a birth in an obstetric unit.

The chances of a baby having serious medical problems are higher for women planning birth at home than in the other three places. If this is your first baby the risk of serious problems increases to 9 in 1,000 compared to 5 in 1,000 for a hospital birth.

If you are having your second baby – and there were no complications with your first birth – a planned home birth is as safe as having your baby in hospital or in a midwife-led unit.

When a home birth may not be safe

If you are considering a home birth, speak to your midwife. It may be that a hospital would be a better place for you to have your baby for a few reasons. This might be because you have pre-existing health conditions like those related to your heart, breathing, kidneys, or hormones.

Some pregnancy-related medical conditions might also mean a hospital would be better for you.  They include:

  • pre-eclampsia
  • pre-term labour in past pregnancies
  • induction of labour
  • placenta praevia (low lying placenta)
  • if you are expecting twins
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