“Are you sure?“, “Why would you want to do that?” and “How will you deal with the pain?” are just some of the responses I received when I told people I was planning a home birth.
But I wasn’t going to let anyone phase me. I was a mother-to-be on a mission, determined to have my home birth! Here’s why…
When we fell pregnant with our first baby, I considered a home birth right away. Not one for hospitals, I began researching the pros and cons of having a home birth and decided it was for me. I couldn’t imagine going through labour on a ward surrounded by other screaming women and their bodily fluids! Don’t get me wrong, I’m a people person, but I found the thought of having an intimate birth in the privacy of my own home comforting.
I did go to view the local maternity ward so that I was familiar with it in case complications arose during labour and I would need to be transferred to hospital, but I just couldn’t picture myself giving birth there and I was determined to have my home birth!
Luckily I had a very smooth labour and David was delivered in our living room, witnessed by just my husband and two midwives. It was an incredible experience and such a perfect day, one I will never forget.
If you’re considering a home birth, here are some tips that might help!
Is it worth getting a TENS machine?
For me, the TENS machine had no effect, although I have heard of people who have found them really beneficial. I tried one fairly early on in labour to help ease the contractions, and although there was some slight relief, it didn’t really ease the pain. Instead, I used my birthing ball (which seemed to work wonders!) and once the pain became too much to bear, I went onto the gas and air.
Having said that, I would recommend getting a TENS machine if you are determined to have a home birth. You may find it to be really helpful, and there have been cases where people have needed to be transferred to hospital because the pain became too much. You can buy a maternity TENS machine from Boots, or alternatively you can hire one.
Should I get a birthing pool?
In my opinion, YES! I genuinely don’t believe my labour would have gone so smoothly without my birthing pool, but that doesn’t mean they are for everyone. As a general rule of thumb, if you are one of those people who gets that ‘ahhhh’ feeling from having a hot bath, you would probably benefit from using a birthing pool. If you’re not really a bath person, you may not find it very comfortable. Being the former type, I absolutely loved using the pool and I would definitely recommend it! Words cannot describe the relief I felt from the water. It was incredibly soothing and helped make my labour so much more comfortable.
It also made me feel a bit more private and less exposed – there was no need for the midwives to be near me or see any private parts, I simply birthed my own baby and they were just there for support. I also liked the thought of my baby boy being delivered into the water, nice and calm – he barely cried! Birthing pools are not too expensive to buy, but you can also hire them out.
Towels, towels and more towels!
Believe me, you’ll need lots of towels. We have at least 40+ towels in our house between just two of us, some we’ve never even used, but that wasn’t enough. Somehow, the midwives and my husband went through all of our towels. I’m still not even sure what they were all used for, but by the time David was born the towel cupboard was empty and my husband was washing towels for days after my birth! I’d also suggest putting plastic sheeting down and an old duvet underneath the pool to protect the floor.
What about pain relief?
For a home birth, the only options you really have available are paracetamol, gas and air, and a birthing pool. You may also find a birthing ball helpful (I did). Keeping active and mobile can provide relief too – you could try to put some music on and dance through the contractions! But besides the pool and the gas and air, the most effective form of pain relief for me was a positive mental attitude and proper breathing, which brings me to my next piece of advice…
Learn to breathe properly!
Please do not underestimate the power of proper breathing! Being able to breathe properly helped me through my labour tremendously. If you’re not sure how to do it, find out. YouTube it, attend antenatal classes, speak to your midwife, go to meditation classes. But do learn! It’s amazing how breathing deeply can minimise pain and guide you through labour.
Buy plenty of snacks and isotonic drinks
If you’re anything like me, you won’t be able to stomach eating anything at all during labour, but I’d recommend having lots of snacks at home just in case. Midwives will try to encourage you to eat to keep your energy levels up, so things like snack bars, sweets and bananas could come in handy! I couldn’t bear the thought of eating during my labour though, and instead I got through a whole multi pack of cherry flavoured Powerade! As I hadn’t slept in two days, I got to a point where I really was struggling for energy. The midwife suggested having some honey to boost my energy levels, so my husband started feeding me spoonfuls of honey and golden syrup! I’d stock up on a variety of snacks and drinks so that you have plenty of choice during labour.
Be optimistic, but realistic
It’s fine to be determined but don’t become obsessed with having a home birth. You can plan your birth to a certain extent, but things don’t always go to plan and there is always a chance you may need to be transferred to hospital for the safety of you and your baby. I stayed positive and was determined to have my home birth. I was very fortunate to have such a smooth labour and delivery, but at the back of my mind I accepted that it may not happen.
What I wish I was told before the birth…
Speaking to midwives and going to antenatal classes definitely helped me to mentally prepare myself for labour, but no one warned me just how hard the recovery process would be. In a hospital, you’re waited on by midwives and hospital staff, they bring you food, pain relief and change your sheets and towels. At home, you don’t have that luxury. Giving birth at home is hard work, and recovery is even harder if you don’t have staff to bring you food and do your washing. My husband was an absolute hero throughout my recovery. I was so weak I could barely move or go to the toilet. He cooked, cleaned, tidied, did the washing, looked after our baby son and cared for me 24/7. I’d definitely recommend stocking up on lots of food, snacks, sheets, comfy clothes, sanitary pads of the super kind and even a couple of packs of TENA Lady!
Guest article from Bethan Trueman, Writer and Lifestyle Blogger. Check out her website here.
Did you give birth at the hospital? Or did you have a home birth?
If you have more tips on how to prepare for a home birth, let us know in the comments!