Is having a home birth selfish?

Posted Tuesday 4th February 2014   By Ericka Waller

A recent article in The Independent suggests that home births could be ‘as dangerous as driving without your seat belt on’, with scientists saying that ‘Though most home births are safe, the risk of long-term disability has not been “adequately addressed”’.

For me, a home birth was never an option. I don’t know whether it was due to a lack of faith in my own birthing abilities or my natural over-anxiety, but I found an odd comfort in the cold steel implements that adorned the maternity ward. They will do the job for me if I cannot do it myself, I thought.

My husband was in agreement with me. A home birth felt reckless and irresponsible. We had no idea what to do, what might happen. The risk felt too great.

I stuck with this belief through all three of my labours, and compounded them by having two epidurals. “I could never have coped at home” I told myself.

Thing-three’s labour was different. After induction, I went into labour suddenly and sharply. The husband had been sent home by the nurse who told him “Nothing is going to be happening tonight” only to get a panicked phone call from me half an hour later saying “Get here NOW.” I may also have sworn at him. He still laments the take-away he ordered and did not manage to collect.

Poor sod. 

My daughter arrived within an hour. Aside from checking her heartbeat from time to time, the midwife did not come near me. I did it all by myself. No intervention, no drugs, no advice, nothing. My midwife stood quietly on the sidelines and told me to “Go with it”. When I told her I felt like pushing she just smiled at me.

Giving birth to my third daughter was the single biggest achievement of my life. It took three goes to learn not to fight the pain, not to panic, but to embrace it, to believe. To accept that my body knew what to do even if my mind was not sure. All I had to do was breathe and have faith.

She shot out of me so fast my husband had to chase her across the amniotic-fluid-soaked-floor. The midwife checked her, slid her back and said “look.” There, between my trembling legs, was my daughter. Eyes flickering to open, fists tucked up under her chin. Perfect.

I could have given birth to her at home, but I am pleased I didn’t. I still found comfort in the professionals around me, and the machines lined up in the corridors.

I also needed quite a lot of medical attention afterwards. My giant baby knocked my bladder into spasm and my piles were the biggest on record. I spent the next two days in hospital having things poked and prodded and rubbed on me.

I’m glad I didn’t choose a home birth.