Long before hospitals existed, women were having babies at home, often in the same place they themselves were born.
Giving birth in a place other than home has become the norm only in the last century.
Today, many women birth in hospital because they are told it is the safest place to have a baby.
9 Reasons Why Women Choose To Birth At Home
Yet a growing number of women want to avoid the high-tech environment and atmosphere of a hospital, and are opting for birth at home.
Here are 9 reasons why women choose to give birth in the comfort of their own homes.
#1: Safety First
Many women who choose to birth at home are well informed about the birth process and how best to promote an undisturbed, normal labour.
There is less risk of intervention, and the complications which follow them, for both mothers and babies. Women are more likely to have better outcomes in settings that are not linked to obstetric care.
Babies born after a normal labour are less likely to experience breathing problems or need special care. They have not been exposed to any medications, and are primed with local bacteria from their mother’s body and their home environment. This gets their immune system off to a good start.
There is mounting evidence to show birth at home might be the safest option for low risk women, when compared to hospital birth.
#2: Choice Of Care Provider
Birthing in hospital usually means being supported by someone you’ve never met before. If you are lucky, you might have met the midwife, nurse, or doctor, but it’s unlikely you’ve had a chance to develop much of a relationship with them before you arrive at the hospital to give birth.
When you give birth at home, you have the choice of who is supporting you (this can depend on where you live). Most women who choose the support of a known midwife do so because they value the importance of continuity of care.
This means during labour and birth, you have the dedicated attention from people you have seen at regular intervals during your pregnancy. You have built rapport and trust in them, and they know and understand you and your wishes for your birth.
Find out more about why BellyBelly loves midwives here.
#3: Intervention Free
It’s estimated that only about 3-5% of women in hospital settings will have a normal, physiological birth. To rephrase that, most women will have some form of intervention during labour and birth when in a hospital.
There are many procedures in hospital settings that might be presented as harmless and necessary, but in reality have little evidence-based research to support their use. These procedures include vaginal examinations, electronic monitoring, and induction for non-medical reasons.
When women choose to birth at home, they are willingly opting for minimal interference during the labour and birth process. Medication, monitoring and other procedures are not performed routinely; they are done only if a woman has made an informed choice to have them.
You can find out more about some of the procedures during labour women reject when choosing a home birth.
#4: Negative Previous Hospital Experience
Sadly, this is a big reason for many women. They might have had a previous experience which resulted in a traumatic birth. They want the sense of being in control and owning their next birth experience. They want to feel empowered.
You don’t need to have experienced a negative birth to choose to have a home birth. Many women take on board the stories they’ve heard from others and decide a home birth will offer them the best choices for a positive birth experience.
Having a healthy baby at the end of birth is important, but a woman’s experience of birth has a huge impact on her recovery and mental wellbeing. Many women feel a sense of healing empowerment when they give birth at home after a previous negative experience.
#5: Control Over Birth Experience
Women who birth at home see themselves as active participants in their baby’s birth. They want care providers who will respect their right to make informed and clear decisions about their own care.
Midwives who support women at home treat the birthing woman as the person in charge – the decision maker. They see their role as midwife as supporting, preparing, informing, and being watchful for anything that might cause concern, which occurs rarely.
Women who birth at home might decide they want the midwife to hold them through every contraction, or they might ask her to sit in a different room until needed.
A home birth mama can move around, eat and drink, shower, or birth in her garden – just as she chooses. There are no limits on her choices. Her support team is totally focussed on her and her needs.
What is informed consent and why is it so important to birthing women?
#6: Environment Is Everything
Women who birth at home understand the impact environment has on labour. They trust in birth and want to be in a place which feels safe and supportive, so they can labour undisturbed.
During labour, your body produces oxytocin which stimulates contractions. This hormone is produced more efficiently when you feel calm, safe, supported, and unobserved.
A labouring woman needs to feel she can let go, be entirely open to birth, and do whatever is needed to cope. This can be hard to do in a hospital setting, with regular check ups, staff shifts, lights on, and background noise.
At home there are no restrictions on a woman’s ability to birth in whatever way she feels most comfortable. She can move about, join her family for meals, shower, walk in her garden, have visitors, or be alone. Whatever makes her feel safe and supported is much easier to achieve at home in her own environment.
An undisturbed labour has so many benefits and is more likely to be achieved in environments that make women feel safe and supported.
#7: No Separation After Birth
A baby is born with surprisingly strong survival instincts. Immediately after birth his most important need is to be with his mother. Being close to her heart and breast is so important for many reasons, including warmth, safety, and nourishment.
Being with your baby means you can allow his umbilical cord to finish pulsating before it is cut, which increases his blood volume, and provides extra iron and stem cells.
Many hospitals acknowledge the importance of immediate skin to skin, and delayed cord clamping, yet don’t have the capacity to perform bedside care if a baby needs help. Midwives attending births at home bring portable resuscitation kits, which allow them to keep babies with mothers for as long as needed.
Find out the huge benefits of an undisturbed first hour after birth.
#8: Post Birth Home Comforts
After giving birth, you mostly want to snuggle up with your newborn, have a cup of tea and eventually a shower. If you’re birthing at home, all your things are there – there’s no need to pack a suitcase with everything you think you might want or need during or after labour.
Some women love the idea of being in hospital for the ‘rest’, but don’t factor in the noise, the bustle, and the routine of a hospital setting. This can cause women to feel stressed and uncomfortable, which has the potential to interfere with early bonding and breastfeeding.
When you are at home, you also have control over the timing and number of visitors. If you’re the private type, you might prefer to wait for a day or two before announcing baby’s arrival, and then might only want your nearest and dearest on hand.
You might be happier to have many visitors, and that can be accommodated better at home. Either way – those who visit can be a great support, by bringing a meal or doing some washing.
A post natal month at home is bliss, especially if you didn’t even have to leave home to give birth.
#9: It’s All About Us
You often hear women say their partners felt helpless or useless during the birth of their babies. In hospitals, it’s common to defer to staff and step back. Your partner might feel all he can do is watch, and try not to get in the way.
Birth at home allows partners to be as involved as they want to be. Often the investment in preparing for birth means your partner is as knowledgeable about the process as you are. This enhances the experience for both of you.
You can have as many or as few people at the birth as you like. Some women feel they just want to have their partners present; others like the idea of being surrounded by loved ones. If having your children present at the birth of their sibling is important to you, you can make it happen.
Being informed about the labour process and how to be supportive involves partners in the birth, rather than leaving them feeling like bystanders.
There are many reasons why women choose to give birth to their babies at home. Some women have bad memories of hospital, or feel it is a place for sickness, not for birth. Many women want a dedicated midwife who is solely focused on her, and not looking after anyone else.
Most women want to give birth in a space which is about them, and where they feel safest and most relaxed. This gives them the best chance of a normal and natural birth experience.