Yep, you read that right.
I am a huge advocate for choices in birth. I think that all women deserve to have access to knowledgeable birth professionals who actually deserve the title of ‘professional’. All women deserve to be able to make informed choices about where and how they choose to give birth.
And that is exactly the reason why, right now, I’m not sure if we’ll shoot for another home birth when we eventually have another child.
It seems strange for someone like me to say that. My first birth was in a hospital, and it wasn’t a great experience. We had a lot of trouble bonding afterwards, too. My second birth was at home, and it was everything I could have dreamed of and more. It healed me, restored my confidence and faith in my body, gave my son the gentle welcome to the world he deserved, and I couldn’t wait to do it all over again.
So why on earth would I shy away from home birth with the next child?
I believe that birth is the most beautiful natural process of the body. It is, of course, a means to an end (a healthy, live baby) – but it can be a very important journey for the birthing family. Birth matters, and I will defend that until the day I die.
However, I don’t believe that birth is inherently safe. Yeah, I know that’s not the party line of natural birth advocates. Shoot me down if you want. I don’t believe that it is, and that’s just the way I feel. I won’t go further into this right now because this isn’t what this post is about.
For some people, having a home birth adds very little, if any, risk to a birth. If a low-risk woman is birthing with an experienced, trained and qualified midwife and the hospital is very close by, there really is very little difference – especially here in the UK, where CEFM (continuous electronic foetal monitoring) is not used routinely in low-risk births (the only difference is that, upon admission to an NHS hospital here, you would be expected to have EFM for a period of time).
Thing is though, for me, the risk is higher. I live 30 minutes away from the hospital – and that’s when there’s no traffic. If I were to suffer a placental abruption, I would have to wait for an ambulance (15 minutes if I was lucky), travel to the hospital (30-45 minutes depending on the time of day), and be prepped for surgery (15 minutes for a crash section, assuming that the theatre was prepped while I was on my way in the ambulance). So that’s an absolute minimum of one hour from abruption to delivery. That’s a dead baby, or at the very least a severely brain-damaged one.
It’s not that I didn’t realise this when I was expecting Squish. My intuition was telling me that everything would be fine, which is why I planned our home birth with absolutely no reservations, no fear and bucketloads of confidence. And everything was fine. Looking back, I doubt myself and feel like I didn’t take on board the risks, but at the time I trusted my body and my baby – and I was right to.
Obviously, any choices I make about giving birth will be made if/when we are expecting another child – after all, each baby and birth are different. I couldn’t say right now how I will feel at the time. But right now, my intuition is telling me that I should give birth in the hospital. The thought of it kind of sucks, after having such a comfortable, empowering and relaxing experience at home, but logically I know that I can still have a birth like that in a hospital. I will hire a doula, and remain in control of my care. I will feel confident to advocate for myself and my child, whereas I didn’t have that confidence before.
I have been guilty in the past of wondering why on earth anybody would choose to give birth in hospital if there were no obvious medical reasons to do so. I understand now, a lot better than I did before. Who knows, I may still opt for home birth again when the time comes, but right now I am happy with the possibility of birthing in hospital – a novel feeling, but a welcome one nonetheless.
Where did you give birth? If you’re planning any more children, where will you plan to have them? Has anybody else considered hospital birth following a successful home birth? I’d love to hear your stories!