The new NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guidelines which say giving birth at a midwife-led unit or at home is safer for many women, have been hitting the headlines. But what do mums who have given birth at home think about them? We hear from Fi Star-Stone, mum of two and parenting expert...
In 2009 I made the decision to have a home birth, and after 14 hours of active labour, our baby girl was born.
In 2010, just 364 days later, I had another 14 hour active labour at home and our son was born.
During both labours I felt in control, happy and relaxed. I needed no pain relief and enjoyed home comforts while the hours passed by. In fact I was so relaxed during my second labour that I caused quite a media frenzy worldwide as I tweeted the experience during the entire 14 hours, but that's a whole other story.
Having had two wonderful home birth experiences, I always encourage any healthy, low-risk, mum-to-be to look into having their baby at home as one of her options for labour. While I know this isn't everyone's ideal labour, I do feel my births were straightforward due to me being completely relaxed at home, surrounded by family and familiar things to make me comfortable. No medical intervention, no noise or interruptions, just me and my husband, my wonderful midwife and a birth pool in our front room. Interestingly, NICE say that 'for those having their first child, the number giving birth with no medical interventions was higher for home births and in midwife-led units than in hospital.'
With this in mind, I'm happy that NICE suggest more women should be offered the choice of a home birth, especially with their latest findings that 45% of mothers are 'extremely low risk.'
Factors that raise the risk include:
- Being over 35
- High blood pressure or heart disease
- Foetal abnormalities
I know I was incredibly lucky to have a choice and to go on to have two wonderful home births, and while I'm happy to promote home birth and share my experiences, it is far more important for me to encourage positive birth experiences and choice. It is also hugely important to me that there is support for mothers who perhaps didn't get the birth they wanted and are left feeling lost and in some cases, traumatised.
Fi Star-Stone is a mum of two and author of The Baby Bedtime Book – Say Goodnight to Sleepless Nights! As one of the UK's leading parenting experts Fi runs the UK's only award winning, free, parent advice service through her website Childcare is Fun! (www.childcareisfun.co.uk)