FAQs – About Homebirth

January 6, 2023By 0

FAQs – About homebirth

When should I start thinking about a homebirth?

There is no specific “right” time. Some women know when they fall pregnant that they want a homebirth, others don’t even think about it until much nearer their due date. Whenever you decide, you can make contact with the team via phone or email, come to a “Meet the Team” event or speak to your midwife.


What are the advantages of a homebirth?

Most women find being in labour at home, in comfortable and familiar surroundings, is a calm, relaxing experience and this can help the labour progress more smoothly.
There is no need to interrupt labour to go into hospital and no anxiety about when to make the journey. Evidence shows that multiple journeys to hospital can slow the progress of your labour.

Planning a homebirth means you are much more likely to be looked after by a midwife you have met before.

Being at home means you can move around completely freely, using your own facilities – helping yourself to food from your fridge, using your own shower or bath, watching TV and having a cup of tea in your own bed afterwards!

Evidence shows that healthy women with an uncomplicated pregnancy who plan to give birth at home are more likely to have a straightforward birth with fewer interventions – even if they subsequently transfer to hospital. Interventions include the use of forceps, ventouse, episiotomy and emergency caesarean.


Is it safe?

Birth in the UK is generally very safe for women and babies, wherever the birth takes place.

Lots of research has demonstrated the safety of planned home births, including two large international studies published in 2019 and 2020

All planned homebirths are attended by 2 experienced midwives. They bring everything necessary to monitor your and your baby’s well-being, as well as resuscitation equipment and emergency drugs. This equipment is the same as is available in the birth centre.

We work closely with London Ambulance Service to ensure a safe and speedy transfer to hospital if one is necessary. Most transfers from home are not emergencies – the most common reason for transferring women from home is when labour is not progressing.


What pain relief can I have?

No matter where your labour takes place, we recommend trying to use relaxation and breathing techniques to help you cope with contractions. 

The midwives attending your birth bring “gas and air” (Entonox). It is up to you to decide if you would like to use it.

Many women planning a homebirth wish to use water in the form of a birthing pool as this can be a very effective means of relaxation and relief during labour and birth. You may also find that your own shower or bath provides effective pain relief in the early stages.

As long as you have a reliable source of hot water and a suitable space to position a birthing pool, it is not complicated to set-up. If you wish to use a pool, your home birth midwife can advise you about how to hire one as well as providing advice about setting it up.


Is my home suitable?

As long as you can make your home warm and have running water, then generally any home – no matter what its size – can be made suitable for birth.


Will I need to buy any special equipment?

We will give you a short list of items beforehand that it is helpful for you to provide. These include basic items like towels and old sheets.

Your midwives will provide all specialist equipment for the birth on the day. We carry equipment to monitor the baby’s heartbeat, to check your blood pressure, pulse and temperature, as well as resuscitation equipment and emergency drugs. The equipment we bring is equivalent to the equipment you will find at our midwlfe-led birth centre.


Will it be very messy?

Most of the labour is not messy at all. After the birth there will be some blood loss, so we recommend putting plastic sheeting and old duvets or sheets on your floor and bed or sofa. We will clear away all clinical waste and bag up any soiled items. When we leave, your home should look as we found it when we arrived.


Should I warn the neighbours?

Women often worry that they will be very noisy in labour. However, in our experience this is rarely the case. Those with small children often find they sleep through the whole thing. It is up to you if you would like to let your neighbours know that you are planning a homebirth but it certainly isn’t necessary.


What about my other children?

One reason women give for choosing to have a homebirth is because they don’t wish to leave their child at home while they are in hospital. Many labours take place in the middle of the night and often children do sleep through the entire labour and birth. However, we recommend making arrangements for friends or family to be available to look after your children in case of the need to transfer to hospital. Some women also prefer their children not to be at home for the hours that they are in labour, others prefer to have them in their home but looked after by someone else and others may wish their children to be present at the birth – the choice is yours.


Who can be at the birth?

Anyone that you want to be present at the birth can attend, as long as there is space for the midwives to look after you safely.


What happens after the birth?

Once the baby has been born we stay to make sure that mother and baby are well. We will assist with feeding, check and weigh the baby, help the mother to have a shower, have something to eat and climb into bed. We stay in your home until we and you feel happy for us to leave. We return the next day and continue to provide postnatal care in your home for the following days and early weeks.