"Debunking the Myths: Evidence-Based Facts About Home Births"
If you’re currently considering home as your ideal setting for the birth of your baby, you may have received comments like these (often uninvited)...
"I’d NEVER have a home birth”... “Home delivery is for pizza, not babies” ... “I wouldn’t take the risk”...
Comments like this can make you question your choices and what's best for you and your baby. They can sow seeds of doubt.
If anyone, be that a doctor, family member, friend or even a stranger, pipes up with one of the above statements, or similar, here are some questions you can ask yourself:
Are these statements based on any evidence?
The statement "I'd never have a home birth" (or similar) often comes from the assumption that a hospital setting is the safest place for everyone to birth their baby, and that birthing at home is deemed "unsafe". However, I blooming LOVE a study (any of my clients know this) and a large systemic review and meta-analysis (looking at 14 studies including data from more than 500,000 intended home births) published in The Lancet in 2019 found that “The risk of perinatal or neonatal mortality was not different when birth was intended at home or in hospital.” (Hutton et al 2019)
Another large scale systemic review and meta-analysis (looking at 16 studies and more than 500,000 intended home births), also published in The Lancet in 2020, found "among low-risk women, those intending to birth at home experienced fewer birth interventions and untoward maternal outcomes" (Reitsma et al 2020)
There are plenty of studies showing that home birth is indeed a safe and beneficial option for many. The widely respected Dr Sara Wickham has collated the most recent study evidence in her blog "Is home birth safe?".
Do they understand how birth works?
Often the fear associated with birth comes from not fully understanding how physiological birth works. Birth involves muscles and hormones working together efficiently and effectively. There is a cocktail of hormones needed to start and progress labour (the muscles contracting or surging) The most important hormone in labour and birth is oxytocin, more oxytocin = stronger more productive surges and shorter labour. Less oxytocin = weaker less productive surges and a longer labour. It’s that simple!
Oxytocin shy hormone that thrives when you feel warm, safe, unobserved and calm. Here is a blog explaining the importance of oxytocin in labour and how you can help boost your natural oxytocin levels. There are loads of ways you can adapt your birth environment to boost your oxytocin (I've included 7 Practical tips for creating your best birth environment whereever you birth your baby in a blog) You can use these tips for any birth setting, home or hospital.
Birthing at home allows you to have the most control regarding your environment and who is there. By nature, it's private, familiar and feels safe, all things that benefit your oxytocin hormone to birth your baby. There's a reason midwife led units, like the Lotus Suite at Leeds General Infirmary, are designed to be 'homely' with low lighting, cushions, and pools, because this all helps boost your birth hormones and assist normal birth physiology.
Is this person expert in what is right for you?
No, even if they are very close family or friends, YOU are expert in what is right for you. You know what is best for you and your baby. You are the one who makes the decisions about your birth.
I talk at length during Positive Birth Leeds Hypnobirthing courses about using informed decision making tools to help you work out what is and isn't right for you e.g. knowing your birth choices and rights, asking "Why?" anything is offered or restricted, using the BRAIN (Benefits, Risks, Alternatives, Instinct / Information, Nothing) mnemonic and asking for evidence in actual figures not simply relative terms (e.g. 'risk' increase from 0.1% to 0.2% vs being told "twice as likely"). I've also explained them in more details in this induction of labour blog.
Ultimately, it is not your job to convince anyone else what is right for you. You have the right to do what feels best for you and your baby. You know what is best for you. Trust yourself.
4 Tips if you are considering a home birth:
Get informed. Know your options and use the decision making above tools to make an informed decision that is right for you.
Talk to women and people who have birthed at home. This can be helpful for both you and your birth partner. I have shared my own home water birth story on my blog. Sometimes the person giving birth is fine with the idea of a home birth but their birth partner is not so sure. Look at respected and well evidenced information and talk to people with lived experience of home birth to help you decide what is best for you.
You can always change your mind. If you plan to birth at home and then change your mind and decide to birth in hospital at any point before or during labour, thats ok. However, it's easier to book a home birth and change your mind to go into hospital than the other way round.
The safest place to birth your baby is where you feel safest. No one can tell you where that place is for you, it's up to you to work that out.
I hope you found this blog useful in your decision making. If you want to find out more about home birth here are some resources I regularly recommend to clients. I'm also happy to talk more about my own personal experience of planning and birthing my baby at home, just get in touch with any questions. You are welcome to book a Birth Prep Power Hour if you wish to discuss anything more in depth. Visit the website for details.
Sources for more information:
Podcast: The Obs Pod: Home Birth Hosted by NHS Obstetrician Dr Florence Wilcock
Book: Why Home Birth Matters - Natalie Meddings
Birth Video: Daisy's HypnoBirth Homebirth Waterbirth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNhVLKU6zF8
Birth Video: Birth / a homebirth with siblings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOri45kiYQg
I can help you get informed and feel confident, relaxed and empowered for your baby's birth.
I offer Full, Essential and Refresher Hypnobirthing courses as well as Hypnobirthing for a Planned Caesarean Section and Birth Prep Power Hour sessions.
Or get in touch to ask about private one-to-one course availability.
Perinatal or neonatal mortality among women who intend at the onset of labour to give birth at home compared to women of low obstetrical risk who intend to give birth in hospital: A systematic review and meta-analyses: DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eclinm.2019.07.005