I have always loved the idea of a homebirth — the thought of staying in the comfort and cosiness of my own space, of lighting candles and playing music, of never having to leave my family, of snacking on food from my cupboards, and of crawling back into my own bed once the baby has arrived, surrounded by my loved ones — it has always appealed to me!
We tried to have Quin at home. Everything was organised and set to give birth in our little flat off Hampstead Heath. Unfortunately my labour became long (days!) and stagnant, and we rushed to the hospital in the wee hours of the morning. He was born minutes later, very nearly in the hospital corridors. It was the opposite of the peaceful homebirth I had imagined. In the years since I’ve wondered if there was a part of my brain that held an unknown fear of birthing at home. Perhaps it was released when I arrived to the hospital? I will never really be sure.
After our experience with Quin, we opted to birth Ivy and Marlow in the birth centre of our local hospital. Both births were beautiful and peaceful, Marlow’s especially. She was born in the most ideal hospital setting – a cosy birthing room with dimmed lights and no distractions. She arrived in the birthing pool minutes before the sun rose in a hazy, magical dream-like setting. I couldn’t have been more thankful for such a beautiful experience. We were back in our home just a few hours later with a healthy baby and her excited siblings! It wasn’t a home birth, but as close as it gets without actually being home.
This time around, I am hoping to birth our baby in our home. Everything has been organised. We have a birth pool here ready to be inflated at the first signs of labour. We have an emergency tank of oxygen in the corner of our closet. I picked up old towels from the local charity shop, have spare sheets ready for the bed, and the blankets and clothes for the baby have been washed and folded. I have a gorgeous, experienced midwife who will come to our home when labour begins, bringing with her decades of homebirth experience and everything she needs for any scenario.
I am also hoping to birth our baby in the presence of our other children. They are just as excited as we are to welcome and meet their new sibling and have been super keen throughout the pregnancy to witness the birth. To prepare them, we’ve watched birth videos and I have explained what happens on the day. They know that it might be frightening or uncomfortable at times, and that I might make noises they’ve never heard me make. Still, they all say they want to be there.
Of course childbirth isn’t something you can schedule or plan entirely. We are all aware that it might not work out exactly as we want and the kids may change their minds on the day. But, if it goes as we hope, this new baby will be welcomed into this world surrounded by their entire loving family in their own home.
I’d love to hear if any of you have ever birthed at home in the presence of your children. Would you consider doing it this way? Would your children be interested in witnessing childbirth? Or does the idea of it seem completely crazy and foreign? Please share your thoughts below.
p.s. The photos above were taken by Michael about 30 minutes after Marlow was born, right after I climbed out of the birthing pool and we wrapped ourselves up in towels.