Why a home birth is not my first choice…

I am now 38 weeks pregnant, and I just visited the midwife at our Birth Centre last week to discuss my Birth Plan. I am in full-on preparing and nesting mode! And the top item on the list, is, of course, having the baby! The midwife said I was a good candidate for a home birth — due to my experience with two natural births, breastfeeding, tandem breastfeeding, and having had a very quick labour during the last time. But I am choosing not to have a home birth, even though I love the idea. For me, and in my experience, I will feel more empowered and confident in labour if I have the back-up support of science and medicine around the corner.

With my previous two births, I have a fairly clear picture of how I would prefer things to go in labour, but I also know that each baby and each time is different. No two (or three) babies are similar. Actually, no two births are alike, just like no two humans are alike.

So much judgement can be shared over what ‘type’ of birth is best when really it is a positive birth experience that all mamas should be given. A space where birth is best for them, where they feel empowered, safe, and supported. That is what really matters.

My preference is a birth centre, that allows the patient to lead the way, within a hospital setting. So, if something goes wrong, I have the safety net of science and medicine around the corner. And luckily, living in London, there are many of these birth centres to choose from. I have actually now given birth at two of them and am hoping to have my third at another birth centre which is even closer to where we now live as well. We are very lucky to have these facilites in the UK!

And, of course, labour could happen quickly, and perhaps I will end up having a home birth. I realise anything is possible. After all, my last birth happened 45 minutes after I arrived at the birth centre! I actually ‘stole’ another woman’s room who was in the queue for having a baby but not nearly as far along as I was when I arrived thru the door! (Not to worry, she had a room in the end, I didn’t leave her in the hallway while I raced to the finish line!)

And, I should be clear, I respect and admire women who have home births, and wish I could experience one. I love the ease and practicalities of having a home birth, in your nest, at any time your baby wants, not needing to coordinate items and pack beforehand, and rush out of your home, while arranging last minute (and often middle of the night) childcare if you already have children, etc.  And, not being in a hospital, which can be rather clinical and sometimes cold.

And despite all of my childbirths (so far) being completely natural, the reason I need science should anything go wrong is because, in our case, we did, in fact, have a beautiful birth that resulted in needing very very serious medical care for our baby. It was rare, so very rare. And I don’t want to add to the birth ‘horror’ stories, I will just leave it that it was absolutely unusual. Despite zero signs of anything appearing wrong during labour, it was a very big scare. It had nothing to do with being a natural birth, or water birth. But, luckily, and to our massive relief, and that science-based safety net, everything, in the end, was completely fine.

My husband and I know how extremely low the percentage of cases like ours were. (He is a researcher for a living so he can tell you all the incredibly low statistics on it). And we were fortunate to be under the care of a senior midwife (thank goodness!) who had birthed over 1000 babies in birthing pools all over the globe. But that experience has given me great appreciation for all that is involved in birth, and modern medicine. And life.

Yet still, I admire, respect, and even am slightly envious of mama’s that have home births. So many of my friends say it’s been one of the most beautiful things to have a baby at home. I can imagine that is the case! And I know the chances of things going wrong are extremely rare. But the comforts of a baby born with the right support system should an emergency arise, well, that’s what I need most. 

What do you think? Are you more comfortable with birthing at home or in a hospital? Or is it about the right support system and less the physical space? I would never want my decision to cast shade on your choice. Again, it is what is right for the mama and her family.

I love the variations of experiences and reflections on the topic of birth in our Babyccino lteam. Emilie’s post on how she views natural births versus using medicine during childbirth. And then Courtney’s post on a conversation about orgasmic birth. Isn’t it interesting how differently we all bring babies into this world, and our opinions and levels of comfort.

These articles are also informative if you want to read more about home birth in the Netherlands and Esther’s son Bram’s home birth, and Courtney’s thoughts on her children watching while she gives birth. Also I love Esther’s article about preparing for a home birth.

I would love to hear your thoughts on birth place was your preference.

One thing I do know is that life, and birth, is never dull. I just hope it is a positive and healthy experience. 



ps These are both digital and film photos by the lovely Polly Geal. Thank you again to the talented London lifestyle photographer Polly Geal of Little Kin Photography for taking these photos of me here and here during my pregnancies. Such beautiful memories to treasure and love.


Comments (10)

May 22, 2019

Lovely post! I read so many essays celebrating home births, which I am always interested to read, but I felt most confident giving birth in a hospital where I felt secure. I also loved having nurses take care of me afterward! All birth stories are wonderful, and no one should feel apologetic about not choosing a home birth. Some people don’t feel safe in a hospital, but I am the opposite. I have small children at home and I would feel scared if I were to birth at home with added risk of transport time during an emergency. I also experienced significant hemorrhages after both of my natural births, and was glad for the medical support. Birth is a big deal and a wonderful experience, but it helps so much if you’re not secretly scared.
Best wishes on your new baby! I’ve loved reading along!

Lara in London
May 24, 2019

It is so interesting to hear the options and reasons behind everyone’s choices. I am happy to hear you have enjoyed reading, and love hearing your thoughts too. Stay tuned 🙂 and thank you for your well wishes.

Addie Ladner
May 22, 2019

I feel the same, way as you Lara! Also I’m in a similar boat with a PhD scientist for a husband who is very analytical 🙂 We’ve been lucky to have three natural births in the comforts of the hospital and I’m so grateful for that. I admire mothers who can pull off a home birth but for us, we’ve come to actually look forward to a few peaceful days at the hospital just us and the baby with all the care, “room service” and other people cleaning up after us. Plus even with three-we have to re-learn nursing, burping etc each time! How exciting that you will have your third so soon! xx

Lara in London
May 24, 2019

It sounds like we have husbands in the same world! Thank you for your thoughts, I am excited for number three. Maybe I shouldn’t want to rush back home as quickly as I have, the peaceful days sound like bliss! 🙂

May 23, 2019

I love that you’ve captured both sides of this quite unbiasly and at the end of the day this article is your opinion which you’ve made clear and your reasons why! I as a first time mum had a natural water birth at home, for me personally being in a hospital feels like I’m on a conveyer belt of care, I was under normal antenatal care for 20 weeks before I made the switch to the NHS home birth team that run out of my local hospital. No one had the time to talk to me, speak to me about choices or were interested in my birth preferences they wanted me to go in and out which upset me. The home birth team were amazing, they had time to talk to me, properly chat and get to know me which made me feel so comfortable that I knew if something wasn’t right during my labour or birth they would have told me and I could have fully trusted them because I knew them whereas I didn’t know any midwives at the hospital, the thought of having to go in and out because I wasn’t dilated enough panicked me too I hated the thought of being out of control in an unfamiliar clinical environment and that is why I chose home birth for me. It was the perfect decision for me as I laboured in all different positions in all parts of my house whatever made me feel comfortable, I could eat, drink where I wanted and it was a warm familiar environment. This made me really relax and produce the oxytocin needed to keep my labour moving and 5 hours from start to finish my baby was born. Every mother is different but I thought I’d share with you why as a first time mum I chose home birth, I would add that next time round (we’d love another!) I would hands down choose home birth again especially with how quick my first Labour was!

Lara in London
May 24, 2019

Thank you Merridan. Good luck on the next one! And thank you for sharing your experiences. It is so inspiring to hear how everyone experiences these things differently!

May 23, 2019

I support any woman’s right to birth anywhere she wants to, but do think it’s problematic to suggest that hospitals = science and home births don’t. Midwifery is just as much science as art, but this post seems to suggest that home births are less “scientific,” which is puzzling.

Lara in London
May 24, 2019

You are correct, midwifery is scientific. We have had amazing midwives and have stayed in touch with them since the baby was born. If our first midwife hadn’t been so perceptive, we may not have had a baby to bring home. I guess for us, it is the safety net of having access to medicine and instant medical care, beyond what is normal. But again, each experience is different and we happened to be in a very rare minority who needed emergency care. I hope that makes more sense. Thanks for your thoughts.

May 24, 2019

These are my feelings, as well. I respect any women’s decision on how to deliver a baby. I often contemplated the lovely idea of giving birth at home in such a comfortable and familiar surrounding and being able to be in my own bed afterward cuddling my baby. I have only stayed in the hospital one day with each of my deliveries because home is where I feel best. That being said, I like the assurance of support should my baby or myself need it and, in the case of our third, our baby did need it.

My SIL said she couldn’t do a hospital one again because the nurses were too pushy and her husband wouldn’t speak up for her. I am one who has never had a problem standing up for myself and make it very clear what I would like when I am delivering my baby. Yes, there have been one or two pushy nurses who I had to be firm with when telling them my decisions, most are fine though and some a great blessing. I can see it being unpleasant, though, if you are unable to speak up for yourself.

You do you. We are all trying our best.

Lara in London
May 24, 2019

You do you is exactly right! Great advice. Thanks Whitney! xx

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