With the news of Princess Meghan planning a home birth many people are asking what it is like to have a home birth. There is more focus on this way to welcome a baby into life than there ever has been before. What are the pros and cons? I’ll let you know. I have 3 children, one of which was a home birth.
Here’s my home birth story.
I decided to choose the home birth route after a terrible time in the hospital with my first child, my son. I was a very young looking unmarried 21 year old at the time and I was judged from the outset by many of the midwives. They talked down to me, told me to shut up when I cried out in pain and didn’t believe me when I said the baby was coming, which meant they were totally unprepared for his arrival. They also refused me any type of pain relief as they were adamant I had hours and hours left of labour, yet my son was born within 6 hours from start to finish. They made me feel inferior, stupid and vulnerable and I couldn’t wait to escape. I’d given birth with no pain relief, although I would have welcomed it, as the pain was unlike anything I’d ever experienced.
When it came to breastfeeding, I was stressed, my son wouldn’t latch on. A midwife roughly grabbed my breast and forced it into my son’s mouth causing him to gag. I knew I needed to go home to a safe environment, where we could relax.
That birth stayed with me for a long time, the pain, the treatment, the whole horrible experience. Of course, it was all worth it, I remember watching the sun rise and feeling like the luckiest person on the entire planet as I held my new-born baby son, however I had no wish to repeat the birth. I wondered how so many women went through this, with so much agony, with the judgement, the nasty nurses, the rough midwives, at the time, I thought everyone must receive the same treatment.
Four and a half years later, the birth of my second child, my daughter, was imminent. I was terrified but knew the outcome would be worth enduring the birth. I made a very detailed birthing plan asking for all of the medications available and spoke in length to my midwife about planning the experience. Then my mother in law suggested a home birth. She’d enjoyed a home birth with all four of her children and liked the idea of her granddaughter being born the same way. I was unsure, as I definitely wanted pain relief but was told pethidine and an epidural were out of the question if having a baby at home.
As I researched it more I made up my mind. I wanted to be with my family and most importantly my four year old son. A home birth it was!
The Day of the Home Birth
On the day of the birth my aunt and uncle visited from London, I was in North Yorkshire, so this had been quite a trek for them. They weren’t people to make plans, they’d just turn up and I was delighted to see them. I had a nagging back pain and my aunty, being a mother to seven children, took me for a walk and told me the birth was imminent.
I rang my midwife who turned up within twenty minutes, shortly after another midwife arrived. They performed checks on me in my own comfortable bed and I couldn’t have been more relaxed. As it was a back labour, it progressed slowly and so we all settled down to watch a film. One midwife massaged my back as the contractions came while the other rubbed my feet to take my mind off the pain. When it was evident that I couldn’t walk, we moved to the bedroom. My mum had arrived at this point and started celebrating with my husband, my aunt and uncle, they had their own little party going!
I was looking forward to gas and air to help but the canister was broken. The midwives sent my uncle and mum to fetch more from the hospital, 15 miles away but they returned with an empty canister. Once again, I was facing labour and birth with no pain relief but I didn’t panic at all.
At one point, my mum became impatient waiting for the baby, and decided that jumping up and down on the bed would speed the contractions up. The midwives swiftly escorted her out of the room, while my husband told me off for being “moody” and spoiling the fun.
It took twelve hours for Poppy to make an appearance but when she did it was almost pain free, there was something quite magical about being able to have a bath in my own bathroom before rolling over and falling asleep with my daughter by my side. My son slept through the whole thing, despite being in the room next door. At 8am I woke him and introduced him to his new sister, when he declared, “thank you so much mummy, she’s beautiful!”
It was truly enchanting and a birth to remember. I loved almost every second. It felt right and I completely understand why Meghan Markle would choose a home birth. Meghan will probably have doctors on call alongside the midwives. Her team will be large and she may even be allowed an epidural. Either way she’s bound to have an unforgettable experience and I do salute her for choosing this method of birth.