Birth at home

Natural childbirth, the arrival of our baby in our own home, is a unique experience and quite different from the experience of childbirth in the maternity hospital.


But how easy is it to make this decision and how much does it depend on the conditions of our pregnancy and the circumstances?


I have had the chance to read, but mostly to see on TV women who chose to give birth to their babies in their home, and what caught my attention was the calm in their words and the security in their eyes.


While they were "fresh" skin, I didn't see the panic, the anxiety, the exhaustion, that my girlfriends and I felt when we had our children.


Could their choice to give birth at home contribute to this? This thought stayed in my mind for a long time, until it finally "morphed" into an article that I hope will inform and inform with scientific information all expectant mothers who are thinking of bringing their children into the world in their own home.


In any case, each woman's choice is a personal matter and there is no right or wrong.


After all, in the end everything is wonderful and any difficulties or disappointments are forgotten and extinguished as soon as we hold a healthy baby in our arms!



Why should a woman choose to give birth at home?


Although I personally only have experience of the maternity hospital (or maybe because of that!) I can think about the reasons why a woman might want to give birth at home.


She will constantly have the people she has chosen by her side, she will be in her own space that will be intimate and friendly, medical interventions during childbirth will be reduced to the absolutely necessary, she will be able to move, go to the toilet at home, to listen to the music she likes, to get a massage or anything else that relaxes her, to allow her body to adjust and start the labor process naturally, however long it takes.


And then, after she gives birth to her baby, she will have him by her side all the time, she will be able to breastfeed him from the first moment, to lean him against her body so that they don't feel the tension of being separated from each other , will immediately familiarize himself with him and take advantage of the first one or two twenty-four hours of the baby's "big sleep" to rest and get used to his care...


If, however, all these possible reasons in favor of home birth seem like an "indictment" against maternity hospital births, this is by no means the case.


The first reason is that many maternity hospitals have now created more "natural" spaces, which resemble the intimacy and warmth of home, for women who have chosen, in collaboration with their obstetrician, a different and less intrusive type of birth.


As there are now many gynecologists who are in favor of the least possible interventions, who encourage expectant mothers to give birth naturally, who do not take medical procedures for granted and resort to caesarean section only when it is imperative for the safety of the baby and the mother.


In addition, delivery in the maternity ward is imperative in some cases, either because of possible difficulties that are likely to arise during the birth or because of the place of residence of the expectant mother.



All women can give birth at home


Absolute numbers do not apply to a pregnancy! So not all women can give birth at home, nor does every pregnancy and birth always go the way we would like.


So let's not lose sight of the goal, which is the birth of a healthy baby.


Thus, during pregnancy, after discussion with her gynecologist and midwife, the pregnant woman may decide to attempt to give birth at home if the following reasons are present:


  • To be healthy
  • To have a normal course of pregnancy
  • It must not be a multiple pregnancy
  • It must not be a pregnancy from IVF (The reason for this condition is that pregnancies resulting from in vitro fertilization are usually completed in the maternity hospital for reasons of maximum safety and it also has to do with the age of the pregnant woman.)
  • The projection of the fetus should be cephalad
  • Not have entered true extension (gestational age > 42 weeks)
  • That she and her partner desire it
  • Her house must meet basic hygiene requirements
  • The distance from the nearest hospital should not be more than 30 minutes
  • There should be an expert who will give birth to it
  • Labor should start automatically and its evolution should be natural


In the language of numbers…


In Great Britain the number of home births in 2005 was 17,279 women, considerably higher than in 2004 which was 15,198 women.


In the Netherlands 31% of births take place at home and in an official statistical review of the same state in 1997 the percentage of caesarean sections was only at 9.5%.




An important decision


Somewhere halfway through the third trimester, or maybe even a little earlier, it's time to discuss birth options with your doctor.


You will probably have seen the baby's tendency towards the position he will be in during the birth, the development of your own health and it is very likely that you will have started to form an opinion about how you would like to handle your birth - provided, of course, all they go normally.


Don't hesitate to talk to your gynecologist about the natural birthing options offered by the maternity hospital or clinic they work with – you might be surprised.


Also ask his opinion about home birth and if he could help you in your choice.


Listen to all the possible options and possibilities and discuss it with your partner.


In any case, it is important to feel safe and confident both in the face of the doctor and/or midwife who will assist you in childbirth and in your choice.




Will the doctor be with you?


Usually a home birth takes place with the help of a midwife who works with your obstetrician.


Of course, in Greece, unlike other countries of the European Union, the legal framework does not fully cover the obstetrician in order to carry out the birth at home.


This means that sometimes he can be more hesitant or carry it out with the help of a midwife.


It is important that both the midwife and the obstetrician are familiar with home birth procedures and that you feel safe in their hands from the start.


In many cases, there can be direct communication with the maternity hospital that the obstetrician cooperates with so that you can be transported in case of need, as well as an ambulance on standby.


A neonatologist pediatrician may also be present during the delivery for greater safety.



The practical preparation needed


All the procedures are much less than one would imagine and you will discuss them extensively with your midwife or obstetrician.


Just think how so many generations of women were giving birth at home just a few decades ago.


The basic "prerequisites" are a clean and warm house, clean and ironed bedding and clothes for the baby.


You will also need a nylon to protect the mattress and carpeting of the room where the birth will take place, pads and napkins, pure alcohol to sterilize the hands, two small basins, bags to dispose of soiled cloths, a side lamp and a baby scale that you will rent from one of the companies that do this work and keep it for the first two to three months to weigh your baby every week – this is common whether you give birth at home or in a hospital .


In addition, your obstetrician may have arranged for a full set of sterile medical instruments, cardiotocograph, neonatal resuscitation bank and maternal resuscitation equipment, drugs and serums to be available in another room of the house.


A pediatrician with experience in newborns and training in resuscitation may also be present at the end of the delivery.


Finally, the presence of the ambulance is important for any emergency transport.


The presence of the obstetrician is not necessary.


As in the European Union, home births are performed by midwives, but here we must say that the structures are different at all levels, there is special experience of the midwives, the distances are closer and finally the woman herself is more aware at all levels procedures.




What if something goes wrong?


Two of the basic conditions for a home birth are the smooth progress of the pregnancy and the existence of a maternity ward or maternity clinic nearby so that the surrogate can be transferred in case of need.


Apart from the distance, of course, the area where the woman lives also plays a role so that it is easy for the ambulance to reach the maternity hospital in the required time frame.


However, when the decision to give birth at home is made it is obvious that all the evidence shows that the development will be normal and there is no risk for the mother or the baby.


Besides, as with any birth planning, everything can be reversed even at the last minute as long as the safety and health of the woman and the newborn comes first.


Neither the obstetrician nor the midwife will risk a home birth if there is any indication of a possible complication.




The evolution of home birth


As soon as labor begins, the pregnant woman feels the first pains or her waters break, she will contact her obstetrician and midwife.


Depending on the duration and frequency of the pains the midwife will decide if it is time to accompany the baby.


In the meantime, the woman is free to choose the space and the way she wants to move and sit.


She can do whatever she likes, e.g. to prepare food, listen to music, take a bath.


Vaginal examination is only done when there really is a reason such as, at the beginning of labor, when the course of development is very late, or when the placenta itself begins to be expelled.


Listening to the fetal heartbeat is done at regular intervals.


What is not done in home birth is the rupture of the follicle, i.e. the artificial breaking of the amniotic membranes, and the use of drugs that accelerate labor.


Newborn resuscitation is usually undertaken by the midwife or if there is a pediatrician.


Of course, the midwife is responsible for breastfeeding and the rest of the procedures.



Is the economic reason for a woman to choose to give birth at home?


No because the cost might be higher than giving birth in a private maternity hospital due to the many health workers involved.


But the experience is invaluable