Healthy women who have been assessed to be at ‘low risk’ may be offered a choice of where they wish to give birth. If you choose to give birth at home, it is important that you ask your midwife or doctor for information about what would happen if you need to be transferred to hospital during labour, and how long this would take. If something goes seriously wrong during your labour, it could be worse for you or your baby than if you were in hospital with access to specialised care.
There are some disadvantages you should think about if you’re considering a home birth:
- you may need to be transferred to a hospital if there are complications during the labour, birth or afterward.
- epidurals are not available at home.
Your doctor or midwife may recommend that you give birth in hospital. For example, if you are expecting twins, if your baby is breech or you have had a previous caesarean – your midwife or doctor will explain why they think a hospital birth is safer for you and your baby.
The advantages of giving birth at home include:
- being in familiar surroundings where you may feel more relaxed and able to cope.
- you may not have to interrupt your labour to go into hospital.
- you will not need to leave your other children, if you have any.
- you will not have to be separated from your partner after the birth.
- you are more likely to be looked after by a midwife who you have got to know during your pregnancy.
Planning a home birth
If you are considering a home birth, it is important to:
Some public hospitals provide home birth services. Ask your midwife or doctor about the availability of this option.
To find out more about home birth:
Ask your midwife whether or not a home birth is suitable for you and your baby, or available to you. If it is, your midwife will arrange for members of the midwifery team to support and help you. Here are some questions you might want to ask:
- How long would it take it I need to be transferred to hospital?
- Which hospital would I be transferred to?
- Would a midwife be with me all the time?
- How do I prepare my home for the birth?
- How do I obtain a birthing pool?
Pregnancy and childbirth are natural life events and in most cases you will have a natural birth. If you have a straightforward pregnancy and both you and the baby are well, you might choose to give birth at home.
However, if there are risks or complications during your pregnancy, home birth may not be a safe option for you or your baby.
If you give birth at home, you should be supported by a registered midwife, doctor or obstetrician who will be with you while you’re in labour. If you need any help or your labour is not progressing as well as it should, your midwife will make arrangements for you to be transferred to hospital.