Hospital v Home Birth
After the initial excitement of pregnancy began to wear off and the idea of having a baby in my arms in the next nine months started to sink in a little more – all my thoughts turned straight to the birth. I had no experience, I had no idea what to expect, I was petrified of the pain and I was much too scared to read anything online.
My first point of call was discussing what kind of care I wanted for the pregnancy, and after deciding on an obstetrician at our hospital of choice, the rest just fell into place. Straight away I booked my stay at the hospital and knew then and there that when the time came, that’s where I would be giving birth.
The idea of giving birth petrified me. I gave no thoughts to how I wanted it to happen, just that I wanted it to be over as quickly as possible under the guided care of our hospital staff. In the end, I was induced with my daughter and didn’t have much choice. I was grateful to have a midwife by my side for the entire duration of my labour, and to be offered pain relief of my choice along the way, inevitably for me resulting in an epidural.
Was birth how I expected it? Absolutely not. I don’t know how anyone can truly describe birth to someone who has never been through it. There honestly are no words for the raw emotions that fight their way out under the immense pain of the contractions as you await the pending arrival of your healthy baby. It’s intense. It’s amazing. It’s frightening. But most of, I have learned that it is a different experience for every woman.
Do I regret my choice in having a hospital birth? Most definitely not. I wanted to be as close to medical intervention as possible, as this was what put me at mind during the birthing process. But do I now understand why women want to be able to choose the way in which they give birth? Absolutely. There is something important about taking control of the situation and empowering yourself in labour through the choices you make, whether that entails a homebirth, hospital birth or water birth, there are plenty of pros and cons to each.
It’s true that the majority of mums do choose to give birth to their babies in hospital, and there are plenty of good reasons for this, including:
● Being surrounded by the expert knowledge of hospital staff as well as their equipment, so you are cared for and in good hands no matter what happens during the birth.
● The peach of mind and feeling of safety offered knowing you and your baby are in good hands.
● The availability of different types of pain relief during the labour process.
● You can stay for a while after giving birth in order to recover and get to know your little person and how to care for them before heading back home.
Of course, this doesn’t mean hospital birth is the only way to go and many women may feel differently about it, for example:
● You are more likely to receive medical intervention in hospital to either speed up or slow down the process, which may go against your wishes for the birth.
● You may be concerned about the lack of privacy offered in a hospital setting and the fact that there will be medical staff walking in and out of your room.
● Some people are worried about the germs that are in a hospital that could be picked up by the newborn.
This style of birthing is much less common, but at the same time it is on the rise. There is a greater understanding of the risks involved and how to manage these, allowing women who have uncomplicated pregnancies to explore this path. Some of the advantages include:
● Of course, one big factor is money. Giving birth at home is definitely more gentle on your bank account.
● You can be surrounded by those you love, including older siblings and extended family. As it takes place in your home, you get to choose who can come in and out and who you want to be present on the day.
● It offers you a sense of control being in a familiar environment and in charge of how the birthing process goes.
● You receive continuous one-on-one care from your midwife or carer throughout the process, and her time isn’t divided with other patients.
Even though home birthing is seen as a lot safer today, it doesn’t come without its risks. These can include:
● You have to assume a greater responsibility for your own health, and can place less reliance on expert medical staff to aid the process.
● Complications that may arise, such as the need for a Caesarean or forceps delivery can’t be carried out at home and will require a transfer to hospital.
● Pain relief options aren’t available in a home birth.
Let’s face it, how we choose to give birth is one of the first decisions we make as a parent, and like all those decisions to come in future years, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. It is important to talk to your primary carer about what you are wanting from your birth and what option might be best for you. No matter how you end up giving birth, just know that you are a strong, capable woman who has brought life into this world. In the end, all that matters is getting to hold your precious bundle of joy at the end.