The Facts About Home Birth – Why Meghan Markle’s Decision is Valid and Responsible.
Not everyone knows it, but the Babycup journey began out of necessity. A need and a desire for our founder, Sara Keel, to give her babies the very best start in life by ditching bottles, sippy cups and similar at the earliest opportunity and switching for the ergonomically designed, oral-development and fine motor skill development friendly Babycup First Cup. But of course, her mission to provide everything her children needed and more didn’t stop, or start there. In fact, as with many new mums, it began before her babies had even entered the world with her own self-care and her decision to have a home birth, with all three of her children.
Meghan Markle has been getting a lot of stick lately over rumours of this same choice, with many saying that a home birth is a dangerous and perhaps even selfish way to bring a baby into the world. But the truth is far from this. In actual fact, in 2014 new guidelines were produced by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) which recommended that women with a low risk of complications in childbirth should be encouraged to either give birth at home or at a midwife-led unit. This change in guidance was supported and even celebrated by the Royal College of Obstetricians, the Gynaecologists Royal College of Midwives and the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) for a variety of reasons.
According to the NHS website, pros of a Home Birth include:
- Being in familiar surroundings where you may feel more relaxed and able to cope
- You don’t 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 you have got to know during your pregnancy
- You are less likely to have intervention such as forceps or ventouse than women giving birth in hospital
Above all else, of course, safety of both the mother and baby is paramount, so it is important to know and understand the risks as well as the benefits. The Birthplace Study found that 45 out of 100 women having their first baby at home were transferred to hospital, compared with only 12 out of 100 women having their second or subsequent baby. These were not all emergency situations, however, but more likely to be due to a first time mother not knowing what to expect from the birthing experience.
The risk of ‘poor outcome’ as a result of a home birth is actually pretty low, with women having their first baby at home slightly increasing the risk from 5 in 1,000 for a hospital birth to 9 in 1,000 – almost 1% – for a home birth. However, for women having their second or subsequent baby, a planned home birth is statistically as safe as having your baby in hospital or a midwife-led unit.
As with all things parenthood though, the choice is ultimately yours. And that is the key thing to remember. Knowledge is power, as this gives you the chance to make a decision based on facts, rather than scare-mongering fiction that is often drummed up by the media, such as in this case with Meghan Markle. Many women will opt for a hospital, or Midwife Led Unit birth, but, for the benefit of all mothers and babies and the chance to make our own minds up, we must all understand that a home birth is an equally valid and respectable option. Not irresponsible, as many are saying in current press, but natural and in most cases, beautiful.
Of her own home birth experiences, Babycup founder Sara says
“I was so happy with the decision to have home births. It was very special and I was able to stay in a cosy, cocoon of calm. I would even go so far as to say I enjoyed it! That’s not to say it wasn’t painful. There was still that feeling when it’s all mounting up and you think you can’t do this but, as most experience with the ‘self-doubt phase’, it was fleeting and, (unbeknown to me the first time round), was the signal that a beautiful thing (literally!) was about to arrive.
After the births of each of my children, my husband made tea and toast for the midwives and me. I was able to take a shower in my own home and our newly extended family could snuggle up in our own bed. For babies two and three, big sisters were asleep in their beds whilst I gave birth and no-one was disturbed.
I feel as though it is incredibly important to give birth where you, personally, feel most happy too. I found that positive starting point to be helpful. Plenty of people said “Oh, you’re brave!” But I wasn’t brave, I was just choosing to give birth where I felt I would have the best chance of a great labour and for me, that was at home.”