Born at home

There are a lot of positives about having your baby in the comfort of your own surroundings, says RACHEL MCFEDRIES.

If you’d asked me six years ago about home birthing then I would have laughed… no way! Isn’t that something that only hippies do? Yet here I am now, a proud mum of three, two of them having being born at home. This makes me part of the four per cent of mothers in New Zealand who homebirth.

After the straightforward hospital birth of our first son in 2012, planning to have our subsequent children at home was an easy choice for us. I liked the fact that I wouldn’t have to travel to the hospital during labour, I liked having autonomy and control in my birthing choices, and, most of all, I liked the thought of being in my own bed after giving birth!

The midwifery system that we have here in NZ supports women to be empowered in their birthing choices. This means that if you choose to, home can be the place you have your baby. It’s a wonderful thing to have choice like that. Choosing a midwife who is confident and happy to support your choice to homebirth is absolutely paramount in this journey.

Preparation for a home birth is as much mental as it is practical. The practical aspects (such as gathering a ‘birth kit’ together of towels, a container for the placenta, plastic bags, and making a birth mat, a mat made from a duvet, newspaper, and a waterproof backing) are relatively straightforward. For me, ticking those items off my list played a big part in getting my mindset ready for homebirth. The rest of my mental preparation involved using visualisation, putting up positive affirmations, and reading other women’s home birthing stories. These were all really important ways for me to train my brain into knowing that I could do this; I could deliver my baby at home!

Throughout my pregnancy, my midwife was a reassuring calming presence who was full of confidence, and I also drew support from the Home Birth Aotearoa Facebook group.

It’s important to surround yourself with positivity when you’re preparing for a home birth, yet be grounded and open to the fact that you may have to be transferred to hospital. I had to be intentional about not taking on board any birthing horror stories that people shared with me. Also, in order to protect myself, if people would ask where baby was being born I would use my standard answer of “we’re planning on birthing at home but we’re open to transferring if we need to.” People generally say “oh, you’re brave” or just politely nod and change the topic.

All in all, I don’t think of myself as being particularly brave to have given birth at home. I had a lot of support, and I was able to surround myself with all of my familiar items and trusted people in my own home, allowing the birthing process to progress uninterrupted. Giving birth at home was the best choice for us, and I don’t particularly think I’m a ‘hippy’, but rather a happy home birthing mumma.