After the birth of our first child, who was a planned home birth with a transfer to a hospital after 3 days of false labour, we were steadfast to have our second child at home. Our homebirth midwife insisted that I return to England as the homebirth “mentality” was so much more open minded than in Spain. But our home is in Spain and being comfortable at home, in a place where our first child and my husband could attend the birth of the baby we had been looking forward to meeting was one of our key motivations. The other was not going to a hospital. With our first child, we had to fight for 12 hours to avoid any interventions we as parents and especially I as the mother felt were unnecessary. I was told that this would have been near impossible if I were in Spain.
For me, as a mother, it was an emotional motivation to bring my baby into the world at home, with family and in a calm environment, doing what I believe mothers have done for millenia. For my husband, it was a natural common sense motivation. He kept saying that pregnancy is not an illness, a mother is naturally adept to have her baby in a natural environment. A mother in Africa (where we were born) has her baby at home, why can’t I.
We carefully chose our midwife and doula. Although I would have preferred to have an unassisted birth, we felt the expertise of these highly qualified and experienced individuals would provide the safety that I and our baby needed. Assisting hundreds of births every year, the same as midwives and birth professionals in a hospital was equal for us.
My homebirth consultations with both our midwife and doula were even more thorough and in depth as the protocol checklisted consultations I had with the midwife in England. The added bonus was that they guided me throughout my pregnancy and were in attendance at the birth, whereas the midwife who giuded me through my pregnancy was unable to assist our first child’s birth – a break in the very intimate and trusted relationship between a mother, father and midwife and doula. One discussion I remember having with both my midwife and doula was the possibility of mortality. We were prepared for this situation – one I can unequivocally say I was not with the birth of our first child. It was never mentioned or talked about. In Africa, babies and mothers die every day. It is considered a part of the circle of life, something we in the developed world have come to believe can be avoided – it can not, not at a home birth and not on a hospital.
When I started labour at home I felt comfortable. I felt relaxed, unrushed. I could eat and drink what I felt like, move around, rest and birth in the position most comfortable for me. In hospital, I was allowed water and no food, and placed on my back live in the movies. My husband and son could continue their day as normal in an environment they knew and felt comfortable in and they could go through the birth with me – the thought of leaving my son for hours whilst giving birth out of my home was a heart wrenching one. My husband was calm and had all confidence in our midwife and doula. In his heart and spirit he knew that we were in the best hands. Our son was engaged in the process, head torch ready and observed the most natural of processes in life. He was laying beside me as his baby sister was born, asleep and calm. In hospital with our first son, we had a change in midwives halfway through, another break in relationship and trust, and 5 or 6 other individuals who came to offer interventions even though we requested that no other persons besides our midwife was present at all times. I had the privacy in the comfort of my own home to focus on what my body and my baby were doing to bring her into the world.
In hospital with the birth of my first child, I was under the influence of synthetic oxytocin and gas and air… I was not in control of my body in any way. I remember my baby turning his head briefly, the midwife telling me that if there was no progress I would be wheeled to the operating table for a c-section and I remember when he was born. I felt under pressure to deliver quickly or be robbed of MY CHOICE to birth my baby as my husband and I chose. But with our home birth, I was able to speak to our baby, listen to my body. I vividly remember every movement, every contraction, every funny moment (and there were many joyful funny moments) and every embarassing moment. The two women we chose to assist us were so much better and more in tune with me as the mother, with my husband as the father and with my son as the new big brother. They confirmed every step of the process, assisted where needed only and empowered me as the mother, cheered my baby and I on every minute of the 8 hours from start of contractions to the birth of our baby. Our beautiful baby girl was born smiling, her Papa’s face the first one she saw his and my voices the first ones she heard. She was calm, content and connected and she has been that way ever since. It was the best thing we could have ever done. We are blessed to be expecting another baby due in May 2019, we intend to have another home birth, in Spain, with Laura and Ariana, without a shadow of a doubt.
To the media: Childbirth is a natural process. A human right we all have a free choice to as we as mothers and fathers wish. Please be trustworthy in your research, investigations and your journalism, to not victimise any parents who choose to birth our babies at home, but to portray a gracious and unbiast account of what some parents are going through, as have many who gave birth in hospitals, but where the statistics are not as accurately and aggressively reported and publicised. Journalism should be unbiast, not led by any industry or personal preference. It could so easily have been you at the other side of your article. We live in Europe, where personal choice and human rights are still important!