A home birth can be described as a planned childbirth in a non-clinical setting, usually the home of the woman giving birth, rather than a hospital or alternative birth center.
Since the home venue does not allow for much medical intervention, natural, vaginal childbirth methods are used and the birth is usually attended by a midwife or lay attendant with experience in assisting at homebirths.
Most women choose a homebirth because they prefer to avoid the impersonal, clinical environment of a hospital environment. They seek a more familiar, intimate and relaxed atmosphere.
Another factor, is that they seek minimal intervention in the natural birth process, which is not always possible in hospitals where interventions are routine procedure. They want more control over the events of the birth and the handling of the newborn.
Still others have had unpleasant hospital experiences and seek an alternative.
1. You don't have to go anywhere.
Leaving home is considered by some to be the first intervention as it may affect the hormones operating during labor. Many women experience higher levels of stress when entering an unfamiliar environment like a hospital or birthing center.
2. You have greater control over labor and birth
You are less likely to have to fight 'the system' to get what you want, as laid out in your customised birth plan.
You can create the atmosphere you want using music, lighting, candles and other options of your choice.
You have more freedom to move around and use positions that are comfortable, instead of being made to lie on your back for the convenience of others. You can experience an 'active' labor more easily and you don't need permission from anyone for anything. You are free to eat or drink as you please.
Generally the choice of birth positions is predetermined by the hospital's approach to maternity care and its routine practices. Usually the training of doctors takes the recumbant position for granted in specific obstetric practices ...- Janet Balaskas, Active Birth
3. Likelihood of less pain and more pleasure
Research has shown that when a woman is more relaxed she produces higher levels of hormones that reduce the perception of pain and increase pleasure. At home you are more free to use non-medical pain relief and comfort measures such as massage, water, heat, cold etc.
Natural childbirth allows the hormones that have been working for women for thousands of years to fulfill their functions. This is more important than just helping women through labor and delivery. Birth-related hormones also affect well-being much later in life. - Janet Schwegel
4. Greater privacy - no strangers
You will already know everyone at your home birth. You can choose who you wish to have present while you are giving birth - your partner, a midwife, a doula, other children or family members, friends or relatives. Some couples choose to birth unassisted. When there are no strangers, you are more likely to be calm and at ease and will produce more of the hormones that facilitate labor and birth. There will be no shift changes bringing changes in the staff attending you!
5. Your partner can be intimately involved
He is more likely to participate in your labor and birth, at his comfort level, than in a hospital setting, where he is more likely to take on the role of a spectator, while others manage the birth.
6. Less interference
No unnecessary equipment (like IV's and monitors) and routine interventions, like episiotomies or hurried cord clamping. No one will be trying to hurry you or co-erce you to allow medical interventions for you or your newborn baby. Less intervention means less risk of complications as a result of intervention.
The widespread use of routine obstetric technology, inappropriately applied to normal labor, disturbs the natural birth process and causes many of the problems it was designed to prevent. - Janet Balaskas, Active Birth
7. No separation from your baby
Your baby will be kept with you immediately from birth. You can place him or her skin-to-skin on your chest. No unnecessary examinations or procedures will be performed and any required will be performed in your presence. Babies that are born naturally without use of drugs, forceps or other interventions are generally more alert, nurse better and have higher APGAR scores.
8. Greater chance of a positive birth experience
You are more likely to feel that you were empowered to take responsibiity for your choices and decisions at home, than in hospital.
Many women have described their experiences of childbirth as being associated with a spiritual uplifting, the power of which they have never previously been aware...To such a woman childbirth is a monument of joy within her memory. She turns to it in thought to seek again an ecstasy which passed too soon. - Grantly Dick-Read, Childbirth Without Fear
9. Less postpartum depression
Research shows that women who are well-supported emotionally during labor and birth have lower incidences of post-partum depression.
10. No exposure to hospital-born infections
You and your baby have already been exposed to any germs in your own home and have some immunity against them, so the risk of any infection is low.
Staphylococcus aureus infections create an enormous burden to hospitals by significantly increasing costs, length of patient stays and mortality rates.
Gary A. Noskin et al.The Burden of Staphylococcus aureus Infections on Hospitals in the United States, Archives of Internal Medicine. 2005;165:1756-1761.
11. Saves money
The average uncomplicated vaginal birth at home costs about 68% less than a birth in a hospital.(Research quoted on Homebirth Safety page.)
11. At least as safe as a hospital birthMost studies show that home birth is at least as safe as a hospital birth, if not safer. Click here to read more about Homebirth Safety.
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