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Home birth planning

There are two broad ways of having a baby; in hospital or at home. In some areas of the UK home birth rates are rapidly rising. For second children research indicates that a home birth is a safer option and for a first, very slightly less safe. A home birth can be a magical experience where mum and dad can both stay in an environment where they are relaxed and comfortable and feel in control. In such an environment women often labour better and the chances of complications fall. Hopefully you will have a lovely midwife who'll even run you a bath after your labour and then you can sleep in your own bed and get to know your baby in the comfort of your home. For anyone considering a Homebirth here is some advice compiled from mums who've had home birth experiences:

Speak to your midwife - Find out how supported home births are where you live. You'll need a supportive midwife team and they'll need to be happy that your home will be an acceptable environment to give birth in.

Are you able to have a home birth? - To have a home birth you need to be having a low risk pregnancy and not have have had any significant complications with any previous deliveries. Throughout the course of your pregnancy this may change so you'll need to be prepared to relinquish your home birth plans if your midwife advises you that it's in yours and the baby's best interests.

Medical kit - Your midwife will deliver a box of medical supplies to your house and a tank of oxygen will also be delivered. The medical supplies ensure the midwives have everything they need for a normal birth and any complications. The oxygen is flammable so the fire service will do an assessment to ensure it's been by stored properly. This sounds a bit scary but it's very easy to do and as a bonus your visiting firefighter will also give you some useful tips on home safety.

Safety - In a home birth you'll have one midwife who'll arrive early on in your labour to check you over and may stay or come back depending on how your labour's progressing. As you get closer to giving birth a second midwife will also arrive. As the midwives are not also treating other women, you'll feel very well looked after. However, the midwife will also be discreet and leave you to labour in private when they're not needed. The midwives have a direct line to the ambulance service. You and the baby will be monitored very regularly and if there's any indication that the labour is not progressing normally then you'll be immediately transferred to your closest appropriate hospital.

Space in your house - you don't need a huge house to have a home birth! Just one room which you can make into a calm environment - maybe your bedroom, sitting room, conservatory or kitchen! You'll need more space if you'd like a water birth as the pool needs to be delievered in advance of birth and they are quite large. You'll also need a ground floor to put the pool on as they are very heavy when filled. A pool is very much not an essential though for a home birth.

Older children - you'll need to consider what you want to do with any older children you have while you'll be in labour. Some parents choose to have children involved in the labour and prepare the children for weeks in advance for this. Others may choose to have children looked after by a family member or friend either at your house or at someone else's. Many women having a second child go into labour at night so it may be that your older child or children sleep through the whole experience and wake up to a new sibling.

Kit you'll need to get: Sheets - old ones are ideal as they may get messy Blankets - to put under a plastic sheet and the cotton sheet for comfort Plastic sheets - such as b&q decorating dust sheets Birthball Lots of towels - old ones or mess and nicer ones for your lovely new baby A bright angle poise light - to help the midwifes see if any minor stitching is needed Tens machine - essential in our books! Music Candles Birth pool if you're having one Emergency hospital bag packed- just in case you need to be transferred.

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