Debunking myths about Home Births

Home births have recently been gaining immense popularity, but even with this rise in fame, it isn’t every day that we have women giving birth at home. This is because people have a lot to say about home births and not all of it is positive. The moment you announce you're having a home birth, there’s a good chance that most people around you will challenge your decision, and claim that you won’t be able to deliver your baby at home. Oh, and let’s not forget the days old claim that your baby will die during home birth. To be honest, if you have a high risk pregnancy, your home birth midwife will recommend that you deliver your baby at a hospital instead of doing it at home so there is a pretty slim chance that something would go wrong.

To be honest, many of the opinions that you hear about home births are based on misinformation. The myths associated with it are a result of lack of knowledge, and are solely based on a few births in which things may have gone wrong – but the same happens at hospitals, right? Presented here are 7 myths about homebirths and the reasons why they are just that – myths:

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7 Myth # : Only second time mothers can have a home birth

That’s far from the truth. Seriously, there are countless women out there who choose to and have given birth to their first babies at home. Yes, second time mothers have the added benefit of knowing what the entire birthing procedure is like, but this in no way implies that first time mums cannot have a homebirth. Irrespective of whether it is your first baby or second, it is completely possible for you to have a homebirth. As long as you have a low-risk pregnancy, and have the potential to cope with being moved to hospital during labor, it is easily possible for you to have a home birth.

If you wish to have a home birth, it is necessary for you to be assessed for it first. This is because it is vital for certain medical conditions to be ruled out prior to delivery as a few health issues can lead to an emergency C-section, hemorrhage, and even high blood pressure. These are inclusive of:

  • Heart disease
  • Bleeding disorder
  • Epilepsy
  • Diabetes etc.

Under such circumstances, it is best for you to have a planned C-section, and even if you are going to have a normal delivery, it is recommended for you to have one at a hospital. Also, you need to be assessed all through your pregnancy so that any complications that may arise can be dealt with right away.

The fact of the matter is that pregnancy is a completely natural procedure and giving birth is natural too. Back in the days, it was normal for women to give birth at home and you can do it too. As long as you have all the information required about home births and the process that entails labor and delivery, it is easily possible for you to deliver your little bundle of joy at home. Giving birth at home with the help of a qualified home birth midwife is completely possible and is just as safe as delivering your baby in a hospital setting. So, if a home birth is what you are interested in, arm yourself with all the necessary information and get ready to give birth in a private setting at home!

6 Myth # : Home births are not safe at all

This is yet another ‘myth’ pertaining to homebirths that needs to be debunked. Let’s get this clear, as long as you have a low-risk pregnancy, there is no way at all that you can’t deliver your baby at home. In such a case, it is rather normal for your health care provider to support your decision of wanting to have a home birth, and should also present you with all the information required to have a safe delivery. In case your health care provider does not support your decision, it is highly recommended for you to change your doctor and take on someone who is supportive of your choice. This way, you will be able to discuss all of our concerns and have all of your questions pertaining to home births answered in great detail.

There isn’t much reason for you to consider home births unsafe. A research conducted by the University of Technology Sydney’s Centre for Midwifery suggested that homebirths significantly reduced the risk of having stillbirth and early neonatal death. In the research, the data of over a thousand homebirths over a five year period was compared to that of hospital birth statistics. In the study, it was also found that homebirths had a reduced risk of third degree tears with increased chances of having a natural vaginal delivery at home. Apart from this, there are plenty of other studies that have shown how safe it is for women to have normal vaginal home births. To be honest, there really isn’t any reason for you to worry about the safety aspect when it comes to having a home birth – as long as you plan things out well with your chosen midwife, it will be a smooth, private experience for you.

If truth be told, there really isn’t much reason for anyone to be worried as to whether home births are safe or not. There are risks and complications associated with giving birth in a hospital setting, so if a home birth is what you are interested in, stop fretting about things and focus on learning as much as possible about the procedure of giving birth at home.

5 Myth # : Delivering your baby at the hospital is the best option for you and your baby

For a majority of births these days, delivering at the hospital is perhaps the default option. But this in no way means that hospitals are the only suitable location for delivering your baby. What is most important is that you deliver your baby at a place where you feel calm, safe and relax so that your body can work to its full potential during labor. For those who believe that a hospital environment will make them feel scared or overwhelmed, then delivering at a hospital is not the best choice at all. The same holds true for home births.

A major reason why people believe that hospitals are the best option for delivery purposes is because they believe that the birthing procedure is extremely risky and very dangerous. Yes, there are risks involved, but as long as you have a healthy, low risk pregnancy, there is no reason for you to be scared. To be honest, there are risks involved in delivering your baby at the hospital too, so there really isn’t much difference between hospital and home based deliveries – whatever suits you best. On the whole, there are certain natural processes and functions that are bodies have been designed for, and one of them is labor and delivery. Yes, we need specialized care for certain conditions during pregnancy, but this really isn’t a requirement that should prevent you from having a home birth.

Giving birth to your baby at home can be a rather private, smooth and quiet experience. Depending on your expectations and desires, it may be just in line with how you want labor to progress and to deliver your baby. The key here is that of the laboring mother so if you think that you will be more at ease at home, then a home birth will work wonders for you. Most importantly, you need to bear in mind the fact that giving birth is a completely natural process, and nurses, hospitals etc. are not really required for it. The only reason why you should have a midwife around is to keep things safe in case your baby needs attention after delivery. 

4 Myth # : Homebirth isn’t possible if you have XYZ condition

For women, there are plenty of reasons why they believe they cannot have a homebirth. Some of the most common reasons why women believe they can’t give birth at home are inclusive of high blood pressure, a previous C-section and hemorrhage etc. This is as far from the truth as it can get because it is totally possible for you to give birth at home even while suffering from these conditions – and there are plenty of women out there who do so. The only thing that you need to be sure of in such a situation is that you find a midwife who is supportive of your decision to give birth at home even while suffering from these conditions. Also, it is necessary for you to listen to her in case she feels that you should refer to a specialized health care provider. In case there are complications, it is vital for you to be moved to a hospital.

Research shows that mothers who opt for a home birth typically have lower rates of interventions during labor. This is good for the simple reason most interventions are rather overused even though some of them are necessary for the safety of the mother and/or the baby. The worst part is that these carry a lot of risks and lack scientific evidence of having any major benefits associated with them. In order to benefit from healthier outcomes and easy recovery, it is extremely important for these to be used rather judiciously and cautiously and the one thing that you can be assured of is that midwives excel in doing so. From what is known through research, women who have planned homebirths typically end up with fewer cases of episiotomies, epidurals and the use of Pitocin to augment labor. What’s most important is that in a majority of these cases, babies were/are born safe and healthy. To be honest, as long as the mother has a low risk pregnancy, there is no reason for her to worry about complications – home births are just as safe as delivering your baby at the hospital. 

3 Myth # : You can’t get pain relief during a home birth

There is no denying the fact that certain pain relief options will not be available to you if you give birth at home. However, this in no way means that you can’t opt for natural pain relief. To be honest, homebirth midwives are particularly skilled at helping with natural pain relief and the best part is that these options are truly very effective. Honestly, if you think that you will have to grit your teeth and bear excruciating pain during labor at home, then that’s wrong – you won’t. Yes, you will not be able to receive an epidural considering that it can only be administered in a hospital setting and midwives are not trained anesthesiologists. But you can rest-assured that there are plenty of other pain relief options available for you. Also, considering that midwives cannot prescribe narcotics like pethidine, it is best for you to get it prescribed to you by your doctor just in case you wish to use it during labor. Also, if need be, it is possible for you to hire gas to be used at home as you may want to use it while giving birth at home. Other pain relief options that are available to women who give birth at home are inclusive of:

  • Hypnobirth/Calmbirth
  • TENS machines
  • Water births
  • Breathing exercises etc.

One of the best means of relaxing and gaining a bit of relief from labor pain is that of applying warmth. Considering that it works wonders in terms of relaxing tense muscles, it can help alleviate labor pain too. For this purpose, wheat bags are a wonderful option that will help you warm your tummy, groin or back. All you need to do to make one is to fill in a cloth bag with wheat husks and heat it up for a few minutes in your microwave. If need be, you can even purchase these online or get one from hospital antenatal clinics. Apart from that, you can apply a hot water bottle , use a warm compress or even get someone to massage your back for pain relief purposes!

2 Myth # : Homebirths are messy – hospitals are much cleaner

Giving birth is a messy procedure – no one can deny that. When you give birth at a hospital, there are ‘paid’ staff members who are responsible for keeping everything clean. This obviously isn’t the case when you deliver your baby at home. But this in no way means that you can’t have a ‘clean’ homebirth. See, when you work out exactly where you want to give birth at home, the room’s furnishing and floor coverings need to be protected against any mess that might be created. For this purpose, it is highly recommended for you to collect old covering, towels and sheets so that these may be well-protected.

To be honest, preparing the room you have chosen for labor and delivery shouldn’t take long and can actually be done right on the day you deliver. The best part is that if you tell your midwife and birth partner where you’ve kept all the spare coverings, they will be able to prepare things even if you are in the early stages of labor. If you plan on having a homebirth, its best for you to deliver in a birthing pool as it will help you keep all the mess ‘contained’, thereby being easily disposable. The only things that you will need to cover are the floor where the pool will be placed, and your sofa or bed on which you will lie down right after delivery. Also, to make sure that cleaning up afterwards will be easy, make sure that you have lots of spare cloths, coverings and cleaning supplies at hand.

See, no one can deny the fact that hospitals have a huge budget set for their cleaning staff, and equaling it is just not possible for you. At home, you can’t expecting having a cleaning team ready to work away and make sure that you deliver your baby in the cleanest environment possible. However, being ‘cleaner’ in no way implies that you will be ‘safer’ too. At home, you are exposed to quite a few germs on a regular basis, but on the other hand, the germs found in hospitals will be unknown to your immune system, which makes them a greater risk and threat. 

1 Myth # : You can die during a home birth – just like the old days!

So untrue! Back in the days it was the norm for women to deliver their babies at home. However, when hospitals came about, people were scared of them and preferred home births. Yes, things have definitely changed with time, but the causes of deaths in the past were completely different than the ones that we perceive today.

Back then, hygiene and nutrition were not given as much importance as today, which typically lead to the onset of fatal infections. For instance, back then, it was rather common for childbed fever – or Puerperal fever – to occur, and did so even in hospitals. Believe it or not, but a majority of cases of childbed fever were caused by doctors and their negligence. This is because sanitation was not adequately followed back in the days, and doctors believed that washing their hands when dealing with a patient wasn’t actually required.

Also, in those days, diagnostic medicine was more of just a concept, which means that undiagnosed health problems were never given any attention. But today, there have been much advancement in the field and midwives and doctors have far more knowledge, understanding and experience pertaining to pregnancy, complications, childbirth and a whole lot more. So, if you think that giving birth at home is going to trigger complications or lead you to death like the old times, then it’s time for you to think again. You are going to be taken utmost care of during your delivery, and as long as you have a low risk pregnancy, nothing is going to go wrong. You will continually be checked and assessed all through your pregnancy, so any problems that might arise will be dealt with in a timely fashion. This way, you can be rest-assured that the outcomes will be positive for both you and your baby. In case a complication like hemorrhage does come up, trained homebirth midwives have adequate supplies of the same injection that your health care provider would have used at the hospital to stop bleeding. So all in all, delivering your baby at home is just as safe as delivering at hospital!

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