Deciding to have your baby at home isn’t just about where he will be born, but also what kind of care you will receive. Having your baby at home will mean that you won’t be able to call on many of the hi-tech resources of modern medicine, but you will probably get more personalised and supportive care from the one or two midwives who will look after you in labour. They will use traditional midwifery skills as far as possible to help you through labour and birth; however, if problems arise during pregnancy or the birth, they will transfer you to specialist care in hospital.

The most important thing is that the home birth is safe for both you and your baby

Advantages of a home birth?

Some women choose home birth because they don’t want to give birth in a hospital or medical environment. Others want the peace and sense of control that a home birth can provide. A home birth allows you to deliver in the comfort of your own home, in your own bed, where you can avoid unwanted medical intervention.

A home birth provides tremendous opportunities for bonding for the whole family: You can have as many family members or friends present as you want and you get to share this experience with them in the privacy of your own home, without interruptions from hospital staff and other patients.

The parents have complete control over the environment and who is present for the birth, including other siblings, relatives, and friends

Advantages of a home birth?

The most obvious disadvantage is that not everything a hospital offers is available at home. You may need the expertise of the hospital staff and certain equipment at your disposal if something goes wrong. For this reason, it’s wise to deliver at home only if you’re within 20 minutes of the nearest hospital and your transportation there is fail-safe. When you’re choosing a home-birth midwife, ask about her education, her credentials, and her experience attending home births. Find out whether she has admitting privileges at the hospital (meaning whether she can continue to care for you if you’re transferred there) or whether she can at least accompany you and stay with you for labor support if you’re transferred there. You’ll also want to find out who her consulting physician is and whether the physician (and whoever covers for her) is willing to take all home-birth transfers.

If you’re considering a home birth, be sure to line up some help for after the baby comes; after all, you’re not going to have any nurses around. Consider having your mother, sister, mother-in-law, or some other family member or friend come to stay for a few days, or hire a postpartum doula. Better yet, try to have your partner arrange to take some time off work to help you and to share in this special time together.

If you want to here some birth at home stories, visit Stories, or talk to other mothers on our forums.