Home births

For further information, contact Melissa Maimann at Essential Birth Consulting. Link

When it comes to giving birth, more mothers-to-be are deciding that there's no place like home. In what can be a painful and at times scary experience, it is easy to imagine the appeal of creature comforts, far away from the clinical environment of a hospital.

"The nicest thing was after the birth I could have a bath in my own home, sit on the sofa, and watch TV with a cup of tea," says Katrina Fox, 29, a full-time mother from Bournemouth who gave birth to her daughter Casia at home ... She joins a growing number of women who have decided to have a home birth. ... there has been an 8% increase in the number of home births since 2006 ...

Any expectant mother ... may quite understandably be apprehensive. ... nearly one in four babies in England are still being delivered by caesarean section, despite additional risks to both mother and baby ...

... a recent Dutch study ... concluded home births were just as safe as hospital births ... [for] low-risk mothers ...

... Statistically less likely to suffer complications in labour, [low risk] women in good health who have not had caesareans or unexplained stillborns in the past ...

Hughes gave birth to her second daughter Elizabeth at home four weeks ago, and is a strong advocate for home births. "It's just so much more relaxed and a much better experience. The fact that you're at home in your own space with two midwives the whole time means you're not stressing as you have the full attention of them," she says.

Fox agrees that home birthing is a much calmer experience, and one that requires little preparation. "For a hospital birth, you have to make sure everything you need is in a bag ready for you to go. Women obviously used to have their babies at home many years ago and they didn't make a big fuss over it. Really all you need is a clean area, towels to wrap the baby in, and something to cover your floors."

It can be difficult to forget about the neighbours, though ... "I just warned my neighbours beforehand as they were directly below and above me. They were old dears and were very excited and thought it was lovely."

As relaxing and intimate an experience as home births can be, the hospital cannot be removed from the equation altogether. About a quarter of home birthers will end up being transferred to hospital during or after labour, which is an area of concern for critics. There are a number of complications that can require transferral to hospital, including shoulder dystocia, haemorrhaging and breech births. A 2008 study ... found that a transfer increases the risk of the baby dying by eight times the national average. Despite this, there are no set restrictions on the distance between the birthplace and the hospital.

The government has pledged that every woman will have the option of a home birth by the end of the year ...

If only this was the case in Australia!

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting 0400 418 448