Home births: home born is best

Interested in home birth, hospital birth or private midwifery care? Questions or comments? Email Melissa Maimann or call 0400 418 448. Link

There's a type of woman that I will never be. She wears a kaftan, fries up a tasty placenta and offers breast milk to a fully verbal six-year-old. But – whisper it – I had a home birth.

It's a myth: home births are not the preserve of earth mothers. Give me a G&T over a raspberry tea any day ...

When I became pregnant in 2003, I was terrified. I decided to give myself the best chance of a ''natural'' birth. I got fit, watched videos of other births and practised HypnoBirthing. And despite advice to the contrary, I knew that I didn't want to go through labour in hospital. Lying prostrate in a fluorescent room as personnel shifts changed was nightmarish. I wanted to be relaxed in a darkened room with trusted midwives.

But I wasn't reckless. As a first birth, I wanted medical support close by in case there were complications. A London birth centre close to a major hospital was the perfect solution and I enjoyed one-on-one midwifery throughout my pregnancy ... I delivered Croyde at 9am and was home in bed by 7pm (nether regions intact thanks to the midwives).

But as my 12 antenatal friends had their babies, I realised how shockingly rare my experience was. Almost 50 per cent of them had caesarean sections ... At least one of the women was left so psychologically traumatised that her daughter will never get a sibling.

And their stories are fairly typical ...

When I became pregnant in June 2008 I was even more determined to ''own'' my experience with a home birth ... one month earlier, my sister-in-law's baby had died after suffering cord asphyxia in the latter stages of a seemingly normal labour. It was traumatic for the whole family. For my husband ... it was reason enough to have our next baby in hospital.

I wouldn't be swayed, but I did want his support ...

I explained how infant mortality rates have improved due to greater abortions for abnormalities, rather than the hospitalisation of birth; that maternity units are more likely to make hasty interventions; that the stress of hospitals reduces the body's ability to deal with pain ...

He argued that only two per cent of British babies are home born. I told him that was because the needs of large maternity units are being met, rather than those of women.

Seven days before our birth, my waters started leaking inexplicably. Had I been under hospital care, an induction would most likely have been advised – only to find that my membranes were intact. My midwife ... monitored me daily. She arranged a precautionary scan and administered homoeopathy and aromatherapy to get things moving ... The relationship with [our midwife] meant there was no awkwardness or embarrassment.

The birthing pool was heavenly ...

Croyde dressed his sister an hour after she was born. It was Mother's Day. My mother made Sunday lunch and my father watched the football. James went for a run. When Manchester United were 3-0 down my father turned off the television. "It had been a good day until then," he said.

This, I thought, is how birth should be – normal, surrounded by family and strangely uneventful. Every couple should have the chance to give birth at home; to feel safe, unhurried and in control. James and I would do it all again tomorrow ...

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting 0400 418 448