Thursday, 14 January 2010

Happy New Year...and lots of home births coming soon we think!

Happy New Year to all homebirth families and their supporters. It's just a hunch but I think we are in for a very good homebirth year in 2010.

For a start we had a capacity crowd at our first meeting of the year, despite rain and slush and weather misery, at Katie Wallace's in Chiswick.

OK I admit in Homebirth Group terms "capacity crowd" does not mean quite what it does at QPR but a group comprising two twice-time homebirth mothers, five would-be first time home birthers, three dads or dads to be and two doulas (me and Sarah Birtles, who is a postnatal doula) is actually as big a group as we have ever had I think.

Questions which arose from the meeting were:

  • Does anyone know of an independent midwife who will take on a VBAC mum in West London?

  • What are the current protocols in our area, around home birth for mums who test positive for Group B Strep? I have found a very clear description of the way some people use garlic clear themselves of GBS in pregnancy here. I can give absolutely NO guarantee that this works.

  • What is the best course of action for a homebirth mum who haemorrhaged in 3rd stage labour?

Good news from Chelsea and Westminster - ever since a wonderful midwife called Ann-Marie Mathews began looking into why the hospital and its community teams' home birth rate has been so lamentable it has actually begun rising. Ann-Marie says that since she began the project every mum who had booked a home birth was attended at home by a midwife and NOT forced to transfer in because of staff shortage.

Queen Charlotte's on the other hand isn't covering itself with glory at the moment, which is surprising. One of our mums was told she wasn't in their area for home births - funny since she hadn't moved since they agreed to cover her home birth last time around!



Thursday, 4 June 2009

How to catch a baby - for dads

A blogging dad called Seymour offers his own step-by-step account of his daughter's birth - and she was a BBA (Born Before Arrival [i.e. of the midwife])!
It's a great story - recommended reading for dads to be.

Thursday, 23 April 2009


Midwife Virginia from the Kent Midwifery Practice says:

For a homebirth I always reassure women that most items needed can be found
around the home, as I don’t like to think they are put at extra cost or
inconvenience. However most women like to get things ready and it appeals to
their nesting instincts. I suggest putting a box together so it’s easily

There are lots of things that women may want to have ready such as
CD’s candles, nice foods, drinks, cool sprays etc but for the actual birth from
a practical point these are the things I would like to see put together in one

In the Birth Box I suggest a few pieces of plastic sheet the size of a
fire side rug and an old sheet to cover them. One can be for birthing on and
another to put on sofa or bed for afterwards when blood loss may still be heavy.

If having a water birth as many old towels as possible as women are often in and
out. Towels then get wet and we constantly need dry ones. I reassure them they
do not have to be new towels, try and borrow or use old ones. They wash
perfectly well after, even if they get blood stained but best not to use pastel
colours or they will look pretty dull after the wash. Although ever aware of the
environmental issues and cost I just love disposable bed mats meant for
incontinence in the young or elderly. They are the perfect size for birthing and
fantastic at keeping new babies warm. They save on lots of work too. Can be
bought in Boots, Mothercare, supermarkets etc 2 packets serve well.

Container for placenta: I always suggest an old 1 litre ice cream box and this is
especially good if you are keeping your placenta. NHS midwives usually carry
yellow bags for the placenta if they are taking it away for disposal.

A bucket: I use a bucket with some water in for all sorts! Vomiting is very common in labour and so too is passing faeces. Both can be quickly disposed of in the bucket.

Sanitary towels: at least 3 packets to start but only put one packet in the box.
Leave another in every toilet and in the bathroom. Be sure they are the biggest,
thickest maternity ones you can find. Even if you usually only purchase slim
thin types they will not do for the immediate post partum period. Find your
oldest big knickers and put a couple of pairs in your box. Some women purchase
disposable ones but I find they are only good for slim women.

Put your nice warm dressing gown away and have a short light front opening top to put on after the birth. Partner’s short sleeve shirts are a good example. If you put your long thick dressing gown on it may get bloody very quickly and that is a whole load of washing. With a short outfit you can sit on the sofa or bed directly onto a
towel or bed mat.

For baby: all you need initially is a nappy and a warm light
blanket. The fewer clothes the better to start as this will encourage skin to
skin contact. Dressing him or her can come much later.

A cord tie: if you are using your own ribbon or tie then that will need to be in the box. A birth plan: if the midwife is not someone you know and who knows you she will need to read your birth plan so make sure it is in your box. Give someone the role of going through it with her if you have a birth partner, friend or mother with you.

Lastly put a small thin blanket or throw over the box so that one is handy in
case you are waiting around for the placenta or you feel shivery after the
birth, which is very common. A light cover will make you feel very cosy without
over heating you.

You will probably have a “just in case” bag packed although some women prefer not to do this. It will depend on each individual’s opinion
and her attitude towards the psychology of the whole issue of transfer. As a
midwife when I have to transfer a woman to hospital there is sometimes
difficulty in finding her some clothes and shoes to put on, when she may have
been naked, at the same time as calling for an ambulance, caring for her and
informing the hospital we are coming! Think ahead as it may not be about
transfer it may be getting some clothes on to go for a walk outside. Put a comfy
pair of shoes and a loose track suit ready near the box.



For most women home birth is a safe alternative to hospital. It is your legal right to give birth at home if your wish.

Choosing home birth increases you chance of a straightforward birth and reduces your risk of medical intervention, and halves your risk of a caesarean even if you later transfer to hospital.

Research over the last decade shows that women who give birth at home use far fewer drugs to help them cope with labour. This is probably because it’s so much easier to deal with the pain when you’re in your own home, surrounded by familiar objects and people you know.

You are more likely to breastfeed following a home birth and you are less likely to get an infection at home than in hospital. [This might have more to do with the social profile of women who choose home birth, rather than the actual place of birth, however. SJ]

Women, who give birth at home, report higher levels of satisfaction that those using a hospital. At home women report they feel more relaxed. You are able to use your own toilet and bath, eat what you want and when you want it and take things at your own pace moving around and doing what you wish.

The midwives are guests in your home and you control who else comes into your house. Although some women transfer to hospital in labour, for most women choosing a home birth means you don’t have decide when to leave for hospital nor travel in labour.

After the birth you can sleep in your own bed and have the visitors you choose when you choose them. Partners often ay they feel more involved and get to hold and care for their newborn baby and become as expert as the mother.

Many people, including health professionals, friends and relatives will tell you that you are ‘brave’ to choose a home birth. But for women with a straightforward pregnancy – including women having their first baby – home birth is a safe and satisfying option.

The NCT also publishes a booklet on home birth, and you’ll find there’s lots of discussion about where to have your baby if you attend NCT antenatal classes.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

May 2009 meeting

Chiswick and Hammersmith Home Birth Support Group
meets on Wednesday 13 May 2009
46 Aldbourne Road
W12 0LN
8pm to 10pm

REsponses to Melanie Reid. The figure for St Mary's is wrong.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Siblings at Home Birth

Some useful academic articles on siblings at home birth.
This is an issue that often comes up as a reason not to choose a home birth and can be raised by professionals as well as by family members.
I haven't read any of these articles here yet - I'm just noting them down for future reference.

some useful articles with regard to children at births
FRIESEN, E. 1996. Children Welcoming Children. The Birthkit, 12, p7-8.
SCULLION, P.A., MCCALMONT, C.P. 1995. Siblings in the Delivery Room: Some Issues Explored. British Journal of Midwifery, 3(1), p39-42.
SCULLION, P., SCULLION, J. 1994. Children in the Delivery Room. British Journal of Midwifery, 2(8), p375-377.
SIMKIN, P. 1993. When Should a Child Attend a Sibling's Birth? Midwifery Today, 28, p37.