Have you thought about giving birth at home?
Deciding where to give birth is an important part of your preparation for parenthood, be this your first baby or fifth. You and your birth partners will want to choose a location where you will feel safe, secure and comfortable, and in many cases this will be your own home.
If you choose to consider a home birth, our dedicated team will look after you from 34 weeks until birth, helping you to plan and prepare for labour as well as attending your birth. This is a time where we get to know you and you can get to know us. When it is time to have your baby, two people from the home birth team will attend and stay with you until you are settled safe at home with your special new arrival.
The home birth team are passionate about delivering holistic care to women who chose to birth at home. They work closely with the community midwives and hospital colleagues to individualise care for expectant mothers.
Reasons to consider home birth
We know from large UK studies that home birth is as safe for ‘low risk’ women as a hospital birth, and can increase the chance of natural birth with minimal pain relief, especially for women who have given birth naturally before. Home birth also leads to higher breastfeeding success and, importantly, greater satisfaction.
Frequently asked questions
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What are the benefits of home birth?
- Increased rate of normal birth without intervention
- More comfortable surroundings, and no stressful car journeys
- Privacy of your own home
- No need for separation from partner or other children
- Better control of labour experience, both for you and your partner
- Two-to-one care from experienced midwives
If you would like to find out more about the benefits of home birth, you can follow this link to the Birthplace Study (2011).
Is home birth right for me?
All women have the right to choose where they give birth, but home birth is particularly recommended for those women anticipating a low-risk birth. In other words:
- 37-42 weeks of pregnancy (up to 40 weeks for women aged 40 or over)
- Uncomplicated pregnancy and medical history
- BMI less than 35
- Head-down baby (not breech)
- Not a multiple pregnancy
This list acts only as a guide, and it is important that your birth plan is individual to you and your needs. If you do not fall within these criteria, or are unsure, you can speak to the team or your own midwife or consultant for advice. Supervisors of midwives are also on hand to advise women with more complex needs.
How can I book a home birth?
The choice of where to give birth is ultimately made when labour begins. If you are thinking about home birth, you can find out more and meet the team at a 34 week birth planning appointment. We will visit you at home to risk assess your pregnancy, and guide you through the practical preparations you may need to consider. There is no need to commit at this stage.
The first stage is to discuss home birth with your community midwife, who can answer any immediate questions and, when appropriate, refer you to the team. You are also welcome to contact the team directly (details below) if you have any more specific questions or concerns or would like to book an appointment.
Please note we can only offer home birth to women living within the catchment of East Surrey Hospital (including the areas surrounding Crawley and Horsham). Women from other areas should contact their nearest maternity unit. If you are unsure, your community midwife will be able to advise you.
What happens when I am in labour?
The home birth team will be on call for you from 37 weeks, and work a 24-hour on-call system, based on the birth centre at East Surrey Hospital. They will advise you on when and how to contact them during your antenatal appointments.
What equipment do I need for a home birth?
The short answer is: very little! The midwives will bring with them all equipment needed for the birth itself, including emergency supplies, and will take away any waste materials afterwards. Home birth is not a messy business. The main equipment we will ask you for is blankets and towels for mum and baby, and waterproof sheets to protect carpets and furniture. We will provide a short list of useful items at your 34 week appointment.
Many of our home birth families choose to hire or buy a birth pool to use at home. All of our home birth midwives are experienced in supporting water birth and will talk to you about any arrangements you need to make in order to facilitate this.
Your midwives will bring gas and air for you to use during the labour. You may decide, depending on your preferences, to hire or buy a TENS machine or use other natural methods of pain management, such as hypnotherapy or aromatherapy. Our team are more than happy to support you in the use of these, but cannot provide them for you.
Find out more
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