Home Birth on Anticoagulants

by Helen Wood

I had my first daughter at home in May 2002 after a short (4.5 hours) labour mainly in a birthing pool. It was a wonderful experience and there were no problems at all.

However, a couple of weeks later I developed a dvt (deep vein thrombosis) in my leg. This was left wrongly diagnosed for a week or so and ended up with me having a pulmonary embolism and going into hospital to be put on a heparin drip. Not great with a two week old baby!

Because of this problem, I was advised by the haematologist I was seeing at the time that I would need anticoagulants during future pregnancies/births and that I would not be able to have a homebirth because of increased risk of pph (postpartum haemorrhage). I had a further meeting with this haematologist and an obstetrician colleague at the hospital to discuss this before we tried to conceive again with baby 2. I was pretty unsatisfied with their reasoning. I raised with them the worry about pph before I spoke about homebirth, and they assured me it was safe. But then when I talked about homebirth, all of a sudden it was dangerous again and I was putting myself at risk and would only be safe by going into hospital (midwife unit, not the consultant unit, which itself is categorised for low-risk births).

When I got pregnant in October this year, I asked my GP to refer me to a "homebirth-friendly" consultant and I ended up going to the other hospital in Nottingham (City Hospital). The consultant obstetrician I saw was wonderful and said that she had assessed the situation rationally in view of me wanting a home birth and she saw absolutely no reason why it should be less safe for me to give birth at home. The anticoagulants prescribed in these situations are a low prophylactic dose and should not result in excessive bleeding. The only thing she strongly recommended is that I have a managed third stage just to be on the safe side, and I don't have any difficulty with that. She was also fine about a water birth (another thing I had been advised against previously).

I did eventually make contact with some women who have taken/are taking anticoagulants whilst pregnant, and there are very mixed messages coming out of hospitals for this group. Some women have been lucky and seen consultants who are happy with home births, and others have encountered the same (seemingly irrational) prejudices as I did first time round. I know that it is not a classic low-risk scenario, but it seems that medical advice is that homebirth is definitely a viable option even for women with a history of DVT and who are anticoagulated at the time of the birth. This is also backed up by my GP and midwife so I am lucky to have a full team on board!

Anyway if you can put some of this story on your website I hope it might help some other women in the same boat as me. I am more than happy to "chat" to anyone in a similar situation.
e-mail homebirth.helen.wood99@ ntlworld. com
(Antispam provision: remove 'homebirth.' to get the real email address)

(Helen's birth story is below)

Helen Wood

Helen's birth story

Update, following Helen's earlier email:

Despite a later change of midwife (because my original "star" mw went on sick leave) to a young and nervous mw who wanted written permission from the hospital that I could have a homebirth (!), the birth was brilliant. Less than an hour from first contraction to baby, who turned out to be our son Toby who's now coming up to 7 months and is such an easy, happy baby just like his sister was.

When I phoned the mw she wouldn't believe I was in established labour as she thought I was "too calm" as I was chatting on the phone and giving her directions. She came over anyway which was a good job as I was 9.5 cm by then and Toby came 10 minutes later. The mw tried to send my partner to get some things from the car but luckily I told (shouted at him I think!) him to stay put and it's a good job he did or he would have missed the whole thing.

I just about managed to get into the pool after the mw arrived but as I only had two pushes I didn't get all that much use out of it! It was a wonderful birth with relatively pain-free contractions that I managed with visualization and counting, a great second stage where I delivered him myself as I had wanted to, and the managed third stage was fine too.

Toby was calm but very alert when he was born and I just hugged him in the pool for about five minutes whilst everyone was going mad to know if it was a boy or a girl! He fed very well then just settled down for a long (fourteen hour!) sleep.

Much of this, I am convinced, was down to having a relaxed and peaceful homebirth. I felt great and in control all the way through and couldn't actually have asked for anything better.

I stayed on the anticoagulants for 6 weeks after and that was it. No problems with the injections although I was heartily glad when they ended. I don't need any medication at all now and it was basically a normal, trouble-free pregnancy and birth.

Back to You can't have a home birth, because...

Back to Home Birth Stories


Home Birth Reference Page
Site Contents