My transfer from a home birth

by Cerys Byrne

Cerys lives near Basingstoke, in the South of England. Her baby Kieran was born on New Year's Eve, 1998, and they transferred to hospital because Cerys was suffering from 'flu and was exhausted, and because there was meconium in the waters. Kieran's full birth story is on another page.

What happened when you transferred?

Because I was only 4cm dilated when we decided to transfer it wasn't any kind of rush. I had time to get dressed before the ambulance arrived and managed to remember to ask Paul to get a baby sleepsuit from the airing cupboard.

How was the an ambulance journey?

Not that pleasant, I didn't want to sit or lie down so spent the whole journey on my knees on a bench looking out of the window. The ambulance staff were lovely and I had Paul and my midwife in the ambulance with me. On reflection it might have been better if Paul had followed behind in the car as he could have got home easier afterwards!

Was it an emergency transfer? Any ER-style drama?

No, it wasn't an emergency, very calm.

How did you feel about transferring, both during and after the birth? And now?

At the time I knew it was the right thing to do, there was no way I could have coped at home because of the flu. As soon as I'd had him I wanted to go home but short of hopping out of the hospital (the epidural only took down one leg) there was no way I was going to manage that. Also, they like to keep babies with meconium in for 24 hours after the birth to check that their breathing is OK (over cautious in my opinion). Ideally I'd have liked a 6 hour discharge.

How do I feel now? Hard one - realistically, I know that transferring was the only option but emotionally I still wish he'd been born at home

What advice would you give other mums planning a home birth?

Keep an open mind. I know that this can be hard, especially if people around you are not supportive of your choice to have a home birth. Perhaps it is easier to keep your options open if it is a second baby, as you've already realised that where babies are concerned things to not always go according to plan.

For example, with Emily I knew I was going to breastfeed, hadn't considered any other option, so when it didn't work out it was a huge shock, disappointment and about the only thing with both my babies that I still haven't really come to terms with. What I'm trying to say is that it was worse at the time and in retrospect because I never considered bottle feeding as an option, had the feeling I'd failed etc etc. I think it would have been the same with the transfer if I hadn't considered it as an option.

Would you advise packing a hospital bag just in case?

Yes, and remember to put a camera in!! Even if it's a disposable one. We left our camera at home because that was where we'd expected to be needing it. Definitely worth packing a bag as you're not in any fit state to do it at the time of transfer, and what have you lost if you don't transfer?

Would it have helped if you'd done a hospital tour beforehand?

I don't think this would be vital. I'd already had Emily in Basingstoke hospital so I knew what to expect.

What advice would you give any other mum who does end up transferring?

Don't feel a failure. You will probably have spent longer at home than you would otherwise have done, you've had one-to-one midwife support which you'd be very unlikely to get at hospital, and you've had a midwife with you who you know. With any luck this midwife will transfer with you, so you'll have a midwife you know delivering your baby - all major plus points in my opinion.

Were I considering having any more children (which I'm not) I would definitely book a home birth again. My husband was originally not very keen but agreed that it was nice to have had some of the time at home and the one-to-one midwife care.

If it is your midwife who suggests the transfer, and you don't understand why, ask her (or get your birth partner to ask her) why? - what are the risks to the baby of staying at home and the benefits of being in hospital? With this information you can make the choice. If you don't agree with her evaluation of the situation she cannot force you to transfer.

On this point as well I would say that if, earlier in pregnancy, your midwife is sending out anti-homebirth vibes, ask for another midwife, I'm sure you'd be far more likely to transfer with a less than supportive midwife.

Cerys Byrne
Cerys @
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