Home Birth Reference Site

 

Can you have your first baby at home?

Yes - if you want to book a home birth for your first baby, you can. See the list of Birth Stories below for plenty of examples. So why do some people discourage women from booking home births for first babies?

We all know that first births are more likely to be difficult than subsequent births - no matter where they occur. The main issue is that labour may be longer and harder work than for subsequent babies, and so women who plan a homebirth for a first baby generally do so with the attitude that they will start off at home and see how they get on. They labour at home for as long as it is working for them and as long as mother and baby both seem in good condition, and IF they need help, transfer to hospital then.

We've had previous evidence that planning a homebirth overall reduces the risk of intervention and of various problems (eg babies born in poor condition). What we haven't had before is, perhaps, enough detailed data to find out which groups of women and babies benefit most from planning a homebirth. The Birthplace 2011 study gave us some valuable information on this, helping women to make an informed decision.

Overall, the researchers found that homebirths were as safe as those in medical settings. But first babies had a higher risk of bad outcomes. The increased risk was small overall, but was clearly there.

The NHS News report on the study says:

An important point to note is that even though the risk associated with home births seems greatly elevated in women going through their first pregnancy, the absolute risks were still relatively low. To put this into context, they occurred in 39 of the 4,488 women who delivered their first child at home, and 36 of the 4,063 women who delivered their first child at home without complicating conditions at the start of labour."

Actually 45% of first-time mothers transferred (not very different from previous UK studies), so many of them will, presumably, have been in hospital already when the problem happened. It's a shame the study didn't include data on this; I would like to know, for instance, how many problems occurred when babies were born at home in unexpectedly poor condition, and how many were transferred in labour when the midwife suspected something was amiss. There is a huge difference between, say, being at home with a baby that doesn't want to breathe, and being in hospital after transferring due to a long labour, and then having labour augmented and the baby going into distress.

One way of looking at it is - planning a homebirth gives the first-time mother a higher chance of having the best possible outcome, ie straightforward birth, everyone healthy, no surgical or assisted deliveries, which have implications for the mother's health in particular. But the price of that is a very slightly higher chance of the worst possible outcome.

Is that price worth paying? It will be different for every family. If you are panicked about hospitals or are very worried about losing control then perhaps the 'cost' of planning a hospital birth for you will be higher, because a bad experience there may leave you with a tough start to motherhood. Perhaps it is important to you to have a large family, and therefore a caesarean section would be more risky for you than for others - because it increases the risk of secondary infertility and increases the risk of stillbirth in future pregnancies. Childbirth always involves trade-offs between risks and benefits. Statistics can help to inform our decisions, but they can't usually give us the whole picture of our personal risk profile.

Personally, I would certainly still have planned a home birth for my first if I had seen this study because, to be blunt, I would have thought the small increased risk worth it. Before I had children, the only person I knew who had had a straightforward birth, had had it at home. Every woman I knew who had given birth in the last 20 years seemed to have her own dramatic litany of disasters, except the homebirth mother. And I was so worried that going into hospital would send me into a panic spiral, and that my baby might be subjected to all sorts of 'just in case' interventions - I just didn't see how I would be able to labour well in a hospital. Your mileage may vary, but for me, it was my best bet at keeping birth normal.

 


 

What are the issues?

Here are some of the concerns that are commonly raised about homebirth for a first baby:

"There's a high chance that you will have to transfer to hospital anyway."

We know there is a higher risk that a first-time mother will have a non-emergency transfer to hospital, than for mothers having subsequent children. Up to 40% of first-time mums have transferred in studies on home birth, either in late pregnancy (to have labour induced), or in labour. However, this means that 60% of the first-time mums did actually give birth at home, with little or no intervention. You will not find many hospitals where 60% of first-time mothers give birth without drips to speed up labour, epidurals, and other interventions.

When you think of transferring to hospital from what you hoped would be a home birth, you might imagine an emergency situation where the baby or mother are in danger. This is actually unlikely for any home birth transfer, but much less likely for a first-time mother. Transfers from home for first-time mums occur mainly because of prolonged labour when the mother is tired and just wants things speeded up, or an epidural so she can rest. Nothing much is happening, or the mother wants more pain relief - usually nobody is in danger.

There is more discussion of this on the page about transferring from a home birth to hospital.

If you do transfer from home to hospital birth, your time at home has not been wasted. By spending as much time as possible at home, you reduce your risk of picking up infections, and you also greatly increase your chances of giving birth without interventions. You will have approximately halved your chances of ending up needing a caesarean or assisted delivery compared to women of the same risk level (see National Birthday Trust study). And if you transfer, you know that you probably did need to have extra monitoring, interventions or extra pain relief. It is less likely that the outcome was the result of a 'cascade of interventions' which was avoidable, but which happened because you were in hospital.

It must be disappointing and sometimes hard to deal with if you end up transferring to hospital when you had planned a home birth, and it would be sensible to consider how you would deal with the situation. You might find it helpful to read some advice and suggestions from mothers who have been in that situation.

Remember too that the statistics on transfer rates do not determine what is going to happen to you. They only tell us what is likely to happen over large numbers of people. The chances of transferring for a first-time mum who has educated herself, has got her baby into a good position and her body in good shape, and who has learned lots of techniques to help her manage pain, will be a lot lower than those of the average mother who has not prepared as thoroughly. Antenatal preparation is no guarantee that everything will go smoothly, but it could certainly help.

The final consideration here is that it is the mother's choice whether to book for a home birth, and to take the risk of needing to transfer, not the midwife or doctor's. Be aware of the facts, and then make your own choice.

As a first-time mother you have a reasonable chance of your pregnancy going post-dates. You may be offered induction of labour, often at around 42 weeks gestation. It is important to make sure that your pregnancy is dated accurately before considering induction - and of course, there are other issues to think through, too. See "Overdue, but still want a home birth?" for more details.

"You do not know how painful it is going to be, or whether you will be able to manage without an epidural."

Nobody knows what their experience of labour pain is going to be like until it happens to them. Women experience labour pain differently, and none of us is in a position to judge how painful another woman might find it. Pain varies a lot between labours too, according to women who have had more than one baby. However, most mums seem to find their first labour the hardest. If you have done any research at all about labour, or have spoken to any other mothers, then you have probably gathered that it can hurt a lot!

For a discussion of your options, see pain-relief and home births. Some pain-relieving drugs may be available at home births, depending on where you live. However, you cannot have the total pain relief of an epidural or spinal block at home.

There are lots of non-drug forms of pain relief that are open to women at home: free movement, a birth pool or bath or shower, relaxation, acupuncture, hypnotherapy, aromatherapy and so on. These tools will help you to manage pain, but they will not generally take the pain away. Many women manage using no drugs at all - see the Natural Birth Stories webring for some examples. I think hypnotherapy for birth is something every mother should consider; it helps you to relax in late pregnancy, and many women find it makes a great difference to labour. It does not need to involve great expense or time - you can buy CDs to listen to at home.

Women giving birth at home are much less likely to want strong pain-relieving drugs than women in hospital. Where drugs are available at home, women are less likely to use them than they are in hospital. For example, the National Birthday Trust study found that Entonox was used at only 50% of UK home births compared to 73% of hospital births, and Pethidine (Demerol) was used at only 4% of home births compared to 31% of hospital births. Being relaxed and free to move does a lot to make pain manageable.

Many women do give birth to their first babies at home, and they get by just fine with the pain relief available there. But if it gets too much for you, you can always transfer to hospital for an epidural. The journey to hospital might be unpleasant, and the transfer disappointing, but you are the person who would have to put up with it - not your doctor or midwife. It is your decision whether to book a home birth, and to take the chance that you will want more pain relief than can be offered there, not theirs.

"You have an untried pelvis; we do not know if your baby will be able to fit through."

Nearly all babies can fit through their mother's pelvis - the human race has survived 220 million years of mammalian evolution after all! What you can be certain of is that, until the last century when caesarean sections became available, every single female ancestor of yours has managed to fit her babies out through her pelvis. Your body will almost always grow a baby the right size to fit out of your pelvis, regardless of the size of the baby's father. Note that it is not so much your height or weight which is relevant, but the size and shape of your pelvis. Nobody can tell quite how well your pelvis will accommodate a baby until you go into labour, as the pelvic ligaments soften in late pregnancy to allow some degree of movement while the baby is being pushed out. This means that even x-rays and ultrasound scans cannot tell you for certain that your baby is 'too large' to come out, as they cannot account for this movement in labour.

Note also that your position in labour can greatly affect the size of the pelvic space which the baby must fit through. If you are lying on your back or sitting propped up, or 'semi-recumbent', your tailbone and the back of your pelvis cannot easily move back to make more space for the baby. If you are upright, kneeling or on all fours, then there is more space for the baby to pass through. Studies of x-ray pelvimetry have found that the diameter of the pelvic outlet can increase by as much as 30% when the mother is in a squatting position.

In the rare event that a baby really is too big to be born, what happens is that labour simply does not progress. Nothing happens, for a long time. No-one is in any danger, and there is no emergency. When the mother is ready and decides that she wants to, she can transfer to hospital.

If the baby is too big to pass through the mother's pelvis, the condition is known as cephalo-pelvic disproportion or CPD. For true cases of CPD, a caesarean section will be necessary. However, note that most cases of slow progress in labour are not due to CPD. There could be many other reasons for the cervix dilating slowly, or apparently not at all, or indeed for the cervix dilating fully but the mother still not managing to push the baby out. It is very hard to diagnose CPD accurately and sometimes when a mother has a caesarean for slow progress, a diagnosis of CPD or suspected CPD is made. However, in many cases these mothers manage to give birth vaginally to subsequent, larger, babies, so the real cause must have been something different. Cases of true CPD are more likely if your pelvis has been deformed, either by an accident or perhaps by malnutrition, and this is generally thought to be the major cause of obstructed labours in history and in less developed countries. If you are diabetic, there is an increased chance that your baby will be unusually large relative to your build

"First labours tend to take a long time."

And if yours takes longer than you are prepared to put up with, you can transfer to hospital to have the labour accelerated. Again, the transfer journey is unlikely to be pleasant, but it is your decision. Incidentally, one midwife commented to me that the transfer journey often seems to speed up labours that are taking a long time!

Why homebirth is good for first-timers

An ideal candidate for home birth?

Many people think that home birth is particularly appropriate for first babies. This is because first labours tend to take longer, so at home you can keep mobile, take labour at your own pace, and may find the whole experience less tiring. If you are anxious, not knowing how you will handle labour, then you might benefit particularly from being in your own environment.

Consultant obstetrician Rick Porter of Wiltshire healthcare NHS trust stated in an interview about home births that 'The things that go wrong in the vast majority of cases, particularly with first babies, do so slowly or with plenty of warning so you have time to make your transfer' [1]

However, the Birthplace 2011 study suggests is that homebirth transfers for first-time mothers can involve an additional risk. It is possible that some of this is attributable to problems with the care handover - there are certainly cases where poor communication on handover has contributed to, or caused, a poor outcome. Therefore it may help to have your birth companion briefed to make sure that everyone involved in your care at the hospital is aware of the reasons for transfer.

First-time mums - ideal candidates for home birth is from the Midwife Archives at Gentlebirth.org. It suggests that you are less likely to have a post-partum haemorrhage or a retained placenta, because your uterus is 'tighter' [although actually research I have seen suggests the PPH risk is increased for a first baby]. You are less likely to have presentation problems such as a face or brow presentation, or a transverse lie, for the same reason. It argues that in many ways, first-time mothers are actually at lower risk of complications than women having subsequent children. (www.gentlebirth.org/archives/firstTim.html)

Reduce your stress level

I had my first baby at home (see Lee's birth story), and I felt that the first baby was the most important one to have at home. With your first labour you may be more anxious, because you don't know what is going to happen, or how your body and mind might react to labour. All the more reason, it seemed to me, to be somewhere familiar and relaxing.

In hospital, you are dealing with not just these unknown factors, but also the stress of being in a strange place. This is fine if you feel more comfortable knowing that hospital facilities are immediately available, but for some of us, being in hospital would add greatly to the stress and anxiety of a first labour.

We do not know how much psychological factors affect labour progress, but many midwives and doctors attest that, often, progress slows down, and pain increases, when the mother is tense or nervous.

Keep your future births low-risk

I wanted to do everything I could to make my first labour go smoothly. This involved making sure I was in the environment where I felt most comfortable. I looked at the research and saw that planning a home birth reduced my chances of having various interventions. This has implications for your future births too.

If your first birth goes well then you are at reduced risk of complications for future births. On the other hand, if your first birth ends in a caesarean then you are at greatly increased risk of having a ruptured uterus in future pregnancies, because the caesarean scar might not be able to withstand the labour. You would generally be considered at high risk of complications in future births, whether this is fair or not.

Likewise, if your first birth ends in a forceps delivery then you not only might have serious damage to your pelvic floor, but you will also be considered higher-risk for future births. Planning a home birth appears to be one of the most effective ways of reducing your chances of ending up with either a caesarean or forceps delivery (see National Birthday Trust study).

Obstetrician and natural birth advocate Michel Odent has said that the first baby is the most important birth to have at home because:

"If a woman has a beautiful experience with her first birth then perhaps she can go to the hospital with her second or third. She will never let them do anything to her because she knows her body works from that first birth." [2]

This sums up my own feelings - although I would not describe my first baby's birth as a 'sexual experience', it was a good birth. I now feel that, should I ever have complications during future births, I would be able to approach a hospital birth with confidence.

Who needs a "trial run"?

The conventional approach appears to be 'See how you get on with your first birth in hospital, and if that goes well then you can consider a home birth for your next child'. My preference was to do all I could to keep my first birth uncomplicated, knowing that hospital birth was available for that child and later ones, if it became clear that it was needed.

Many women will only have one or two children in their lifetimes. You will only have this baby once - why treat the first birth as a "trial run" for the birth you really want?

First Baby Birth Stories

Here are some stories of first babies born at home, and those born in hospital after transferring from a planned home birth - they are also listed on the Birth Stories page.

Susie only chose a homebirth after going into hospital in early labour! With support from her hypnotherapist, she changed her plans, found an independent midwife team, and gave birth to her first baby gently at home, in water.

Helen H is frank about the pain and the sheer effort of her first child's birth; her labour was normal and straightforward, but hard work, though it clearly did not get in the way of her being completely besotted.

Gina R had a long, tough first labour, but had brilliant labour supporters. Great photos.

Julia N had a wonderfully straightforward home waterbirth with her first baby. She'd put in the groundwork, doing hypnotherapy, yoga, birth preparation classes, and finding supportive doulas. "It was bloody hard work, and yes was painful, but it was also an incredibly amazing positive and beautiful beginning to our baby's life".

Sam RK was dreading a long labour and wondering what pain relief she'd need, when she found out that her first baby was back-to-back. But things progressed much faster than she expected: "The pool had three inches of water in it, the 2nd midwife was still on her way with the entonox and I had a baby!"

Kelso is the proud father of Herdis Hekla, born in Iceland. He writes about his wife's labour, which was quite long and hard work, like many first labours, and also 16 days after her due date.

Charmaine had a straightforward homebirth for her first baby, with wonderful support from her NHS midwife, her partner and her sister.

Inger is from Holland where homebirth is common, and she planned a homebirth for her first baby. It was not to be, though; although prelabour started at home, she developed pre-eclampsia and transferred to hospital for induction. Inger cautions to consider the possibility of transfer when writing your birth plan.

Martine's first baby was postdates but she still had a wonderfully straightforward birth aboard her barge.

Kate had first baby Ceri at home; her waters broke, then there was a pause of some hours before labour started. It sounds like steady, hard work at first, but then she went from 4cm to fully dilated in under two hours. Lots of strategies used to manage contractions and tiredness - massage, prayer, movement, breathing.

Genevieve planned a homebirth for her first baby. Because she had an underactive thyroid and a high BMI, she would normally be considered higher-risk. She had prelabour rupture of membranes several days before her baby was born, but went on to have a home waterbirth.

Jo B transferred to hospital after a long OP labour; she was treated dreadfully once she got there.

Sarah B: Lovely story of a first baby born at home in the UK, with very supportive NHS midwives. There was meconium in the waters, but transfer was not necessary and baby Iris was healthy.

Helen B planned a hospital birth when she found herself expecting her first baby - she didn't think home births were safe, and she also thought she'd want all the drugs going. But by the end of her pregnancy, she'd changed her mind... baby Amy was born at home... a beautiful, positive story.

Emma Barrett had her first baby, Matilda Louise, at home. After a long, slow but steady labour, during which she used a birth pool and movement for pain relief, she delivered her daughter, and afterwards describes feeding her baby for the first time while lying on the living-room floor, in her husband's arms.

Rosie R gave birth to Nina, her first baby, at home in Edinburgh. Rosie kept active in first stage, and had to work through a repertoire of positions in second stage as Nina had her hand in front of her face. Great support from community midwives.

Louise L's first baby was huge, and in the Occiput posterior position. And that was only the start of it... cord round the neck twice, baby passing meconium, emergency caesarean...but, as Louise says, hers is a very good example of how what happens when a homebirth starts to get complicated. A positive birth story, and one which helps to place complications in the context of a good labour.

Gina was well-prepared and well-informed before her first baby's birth. When he passed meconium in early labour, she transferred to hospital. Despite a difficult environment and a syntocinon drip, she found her yoga breathing and hypnobirthing helpful.

Charlotte H bubbles with enthusiasm about the home waterbirth of her first baby: "I looked down and saw this cute little ball of baby and grabbed him and pulled him out of the water nice and slowly. These were the most amazing few seconds of my life, holding my precious son close to me just bobbing around in the water. "

Amanda B delivered her first baby at home after a very 'efficient' labour.

Amanda L is very positive about her homebirth of a 10lb 5oz first baby, and has some helpful suggestions and comments for first-time mothers.

Rebecca N paints a wonderful picture of an early labour buzzing on endorphins! She had a difficult transition and second stage, pushing for three hours; her husband's support made a clear difference at a crucial moment.

Nicola H transferred to hospital and had an emergency caesarean when baby Isabelle passed meconium and showed other signs of distress. It's clear that, although this is not the birth Nicola had hoped for, it is the one she needed, and she was very pleased with the care she received both at home, and in hospital.

Kelly G gave birth to her first baby, Charlotte, at home, under the care of community midwives and with great support from her partner.

Kelly R wrote an upbeat story about the birth of her first baby at home. Kelly used relaxation techniques which remind me of a DIY hypnotherapy, and she had a short established labour. A dream of a first birth!

Kelly A's first baby was born at home, at 36 weeks and 3 days. Kelly's labour sounds like hard work and went on for two days, but despite the marathon effort, Kelly is very positive about it all!

Helen M had several obstacles to overcome when arranging her homebirth - being a first-time mother was hardly worth mentioning! She went on to have a good birth - hard work, but straightforward, and a great start for her and her baby's new lives together.

Hayley had an active labour at home for twelve hours, and transferred to hospital for help when her labour slowed and she was exhausted. She still managed to deliver her baby by her own efforts. A detailed story with lots of observations which may help other first-time mothers.

Hannah Worthington was optimistic and enthusiastic about having her first baby at home. She used hypnotherapy and a birth pool, and sounds very calm despite labouring for many hours. She transferred to hospital for slow progress and her baby was delivered by caesarean section.

Rebecca writes of her first baby: "She smelled of birthing and was looking about with little old eyes, like a little ancient monkey-sage come to show us the way. There was something so ancient and other-worldly about her, I felt awe and joy, but not pride because it seemed to me this little being had orchestrated my triumph for me and that I owed a lot."

Rachael K planned a home birth for her first baby; her waters broke at home, but she spent several days in latent labour before her baby showed signs of distress, and Rachael changed her plans to a hospital birth. Baby Matilda was a brow presentation, and was born by emergency c-section. Rachael stood her ground at every stage, agreeing to interventions when she was confident that they were necessary, but declining others.

Emma and her husband attended a HypnoBirthing course, went to a homebirth support group, and were very well-informed. Emma had a very long, but positive, labour and homebirth, followed by a transfer to hospital to have Cameron checked over.

Anna Grube prepared thoroughly for the birth of her first baby in the USA. She found excellent homebirth midwives, and she and her husband attended Bradley childbirth preparation classes, as well as using hypnotherapy. Anna's story gives a good sense of how a positive attitude, and good supporters, can make a difference; while it's clear that the labour was still hard work, Anna also found it "great fun" in places, and said the time flew by.

Joanne W's first baby was born on her narrowboat, attended by her partner and an independent midwife. Joanne sounds wonderfully relaxed about the whole thing!

Jackie Rickman prepared carefully for her first baby's birth, using hypnotherapy and a cranial osteopath, and working to get her baby in the best position. A lovely, straightforward homebirth in a warm, family atmosphere; Jackie's mother was present for the birth.

Emma T had her first baby at home, and managed the whole of her first stage before the midwife arrived! She was fighting pushing urges before the midwife turned up, and perhaps as a result, had difficulty pushing her baby out in the end - but, after an episiotomy, she managed. A positive, but very practical, description of a first labour; Emma has some interesting reflections on the way her labour progressed and the possible impact of having tried so hard to avoid giving birth before the professionals arrived.

Donna Cummings had a homebirth for her first baby. Her waters broke before labour started, and didn't realise she was actually in labour for some time because she managed her contractions so well. Donna makes it all sound so simple that you could almost forget how unusual it is for a first-time mother to give birth in the UK with no interventions at all.

Kate Marshall's first baby, Olivia, was born at home after a stop-start early labour, at 9 days past her EDD. It sounds like Kate's labour was tough and frustrating at times, but she managed, with great support from her husband, mother and midwife.

Amber had clearly put a lot of effort into preparing for her first baby's birth; she attended HypnoBirthing classes, arranged a birth pool, and most importantly, she was very well-informed. A wonderfully straightforward labour and waterbirth.

Victoria Whitworth had her first baby at home, aged 40. She used hypnotherapy and a birth pool, and was attended by her husband and a doula, with midwives arriving towards the end of her labour. Victoria's story is bubbling with excitement and enthusiasm.

Sarah Harradence was well prepared for her first baby's homebirth, although she was messed around somewhat by her local hospital because of staffing issues and lack of midwifery confidence with waterbirth. Ethan arrived at home, in the birth pool.

Gemma planned a homebirth for her first baby, but her painful, back-ache labour was progressing in fits and starts. Gemma transferred to hospital - but they sent her home again! This continued for two days until an exhausted Gemma was eventually admitted and given some help to deliver her baby.

Laura got to fully dilated at home with her first baby, and pushed for five hours, but he just wouldn't budge. She transferred to hospital and, with a huge effort, managed to give birth to him by her own efforts, avoiding the episiotomy and forceps that she was offered.

Charlie Paris gave birth to her first baby, Finn, at home. This extract may make you wince in sympathy, laugh, or both :- "As I was about to get in my body really started pushing violently and I was yelling that I couldn't stop it, in between telling J that I wasn't going to do this anymore, I'd changed my mind and the baby could stay where it was."

Sally Paech gives a great description of 'breathing' out her first baby, Mia, at home, with wonderful support from her husband and her NHS midwives.

Miriam went into labour with her first baby at 36 weeks and 3 days, and decided to continue with her plans for a home waterbirth despite local guidelines that babies under 37 weeks should be born in hospital. Her daughter was welcomed into the world gently, in water, as Miriam had hoped...

Rosie Taylor's first baby was born at home, in water - a very well-prepared mother, ably backed up by a supportive partner and midwives. Alexander was born at 41 + 5 gestation, on the day when an induction had been booked, had his cord around his neck, and his hand by his head too - but none of this stopped mother and baby from having a wonderful birth.

Sarah from Maidstone planned a home waterbirth for her first baby, with great support from her NHS midwives. She laboured well at home, using the birth pool, Entonox and a birth ball, and transferred to hospital in the second stage when she because exhausted after four hours of pushing. However, amazingly, Sarah still managed to push her baby out herself.

Alicia did not plan to become single, or move halfway across the world to Australia, in her first pregnancy; she did, however, plan to give her baby the best birth she possibly could. It was hard work, and a tough second stage, but Elliot was born in good condition and Alicia's sense of achievement is clear, and well-deserved.

Rachel Hale gave birth to her 8lb 13oz first baby, Jude, at home in water. She writes: "My labour notes state that I was in established labour for exactly 23 hours 58 minutes. I had no pain relief besides TENS and water. To say I am proud of myself is an understatement."

Jo writes that her first baby Cora arrived on her due date, in the water, in our kitchen, with her daddy and grandma and three amazing midwives! Jo prepared very carefully for her baby's birth, and was well supported by her partner. In many ways this sounds like a classic first labour - slow and steady at times, exciting, and immensely rewarding. Jo found the birth pool especially helpful.

Farrah had the most amazing birth when her first baby, Valencia, arrived. "It was the most amazing thing I've ever done in my life. It wasn't painful, and it wasn't at all what I'd come to expect". Farrah was just eighteen years old when Valencia was born.

Alex gave birth to first baby Nathan in hospital after transferring because meconium was found in the waters. Although Nathan weighed 10lb 3oz and had some trouble with the birth of his shoulders, Alex still managed without needing forceps or ventouse, and using only gas and air.

Nuala's first baby, Aisling, was born at home in Edinburgh. Nuala's labour typical of many first labours - long prelabour with several days of occasional contractions and "is this it?" moments, followed by a labour which was straightforward, but hard work.

Julia had her first baby at home - although some intervention was used, because Julia trusted her midwife she was confident it was necessary.

Rafeeqah had her first baby, Haneefah, at home. Her midwives were concerned about bleeding in the second stage and decided an episiotomy was necessary, and called an ambulance, but it's clear that Rafeeqah did not feel she was treated with respect.

Becky transferred to hospital because there was meconium in her waters, but did not let all of her preparation in active birth etc. go to waste. An excellent example of negotiating the best birth you can, in difficult circumstances.

Karen Tye-Walker gave birth to her first baby, Oliver, at home. Oliver was born in a birth pool and Karen caught him herself: "I lifted him out of the water and placed him against my chest. He opened his eyes wide and looked up at me and Jon. He didn't cry - he just looked at us and I thought he was absolutely gorgeous"

Faye gave birth to her first baby at home; her midwives had called an ambulance after a two-hour second stage, and Faye was determined that she was not going to go to hospital!

Jamie knew from that start that she wanted a homebirth for her first baby: "I have a passion for the natural process of labor and the way God designed our bodies to do this miraculous thing. I attend births whenever I get the chance and couldn't wait to finally experience it for myself." The labour went well, and Jamie caught her own baby.

Anna planned a homebirth for her first baby, but after a long labour which did not seem to be progressing, she transferred to hospital hoping to have an epidural. At hospital she was told that she could not have an epidural as her labour was too advanced, and she had an horrific forceps delivery.

Nicola's first baby was born at home; she felt that "The whole labour was not nearly as bad as I had psyched myself up for."

Michelle tells a lovely story of a first labour and home waterbirth. She was very generous towards her midwives. However, my overriding impression is that of a very strong and good-natured woman who managed to have a good homebirth despite the midwives, rather than with their help. Even with all of this hassle, Michelle still did it on her own - she had prepared well, and she had a great birth. What an achievement!

Claire's first baby, Sophia, was born in October 2005 at home. Claire writes:"As my own experience was so wonderful, I'd like to share it and hopefully provide some reassurance to expectant mums." A wonderfully positive story, and a great antidote to all the horror stories told to first-time mothers. Claire wrote this story four days after her baby's birth, and her sense of achievement is clear.

Ciara had her first baby at home in Ireland. She writes "It was a very positive birth experience, though mightily hard, as birth is." Beautifully written, with a lot about the emotional journey of labour which is very specific to a first birth. Ciara had a miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy before her first baby.

Rachel laboured at home for nearly two days before transferring to hospital for a ventouse delivery. Includes positive and constructive comments on transferring to hospital.

Lucy decided that she wanted a homebirth at 32 weeks into her first pregnancy. After a three hour second stage, she gave birth underwater.

Dawn's first baby, Maya, was born at home, in water, after a long, hard labour. Dawn makes no bones about it being hard work, but her sense of achievement shines through. "No one delivered my baby. I gave birth to her. It was the hardest, most painful thing I have ever experienced, but I did it. And she is perfect."

Georgina carefully planned a homebirth with independent midwives for her first baby, and then waited for the big day. And waited. And waited. Jemima eventually arrived at 43+6 weeks of pregnancy. The birth was hard work, with a three hour second stage, but Georgina found the birth empowering as well as exhausting.

Caroline arrived in the UK from Australia at 34 weeks pregnant, expecting a fight to book a homebirth. Instead, she found that her midwives were wonderfully supportive, and her first baby, Xander, arrived calmly in a birth pool, at home.

Joanne's first baby was born at home in Australia. A thoughtful and inspiring story. Joanne was exceptionally well prepared, having practised yoga and planned her birth environment well.

Elizabeth's first baby was born at home, in water.

Danielle Winser's first baby, Fletcher, was born at home after a very straightforward labour. Fletcher weighed 10lbs !!!

Vivienne Wilfred had her first baby at home. A very positive story which includes some good examples of ways to move the second stage along.

Antonia's first baby, Hugo, was born naturally at home, in a birth pool. Hugo's head was asynclitic - tilted to one side - which meant that the second stage was long, and Antonia sustained a third-degree tear which was repaired in hospital.

Megan Oxberry transferred for hospital induction when her waters broke and her labour didn't establish in a timeframe she and her obstetrician were comfortable with.

Becky's first baby, Sam, arrived by home waterbirth. He weighed 9lb 1 oz, but Becky managed to deliver him without intervention, and with only a minor tear.

Clare K - Rosie's home waterbirth

Midwife Anna Berkley reflects on the home birth of her own first baby.

Brigett's first baby, Oscar, was born at home - 20 days after his due date.

Zoe's first baby, Maya, was born at home.

Juliet - a gentle waterbirth, followed by a transfer for manual removal of placenta which Juliet says would not have affected her decision to opt for a home birth.

Maria Long labour - 40 hours in total - and spaced-out contractions in second stage, but still gave birth at home.

Amy Driver (transferred in third stage because of heavy bleeding)

Jennifer Wilson

Sarah Mitchell

Ruth (transferred in labour, but still had a natural birth in hospital)

Kiara (transferred in second stage for caesarean)

Abigail Brundin

Suzanne Williams (Suzanne was 37 years old)

Rosie B

Bronwyn Kunhardt (breech home birth)

Sarah Sadler (transferred in second stage)

Julie A

Joanne King

Elly Akkerman (unplanned home birth)

Jennifer Vaudin (transferred to hospital for induction)

Melanie Fanos

Kristy Demmer

Nikki Murphy (transferred in second stage)

Angela Horn

Laura Middleton-Green

S

Sam Newman (transferred in first stage)

Dad Haydon and Wendy Bambury

Fiona - 40 - year-old 'ancient' mother!

FionaBeckman

On other sites:

Anna planned a home birth for her first baby, but was persuaded to transfer to a hospital booking by a midwife and GP, because her baby was expected to be large. She had a planned caesarean instead, which ended in an emergency hysterectomy.

References:

[1] Pregnancy and Birth magazine, September 1998, p77

[2] Dr Michel Odent quoted in 'Pushing Situations - Hospital Versus Home' by Gloria Lemay

This page updated 14 July 2012

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