I came across your web site when looking for research for an assignment. I have decided to become a midwife at nearly 40, having spent the last 13 years looking after my 5 children.
I decided to tell my story of home confinement because I wanted people to realise that if they really want a home birth then they shouldn't let anyone stop them.
I decided to have a home birth for my 3rd child. This was because I had no problems with my previous 2 deliveries (not even a stitch!) and thought what was the point in going into hospital I'm not sick.
I did not have any problems in organising this, apart from a lack of support from my GP who informed me I would have to do all the organising as she would not take responsibility.
My midwives were brilliant and very enthusiastic which really helped. In fact one of them was positively excited by the prospect. She was a very experienced midwife but had never attended a home birth.
In between the 3rd and 4th child we moved house. But again no real problems in organising the home birth. It was great having the same midwife throughout my ante-natal care, the birth and the postnatal care. And everything in my own home, my other children were present for all my check-ups at home and thought it wonderful to hear the baby's heartbeat.
When it came to my 5th child I took it for granted that there would be no problem. How wrong could I be! We were still living in the same house, so was still under the same health service. For some reason there was a lack of midwives prepared to do a home birth. I still had the same midwife who delivered my 4th but we needed a second midwife. There are no private midwives in Northern Ireland, believe me I checked.
However, as far as I was concerned the fact there was a shortage of midwives was not my problem. That was for the health service to sort out, I had I right to have my baby delivered where I wanted. Again I was mistaken on this count. I discovered that this was not on the Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland but it was for the rest of the UK.
Not deterred, I started to ring round. The first people I called was NCT, they put me in touch with a lady called Jane from AIMS. She was absolutely fantastic. I can honestly say that without her I would not have had my baby at home. She knew exactly who to write to and did a lot of writing. We wrote to my local MP and others. MLA's and the health secretary for Northern Ireland. Also the head of the Royal College of Midwives and a few others which I can't quite remember now. But you name, it we wrote to them!
Right up to a few weeks before my due date, it was not certain whether or not it was going to happen. I have to mention that my husband was totally supportive, because of the experience we both had of home births, we knew it was the right thing for us. My own parents were less supportive and could not understand why I was making so much fuss. Quote from my dad 'If I were sick I would want to be in hospital', I could not get him to see that I was not sick but was about to do the most natural thing in the world 'HAVE A BABY.'
We even threatened to go the press, I did not like doing this but we were getting desperate. This seemed to work and with about 3 weeks to go a home birth was organised.
It was wonderful again and would fully recommend it to anyone. I had the same midwife who delivered my 4th and a midwife who came out of retirement for the job! My 4th daughter was born on the 22nd July 2001.
What amazed me about the whole experience, was that the rules seemed to have had changed between my 4th and 5th. They could give no good reason for refusing a home confinement, especially after already having had 2 at home, other than the lack of staff!
I still do not know why so many midwives are needed on a call out sheet. It was 8 as far as I can remember and this was causing the problem - they could not find 8. Surely 2 would have been enough or at the most 4. But if anyone out there knows please let me know.
The moral of the story is not to give up at the first hurdle. Be positive and determined and don't let anyone talk you out of what you want. Maybe it was because of my previous experience that made me so determined, I'm not sure I would have fought so hard had it been my first child but I'm glad I did!
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