I had a homebirth for my baby, Charlotte, in 2006. As this was my first baby I did get some comments such as 'you are brave' and 'isn't that a risk?' but after researching it I felt confident that it was the right choice for me.
I started to feel very strange at about 6am on the Tuesday, initially feeling like stomach ache - I didn't actually know this was definately 'it' until about 11am then called the midwife team to inform them that I was in early stages of labour. They kept in contact by telephone and my midwife came to the house at 5pm to check on me. She found me on my lounge floor leaning over a birthing ball watching a DVD (Pausing it during contractions!). Because of the midwife team's shifts I had a second midwife from 6pm until 8pm, then the main midwife Yolande arrived at 8pm and was with me until it was all over. A second midwife arrived just before I reached the pushing stage.
I used a TENS machine from the really early stages, which I found fantastic, and got through the pain until about 8pm, then decided to try the bath for pain relief. The water really helped but obviously had to take off the TENS machine temporarily. The midwife said I could deliver in the bath as long as I kept my bum down - however as this was my first baby I wasn't sure how much thrashing about I would do so didn't feel confident doing this. I eventually got out of the bath and moved onto the gas and air. I found this great - however the problem with this at home is if the canister runs out mid-contraction the midwife has to change over tubes! My language at this point wasn't good! My husband was quite shocked. Towards the end of my labour I had a shot of meptid which I didn't feel did any good at all.
The midwives were very professional but didn't interfere at all; I felt aware that they were there but they weren't intrusive. I could be in whatever position I liked so I walked around, rolled on my birthday ball and eventually gave birth to my daughter at 3.13am in our bedroom on all fours at the bottom of our bed. It was amazing when I leant back and saw my baby, who had been gently passed through to me, and discovered that I'd had a baby girl.
Throughout the whole experience my husband was with me, massaging etc. I truly believe I couldn't have done the home birth without his support. If he'd freaked out I would have asked to be transferred but, because he is such a chilled-out character, it rubbed off on me and gave me the confidencet to carry on. I never felt out of control for one moment.
I only disappointing thing was that unfortunately I was transferred to hospital for a brief time after the birth as the midwives thought I had a third-degree tear and weren't confident stitching me up. It turned out that it was a bad second-degree which could have been done at home; however, I'm glad they didn't take the risk. Charlotte and I were transferred in via ambulance (No lights or sirens though!) with my husband following in the car. I was stitched up and allowed home and tucked up in bed by 7am. Yolande was with me at the hospital so I had consistent care.
There was virtually no mess; we put down plastic sheeting so when we got back from hospital my husband just gathered it all up and chucked it in the bin - it took about 5 minutes (Usually the midwives would do this but because we were rushed in they didn't get time).
Despite the slight change of plan at the end, I am still glad I had my baby at home. It was the most wonderful experience in the world. I will definitely have my next baby at home if I can but would hire a birthing pool next time.
Home Birth Stories
Fathers and home birth - fathers' feelings about the birth, and how they can help.
Pain relief - what are your options at home?
First Babies and homebirth
Transferring to hospital - why it might be advised.
Blood on the carpet - How much mess are you likely to encounter at a homebirth, and what can you do about that carpet?!
Home Birth Reference Page