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Home births are as safe as hospital births for low risk mothers, particularly if it is your second or subsequent baby and you are more likely to have a vaginal birth without interventions. You can, however, change your mind to a hospital birth at any time during pregnancy or labour.
If you are considering a home birth, or would like more information, discuss this with your midwife.

What is a homebirth?

A homebirth is where you give birth to your baby in your own place of residence (home). It can be planned or unplanned.

Many women like the idea of birthing their baby at home, surrounded by their family and in a familiar environment.

You can still receive various forms of pain relief at home. Your midwife will bring Entonox (gas and air) on arrival and your midwife can also order you dihydrocodeine tablets in advance, for you to collect from your GP. There are also many forms of pain relief that you can provide yourself, which can be found under the section about things to think about when planning a homebirth. These have been highlighted by an asterisk (*).

What happens at a homebirth?

Once you feel like you are in established labour, call your midwife. She/he will talk to you over the phone and ask you a few questions. Your midwife will then decide if she/he needs to come out and see you. Once your midwife arrives, they will monitor you and your baby’s wellbeing and they might want to also examine you (if you consent) and see how dilated your cervix is. This can indicate how advanced your labour is. If you are still in early stages of labour and not yet in active labour, they might go away and come back later.

When you are in the second stage of labour and your baby is nearly ready to be born, a second midwife will arrive. This is so that one midwife can look after you and one midwife can look after your baby.

Once your baby has been born and your placenta is safely delivered, your midwife will check to see if there are any tears that need stitching. Most stitches can be stitched up at home by your midwife. However, if you have some severe tearing, your placenta has not come away properly or if there are any complications with you or your baby, you may need to be transferred to hospital.

Hopefully, all goes well with the birth and you and your baby can remain at home. Your midwife will weigh, check over your baby and observe your baby’s first feed. Once your midwife is happy that you are both comfortable and well, she/he will leave you and your new family to get to know each other.

Within 3 days of birth, a community midwife will visit you at home and carry out a thorough check ups of both you and your baby. She/he will then advise when you will be referred onto the health visiting team.

These are a few items to think about when planning a homebirth

  • Clean old towels (2-3)
  • Blanket or towel to wrap baby in
  • Blanket or towel for Mum
  • A private area in your home to nest and deliver your baby
  • Absorbent pads (puppy training pads)
  • Waterproof coverings (e.g. tarpaulin)
  • A bucket
  • A torch
  • Big knickers
  • Maternity pads/ heavy duty sanitary wear
  • Birth plan & notes
  • Phone numbers of midwife and/or doula
  • Snacks & drinks
  • Fan/ sponge/ face cloth/ water spray
  • Socks
  • Nightdress (If planning to breastfeed, with easy access)
  • Ice pack
  • Water bottle to stay hydrated
  • Black bin liners (to put dirty linen and rubbish in)
  • A jug (for the first wee after giving birth)
  • Candles
  • Relaxing music
  • Hot water bottle *
  • Paracetamol *
  • You might want to hire or buy a birthing pool *
  • TENS machine (can be bought or hired) *
  • Massage oil *
  • Hair bobble/clip
  • Bean bag/pillow/old duvet
  • Thermometer/ sieve/ pump/ hose/ mirror for a water birth

To read about some Leeds homebirth stories, click on the links below:

Claire’s Story

Megan’s Story

Kirsten’s Story

Emily’s Story

Jimmy’s Story

Jonathan’s Story