Yoga teacher and mum-of-two Claire Maguire describes the reasons why she opted for a homebirth, outlines its benefits and looks at its take-up rate both in Ireland and globally
I’ve never met anyone having a homebirth,” exclaimed a surprised mother as we sat talking in a Co Meath playground last winter. “Are you mad?” cried my friend Deirdre
when I broke the news to her about planning my water birth at home in Ashbourne. In truth I wasn’t shocked by the reactions of people, who, after an initial intake of breath, were all extremely encouraging and supportive. According to the local public health nurse,
planned homebirths recorded in this busy commuter town stand at one – me. Continue reading →
“I had my appointment last week and was really nervous waiting on the consultant as I was hoping to be signed off for a homebirth. There was a student midwife with me named Breda and she was just lovely and so reassuring. She was really supportive of homebirth and thought it was fantastic and asked me why I decided to birth at home. She seemed genuinely interested and reacted really positively to everything I said. She relaxed me so much that I felt really confident by the time the consultant came in and the mood stayed really light. For women like me who get so nervous in hospital and having to initiate a discussion it makes all the difference meeting supportive people. Thanks Breda! (I got signed off!)”
Many people ask me how a hardened construction foreman, used to barking out orders to the team over the squeal of sheet metal being cut or the pile-driving of skyscraper support columns, could end up in a very different setting, helping women deliver babies. My 25 year old self definitely would not have believed it. Compassion and empathy are not generally a job requirement for a project manager either, another role I have carried out over the years. Continue reading →
Our third pregnancy surprised us. My youngest was only 10 months and was still breastfeeding. We had always planned a third child, and were ecstatic. From the start I was considering making this our first home birth. Our first birth in February 2010 took place in the consultant-led unit of Our Lady of Lourdes. It was an induction at 42 weeks, and I had found it quite tough. We felt railroaded into purple pushing, assuming the doctor’s preferred position (on my back) and then ended up with episiotomy and ventouse. We were quite shocked for days after that birth, as we had spent the pregnancy preparing for birth in the MLU and using GentleBirth techniques. Our second birth was in December 2011 in the MLU in Cavan. A very different story – I awoke a little after 1:30am thinking I might be feeling something. Arrived at the MLU fully dilated at 3:30am and baby was in my arms by 4am. Continue reading →
Our daughter Lyra Bluebell Bridie, was born on the 20th September 2010. I had prepared for her birth with the same determination as a marathon runner. Quite early on I decided I would like a home birth. My female doctor tried to terrify me out of this idea with sad stories and tales of ‘untried’ pelvis’. I came away from my appointment with her scared witless and the whole idea of home birth went out the window. But gradually as my pregnancy developed the idea started nagging away at me again. My instinct, my gut feeling, was to have my baby at home. It is unusual for women to have their first pregnancy at home, but I was healthy and it had nothing to do with me being ‘brave’ or stupid either for that matter. It was just the way I knew I had to birth my baby. Continue reading →
My knowledge of “home birthing” was confined to my mother’s tales of how her then 15 year old aunt helped to deliver her on my Granny’s kitchen floor so like many mums when I discovered I was pregnant, the concept of having a home birth was not something that had entered my head, even though I wasn’t happy with the hospital birth I had experienced with my first child.
It was only when said mother mentioned that the daughter of family friends had had a home birth that I thought, hmm interesting I must look into that. And so my journey began. Continue reading →
It’s hard to believe it’s 3 weeks to the day (now just over 4 as it’s taken me a week to finish this!) since Lorcan arrived – just like with Aoife it’s almost like he was never not here, yet I can’t quite figure out where he came from! Every now and then I find myself looking at him thinking “where did you come from!” Funny, how we have 9 months to prepare and it still seems to take us
unawares. Continue reading →
“When I first heard my cousin had a home birth my first thought was ‘what a legend !’ (which I think I actually texted her) followed by a pang of jealousy. I had hoped for a home birth on my first baby but a past medical history (a silly blood clot after a torn calf muscle) meant a hospital birth was my only option. Added to this it was not the un-medicated birth I had imagined. I had an induction followed by epidural, suction, forceps and my little man was left with a small scar on his face just under his eye where the forceps cut to the bone and severed a muscle. Three years later it is still visible when he cries and gives me a pang every time it surfaces.
When a year and a half later I found myself on the precipice (well that’s what it felt like anyway) of moving to Dublin at 5 months pregnant for a new job, with a toddler and my partner working in another city, it was to this darling cousin that I turned for advice when house hunting. I not only got hosted for said weekend of house-hunting but she found our now home for us within walking distance of her. It was so secure to know she was there if, in the middle of the night, I needed assistance and her gentle presence really made me feel welcome those first weeks. What followed was a support which guided me through my pregnancy and early breastfeeding journey for which I will be forever grateful. She introduced me to gentle birthing and her true belief in the process ensured I was diligent in my nightly practise. It really made me feel that a more natural birth was possible as my body was made to do this and my baby was the perfect size for my body. She gave me birthing books, told me her lovely birth story and as the arrival approached I felt pretty hopeful about my gentle birth.
At 38 weeks I had a scan which showed my second little man was already well over 9 pounds (my first was 11 pounds 5 ounces) and I was faced with a second induction the next day or a caesarean the next week. Apart from my hubby my cousin was the first person I called and her empathy – from one birthing mother to another was what I needed. Someone to listen to my fears and agree with me and then to nod me in the right direction: listen to you gentle birthing, and especially the induction tracks as much as you can. I was positive and calmed. Finally after 2 gels and the start of contractions all on their own I was in labour and got through with little more than gas and air. A very good midwife led me through the final hours and gave me my baby to delivery myself, a truly wondrous experience. My cousin was the first person I wanted to tell, as I felt she had been truly instrumental in this journey with me.
A beautiful fair-haired little boy entered our family and, as with my first, I expected an easy breastfeeding journey. Unfortunately this was not the case and after a couple of days I was left with bleeding nipples and a fear before every feed. Again I turned to my cousin who swopped in like a fairy god mother. She brought creams, compresses, cake (essential), all her breastfeeding books and made me hot towels for my breasts. Again a listening ear and soothing words followed by support helped me through. She suggested a lactation consultant and that I contact la leche and she really helped me find the inner strength to persist. Not breastfeeding was not an option and my cousin was there to offer the support I needed. In the end a tongue tie was diagnosed and I continued to breastfeed for 10 months once the problem was fixed (note: although the midwife who called in the first five days alluded to a tongue tie a solution was never suggested or offered).
My little man is now 1 and my cousin is still around, and the knowledge that we share similar mothering philosophies is really great. In hindsight what my cousin was for me was a doula, a kindered spirit to lean on who shared her knowledge with me and gave me the birthing/breastfeeding confidence I needed. This woman, mother, runner, friend is truly gifted and I have an inkling I am not the only mother who has called her late at night looking for an shoulder to cry on and some well-educated advice. So thank you Sylda, I am eternal grateful and I wish you every success in your future endeavours.”
Aoife’s “due date” according to the hospital scan was 23rd November so by the time we got to 42 weeks we suspected that maybe the dates of the first scan done at Mount Carmel giving us the estimated due date of 2nd December might be more accurate. Coincidently both dates matched my own “possible dates”, which didn’t help! As I had been planning a homebirth from the beginning I was anxious to avoid induction, especially after successfully having her turned from breech by ECV (external cephalic version) at 38 weeks (or rather 36 weeks retrospectively). Continue reading →
I’ll just say that again in case you didn’t read the title properly or you thought it was a misprint! Home birth is as safe as hospital birth. In fact some studies have shown home birth to actually be safer than hospital birth.
Of course there are caveats, and here are some of them. Firstly, you need to be identified as a low risk mother. This means when you are assessed you do not have any on-going health complications, you do not have any unusual gynecological problems and that your baby is also well (and a singleton). Second, you need to receive professional care from a midwife during you pregnancy, labour, birth and afterwards. Thirdly, you need to have access to a maternity unit should your risk status change during your pregnancy or labour. Continue reading →
Krysia Lynch, Coordinator, Home Birth Association of Ireland home birth blogger at homebirthireland.com and home birth mum gives us her top ten reasons why home birth rocks!
You get to know your carer and you get continuity of care from the first visit in early pregnancy to the last visit up to six weeks after your baby is born. Most visits from your midwife will last over an hour and maybe as much as two hours. Most midwives include your other children in the antenatal visits and like to get to know you as a family. Continue reading →