I've given birth twice in two very different settings- first in hospital and second time round in my sitting room!
When I was pregnant with my first son, I never questioned the idea that I would give birth in a hospital setting. I thought that it was the safest and most appropriate place to go through an experience which was entirely new and quite honestly daunting. I wanted to have as much medical expertise and equipment on hand in case of an emergency. I woke up feeling fine at about 6:30am and decided to play my hypnobirthing tape to help me go back to sleep. By 9:00am I was getting quite intense pain but had been told countless times that as a first time mum I should expect a relatively long labour and to ensure that I didn't get to hospital too early. When the pain stepped up a gear, I called my husband home from work. I used the hypnobirthing techniques in the car on the drive to hospital. When I got to the Maternity Assessment unit I was in full blown labour. At this point, though, the midwife wouldn't examine me as in the haze of pain and panic, we had forgotten my maternity notes. Everything is still recorded manually on hand held notes which is surprising in this technological age. My husband was sent home to retrieve said notes and nearly missed the birth! My son was born not long after my husband returned. Thankfully he didn't miss his first child entering the world!
My home birth was an entirely different experience to my first hospital birth. Whilst the hospital birth experience was not negative, I felt detached from the whole experience, almost as if it was an outer body experience, whereas with my home birth, I felt very present and in the moment.
I decided on a home birth with my second son after doing a lot of research about the safety of this choice of setting. It turns out as a second or subsequent mother with a low risk pregnancy, the outcomes for the baby are comparable with other settings. I was also keen to avoid any medical intervention and a stay on the postnatal ward. The idea of being in my own environment was appealing to me.
Having a successful homebirth was such a positive and empowering experience. Our sitting room was transformed into a haven of calm and peace: tea lights, low lighting, relaxing music and birthing pool. I managed the whole labour and birth using hypnobirthing breathing techniques (which I had practised during pregnancy) and paracetamol! Giving birth in water was wonderful and my second son entered the world in a tranquil setting. Newborn snuggles in my own bed after was amazing. My older son came home from nursery and met his new brother and I spent no time away from him. I feel very fortunate that I was able to follow my birth plan and have such a positive birth experience.