Three years ago I would have sold my bodily organs before I considered giving birth at home. I thought it was a bonkers idea – something that women who ate hemp and tofu off well-polished rose quartz crystals did in between Oms and tantric sex. Yes, I was obnoxious, judgemental and oh, so very wrong. This time around, I’m avoiding hospitals like Zika-infested mozzies. Why? Not because hospital births are wrong or less good; not because I know ‘better’, but because I’m changing what didn’t work FOR ME the first time around.
There’s been a lot in the press about home births recently. It’s emerged from the dark ages of birth-giving to achieve almost hipster-status as far as hoofing out Smalls goes. It’s what all the ‘cool kids’ are doing and what’s more, the NHS bloody love it because it saves them a shed load of cash. Midwives (and let’s face it, they know their stuff when it comes to giving birth) are huge proponents of home births generally and slowly but surely, the tide is turning towards accepting home births as a totally viable alternative to hospital births.
All that aside, I’m not interested in arguing about whether home births are ‘better’. What a ridiculous way to spend a Saturday morning that would be. That would be like fighting over whether Chinese or Indian takeaway is better: depends on the day, depends on the hangover it’s required to assuage and, guess what? It depends on the person.
All I can say is this: I’ve come a long way on my journey through motherhood since the last time I squeezed a human from my love-hole and I’ve finally accepted the lessons it has taught me regarding how much (read: little) I can expect to be in control of. So, after considering my experience in hospital last time and identifying what I wanted to change this time…a home birth is the best option FOR ME this time around.
You see, I didn’t like hospital. By the time I got there I was already in some sort of hypnotic panic about what the fudge was happening in my nether regions. The problem is the pain, right? I’m not being flippant. We are so used to associating pain with negativity, with something being wrong that it’s very, very hard to remember that the pain of giving birth is actually a positive pain. It’s a creative pain. I fought this pain; I treated it like I was dealing with appendicitis of the labia rather than the miracle of creating a whole, real-life human. Walking into hospital seemed to cement this for me – I was there because I needed help, something was wrong, I couldn’t do this on my own.
This isn’t what everyone feels by any means, but after many, many hours spent dissecting my crazy birth-giving experience I’m starting to come to terms with the fact that I was woefully ill-prepared emotionally for birth-giving. my pragmatism and need to control had naturally erred towards the safe, sterile, traditional environment of the hospital but actually, when it came down to it I felt more out of control there than anywhere else.
Plus, after the whole crazy show was over I was given a crappy cup of tea that was placed on a table in front of me next to a bowl with my placenta in it (bleurgh), offered a slightly crispy cheese sandwich, shown into a slightly smelly and damp disabled shower and wheeled down to the maternity ward which was hotter than the surface of the sun and filled with other people’s screaming newborns. Jimmy was promptly directed to the exit and told he could return in twelve hours. So, after 38 hours of labour, no sleep and a physical exertion akin to running three marathons while simultaneously being punched in the face and lady garden repeatedly, I was alone, hot, sweaty, hallucinating from lack of sleep and left in charge of keeping a small human alive using only my boobs and maternal instinct.
But that was MY experience…and based on that, I decided to make some changes. As Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” The hospital thing didn’t work for me…so I’m making some changes.
A home birth for me means that I don’t have to stress too much about childcare for my Small when I go into labour. It means I’ll be in my own environment, with my own music, bath, clothes, comforts. It means I’ll get two midwives dedicated to taking care of me, rather than running in and out of the room. It means I’ll get to shower in my own shower following birth. It means I’ll get to climb into my own bed and order Chinese takeaway once I’m done and best of all, it means Jimmy Plays Bass won’t be abruptly removed as soon as the cord is clamped.
Of course it means I don’t have immediate access to pain drugs (don’t think that isn’t weighing on my mind a bit), emergency support will be further away than anyone would like if something were to go wrong and did I mention I can’t have an epidural? But, on balance, I’ve made the decision that feels best for me.
As they say, if you’re going to do something, do it right. So, I’ve also reached out to my buddy, soul-sister and all-round ass-kicking hypnobirthing Yes Mum, Hollie de Cruz and booked us onto her London Hypnobirthing course (if it’s good enough for Fearne Cotton and the McFly crew…) Jimmy’s not overly convinced or excited by the prospect but he’s gamely joining in and I have no doubt he’ll be a convert. I’ll be (obviously!) blogging about my hypnobirthing experience as we go but for now…let me say this: the only thing that’s important in your decision about where’s best to hoof your Small out of your tiny tunnel is your own instinct. Barring any medical complications, do it wherever the hell you want.
Except Westfield. Don’t do it there. It would be rubbish.