Home birth is a safe choice for many women. Women who have home births use less pain relief and are more likely to have a normal vaginal birth than women who give birth in hospital. If you want to know more about this choice talk to your midwife and/or doctor. You can find out more on the Home Birth Aotearoa website.
At a home birth your midwife will have another midwife there to support you and her during and after the birth. Your midwife will stay with you for at least two hours after the birth. Postnatal care at a Primary Maternity Unit is also an option for women who have a home birth.
Home birth experiences
One way to decide if home birth might be the option for you is to hear about the experiences of other women.
“I am a mama of 2 and had both my babies at home. I feel so grateful to have this now, as a beautiful, positive and empowering memory. I wish that home birth was considered more of a mainstream option, so that more women could have these positive experiences.”
“I gave birth to my baby at home, guided and supported by two wonderful midwives. It was a beautiful, empowering and memorable start to parenthood and I can't think of a single thing I'd change! I loved being able to take things at my own pace, while being quietly and sensitively observed. When we were ready, we went out to Winton Maternity Centre to stay for a few days. That was an equally special experience, being cared for in every way and having help at hand 24 hours a day whenever I had questions or needed help with breastfeeding.”
“I had both of my boys at home. With my first birth it was empowering and just so right that I was supported in my own comfortable environment. With my second, it was just such a beautiful experience welcoming baby into the family home and his older brother being there.
I had 2 easy, complication free births and I attribute most of that to being well supported in a stress free environment. I wish homebirth could become popular so more women can have opportunity to have empowering, positive experiences bringing their little ones into the world and that birth stops being seen as something to be feared and over medicalised.”
“My mum was a nurse, but chose to have me at home (in the 70s) ;) I was always proud of being born at home, & even though my own children chose not to come at home unfortunately, I absolutely LOVED supporting women birthing at home over the last 16 years as a midwife. All births are special, but there is just this amazing 'thing' about homebirth that I find hard to describe. Is the absolute comfort of it?? Mum is in her familiar space, a place where SHE is in control because she owns it?! With whoever she chooses to be there - including her other children if she wishes? Dad able to make a snack, knows where to find everything...I don't know, but I love it!”
“Mumma of 2 healthy boys both born at home. It’s so reassuring knowing our midwives are so well equipped to offer outstanding care for birth at home. Having all my own surrounding and belongings was essential to keep me relaxed and calm during my births. Being in control of the atmosphere, dim lighting, candles, music, fire place made for a calming environment for baby and dad was able to catch both his boys.”
“I had my first child in Queen Mary and my second at home. The care I received first time around was faultless but there is something magical about having your baby at home. Reflecting on my homebirth it is surrounded by feelings of safety. I felt safe knowing my baby and I were being carefully monitored and that if complications arose or I simply changed my mind I could go to hospital. I felt safe in my own familiar environment and in knowing I had nowhere else to be. I felt safe with my people, my husband, my sister, my toddler sleeping in her bed and my lovely midwife. I felt safe having autonomy of who was there. Feeling safe is empowering. I am incredibly thankful I was able to choose to have my baby at home.”
“To consider birthing at home took personal re-education for me, my man and my family, of what birth is and isn't. We had been cultured in our lifetime into carrying a fear of birth that simply wasn't true.”
“Birthing at home took a level of personal responsibility, determination and decision making that went on to powerfully inform many of the ways we parented and advocated for our children.”
“Preparing to birth at home built a depth of honesty and intimacy in all of the primary relationships that were readying for the babies arrivals, especially between us and our midwives.”
“With all practical and emotional preparations done, when labour begins, the security, familiarity and sanctity of home makes it so much easier for me to let go the mind and simply be in the process of my body birthing my baby.”
“When I am birthing at home, I feel in tune with what is happening and needs to happen.
I don't hold back from moving around, making noise or talking to my baby. Our labour flows.”
“I gave birth to my second child at home and am now planning a homebirth for my 3rd baby due in September. It was such a wonderful experience, being able to labour in my shower and then giving birth in the pool in my lounge was surreal. My son woke up just as the baby was born and got to meet him straight away which was beautiful. Snuggled up on the couch with both my boys, my partner, mum and sister beside me was such a beautiful feeling, and I’m excited to do it again.”
Frequently Asked Questions
Home birth raises a number of questions. Here are some frequently asked questions and answers around the option of having a home birth:
Q. Can anyone have a homebirth?
A. All kinds of whanau choose home birth, discuss your plans early with your midwife.
Q. Can you have your first baby at home?
A. Many whanau choose home birth for their first birth. Your midwife will be able to give you information to help you make the right decision for you and your whānau.
Q. Don’t you get better care in hospital?
A. Midwives are specialists in normal birthing and provide care in all options for birth, home, primary maternity units or hospitals.
Q. Are hospitals cleaner than home?
A. The microbiome of your home is safe, your midwife will guide you in preparation for your home birth.
Q. Anything could happen if I give birth at home, what if it does?
A. Midwives are skilled in supporting many variations of birth, there are many strategies that can be used in the home should the unexpected happen.
Q. Is home birth safe?
A. Studies show that home birth with a midwife is as safe as hospital birth, and with fewer interventions.
Q. How do you monitor how well my baby is doing during labour?
A. Baby’s heartbeat can be monitored by use of a Pinard stethoscope, a fetoscope or a hand held doppler.
Q. What pain relief can you have at home?
A. There are many options for pain relief outside of a hospital setting, water is a popular choice, however discuss the options available with your midwife.
Q. Aren’t hospital facilities better?
A. Birth at home can be much more relaxed and comfortable in your home surroundings.
Q. Will I have enough support if I give birth at home?
A. Your support includes two skilled midwives and as many support people as you choose.
Q. Can you have a home birth with other children in the house?
A. You can have as many or as few people in the home birth space as you choose. Siblings can enrich birth in many ways.
Q. Why do you see photos of home birth with low lighting?
A. Low light is conducive to the production of essential birth hormones and helps you to relax.
Q. Do you still have to go into hospital to have your baby checked?
A. Midwives have a series of checks they do with new born babies which can be done at home.