ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Home Birth - A Complete Guide

Updated on April 16, 2015

Where once home birth was the norm, today there are just 2.3% of women who opt to give birth at home (Part of Characteristics of Birth 2, England and Wales, 2012 Release 2012). For the majority such an idea very often seems a far riskier an option than choosing to give birth within a hospital. With this in mind, and as a mother to be myself, I wanted to comprehensively explore the option of choosing a home birth and specifically ask, whether for a first time mother such as myself, if a home birth is particularly risk prone.

Home birth: A biased opinion

Whilst this article presents plenty of cold, hard statistics I must outline now that it is a topic upon which I’m slightly biased. For me, having an option of home birth, notably for my first child, is a more than welcome relief, particularly as the mere thought of attending any frantically busy medical centre can raise my heart rate so much so that at my last Doctor’s visit the blood pressure results were rendered useless.

Who is a suitable candidate for a home birth?

Most women will be a suitable candidate for a home birth, even those who will be giving birth for the first time.

Who isn’t suitable for home birth?

There are some women who are specifically not suitable for a home birth, this includes women who:

  • Have a medical condition such as high blood pressure or diabetes (either gestational diabetes or otherwise).

  • Have had a C-Section previously or who have undergone any other form of uterine surgery.

  • Have suffered from pregnancy complications in this pregnancy or sometimes previous ones (such complications may include premature labour, preeclampsia, twins or a baby who is found to be in the breech position at 37 weeks).


How do home births work?

When you go into labour you’ll call your community midwife, who will then attend your address to see how your labour is progressing and to confirm what stage you may be at. He or she will time your contractions and talk to you and your birthing partner to find out how you may be feeling. He or she will then carry out a standard medical examination and confirm how far dilated your cervix may be.

At this stage you midwife will either stay with you, or may leave to come back later, this will depend upon the results of the examination as well as how far along you are. When you reach the final stages of labour your midwife will contact a second midwife to attend so that when your baby is actually born both midwives are in attendance.

With a home birth you still have many of the same options that are presented to you if you were to give birth in hospital or within a birthing centre. Specifically this includes things such as pain relief options (the choice of pethidine and demerol, for instance) and you can even opt to have a water birth within your own home.

That said those who choose this route must appreciate that if any issues or potential warning signs do arise (such as a change within the baby’s heartbeat, signs that mother or baby are in distress or a drop within blood pressure) then there will most likely be a transfer to hospital if deemed necessary.

An Epidural: One thing you will need to go without

Epidurals are one thing that won’t be available as an option to you if you choose a home birth. Due to the nature of such pain relief, and the fact that both mother and baby must be closely monitored after it, epidurals are only provided within a hospital setting.

Is a home birth safe?

As of 2014 there seemed an official push for home births and alternative birthing options. Today there continues an uprising of shiny new so-called ‘birthing centres’ which present a halfway house between home and hospital, this, in addition to a promotion of home births, are aiming to reduce the immense pressures that hospitals face today. This would, for the cynic, perhaps raise the concern that home births are merely a way of reducing the burden upon hospitals, to the detriment upon mother and baby.

Home births: “Better for mothers and often as safe for babies”

All governmental health policy is only put into place following a full analysis, usually by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (known as NICE for short). It is this body that specifically stated that home births were “better for mothers and often as safe for babies”. The operative word that I personally take from this sentence however is ‘often’, particularly as most mothers would likely agree that any added risks to either the mother's or baby’s health through labour are both unwarranted and unjustifiable for the sake of convenience on behalf of a hospital. So the question is whether there really are any additional risks to opting for a home birth.

The solid stats behind home birth

Research has found that around 45% of women are at an extremely low risk of labour complications and as such, may be better giving birth outside of a hospital setting.

Beyond this however the largest study into home births found the following:

  • For those who are having a second baby onwards, home births are as safe as giving birth within a hospital setting, and moreover actually offer additional benefits for the well being and general health of the mother.

  • For those who are giving birth for the first time, home births are subject to a slightly increased risk of an adverse outcome’ (which can include everything from a birth injury through to the death of mother or child). For women who give birth in hospital there were 5.3 in every 1000 borth that had an adverse outcome, this then compared to an incidence rate of 9.3 out of every 1000 births with an adverse outcome for home births. These figures then equate to a 1% increased risk for those opting for a home birth.

Do you remain unconvinced that home birthing should be an option for mothers to be?

See results

Home birth or hospital?

The positives of a home birth

One factor that I did find surprising is that far from home births presenting potential problems it can instead actually offer up some advantages over and above hospital births, specifically these include the following:

  • A lowered risk of the women undergoing a C-Section (which arguably lends favour to the point of unnecessary medical interventions becoming more commonplace).

  • A lowered risk of interventions such as a forcep or venous delivery.

  • A lowered risk of Hemorrhaging.


I hope that this article serves to inform other mothers to be in their birthing choices and I’d love to hear about your thoughts on the issue of home birth in the comments section.

I myself can’t wait to give birth in a setting that I call home and in addition to my planning for this I’ve also been researching the possibilities of a water birth, and thinking about my pain relief options, both of which are topics that I’ve also recently written about in other hubs.



    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • ShelleyHeath profile imageAUTHOR

      Shelley Heath 

      3 years ago from Birmingham

      Hi Belleart,

      It's really interesting to hear that, and rather impressive that your Aunt was so determined to have her baby outside of hospital.

      I'm not sure when the 'big push' (if you'll excuse the pun) towards home birth came about, being cynical I may say during the Tory Government as more cuts were made to the NHS, nevertheless I am indeed grateful for the set up over these ways :)

    • belleart profile image


      3 years ago from Ireland

      Great hub, my aunt just had a home birth but found it very difficult here in ireland since home births are not really covered by our health organisations and there are literally 12 midwives in the entire country who are licensed for this. My Aunt finally found one though (even though she had to travel 3 hours to a cottage beside the midwife) and her experience was so positive and amazing. He was her first child too, and he came out healthy and gorgeous!

      Ireland is not ready yet to give up the institutionalized birthing, even though in the past 20 years here not one woman or child has died due to home births. We must be a stubborn people to not see the benefits of offering it to every Mother-to-be!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)