Where to Birth

“Birth in Focus: Stories and photos to inform, educate and inspire.”

From the soft-edge focused front cover photo to the series on the back cover, this is a book which shows through the words of mothers, their midwives and family members, as well as pictures, what is possible when experienced midwives have a philosophy centred in trust of women and their bodily knowledge, motivating and informing their practice. The pregnancy and birth experiences of this book happened as part of the Albany Midwifery Practice which “ran from 1997 to 2009 in Peckham, South East London, caring for an all-risk caseload of local women within the NHS. The unique model of midwifery care included continuity of carer with two named midwives and choice of place of birth. The midwives looked after over 2500 women with excellent outcomes, achieving a home birth rate of over 40% alongside a low perinatal mortality rate”. Continue reading

Why Not Home In New Zealand?

“Why not Home?:The surprising birth choices for doctors and nurses” is a new and beautifully produced US documentary exploring the experiences of several family nurse practitioners, obstetrically trained doctors and midwives who choose to deliver (as they call birth) their babies at home, rather than in a hospital. This film reviews the history of birth moving from home to hospital in the USA, the rising and internationally high US caesarean section rates and 2 sets of research about the safety of home birth compared to hospital delivery; all of which are some of the reasons behind these US health professionals asking “Why Not Home”. Continue reading

Home Birth is a Royal Tradition

Duchess of Cambridge, open your eyes to the home birth revolution

A seldom written fact is that the Queen had all four of her children at home. Ahead of a new ITV documentary this evening, Home Delivery, Beverley Turner, a strong advocate of such births, hopes Kate Middleton is tuned in.

Daily Telegraph, London March 21st, 2013.

The Queen, accompanied by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh and Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge, visits Baker Street Underground Station to mark the 150th anniversary of the London Underground

The pregnant Duchess of Cambridge was handed a ‘Baby on board’ badge yesterday. Photo: PA

Daily Telegraph, London 21 Mar 2013

At 9pm tonight, I hope Katherine and William Wales will be tucked up in their crested onesies, dipping chocolate brownies in their Earl Grey and watching ITV, because in the documentary Home Delivery, they will see something so rarely glimpsed that it should have been narrated by David Attenborough: human birth as a perfectly normal, rather jolly occasion, overseen by a brassy midwife in the cosy surrounds of family homes. It is a timely antidote to Channel Four’s terrifying One Born Every Minute.

I defy any woman – including Kate – not to wonder, how we’ve managed to muck up maternity services so badly, that only two per cent of British women now have such a safe, cheap and empowering birth. The type that, as Davina McCall once said of her three home births, “knocked spots off any drug I’ve ever taken. When those babies popped out, I wanted to stand naked on the highest mountain and roar with pride. I could do it again and again and again”.

Continue reading

Risky Deliveries for Healthy Mums

Reports about the latest release of the Ministry of Health’s ‘Maternity Clinical Indicators’ suggest that either; reporters and some consumer organisations do not understand the origins and meaning of these ‘indicators’, or they have no concern for the welfare of healthy, first-time mothers and their babies?

The various rates of different childbirth interventions reported last month by the MOH, including Cesarean section rates, are the outcomes ONLY for women who are ‘standard primipara’; that is they are healthy, first-time mothers “aged between 20 and 34 years at the time of birth in a hospital or birthing unit”, whose birth of a single, head first baby at term followed a pregnancy with no  “recorded obstetric complications that are indications for specific obstetric intervention.”  The healthy circumstances of these women means they are amongst the most likely individuals who should have had a normal or natural labour and birth. Or as this report says, this group should have had “low intervention and complication rates ………… consistent across hospitals”. Continue reading

No place like home!

The 2 year UK Place of Birth study showed that for healthy women a planned home birth was most likely to result in a natural birth, compared to labouring in an obstetric or midwifery led (primary) unit. Whereas healthy women labouring in an obstetric maternity unit  more often had their labours sped–up (called ‘augmentation of labour’) and needed an epidural for pain relief, both of which contribute to labours ending with either an instrumental or surgical delivery. These findings are the same for birth outcomes in New Zealand [1] where most women have continuity of care through-out each pregnancy, labour and the first 6 weeks after birth by the same midwife, which is rare in the UK. When NZ women labour in a secondary or tertiary hospital, up to one-third of healthy women may have their babies delivered by either forceps, vacuum or surgery. Where-as those who labour at home in either country, are the women most likely to have a natural vaginal birth compared to those who labour in a midwifery led (primary) birth unit or a hospital. Continue reading

Best Birth Places.

Despite, research from  New Zealand, UK and other countries, which shows that for healthy pregnant women homebirth with an experienced midwife, is safer that labouring in an obstetric hospital, an increasing majority of New Zealand women are delivered in a secondary or tertiary hospital (over 85% in 2011).

The Royal College of Midwives Practice Guidelines state that “Hospital is an alienating environment for most women, in which institutionalised routines and lack of privacy can contribute to feelings of loss of control, and increased anxiety brought on through loss of control can interfere with the normal effective physiology of labour” and that “control, or lack of it, was important to the women’s experience of labour and their subsequent emotional well being.”  

New Zealand women and many midwives seem unaware that local [1,2, 3] and  international [4] evidence shows that the place of birth not only has an important effect on interventions but that women report higher satisfaction with their experiences in “home‐like” environments, with the following features;

Continue reading

Private, Intimate and Undisturbed Birth.

The hormone, or messenger-chemical in our bodies, which is meant to start and continue labour, to birth a baby and placenta is called oxytocin; oxytocin is the hormone of ‘love’, human connection and altruism (‘forgetting oneself’). Oxytocin is needed, and present during love-making and breastfeeding as well as when we hug, touch or share any pleasant activity with another. This hormone, like others is made and released by a deep primitive, unthinking part of our brain, which is also where our breathing, heart-beat and temperature control; all life sustaining efforts of our bodies arise. Continue reading

One Born Tragically Every Minute.

Perhaps the UK series; ‘One Born Every Minute’ shows examples of why a Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) Expert Advisory Group said;  “Too much care is provided within secondary and tertiary settings. Too many babies are born in the traditional ‘hospital’ setting. We need to drive this care back into the community with the appropriate provision of facilities and professionals with appropriate skills.” Continue reading

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Trust children. Nothing could be more simple, or more difficult. Difficult because to trust children we must first learn to trust ourselves and most of us were taught as children we could not be trusted. — John Holt
I can promise you that women working together - linked, informed and educated - can bring peace and prosperity to this forsaken planet. — Isabel Allende
All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward. — Ellen Glasgow
The greatest joy is to become a mother; the second greatest is to be a midwife. — Norwegian proverb
No other natural bodily function is painful and childbirth should not be an exception. — Grantly Dick-Read
A loving heart is the truest wisdom. — Charles Dickens
Nothing in life is to be feared it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more so we can fear less. — Marie Curie
Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible. — Frank Zappa
We need to have their hearts before we can open their minds. — Dr Gordon Neufeld
Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers – strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength. — Barbara Katz-Rothman