With more than 1,900 babies born every day in the UK, it’s no surprise that there are a variety of methods to help mums give birth to their babies in a way that bests suits them.
Shows like One Born Every Minute and Birth Moms, give millions across the nation a fly on the wall look at a baby’s first entry into the world.
However, despite the rise in popularity of these observational birthing documentaries, the country’s broodiness took a dip between 2012-2013 and the number of deliveries in NHS hospitals dropped by 3.6%.
Though fewer women are giving birth, those who do are more than ever inclined to opt for elected caesareans, a major abdominal surgery that increases the risk of complications when compared to natural vaginal births.
Experts and natural birth advocates believe that raising awareness of the benefits of home birthing will help reduce the number of expecting mothers choosing riskier c-section options.
During 2013-2014, the number of C-section procedures rose by 2.5%, while emergency caesarean rates were down by 1.8% according to NHS maternity statistics.
Kati Edwards, founder of the ‘Birth You In Love’ project, explained to MM why she chose to stand with the 2% of the 800,000 women who gave birth at home.
“I wanted to be in a birth pool because it helps you relax and reduces your perception of pain,” said Kati.
“It had to be quiet and dark and I didn’t want to be disturbed because those are the conditions a woman births best in.
“Just like any other mammal we want somewhere quiet dark and safe.”
Before the Stretford mum had her first baby, Matilda, she admitted that she was set on giving birth in a hospital but after some extensive research and balancing her options, the mother-of-two decided that giving birth in the comfort of her own home was the best option for her.
She said: “If you don’t have complications and are low risk, for me it seems like a much better option.
“At first my family were quite scared, they thought I was mad but then i explained how there are risks involved in both hospital and home births, so my husband was in full support.
“I’m a healthy woman and there’s no reason why I need to go into hospital – I’m having a baby, I’m not ill.”
This Saturday, parents to be, midwives, and health professionals are invited to attend Manchester’s first-ever conference dedicated to promoting home births.
Lectures will be held by health professionals, including top gynecologist Amali Lokugamage and midwife Mark Harris, founder of Birthing4Blokes, about the potential benefits of giving birth in home surroundings.
Visitors will also hear real-life stories from mums and dads – including XFM presenter and Inspiral Carpet musician Clint Boon and his wife Charlie.
The one-day conference takes place on Saturday July 4, between 9am-5pm at The Studio, 51 Lever Street, Manchester.
In December 2014, new NHS guidelines issued by NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence), confirmed that home births were just as safe as those in labour wards or midwife-led units for low risk pregnant women.
With nine out 10 babies in the UK delivered under the ultimate supervision of obstetricians in a hospital, the new guidelines issued by the health agency suggests giving prospective parents the freedom to choose where they give birth could result in thousands of babies being born in the safety of their homes.
Conference Organiser, Cathy Brewster from the Manchester Home Birth Network, said: “Giving birth at home can seem like a daunting prospect, particularly to first-time parents.
“Help and support are available and many midwives are happy to support women in their choices.
“This, coupled with the welcome new guidelines issued by Nice last year, mean that there has never been a better time to hold an event such as this.”
Kati, who will speaking at the conference said that the assumption that all women would want medical pain relief during labour, inadvertently reinforced societal gender stereotypes.
She said: “It makes women stronger and yet we’ve been told for years that we can’t do it on our own.
“For most people it does hurt, but it’s not something we as women can’t manage if we’re relaxed and yet we’re told about all the different pain reliefs we can have.
“It kind of undermines your confidence that you can do it without pain relief when actually it’s not that bad.
“But it does require 100% concentration and if anyone disturbs you then your contraction isn’t as affective.”
Back in February, Kati appeared on BBC show Childbirth: All Or Nothing, where cameras followed the birthing journeys of herself and three other women with differing preferences when it came to delivering their babies.
The documentary focused on three different birthing methods, including a Harley Street opted caesarean, a free birth on a barge boat without any medical supervision, Kati’s pain relief free birthing pool choice and a lady who chose the lotus birth technique, a practise where the baby stays attached to the placenta until it detached naturally.
When whether the presence of a filming crew affected her delivery, Kati explained that it was her natal hypnotherapy practise during the course of her pregnancy that kept her calm.
“The only way I could give birth in such a calm way on TV was by having hidden cameras around my room and they’d been there for quite a while so i had time to get used to it,” she explained.
“I had only one lady with a camera who stood well back and she didn’t disturb me.
“We are perfectly designed to birth our babies, the midwives are there just to check that everything’s ok and actually when we’re given control and are told that we can do it, our body produces hormones that act as a pain relief If we’re relaxed.
“If we are scared and tense then we perceive more pain because our body produces adrenaline and then we’re not able to produce the hormones that reduce the pain that are produced naturally.”
Kati’s alternative approach of birthing didn’t stop at the delivery; the 37-year-old also chose to eat her placenta.
In many cultures, the placenta is seen as a symbol of life, spirit and individuality. It’s also speculated that its consumption replenishes the women of the nutrients and hormones she’s lost during her birthing process.
“I made my placenta into a smoothie, i cut a bit off and put it I my mixture,” said Kati.
“Anecdotally, it’s meant to help with reducing the possibility of the baby blues and it’s almost a set thing in our culture that you expect to be depressed after giving birth.
“It was just one of the things i did that help me bond with my baby.”
Cathy Brewster explained: “Birthing at home is not only cheaper for the NHS but both women and midwives report greater satisfaction with home birth.
“Home birth increases the chances of a woman having a straightforward birth without the need for intervention.
“We need women, midwives and maternity service providers to work together to bring about change for the better!
“We hope that anyone who attends – whether they be professional health workers or prospective parents wanting to find out more – will feel more confident from hearing directly from mums and dads who have had positive experiences at home.”
Taking inspiration form her own two home births for daughters Matilda and Seraphina, assistant psychologist Kati decided to start her own project Birth You in Love, aiming to help parents explore their birthing choices.
“I set up the Birth You In Love project because i wanted to give people the idea of the kinds of tools people could use during labour.
“There are loads of different things you can do even just understanding the cycle of fear, tension and pain.
“If people could understand that women are perfectly designed to give birth to babies by themselves, unless there’s a medical complication where you need to go to hospital, we are empowered and we can learn these skills to birth these children and then we can pass these skills on to others.”
You can purchase tickets to the Home Birth Conference by clicking here. (Birth professionals £65.00, students, £35.00, parent, £35).
You can find out more information about the event by clicking here.
Image courtesy of Amie Cullen via FlickR, with thanks.