Our home birth from a dad’s perspective [PART 1]

Over the next two days, I am going publish my account of Matilda’s recent home birth. As you will read, I was not always convinced that a home-birth was the best option. The almost complete lack of information on home-births from the dad’s perspective has lead me to write these posts for other new dads whose partners want a home-birth…

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From the moment we found out she was pregnant, Jo said she wanted a home-birth. Now, you know me well enough on this blog to know that deep-down I am probably a bit of a “hippy” when it comes to parenting questions but this took even me by surprise.

We had seen several of our closest friends enjoy home-births so I guess it was logical the idea was on Jo’s radar. Plus I had forgotten that first time round, with Archie, Jo had had a very difficult experience at hospital. Don’t get me wrong – the warmth and kindness of all the midwives and nurses as phenomenal – but, for a number of reasons which I won’t bore you with now, the experience was a very stressful and exhausting one for Jo.

The first thing which came to my mind was “What about the dangers? What if there’s a problem?”. In reality, I think it may stem from the misplaced notion (in my opinion) that pregnancy is a “condition” which needs treating. When a pregnancy is smooth and the foetus is healthy, there is nothing more natural. And when things are natural, Jo’s angle was they do not need “medicalising”.

Jo still had her fears though and felt that she wanted to hire an independent midwife in order to have consistency of care throughout the pregnancy and the birth itself. I was slightly torn on this. On the one hand, how could I disagree with anything which could help Jo feel safe and comfortable? On the other hand, the midwife would command a not insignificant feee – money which I can’t honestly say we really have.

In the end, we took the former route and quickly discovered that home-births are a bit of a legal minefield. The NHS is not too keen to recognise home-births carried out independantly – and any midwife who wants to specifically practise in people’s houses has to (somewhat scandalously) leave the “system”. In our litigation culture, independent midwives are seemingly very much under the microscope and under threat. This is a crying shame.

I can’t deny that for much of the pregnancy, I found the whole process somewhat difficult. While it goes without saying that our midwife was there for Jo, I somehow felt myself edged out of what was going on. I wasn’t conscious of this at the time – and once I did realise it, it felt slightly incongruous of me. Jo was, after all, the one doing all the hard work. But if we were to have a home-birth, it was going to happen in my home (obviously!) and I wanted to feel more part of what was going to happen.

More than anything, I think I wanted Jo and my midwife to ask ME how I felt about what we were undertaking. Had they asked, I would have said “unsure, nervous and, actually, very concerned”.

With about 3 weeks to go, I broached the subject with Jo. She was remarkably open to what I was saying. Maybe even surprisingly so. She decided to discuss it with Jane, our midwife, and Jane was equally receptive. I was now officially in the loop and a subtle shift in the sands meant that Jo’s home-birth was to be OUR home-birth. From the dad’s standpoint, this was a very pivotal shift.

Jane managed to allay my concerns. In 20 years of practicing, she could count the number of times she had had to take a mum in labour to hospital on the fingers of one hand. I also learnt that 99.9% of the time, a skilled midwife can detect if there are any problems afoot, well before they turn into a last minute dash to A&E. The fact that we are only a 4-5 minute dash to our local hospital also worked in our favour, in the extreme case.

We were to have a pool in our lounge. You have all seen how small our kitchen is. Needless to say, our lounge is barely any bigger! This, combined with a boiler which only fires 50% of the time (at best) meant that my role was to sort out the practicalities of the birthing space before Jo would be comfortable to go into labour. Cue costly boiler repair, new thermostats and a space-saving redesign of the lounge.

So were we ready? Of course not. Two days before Jo’s due date, the downstairs toilet packed up too. More unexpected expense but Jo was categorical – no toilet, no labour. In the end the whole thing needed to be replaced. We were now ready.

As the dad, I really enjoyed the organising the practicalities of organising the home-birth. There was something quite primal about preparing the space for Jo to give birth in.

We were now left with two unknown quantities – when would Jo go into labour? And how would it all work out with Archie? He was fully aware of what was happening and, I think, blissfully unaware of the scale of it too. We were convinced Jo would go into labour at night and hoped he would sleep through.

In the end, none of this happened! Jo’s waters broke at 4am. I immediately knew we were headed for a daytime birth. I felt surprisingly serene. I think the bit where you have to go to hospital is terribly stressful. Being at home, comfortable in the knowledge that we were going to stay there, was hugely reassuring…

Tomorrow: find out how the labour went… and read how Matilda was a Finlay for the first hour of her life!

33 Responses to “Our home birth from a dad’s perspective [PART 1]”

  1. JP says:

    can't wait for part 2 – this is really interesting, and as I too, am umming & ahhing about homebirth, this is fab! Ridiculously I had not even contemplated a birth pool at home, (had a water birth with 2nd), and now this feels more feasible :)

    • mydaddycooks says:

      ah yes J, of course you can have water at home – as long as you can keep the kidders out of the pool long enough!

  2. @StephLewing says:

    to be continued… lol

  3. @Mrs_PickIe says:

    Wow, I'm on the edge of my seat already. __I have thought about the possibility of a home birth if and when we have a 2nd baby, but like you am worried about possible complications.__I had quite a traumatic time in a hospital miles away from home with my first baby so the comfort of being at home is appealing to me.__I'm looking forward to hearing the rest of your story.

    • mydaddycooks says:

      Yes K, that is exactly why Jo wanted a home birth this time round… hopefully my second installment tomorrow will give you the confidence to do it next time round…

  4. Jane says:

    Really looking forward to part two – can't believe you stopped right there, what a cliffhanger! (actually, a perfect place to stop, from the pov of a blog – nicely done!)

  5. Vicki says:

    Thanks for sharing, I'm moved to read about your experiences.

  6. Ooh ooh…can't wait to hear the next bit! Excellent take on how uninvolved the Daddy's are Nick. Mark went to a few midwife appts with me (which were worthless anyway) and was a bystander. Considering our birth was nothing lovely like yours, I don't think he minded. Bleurgh. Anway, much looking forward to the next installment. You have the gift…I'm hooked! Write a book…oh wait, you have…just not about birth. Well, write a book about parenting. You still have the gift! ;)

    Karin

  7. Can't wait for part 2! Very reassuring on all the practicalities of getting ready for a new arrival at home. *almost* makes me want to have a go myself again – not going to happen!

  8. Sarahe_j says:

    Looking forward to part 2, I love a good (home) birth story. My no 2 was born at home and I know my husband shared similar concerns but is a convert after our lovely experience.

  9. Looking forward to reading part 2. I think it is fair to say that Daddy does often get forgotten, OR they're not really into it anyway. I tried as much as possible to keep my Husband involved. Until tomorrow ….

    • mydaddycooks says:

      I think we were probably somewhere in between the two. Jo wanted me involved but also wanted her space… as you will discover tomorrow ;)

  10. @TweeterMag says:

    You have set the scene beautifully, Nick. Its a very engaging read! I particularly like the way you show that a Dad can change that feeling of being left out by talking to their partner. Also that women can (sometimes) listen!!! Can't wait for Ch 2! ! :0)

    • mydaddycooks says:

      Thanks Maggie. Yes, I am pleased I got in there in time to feel a little more involved in the whole process… x

  11. Kelly says:

    I myself had a home birth withmy second and just been discussing your blog. Found some things I didn't realise he felt at the time too… That was 14 months ago! Can't wait for the next chapter! Kelly

    • mydaddycooks says:

      Thanks Kelly! I suspect that my experience, as the dad, was a pretty common one. I am just glad that I got the opportunity to talk about my concerns before it was too late…

  12. Luschka says:

    Looking forward to the rest! I agree, there's very little out there that's 'useful' for the dads. Martin wrote about our homebirth too, for the same reason.

    And I'm of the opinion that if people can have a homebirth in a LONDON flat, it can be done pretty much anywhere! :p

    • mydaddycooks says:

      That is SO true Luschka!! Do you want to post the link to Martin's post here too? I'll add it to the foot of my post…

  13. babyrambles says:

    I'm also looking forward to hearing the rest! I had my third at home, went into labour at 3am and she was born at 7.15am in our living room. The boys slept through it!

  14. @jenhanratty says:

    Noooo! More now! Good reading so far :)

  15. Catherine says:

    What a great idea. There was little to no info available for my partner when we decided to have a homebirth. Like you, he was worried but wanted the best for the baby and me. He was also worried about being edged out, as it happened – needlessly as I had a 45 minute labour and Matt had delivered our daughter himself before the midwives arrived. And it was still calmer than either of my hospital births! Congratulations and I can't wait to read part 2 xxx

  16. Rachael says:

    Home births are the best! My husband wasn't convinced about them until after our first home water birth – think it was being tucked up in bed with our newborn and an indian takeaway three hours after the birth that convinced him.

    (Just reposting this comment because some rude person (tut!) accidentally deleted it. Hahaha!)

  17. Anna says:

    I think it's awsome that you are sharing your experience Nick! Thank you! And by the way i love the way that you write straight from the heart!!

  18. Red Ted Art says:

    Aaaah, I don't want to read this, as it makes me hugely jealous! Sigh. I hated both my labours and found Pip's particularly horrendous and I dream of a "lovely rosy" labour.. Sigh. So pleased it was all good though! Look forward to reading part 2 (even if I am envious!!!)

    Maggy

  19. andmybaby says:

    A fantastic read, on to part two now…thanks for sharing : )

  20. @urbanvox says:

    I've experienced a home birth with my second child too…
    got woken up at 6 and told not to panic but baby was coming…
    I tried to fill up the birthing pool and call the midwife and run around like a headless chicken… And for about 2 minutes almost had to deliver the baby myself as the midwife took ages to arrive… :)
    and I filled up the pool for nothing as baby was delivered on the bathroom floor… lol
    never mind… :)
    great post mate! :)

    Diary of a First Child

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