Sunday, July 8, 2007

Many Benefits of Birth at Home


Monday, 02 July 2007

• Howick and Pakuranga Times

ONLY two per cent of Kiwi women do it, but one Bucklands Beach mother says she’d do it all again in a flash.

A little more than nine weeks ago, Rachel Springett gave birth to a healthy baby boy in the comfort of her own home.

While the vast majority of New Zealand women opt for hospital births, Ms Springett chose to have her third child at home.

The decision was an easy one for the former Howick Primary schoolteacher, who was already mum to two teenage daughters before the arrival of baby Tane.

“It’s really empowering,” she says. “You have more control to be able to be yourself and you’re more likely to trust your instincts. [Labour] has become so medicalised. It’s such a natural thing but women often don’t trust themselves.”

She describes the day as “perfect” and says she’d recommend homebirth to anyone.

“Having the familiar background made me relax so much more. It just made me feel ‘this is right’. I totally trusted the midwifes. They talked me through it the whole time. I never felt unsafe. The hospital’s just 15 minutes away so it was there as a backup.”

Ms Springett says giving birth at home was also an eye-opener for her partner Wayde and two daughters.

“Society has lost that passing down of mothering skills. My girls learnt so much,” she says.

“[My partner] thought it was a real plus — he wasn’t just hanging around going ‘oh my god’.”

Mother-of-three Lesley Hinson has been a New Zealand registered midwife since 1986 and is a strong advocate of planned homebirths.

Along with several other midwives, she recently led an information evening at Howick’s Crawford Medical Centre for those interested in homebirth.

In New Zealand, homebirths aren’t “the norm” and many women just “go with the flow”, says Ms Hinson.

“We’re all victims of the society we live in. We’re all conditioned to what we grew up with.

“Society gets the image that every baby needs to be born with all the emergency equipment around it. If we don’t promote [homebirth] they don’t think about it.”

She says homebirth is an option for a woman who’s had an uncomplicated pregnancy, has previously given birth and is in good health.

“Some people choose homebirths because they want that privacy. What most women like is that their husband doesn’t need to go anywhere. They’re more relaxed in their own place.”

Midwives are trained to deal with emergencies and don’t hesitate to refer their patients to hospital if there’s a problem during labour, adds Ms Hinson.

“We don’t hang around, but I can’t remember the last time I had to transfer a baby in.”

Although she’s an advocate of planned homebirth, Ms Hinson stresses the final decision of where to have their baby is up to the woman concerned.

“Homebirth is not the average person’s plan, depending on who you know and what you’ve been exposed to. If I meet people and they choose to go into hospital then that’s fine.

“Every woman’s different and every baby’s different. Our group is promoting planned homebirths. We give people information and they make their choices,” says Ms Hinson.

The next information evening on planned homebirths is in August.

For details, contact Joyce on 537-1808, or Clare 533-0233.

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