Deciding to birth our baby at home was absolutely the right decision for us, it was disappointing that other people did not see it that way.
At our 16 week midwife appointment we had a lengthy chat about our birthing method and our choices on where to birth. Up to this point birthing at home seemed like a wonderful idea but a scary prospect. After a frank discussion our apprehensions were all but gone; the only thing holding us back now was the worry of what other people will think! What if other people don’t approve? Or if they find the prospect scary and inappropriately start to talk to me about what would be their fears?! We made the decision there and then that we both wanted a home birth, but it was something I was not ready to reveal to others just yet.
So we continued with our birth course and researched the facts about birthing, we researched the research to make sure it was balanced and left no stone unturned. If we were going to do this we needed to ‘know our stuff’; ‘winging it’ wasn’t going to be good enough and quite honestly I feel would’ve been irresponsible.
When the time came to ‘go public’ we were over 32 weeks pregnant. I still wasn’t confident that people would be accepting of our choices, but I was confident we had made the right choice and was ready for any eventuality. As suspected, we were met with questions of ‘Do they let you do that with your first baby?’ and statements like ‘You’re brave!’ People were also shocked that you can ‘Only have gas and air!’ at a home birth.
What’s more, they were quite happy to share their awful birthing experiences with us, I can imagine the only reason for this being that it was supposed to ‘prepare’ us for what they thought we might experience.
So sick of the naysayers I started to retaliate. When men would say ‘You wait till you start to shout at your husband, poor bloke won’t know what’s hit him!’, I would reply ‘If I’m shouting then something has gone astray, there is no benefit to shouting while giving birth’. When women would say ‘Only gas and air or a paracetamol – do they think you’re having a baby or a headache?!’ I would state ‘Considering my body will provide a natural painkiller 200 times more powerful than morphine; I’m hopeful I won’t need anything else’. I was aware that this could be coming across as confrontational at times, but I was tired of women who had babies saying ‘You wait until it happens, and you’ll do anything and everything to get that baby out!’
I learnt a lot about people’s outlook on birth over those few weeks. It would seem that people view birth in a way that is generally portrayed in films and on so-called ‘reality’ TV. Unfortunately these things are edited for entertainment, therefore are not a true and balanced reflection of reality.
Eventually I learnt to ignore the raised eyebrows and the rolled eyes, especially the looks of disbelief when I confidently told people that I was not worried about the birth or apprehensive about the pending arrival, but was excited to meet my bundle of joy and sad my pregnancy was coming to an end.
It’s upsetting that my initial suspicions about people’s reactions were right. I found this disappointing, but the more people we spoke to, the more confident I became in my and our baby’s ability to do this! Birth, I felt, did not have to be screaming and sweating and swearing and crying and begging for it to be over. Instead I pictured it as an uncomfortable task that would be overshadowed by joy and excitement and happiness and wonder and love; lots and lots of love.