If you have chosen to have a homebirth, you should have been given contact numbers to call when you go in to labour. If you are unable to contact the homebirth midwife, please contact the Labour Line on 0300 369 0388. You should call as soon as you know that labour has started so that the homebirth midwife can arrange to visit you.
When you call the homebirth team they will come to your home and support you through your labour. It may not be the midwife you have been seeing during your pregnancy, but it will usually be a homebirth midwife.
They will check to see how you are coping, and how regular and long your contractions are. They will also check your observations (temperature, blood pressure, pulse and urine) and listen to your baby’s heartbeat to ensure they are coping well with labour too. They may offer you a vaginal examination to help assess your progress.
If the midwife feels you are in the latent (early) phase of labour, they will leave for a while as this phase can last a long time. They will give you some advice on coping with this phase including advice on pain relief. The midwife will ask you to call them when your contractions have increased in length and strength, are coming more frequently, or your waters have broken. It’s very important that you let the midwife know if your waters break, if the fluid becomes coloured or smelly, if you start losing blood or you are concerned, so that they can assess whether they need to return to you more quickly.
If they feel your labour is established, a midwife will remain with you at home until your baby is born. They will support and monitor you and your baby throughout the labour to make sure you are both coping well.
During your labour, your midwife will:
Check your observations (blood pressure, pulse and temperature) at regular intervals
Listen to your baby’s heartbeat regularly
Perform vaginal examinations (as necessary)
Call a second midwife to be present at the birth
Pain relief options for homebirth include:
Entonox (gas and air)
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) machine (you will need to hire, buy or borrow)
Birthing pool (you will need to hire, buy or borrow)
After the birth, the midwife will stay at your home for a couple of hours to ensure that you and baby are well. They can help with baby’s first feed and give any advice you need. When they leave they will ensure you have contact numbers to call if you have any concerns, and they will contact you the following day.
Labour can be unpredictable, but midwives are trained to spot any signs that you may need additional help during the birth. If your midwife is concerned about you or your baby, they will discuss this with you and your birth partner(s) and make a plan. They may feel comfortable reassessing the situation in an hour or so, or they may feel that you should be transferred to a maternity unit immediately. This will always be fully discussed with you so that you can make an informed choice.