Saturday, 10 Jun 2023

Meghan Markle baby: Are home births safe? What are the benefits of giving birth at home?

Meghan Markle is expecting her first child with Prince Harry, and royal fans around the world are eagerly waiting for news of the birth. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have decided to keep details of their baby’s delivery private until after they have celebrated as a family, according to a statement issued by Buckingham Palace. One way they may keep things private could be to have a home birth, with some sources saying staying at home is Meghan’s preferred plan. 

One source told the Daily Mail a home birth, led by a midwife is the “favoured choice” of Meghan and Harry. 

However, the same source said the couple had not completely decided against a hospital delivery. 

With the wish to keep things private, it is unlikely the Duke and Duchess will pose for a royal photo the same way Kate, Duchess of Cambridge did for all three of her children just hours after giving birth. 

Should Meghan opt for a hospital birth, Frimley Park Hospital is the closest, to the Duke and Duchess’s home, Frogmore Cottage in Windsor.

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Are home births safe? What are the benefits of giving birth at home?

According to NHS England, in England and Wales, 1 in 50 pregnant women give birth at home and giving birth is generally safe wherever it takes place.

However, there are issues Meghan and Harry will have been aware of.

The NHS says: “For women having their first baby, home birth slightly increases the risk of serious problems for the baby – including death or issues that might affect the baby’s quality of life – from 5 in 1,000 for a hospital birth to 9 in 1,000 for a home birth.”

Claudia Hillemand, a Senior Associate in the Child Brain Injury team at Bolt Burdon Kemp told “The birth of a child is a special and intimate time for all parents. 

“It is therefore understandable why many prospective mothers find the prospect of a home birth appealing. 

“The perceived benefits, including an increased sense of relaxation and ease that come from being in a familiar, comfortable and non-clinical environment are self-evident. 

“But when opting for a home birth these advantages, which are largely environmental, must be carefully balanced with the serious consequences that can ensue if the labour does not go smoothly.

“Many home births proceed without issue, and for those women, it can be a wonderful experience. But labour can also be an unpredictable and medically complex process. 

“This is all the more pertinent for high-risk pregnancies and first-time mothers who have not yet experienced childbirth. 

“The severe and sometimes fatal consequences that can result if the baby becomes distressed is not getting enough oxygen, or gets stuck during a delivery in the home cannot be ignored.

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“Usually a midwife is present at a home birth. Whilst their knowledge and support will no doubt be invaluable, the midwife is limited in what they can do outside the hospital setting.”

Meghan will no doubt have the best doctors and midwives wherever she elects to give birth, as a source told The Mail on Sunday Meghan had snubbed the Queen’s doctors in favour of her own private team led by a female doctor.

A royal source added: “Meghan said she doesn’t want the men in suits. She was adamant that she wanted her own people. It did leave a few of us a little baffled.”

One mother told that with the right team around you, home births can be a positive experience with the benefits being privacy and comfort. 

Samantha Stonehouse said: “I had my second baby at home and cannot recommend it enough, benefits include home comforts and privacy. 

“Mine was planned right at the last moment, it was a hot July day and I felt so entrusted in my midwife that I decided to stay put and have our baby on the living room floor. 

“I had three midwives, the help of my husband and it was just so memorable.

“I was up and about later that evening and had a houseful of visitors the next day.”

The Baby Show’s birth expert and author of The Positive Birth Book, Milli Hill echoed Ms Stonehouse’s sentiment.

But she also added tips for those who are not sure whether a home birth is for them.

She told “If you are thinking of a home birth but are not sure, I recommend you simply think of it as ‘I’ll stay home until I feel like going to hospital’, rather than, ‘I am having a home birth’. This keeps your mind and your options open. 

“If at any point you don’t feel happy, you are going to go into the labour ward or birth centre.”

“Midwives are also highly trained to deal with complicated situations at home, just as they are in hospital. Home birth, with the back up of a hospital in easy reach, is a very safe option for low-risk women.

“I am so thrilled that Meghan is opening up the conversation about home birth. 

“As an intelligent woman and a feminist, she will no doubt have done her homework and know that she is more likely to have a straightforward labour and birth in the comfort of her own home.”

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