Writing a book is one of those things up there with sailing around the world or walking from Lands End to John O’Groats – it’s on a bucket ‘wish list’ for lots of people and, for most of us that is where it firmly stays.
So, when I was asked if I would like to write a book about homebirth – one of my favourite subjects, as anyone who knows me will confirm, I was in a dilemma for all of 5 minutes; did I have the time? No; Was I capable? i didn’t know but I was up for having a go; Did I want to? Definitely!
And so, over the course of last year or so, that is what I have been doing and the result – ‘The Homebirth Handbook – How to have your baby safely and calmly at home’ was published by Vermilion on Thursday, 2nd of June 2016.
These are interesting times in the maternity services, with the publication of the maternity review in February and the recently updated NICE guidance on place of birth. My contribution, through my book, is to try and reset the scales to create a more balanced approach to the question of risk in homebirth and how it fits with the current direction of travel. For me, the logic is irrefutable – as mammals we labour and birth best when the conditions are right and those are so often found in our own space, where we feel safe to let go and surrender to the flow of labour.
The safest combination in my view, for a healthy woman with a well grown baby and a straightforward pregnancy (the majority!), is to combine being in the place that feels right for you with having experienced, empathetic and skilled caregivers, midwives you have got to know well over the course of your pregnancy and who come to you when you are in labour. Should there be any need for additional help, a calm, efficient and focused transfer to the local hospital is usually the answer and most women in my experience are open to that possibility and welcome the extra sense of safety it promotes.
The evidence suggests that, although 87% of women currently have their baby in an obstetric unit , only 25% of women want to birth there. 10% of women would like a homebirth so imagine how many more would think about it as a realistic option if they knew the facts and if it was readily available to them. Perhaps, finally, the tide is turning and a gentler, more holistic era of genuinely women centred care is just around the corner – it can only be good news for women, their families and their midwives and my hope is that my book is able to help the process along in some small way.
21st June 2016
You can order a copy online from Waterstones