Women in Tower Hamlets now have more choice about where to give birth than ever before, with the launch of a local home birth service.
Barts Health NHS Trust began providing the service this month, increasing choice alongside its other local maternity services at The Royal London Hospital and midwife-led Lotus and Barkantine birth centres. It is one of only two NHS Trusts to offer all four options in London.
Home births are recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) as the best option for women with low-risk pregnancies who have already given birth before. Labour is often shorter, there is less risk of infection and babies have better outcomes due to the more relaxed environment and one-to-one care given to mothers and babies.
However, despite the benefits, the number of home births in Tower Hamlets is just 1.9%, below the national average of 2.1%.
Unlike other options, women who birth at home will see the same midwife throughout their pregnancy and be attended by two midwives in labour.
Faye Callaghan, home birth midwife explained: “It is far easier and safer to give birth at home than most people realise. You don’t need a lot of space, and we will sort everything from equipment to cleaning, even giving advice about how to manage other members of the family and pets. We do all we can to make sure that women have a relaxed and enjoyable birth, which is safer for them and their baby.”
A drop-in session to meet the homebirth team is held at Mile End Children's Centre on the last Monday of every month 2-5pm.
Ness Robinson was the first woman to give birth with the team, welcoming her first child, a baby son called Charlie, on 13 January. Ness said: "Having a home birth was definitely the right thing for my partner and I, and I would definitely recommend it. The home birth team have been fantastic at looking after Charlie. The best part was when my baby had been born; getting into my own bed and having a cup of tea.”
Ness, aged 25, from Bethnal Green in Tower Hamlets, first considered a home birth after hearing about it during an antenatal class.
She explained: "Having a home birth was definitely the right thing for my partner and I, and I would definitely recommend it. The community team have been fantastic at looking after Charlie. The best part was when my baby had been born; getting into my own bed and having a cup of tea.
“I was still able to spend time in a birthing pool, and it was a relaxed environment as I was in the comfort of our own home. Charlie’s dad could of course stay with us too.
“I hadn't ever expected to want a home birth as I'd always had the mentality that I had to be near doctors. It sounded really risky to give birth outside of hospital; I think there’s a general perception that birth is a medical condition.
“Once in labour I was very quickly able to speak to the team, and I had two midwives to give me and my baby care and attention. It's also been reassuring seeing the same midwives each time who have been able to answer any questions we have.”
To find out more about having a home birth email the team or speak to your GP or community midwife.