"I was petrified of catching Covid in hospital."
Priya Chauhan had a home birth after becoming “petrified” of catching Covid-19.
The mother-of-two from Birmingham had never considered it as a serious option unless she faced the prospect of going into hospital during the pandemic.
As Priya’s due date approached, the idea of staying at home to have her baby became increasingly appealing.
Over the past year, over 150 families chose to have home births, receiving help from the dedicated team at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
Priya said: “The reasons for me to have a home birth were number one I just wanted to be at home, I felt safe at home, and secondly I was petrified of catching Covid in hospital.
“And thirdly I was even more anxious to go through that experience without my husband because I could have had to stay in hospital on my own.
“Before this pregnancy home birth wasn’t an option we’d ever really considered but I knew I wanted my husband to be with me every step of the journey.
“After speaking with my community midwife and then the Women’s Hospital Home Birth Team any concerns or worries I had were allayed.
“They explained everything so clearly and answered all the questions that we had.”
Priya and her husband Dave rented a birth pool to set up at the first signs of labour.
In February 2021, at 40 weeks and three days, Priya began having contractions around every 20 minutes.
As the contractions increased in frequency to every seven minutes, she called the home birth team.
Two midwives joined the family at around 11:30 pm and two and a half hours later, their baby boy Cyrus was born.
Priya told Birmingham Mail: “During the labour itself I listened to my body and could feel the birth was progressing quickly and would be established sooner than I anticipated.
“It was Gemma and Rachel who came that evening and, as soon as they entered the room, I felt so at ease.
“From then on, I knew I could safely allow my body to progress into the final stages of the birth.”
“Deciding to have a home birth was probably the best decision we’ve ever made as a couple. The homebirth team were fantastic every step of the way.
“They made me able to trust my own instincts in the comfort of my own home. It’s an experience we will never forget.”
Over the last 12 months, the number of families choosing to have home births, supported by the Women’s Hospital Home Birth Team, has increased by 52%.
Team Leader, Dayna Wright said:
“Labour and birth tend to progress well at home as women feel more relaxed, comfortable and in control.
“Home birth is recommended for all women who are medically well and experiencing a straightforward pregnancy.
“There is no difference in neonatal outcomes whether birth is intended at home or in hospital.
“Women who planned to give birth at home were less likely to experience obstetrical interventions, including caesarean section, assisted vaginal birth, epidural analgesia, episiotomy, and oxytocin augmentation.
“They were also less likely to suffer 3rd or 4th-degree perineal tear, maternal infection or postpartum haemorrhage.
“Although we recommend hospital birth for women with certain medical conditions and women who have previously had significant birth complications, the Home Birth Team are here to discuss your options and will support your informed choice.”
According to Dayna, a final decision can be left until the last minute.
She continued: “It is likely that you will have input from our consultant midwife and a personalised care plan created.
“If you are not completely sure about choosing home birth you can book with the Home Birth Team and then make your final decision about place of birth when you are in labour.
“Your choice about where you birth your baby will reflect your particular wishes and needs.
“Wherever you choose to be, it should feel right.”