While at home births are becoming more common, there are not enough of them in Ireland to put together reliable figures on how safe they are compared to a hospital birth. Studies in other countries have shown that mothers with low risk pregnancies are just as likely to have a safe delivery at home with a midwife as in a hospital.
A Midwife will assess whether or not you are suitable for a home birth. Although it is a service available for all low risk pregnancies, there are actually very few self-employed midwives in Ireland.
A home birth is not suitable for woman who are carrying more than one baby, who have high blood pressure or another serious medical condition, or if the baby is in breech or transverse presentation. In Ireland, women who have ever had a caesarean are unlikely to find a carer willing to perform a home birth. Also women who go past their Expected Due Date may have to attend a hospital. Your Midwife may decide that you need to be transferred to hospital care. This can happen during pregnancy, labour or after the birth
Self-Employed Community Midwives provide full antenatal care and will visit your home during labour and will deliver you baby in your home, and they will provide postnatal care in your home including your 6 week check-up. They will also provide advice on breastfeeding and will perform the Guthrie/PKU (heel-prick test) on your baby.
Midwives provide gas and air, and Pethidine for pain relief during labour. You can also use a birthing pool if your Midwife is trained to do so. Some women hire a TENS machine for pain relief which you can hire from your local pharmacy.
Because Self-Employed Community Midwives are rare in Ireland, it is best to contact them as soon as you know you’re pregnant. You can visit the Home Birth Association website, www.homebirth.ie, for information on how to arrange a home birth.