Home birth is available to all women experiencing a low risk pregnancy.
Please click here for HSE information on National Home Birth Services and HSE classification of increased risk in pregnancy
The World Health Organisation (WHO) currently estimates "women experiencing a low risk pregnancy" to be some 90% of the population.
Obvious exclusions are women who have pre-existing serious medical conditions (e.g. severe cardiac problems) or who develop serious conditions during the pregnancy (e.g. severe pre-eclampsia). In addition, certain higher risk pregnancies would normally be excluded, for example women expecting twins and women who go into labour before 36 weeks.
Until Sept 2008, women with previous caesarean births were NOT excluded and our newsletters are full of women who have experience many a beautiful home birth after a previous caesarean. However, the new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the self employed community midwives and the HSE in Sept 2008 strongly indicates that the midwives should not take on women with previous caesarean births as home birth clients. If in doubt you should contact your local midwife and discuss this with her. Hospital schemes do not take previous Caesarean birth mothers as clients.
Ultimately, the decision to labour and birth at home will be one made between the woman, her partner and the midwife. Even though the woman may present as low risk things may change antenatally and the midwife will discuss options with the mother and these may include transfer to hospital care. An example is persistent breech presentation. Even in the labour, if the midwife feels that the mother and baby will do better in hospital then the midwife will discuss transferring care into a hospital environment. An example might include meconium in the liquor. Even after the baby is actually born, there is always the possibility of transfer either in the best interests of the mother or the baby or both.
You do not need a doctor´s permission to have a home birth. You do not need an obstetrician´s permission to have a home birth. Your suitability for a home birth will be assessed by a midwife or a team of midwives. As mentioned above your suitability for a home birth is a dynamic condition that may be liable to change throughout your pregnancy and labour.
It is important to realize that opting for home birth is opting for a process in which you are taking control of yours and your baby´s needs. It is not about birthing a baby in a particular x, y location that happens to be your house at any cost to you, the midwife or the baby.