Karabo Mokoena
Content producer
3 minute read
12 Jul 2021
2:04 pm

Considering a home birth? Here’s what you need to know

Karabo Mokoena

Covid-19 has not only affected how pregnancy is navigated but where women choose to give birth.

Here are the reasons why women are opting for home births during the pandemic. Picture: iStock

With general anxiety levels heightened across the country, many pregnant moms-to-be are looking to give birth at home during Covid.

Hospitals in the country are overwhelmed with Covid cases, over 20 000 confirmed each day in South Africa. Here’s what you need to know about choosing to give birth at home:

Benefits and cons associated with home births during Covid: 

Partner’s presence 

As cases rise, the anxiety of infection among pregnant women becomes a serious concern. According to the recent Life Health Care maternity approach guidelines, your partner will be limited “to the labour and delivery or Caesarean section until the mother is transferred back to the ward”.

After that, he may only visit for an hour a day. 

Not every hospital uses this approach, but more women are opting for a more permanent presence of their loved ones during this important moment. Home births still require midwives and partners to wear masks, and only women are allowed to birth without one. The environment allows for an unrestricted presence of your partner. 

ALSO SEE: Mom gives birth to baby on her couch during day 5 of quarantine

Less anxiety to give birth 

The biggest fear about giving birth in a hospital is the risk of exposure to Covid, for your child and the expecting mom. This anxiety has the potential of affecting the birthing process, potentially leading to a more complicated birth. 

According to The Conversation, “comforting surroundings of home and family can lead to a reduction in anxiety levels, which in turn aids higher production of oxytocin, the hormone which enables contractions.” 

Who can opt for a home-birth 

Home-births are only advisable to women who do not have a high-risk pregnancy. High-risk pregnancies are those who are expecting multiples or have diabetes or pre-eclampsia. 

In a case where you do, you will require a doctor’s medical care to ensure that the birth is as uncomplicated as possible. Midwifery-led care is, therefore, unattainable for women within these categories. 

The majority of pregnancies, however, are categorised as low-risk, and in this case, more birthing options are available, including choosing home birth. 

Cons of giving birth at home

According to Healthline, home births might require a financial commitment from the couple. In some cases, the medical aid will not cover home birth, so it will have to be a cash transaction. A lot of the medical providers in SA provide this benefit, so it is important to check with the provider. 

The lack of an insight obstetric unit in case of an emergency is also another concern. Childbirth can be unpredictable, and a non-complicated pregnancy can quickly turn into the opposite. According to National Centre for Biotechnology Information: “Complications arise during each of the three stages, which can lead to the conversion of the anticipated vaginal delivery to operative cesarean delivery.” 

The need for a C-section requires medical intervention that midwives are not equipped to perform. A hospital transfer will be a necessity, and it is important that women are informed of this prior to opting for a home-birth.