Home Birth Transfer Is NOT A Failure

As admin of  the Home Birth Support Group UK and The Village Holistic Pregnancy Support, and the Freebirth and Birth Before Arrival Course in a Group, I often engage with women who would like to home birth – but are worried about a need for transfer. 

There are a few strands to addressing this. 

Firstly and most important “HOME BIRTH TRANSFER IS NOT A FAILURE”.

Women have to go through all the stages of birth, being at home reduces the need for pain relief, chances of a post partum hemorrhage (PPH), tearing, instrumental delivery – true emergency transfer is rare. Transfer is usually for additional pain relief or going out of timescales, failure to wait in birth workers terms, failure to progress in medical speak.

If you need intervention at home, that necessitates transfer, you can be sure you would have needed that intervention if you had been in hospital for the whole birth.

All that transfer means is you have spent the best amount of time in the best place for the first stages of your birth and then transferred into hospital for the next stages, which for you is the best place for that. 

Additionally new research shows what we in the Home Birth Support Group UK have always known, that planning for a home birth leads to more positive outcomes regardless of where birth takes place.

I would love to see language changed to reflect how amazing it is that a woman was at home for some of her birth and made the decision to go in for the rest if needed, instead of this being seen as somehow “less” or “wrong” or “failed”. Birthing women are incredible – they do not “fail”.

I once supported a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean section) client who wanted to have a home birth experience but also wanted to birth in hospital, so we had the pool, the music at home, the essential oils and when the time was right we went into the University Hospital of Wales – which is pretty much the same thing. It made her experience much more positive to have started her birth at home and go in at the right time for her.


Click HERE for more information on National and Local Birth Pool and Tens hire.

Many years of doulaing and running birth groups, long before I was a doula have taught me that women who prepare for their births, are always more satisfied, regardless of the path that birth took, than women who don’t and that home birthing women do more preparing in general.

Positive birth always comes from informed choice. I have a selection of birth stories from my group (posted with permission) as these stories are vital.

To quote Elyce Realf

“31ish hours of my 36 hour vbac labour (from first contraction to birth) at home. Transferred at 10cm as he had his head tilted and wasn’t coming down any further. I loved my home birth and sure, I would have loved to deliver at home too, but still achieved so much (and vbac was achieved with forceps). I will definitely home birth again next time. Best experience ever! I’d have had a multitude of interventions much earlier in hospital I’m sure.”

The Birthplace Study makes it clear, “Giving birth is generally very safe”.

If you have a life, birth or other story you would like to share, please email me HERE.

Induction is not always positive, but it can be and that is because it does not always come from a place of fully informed consent, in our Home Birth Support Group UK we support all the birth pathways of our members, whatever twists and turns they take. Remaining in control of your own births is key.

Stories such as the positive induction of  Jen Lewis,  VBAC Home Birth Turned Positive Induction of Cara and home birth turned positive induction of Scarlett Hana and gentle caesarean information can help prepare women for any situation.

For more information and current guidelines on induction – read my blog “Sweeps and Inductions, Inducting Labour, Making Informed Decisions” – HERE

These beautiful words, from one of my clients, about a home birth turned general anaesthetic caesarean show that for many women planning for a home birth regardless of where it ends up happening – can bring great joy.

“It would have been lovely to have had the full homebirth experience, but I look at him, and, every morning and every nap, and every feed and every night before he goes to sleep, and every moment I can in between, I tell him how lucky we are, and how grateful I am to have the best baby in the universe (because we all know that ‘our’ babies are the best babies in the universe). And I thank him for being my baby.

Every evening as we get him ready for bed, we chat about our day and everything we are thankful for that day. And that’s just it….. We were told we wouldn’t be able to have a baby of our own…. I know too many people who have been told this, only, for them it’s reality…. But I knew… Just at the moment when I questioned it…. We got the positive.. Everything works out for the best. So That’s what happened.

We got to have as close as we could to a home birth; I got to experience at least a taste of it, but better than that, I got to have the best baby in the universe in the best way we could. And for that I will forever be thankful. X

Another positive transfer story from the Home Birth Support Group UK follows.

“I would support what you said Samantha about home birth planning making outcomes more positive even when it results in transfer. 

“I planned a homebirth with my 2nd baby. Wrote affirmations, had the kit, birthpool etc. Unfortunately had to rush into hospital the day before due date as pre-eclampsia was detected. 

From this point on it was highly medicalised of course, with induction, heavy monitoring and large pph afterwards also. But I have to say that it was fine, and the state of mind that I was in meant that I managed it all and felt in control. 

I believed in my body and knew how to advocate. I’d read and researched lots. I managed to negotiate earlier discharge and took spatone instead of the iron tablets because I knew about it, and knew what was best for me. 

All of these things were down to my ‘homebirth’ research and planning. Homebirth for me therefore can be seen as a state of mind, a belief system about birthing I guess, not just the physical place you give birth. I don’t regret planning my homebirth, I loved every minute, and I’m proud of how I gave birth in the state of mind I did, even if that wasn’t in the physical place I’d originally intended ????”

The birth story of Philippa Gwen 13/9 8lb 15 – shared by Kelly Knighton Wilson is another positive transfer story from the Home Birth Support Group UK.

So I’m gonna start with saying that when i read others post who have ended up not having a home Birth I feel very sad for them sometimes a bit angry but I’ve got to say, it didn’t go as planned but it was such a positive experience and no one should feel upset for me ????
My previous births were at the hospital, I had 2 previous pph and My first had shoulder dystoica.

My first pain was about 1.30am 13/9 They started every 10 minutes but soon picked up, I phoned my doula at 2.15 and woke my husband at 2.30.

Rang the labour ward, no homebirth team. I was planning on putting my foot down and did say I won’t be going in. However my local labour ward (5 min away) was shut. They said they would ring round the other hospitals (there are 3 others within 30 min away) they rand me back and the nearest hospital that could take me was Lincoln 50 minute away.

Due to my high risks and my local ward being shut we decided to go to Lincoln but was worried I wouldn’t make it so we called an ambulance, my doula came with me and my husband tried to keep up following lol. I used my 4 and 8 breathing though out which worked amazing. I got to the hospital at 4.25.

Was greeted by lovely staff and a dark room. They asked if id brought oils, my doula had so she set them up. They followed all my wishes, they checked babies heart rate and it was dropping, I knew if they broke my waters baby would be out so I asked them to do it.

Waters broken and 10 minutes later baby was born 5.40am, bit of difficulty getting shoulders out but all good ( my babies are very chucky lol). had physiological 3rd stage and after 10 minutes I started having contractions again and needed to push, placenta was birthed 13 minutes after but stayed attached to baby for about 2 hours. I had some bleeding it was slow and steady, I was taking a homeophathic remedy and sniffing clary sage.

They asked if they could give my the oxytocin injected which I was happy with as placenta was out. I then had another injection as i was still having bits of bleeding. They measured that I lost 500ml but she did say she was being generous, think because she knew we wanted to go home. I had a seconded degree tear that the head midwife stitched. I honestly couldn’t commend Lincoln’s labour staff enough. They were amazing and followed my wishes.

We decided to have all checks while there so we didn’t have to go back so we didn’t get home till 5.30pm. My boys are in awe of their sister ????????

This is not to dismiss any grief over changing birth plans, that too can happen and does not diminish love for your baby – but my personal experience based on supporting thousands of women through groups is that those women who prepare for home birth are better informed and aware of their options and happier with their birth experience overall. 

For additional support please contact me and feel free to join any of my groups.

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About Samantha

Samantha Gadsden walks with women on their life’s journeys. She is an experienced Doula, based close to Cardiff in South Wales, mother to 4 children and wife to Eddie, more information can be found on her facebook page, Samantha Gadsden Doula and her website, Caerphilly DoulaSOS DoulaTelephone and online support is always available.

You can also join one of her network of supportive GROUPS.

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