I opted to give birth in the comfort of my home
Thitu Kariba’s experience giving birth at a Nairobi hospital is something she would like to forget. The new mother was dissatisfied with the services, didn’t like the fact that she was induced and that she had no say in the birthing process. Hers was just to take instructions.
So, when she got pregnant in 2015 with her second born, she knew what she wanted; to give birth in a comfortable, familiar place surrounded by family. She desired freedom and control in the birthing process. So, home birth it was. She discussed the issue with her husband and her mother and they all agreed with her. “It was pretty fun. I was at peace because I was at home and had a perfectly conducive environment. I remember I even swam while contracting. I also ate home-cooked meals and watched television comfortably. That meant a lot to me,” she recalls.
And when it came to her third child, she was even more prepared. “Having been there in my previous birth, my husband was now an expert in rubbing my back and other ways of easing pain. He monitored my contractions and I remember seeing him sweat,” the mother of three smiles.
Thitu says the environment at home makes the labour process go smoothly. “I have heard of cases where labour slows the moment soon-to-be mother checks in the hospital,” she says.
Though Thitu could not reveal the amount of money she spent for giving birth at home, she says it was worth it. “I cannot put a price tag on it. The midwife started coming home to attend to me immediately we knew we were expectant. She trained us on childbirth and parenting issues. So we got more services from the caring midwife than just helping me deliver,” she says.
Jennifer Matiku who has been a midwife since 1986 has helped women deliver at home. “Women do it for various reasons. For some it is because they cannot afford hospital charges. Others, they want freedom to deliver at the comfort of their homes,” Jennifer says.
However, before she agrees with a home birth, she must make sure everything is okay. A through check by a doctor and an ultra sound is key. “We have to ensure that the baby has settled into a position that allows for a headfirst, the cord is not knotted around the neck of the baby and that the mother has enough blood, amongst other precautions,” she adds.
When called upon, Jennifer walks the journey with the pregnant mother to be. “We do follow up before and after birth and it may cost between Sh5,000 and Sh20,000,” she said.
She offers: “At the end of the day, what matters most is that the child arrives safe and that the mother is fine as well. We ensure the mother receives sufficient help and check on her after birth. We act as support systems.”
During a planned home birth, you might need to be transported to a hospital if complications develop. Your healthcare provider might recommend transfer to hospital if: Labour isn’t progressing, your baby shows signs of distress, your baby presents in a position other than headfirst, you need pain relief, you have high blood pressure or if you experience bleeding.