Homebirths ('accouchement à domicile' / 'thuisbevalling') currently account for around 1% of births in Belgium (1, 2, 3), and if you would prefer to give birth at home, it is possible to arrange this with your independent midwife provided you meet certain criteria:
- you must live within 30 minutes drive of a hospital - this is in case you need to be transferred to hospital if your midwife feels it's safer for you and your baby
- homebirth is not recommended if you are expecting more than one baby, or for a Vaginal Birth After Caesarean (VBAC)
Otherwise, provided that by the end of your pregnancy:
- the pregnancy has progressed normally and you and your baby are healthy
- you have reached term (37 - 42 weeks)
- your baby is in the 'head down' position
a homebirth should be possible.
Antenatal care for a planned homebirth
If you are planning to give birth at home, you independent midwife will provide most of your care during your pregnancy (read more about the role of the independent midwife).
However, some consultations with a gynaecologist are also recommended. You should also choose a hospital in the event that, at the end of your pregnancy, a homebirth is not possible, or in case you need to be transferred to hospital during labour.
Towards the end of your pregnancy, your independent midwife will decide whether a homebirth is still advisable.
What will the midwife bring with her to the birth?
Your midwife will bring with her a homebirth kit that contains many of the same items available in hospital, including sterile equipment, a doppler to listen to your baby's heartbeat, an oxygen tank, a bulb to remove mucous from your baby's nose after the birth, equipment to perform local anasthesia and suturing if necessary etc.
She will also ask you to prepare various items that may be needed during labour and birth.
What do I have to prepare myself?
Your midwife will provide you with a detailed list of the items you will need to prepare for the birth. This will include items such as a matress protector for your bed, some plastic sheeting to protect the floor, a portable heater with extension cord etc. You will also need to prepare items for your baby.
Even if you plan to give birth at home, there is a possibility that you may need to be transferred to hospital if the midwife feels it's safer for you and your baby. Therefore you should also prepare a bag to bring with you to the hospital containing items for yourself and your baby. Ask your midwife for a suggested packing list.
Can I have a waterbirth at home?
See Where can I give birth? > Waterbirth for more information.
- Cammu, H., Martens, E., Van Mol, C., Jacquemyn, Y. (2013) Perinatale activiteiten in Vlaanderen 2012. Brussels: Studiecentrum voor Perinatale Epidemiologie (SPE)
- Leroy, C., Van Leeuw, V., Minsart, A-F., Englert, Y. (2012) Données périnatales en Région bruxelloise – Année 2010. Brussels: Centre d’Épidémiologie Périnatale
- Leroy, C., Van Leeuw, V., Minsart, A-F., Englert, Y. (2012) Données périnatales en Wallonie – Année 2010. Brussels: Centre d’Épidémiologie Périnatale