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Home Birth In Ireland: What Do You Need To Know?

There were 180 planned home births recorded by the HSE in 2016, and against a trend of a decreasing birth rate, the proportion of women choosing a home birth annually is set to rise over the coming years.

But, why choose a home birth at all, and if it is something that you are interested in, how do you go about it. 

Of the many reasons women chose a home birth, the most understandable is the impact that birthing in a clinical setting has on the experience of birthing. Many find that it is a stressful experience, and would prefer to have more control. Many women have a preference for birthing in water. Some parents may wish to have older children present, or perhaps just feel safer at home.

This is the experience of mom-to-be Megan:

‘I have applied for a homebirth as I think that I would be more relaxed and that the birth would then be easier for me. I find hospitals stressful and I am hoping that I will be able to give birth at home. It feels natural to me to want to have a home birth.’

There are a number of hospitals that offer a home birth service including, the National Maternity Hospital, University Hospital Waterford, Wexford General Hospital and St Luke’s Hospital Kilkenny. If you are not attending any of these hospitals, there is a National Homebirth Service run in conjunction with self-employed community midwives (SECM). A list of the local HSE Offices and the SECM’s can be found here. 

There is also the option to have a fully private home birth, and more information on this can be found here.

There is no charge for patients availing of a home birth service under the public health system. Under the National Homebirth Service, the HSE pays a grant directly to the SECM, and there is no direct cost to the mother. If you wish to avail of a private home birth, however, there are a number of different packages available, with the most complete care package being offered at a cost of 6,000 euro. Some private health insurers offer cover or payment towards the cost of a homebirth. If you have private health insurance, it is worth checking with them to see if they will cover the costs of a private homebirth. 

Deciding on the best place to birth a baby, decision reached by you, your partner and your midwife. It is also important to bear in mind that the decision to have home birth made be taken out of your hands as your pregnancy progresses. Some of the reasons why you may not be able to avail of a home birth are:

  • High-risk pregnancy
  • Pre-existing medical conditions
  • Serious conditions arising in pregnancy
  • Twins
  • Early labour
  • Breech presentation 
The complete list of criteria for suitability for home birth is available here

If you'd like to see a home birth in action, you should read this next: 

Popular YouTube Family Share Beautiful Positive Home Birthing Video


About the Author

Jane is a writer, blogger and mammy based in South Dublin. She has spearheaded equality programmes and advocacy campaigns for large NGO’s and is now following a lifelong dream in establishing herself as a writer. Recently qualified in Journalism, Jane has won the June 2015 Original Writing Short Story competition, has been longlisted for the Blog Awards 2015 and runs The Postmodern Mammy. Never one to shy away from controversy, Jane enjoys writing about parenting, politics and social issues.

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