Your health

Sunday Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - Your Health - BY KELLY JENK­INS

The pit­ter pat­ter of royal baby feet is just around the cor­ner – and Meghan Markle is said to be con­sid­er­ing a “nat­u­ral” home birth.

It wouldn’t be a first for the Royal Fam­ily. The Queen had all four of her chil­dren at home.

But the most re­cent trend has been for ‘safety first’. Both Diana and the Duchess of Cam­bridge chose the Lindo wing of St Mary’s Hospi­tal in Lon­don for the ar­rival of their ba­bies.

Meghan, 37, is said to have her own hand-picked team ready for her de­liv­ery – but is a home birth a good op­tion for your av­er­age mum with no ac­cess to pri­vate health care?

The NHS typ­i­cally pro­vide two mid­wives. There is no doc­tor and no op­tion to have an epidu­ral, should one be needed at home.

RISK

“A risk as­sess­ment needs to be done for ev­ery mother who is con­sid­er­ing a home birth,” says Clare Livingston­e, pol­icy ad­viser for the Royal Col­lege of Mid­wives.

“The NICE guid­ance states it is per­fectly ap­pro­pri­ate for preg­nant women who have no risks, even if they are first-time moth­ers.

“If you have a pre-ex­ist­ing med­i­cal con­di­tion or any other con­cerns around the preg­nancy, then a home birth isn’t ad­vised.

“Age is also a fac­tor, but we look at the whole pic­ture. Ev­ery woman has the right to a home birth and will be ad­vised of risks.”

In 2017 – the lat­est year sta­tis­tics are avail­able – there were 13,582 home births in the UK, just 2.1 per cent of the over­all to­tal.

But for 35-yearold mum-of-three Ni­cola Shel­don, it wasn’t the dream she en­vis­aged.

“The birth of my sec­ond child, Thomas, in Oc­to­ber 2015 was at home and was hor­ren­dous. Dur­ing labour, ev­ery­thing ap­peared to be go­ing to plan – there were no in­di­ca­tions any­thing was wrong.

“But my baby was born blue and floppy – he wasn’t breath­ing. There were two mid­wives at the

AG­O­NIS­ING

MY WAY birth and no doc­tor. It was a huge shock.”

Ni­cola and her baby had to be rushed to hospi­tal in sep­a­rate am­bu­lances – and she was told to pre­pare for the worst.

She re­calls: “The con­sul­tant said it was look­ing very bad and asked if we wanted a chap­lain.

“Thomas had been starved of oxy­gen for more than 50 min­utes. He was hav­ing un­con­trol­lable seizures and they couldn’t sta­bilise

Out­come was cat­a­strophic. Thomas is life­lim­ited and has se­vere dis­abil­i­ties NI­COLA SHEL­DON

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