I finished The Fruit of the Tree yesterday and I absolutely loved it. In a week when plans for maternity services have been in the news, it was fascinating to have a glimpse into how things were in the late 1960's, when women stayed in maternity homes or hospital for days after having a baby, rather than be booted out after a few hours.
I had both my babies in hospital and for medical reasons stayed in several days with both of them. Whilst the experience was far from perfect, I'm not sure I would have wanted a home birth. A friend of mine had her fourth child at home a few years ago and said all she could think about throughout her labour was that because the walls were so thin, her neighbours must be able to hear it all. So much for concentrating on a stress free birth!
As it happens both my children were born early and popped out easily without medical intervention or pain relief. But I was glad that we were in a hospital when son 1 had to be rushed to intensive care straight after birth. I can't imagine how it must feel to be at home if something goes wrong and sadly it can, even in full term babies.
Whilst I think it is wonderful that home birth might be offered to all those who want it, the NHS should also be looking very carefully at greatly improving staff levels and facilities in hospitals for those who want or need to give birth there. Even thirteen years ago, when I had son 2, there was a shortage of midwives. Experienced Mums were helping out the first-timers and on my ward a patient, who happened to be a nurse as well as a new Mum, helped the staff by taking round the drinks trolley!
I also read my Mslexia magazine yesterday and now am moving on to What Was Lost. I can't wait!