Home births are explored in a new documentary

Pregnant woman is filmed going into labour in a water bath in her living room with the TV on in the background in BBC series about home births – as midwives say they help with everything from cooking to the dishes

  • Series follows the Homebirth Midwifery Unit at the Bradford Teaching Hospitals 
  • BBC2’s Yorkshire Midwives sees the team help three women give birth at home 
  • Midwives reveal how they sometimes clean or make food after delivering babies 
  • Disagreed with the idea that having a baby at home is ‘hippy or non-conformist’ 

From having contractions in front of the TV, to midwives putting on loads of washing, the realities of giving birth at home are revealed in an eye-opening documentary series. 

BBC2 series Yorkshire Midwives, which starts tonight, follows the Homebirth Midwifery Unit at the Bradford Teaching Hospital as they help three women go into labour at home. 

Midwives tell how they often calm down ‘scared’ fathers by giving them jobs to do around the house, and sometimes even help post-natal mothers by putting a wash on or making food for their other children.

Formed in 2019, the unit is headed by team-leader Laura, who said that giving birth at home isn’t a ‘hippy, non-conformist’ thing to do and each patient chooses not to go into hospital for different reasons. 

BBC2 series Yorkshire Midwives, which airs this evening, follows the Homebirth Midwifery Unit at the Bradford Teaching Hospital as they help three women go into labour at home. The series showed junior doctor Rebecca give birth to a healthy baby in a pool filled with warm water

The series followed midwife Michaela (pictured) as she assisted junior doctors Rebecca and Tim with a water birth for their second child

‘People do have a lot of preconceptions about home birth you would automatically think it’s something a bit hippy a bit out there, not normal, not conformist,’ she said. 

‘We don’t see that at all in Bradford. Everyone chooses it for different reasons. I don’t think there is a stereotypical home birthing family’.

The series followed midwife Michaela as she assisted junior doctors Rebecca and Tim with a water birth for their second child.

Explaining the reasons behind choosing a home birth, Rebecca said: ‘When we first started talking about having a home birth, one of the things that made us think how special would be is the thought of how many babies have already been born in our house.

Formed in 2019, the unit is headed by team-leader Laura, who said that giving birth at home isn’t a ‘hippy, non-conformist’ thing to do and each patient chooses not to go into hospital for different reasons

‘Considering it was built in 1860 and I feel it’s been a long period of time since there’s been any babies born and we’re planning on doing it again.’

Ahead of the birth Michaela explained that despite needing to rush to their patients, the team are forced to adhere to standard rules of the road – even joking they advise women not to go into labour during rush hour. 

‘Bradford traffic is horrendous,’ she said. ‘Especially rush hour Monday morning, Friday tea time. We ask women to avoid going into labour at those times but obviously it doesn’t work. 

‘We try and get there as quick as we can but we don’t have blue lights so we have to drive within the speed limit in the traffic of Bradford and hope for the best really. I have no speeding fines yet!’

To try and induce Rebecca’s labour, Michaela visited her home to perform a ‘stretch and sweep’, a simple procedure which promotes the release of natural hormones prostaglandins. 

Explaining the reasons behind choosing a home birth, Rebecca said: ‘One of the things that made us think how special would be is the thought of how many babies have already been born in our house, considering it was built in 1860’ 

The documentary saw the team dashing to their base at Bradford Royal Infirmary to get equipment they needed for Rebecca’s birth

She explained: ‘The idea of it is to try and separate the membranes of the baby from the neck of the whom, it is meant to trigger a hormonal effect that will ideally set of labour. 

‘It’s not something we offer lightly but for some women who are really struggling towards the end of pregnancy it is something we’ll do for them if they choose.’ 

The documentary saw the team dashing to their base at Bradford Royal Infirmary to get equipment they needed for Rebecca’s birth.  

Laura explained: ‘We’ve got a cupboard on the labour ward and it is jam-packed to the rafters with everything we need. You feel like you’re going on some kind of extreme camping trip. ‘ 

Fellow midwife Gemma added: ‘Your worst fear is forgetting something, we’ve all done it. The drugs, do not forget the drugs and the gas and air.’ 

The candid documentary showed junior doctor Rebecca, accompanied by partner Tim, give birth to a healthy baby in a pool filled with warm water with the help of the midwives.  

Elsewhere on the documentary, mum-of-three Keeleigh was preparing to give birth to her fourth child at home with cousin and best friend Leanne is her birthing partner

Speaking after Rebecca’s seven hour birth, Michaela said: ‘It’s such a privilege to be present in that life changing event. It’s not something everyone gets to see it’s a private time and we definitely do love those times.’

After Rebecca’s birth, Tim got the job of emptying the 480 litres of water from the birthing pool, however midwives were on hand to help out the new parents in any way they could. 

‘To give them a bit more time all together as a family we try and clean up around them just to kind of leave their home as it was before we arrived,’ said Michaela. 

‘Some of the midwives have even popped the washing machine on and gone round with the vacuum, make the kids some food or something. We try and do as much as we can.’

Elsewhere on the documentary, mother-of-three Keeleigh was preparing to give birth to her fourth child at home with cousin and best friend Leanne is her birthing partner.   

Her midwife Claire explained: ‘Birthing a baby at home is completely different to birthing a baby on the labour ward where you have all your doctors. We have a lot of responsibility it’s all on our shoulders, it’s all really exciting and we love the job    

Keeleigh was able to give birth at home, however an hour later was taken to hospital in an ambulance because midwives were unhappy with the volume of blood she had lost. 

However after a short stay in hospital Keeleigh was given the all clear and was able to return home with her healthy newborn daughter Willow

Her midwife Claire explained: ‘It’s a real shame when we have to take mum and baby into hospital when they’ve had a lovely home birth but it’s something we have to do to put mum and baby’s safety first

Claire explained: ‘When a mum has had several children it can be quite common to have a bleed. 

‘So what we would do is rub her tummy, to rub the contractions on her uterus and we would give an injection to stop the bleeding but sometimes we need to get them to hospital to get them checked out. 

‘It’s a real shame when we have to take mum and baby into hospital when they’ve had a lovely home birth but it’s something we have to do to put mum and baby’s safety first.’ 

However after a short stay in hospital Keeleigh was given the all clear and was able to return home with her healthy newborn daughter Willow.    

Midwife Gemma, who was enlisted to help care assistant Jodie give birth in the comfort of her bedroom, revealed to viewers which methods of inducing labour actually work – including having sex.  

‘Women say “Oh I have a pineapple in the fridge”, she said. ‘I don’t say it’s not going to work, carry on with your pineapple. Curries I don’t think there’s anything in that. 

Midwife Gemma, who was enlisted to help care assistant Jodie give birth in the comfort of her bedroom, revealed to viewers which methods of inducing labour actually work – including having sex

‘Sex I do think that works apparently in semen there are prostaglandins which are hormones that soften the service so by all means go for it if you feel like it.’ 

She explained how giving birth at home can be easier on birthing partners, many of whom seem ‘worried’ and useless while their partners give birth at hospital.  

 ‘I’ve had some amazing birth partners but sometimes men just don’t know what to do and you can see them looking worried and scared and anxious and our job is to reassure them as well.’ she said. 

‘It’s different for birth partner at home, we can give them jobs to do. In hospital they don’t have that opportunity so much, they sort of have to sit and be supportive. 

‘They can be a bit more useful I think at home. There’s more they can get involved in, making us cups of tea for a start!’ 

Yorkshire midwives airs on BBC3 this evening at 8pm and is available on BBCiPlayer 

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