Home birth is defined as giving birth to a baby in your place of residence. Most home births are attended by a Hebamme/midwife, though they can be attended by a doctor; and in an unplanned home birth this may be attended by emergency technicians, or in a very quick birth it may be a family member in attendance. In most countries it is not legal to have a planned home birth without medical personal in attendance In a low risk pregnancy there is evidence to suggest that a home birth can be as safe as a hospital birth; especially when it is not the mother’s first pregnancy. A home birth is associated with reduced intervention, and an increased normal delivery rate. Overall the literature shows that a woman experiences less pain when in her own environment, has more autonomy over her birth and increased satisfaction. Another advantage of a home birth is the continuity of care that a woman and her partner receive. They are cared for in a small team of midwives which means that for the most part they will have already met the midwife who is with them at their baby’s birth. The percentage of home deliveries has only decreased over the years with numbers in the UK and Germany being around 1% per of all births. Most women in Munich choose to deliver in a hospital or birth house (Geburtshaus) but for those who wish a home birth there are Hebammes in Munich who offer this service. As a student midwife I had the privilege to attend a few home births and in my early days as a midwife I worked in a team of midwives where home birth was offered. It has been many a year since I have been present at a home birth, but at a recent "fortbildung" class in Munich I met Julia, a Hebamme who specialises in home births here in Munich I spoke with Hebamme Julia about her Praxis here in Munich.
Let’s pitch straight in…why did you choose to become a midwife?
My Godmother told me when I was young that I have ‘midwifes hands’ but as a career the idea grew on me quite slowly. I became interested in feminist politics, women’s rights and women’s health when I was still in school and so when I was looking for a career I realised that it would be incredibly powerful to support women through what is always a special time in their lives. It would be a way to assist women as they develop their family and help them as they bring new life into the world.
I understand you studied midwifery in the UK not in Germany, why was that?
Right from the start I knew that I wanted to be a community-based midwife. At the time you couldn’t do a degree in Germany but in the UK I was able to study at Plymouth University and do my community based training in Devon and Cornwall. As a rural area Devon and Cornwall had a home birth rate that was slightly above the national average. I was so fortunate to secure a community post with a group of very experienced midwives. I also valued the complex ways in which UK midwives are taught to assess medical evidence, the training is rigorous and there is greater autonomy as a practitioner. I was there for three years and I loved it.
Congratulations on starting your new practice in Munich. Tell me more about it.
Thank you. I launched in April 2020 which was a crazy time to start but actually, it’s worked so well. I offer one-to-one care for pregnant women that are looking for home birth support. It’s a very bespoke approach and I am with my client through the whole pregnancy and beyond through to the newborn’s early months. Pregnancy and birth is a truly natural unfolding of a beautiful experience in a woman’s life. I walk that path with my clients. Planning a home birth is so empowering. It means that the pregnant person and family around them can take full responsibility for their care and birth experience.
What are the key benefits of a home birth?
A woman has total control over an environment that she is already comfortable in. Her birth partner or partners can be with her continuously from the first contraction to the birth and beyond. There is a sense of ‘doing something’ when you go into hospital or ‘having something done’...at home that doesn’t happen, it’s just an organic process. During home birth the rate of unnecessary intervention is lower than in a hospital setting while mother and baby are just as safe. In Germany numbers on safety of out-of-hospital-births have been collected since 1999 and can be accessed via this link.. One-on-one care is a real benefit to the birth process too.
How do you tackle any clinical concerns during pregnancy or labour?
The client and I are well prepared. Any clinical concerns are factored into the situation ahead of time and discussed with everybody involved, including a discussion on whether home birth is the right choice if there are any clinical concerns. If a situation develops beyond the range of normal physiology in pregnancy, I refer to the gynaecologist or hospital as appropriate. I am of course trained to deal with any arising emergency situations.”
To find out more about how Julia can support you through a home birth go to www.julia-preu.net or email julia.preu @ riseup.net