Rowan Pelling’s Homebirth Retold

With the ongoing saga of witch hunting in the UK at the moment I can see that Rowan Pelling who homebirthed after a ceasarian section with the marvellous Jane Evans has rewritten her initial birth article. The first article a wonderful account of her journey to birth was written with love and passion towards her birth and her midwife. This was unfortunately picked up by one of the Obstetric commentators with no scruples and turned into a laughing stock.

I was contemplating these polarised options last autumn when a chance playground conversation led me to the extraordinary Jane Evans, an independent midwife based in Hertfordshire who is renowned in natural birth circles for her skill in birthing breech babies and twins. The minute Jane walked through my door I knew from her long grey hair, wry gaze and kooky, striped socks that I’d found my white witch.


Grilling midwives is nothing new

This lovingly witty assessment of the midwife was taken up and laughed at with typical school boy humour, totally missing out the important point of this midwife being respected and renowned due to her individual look – something I cherish in myself.

Her descriptive depiction of birth at home with all the joy and heartfelt feeling was changed into a comedy of crawling on the floor and ludicrous encouragements.

Homebirth practitioners are well read and well versed in risk assessment and safety issues and at all times the birth was conducted with decorum and great clinical skill. Another fact that seemed to be overlooked.

Today Rowan has rewritten her article and turned it into a good critical article on the benefits of birthing at home with a midwife.

This time she analysed her decision making process and her research into her mode of birthing

Namely significantly heightened risks of scar rupture, internal bleeding, adhesion’s (where scar tissue spreads and adheres to layers of muscle and skin), placenta praevia (where the placenta obstructs the birth canal, endangering mother and baby) and hysterectomy. Research published in the British Medical Journal last November found that the risk of maternal death in caesareans was three to five times higher than that of natural deliveries, while the risk of a baby dying was raised one-and-a-half times (unless the baby was breech). A recent Oxford University study found that a caesarean increased a woman’s risk of hysterectomy by 350 per cent.
Caesareans are also linked to problems with conception and a higher risk of subsequent ectopic pregnancies , where a fertilised egg implants in the fallopian tube, which can lead to rupture and severe bleeding.

Her assessment of Jane and her ability is transformed.

It was my independent midwife, Jane Evans, who reassured me. Jane’s raison d’etre was to enable women to experience childbirth as a profoundly moving and joyful event. I was bolstered by her confidence in me, her excellent track record, and her proven ability to closely monitor labour and pick up problems swiftly.

This goes to show that writing can leave you open to ridicule and bullying from every quarter. Our joy of birth can be caught up in wanting to share our experiences with everyone. How wrong can this be? The blame culture may be a fairly recent phenomenon, but it’s nothing new to midwives. Language is one of our most powerful tools but it also seems to be our downfall.

Well done to Rowan for a great birth. You can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. Only women can chose their birth path. With the medical model holding all the cards: money, power, credence and on the net anonymity, where do we go from here?

3 responses to “Rowan Pelling’s Homebirth Retold”

  1. kate

    wow, what spectacular home birth story. every time i read stories like this not only do i shed a happy tear but it reinforces to me that home birth is such a powerful birthing option to choose. as for anonymous commentators, they are an unfortunate bi-product of the internet. however, it is also through the internet that your message becomes louder and gains more momentum. i know that i will recommend this blog to any women i know who become pregnant as it is a great starting point to learning all there is to know about homebirth in australia. keep up the great work!

  2. kate

    p.s the second article under hyperlink ‘good critical article’ doesn’t seem to be working.

  3. Lisa Barrett

    Thanks for the bad link update. Somehow it worked for me. I’ve managed to change it to something with less funny characters. Hopefully it will now work for you too.