A Leverington woman gave birth unassisted by midwives after discovering King’s Lynn Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) no longer offers a home birth service.
Lanaya Harvey-Davitt, 25, and husband James had borrowed £1,000 to hire an independent midwife, but the only one available lived an hour away and did not make it in time for the birth.
James, a college lecturer, said: “It is true to say I was considerably more stressed and frightened than Lanaya and because she was so comfortable it brought me back down to earth.
“I did dial 999, but purely for some advice because I didn’t want to take action that was wrong or to not act if I should be.”
Lanaya gave birth to her eldest son Joseph at home two-and-a-half years ago when the QEH home birth service was still in operation. She was assisted then by two qualified midwifes and a trainee.
When, in the run-up to the birth of new baby Joshua, Lanaya discovered the QEH were no longer supporting home births she researched labour thoroughly and trained as a doula – a birthing assistant.
She says she was mentally prepared to do it alone if necessary and gave birth with no pain relief, alone in the bathroom of her Leverington home having spent labour in her darkened bedroom listening to music. Her midwife arrived to clamp the cord ready for James to cut it.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence published new guidance last week that stated midwife -led birth options were safer than traditional hospital births for women with low risk pregnancies. That includes birthing at a specialist midwife-led unit and home births.
Lanaya, hopes the latest National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance may go some way to convincing society why women need to have home birth as an option.
She said: “Maybe it will help people to start to understand we are not crazy for wanting a home birth and maybe more women will start asking why they can’t have one.
“I support the NHS but all these cutbacks leave you feeling it’s not really the NHS anymore. It is almost just for people who don’t have money. It seems to be low end care. It should be standard care.”
Peterborough Hospital does have a midwife-led unit that Lanaya had the option to use but, for her, home was the only place she wanted to give birth.
She said: “The day I labour and give birth is similar to Christmas/Hanukkah/Diwali. Feelings of joy, reverence and peace.
“Coercing me to give birth in a hospital is like making a Christian, Jew or Hindu spend their sacred day at a police station, an unfamiliar formal environment surrounded by strangers, away from family.”
The Royal College of Midwives strongly discourages anyone to give birth without the presence of a midwife, saying it can be dangerous and even life-threatening for both mother and child.