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The Rainbow Team
The Rainbow Team consists of four midwives committed to supporting your choice of birth place. Homebirth is most appropriate and encouraged if you have no medical conditions and have an uncomplicated pregnancy.
All areas of Wandsworth and parts of Merton are covered by our team. If you don’t fall within this catchment, you may be able to access the homebirth service from another hospital.
If you choose to have a home birth, midwives from the Rainbow Team will provide the majority of your antenatal care from their clinic in Tooting. At 36 weeks, a midwife from the team will conduct an antenatal appointment at your home to carry out a risk assessment and leave some equipment for the birth. Postnatal care will be carried out in your home and a midwife from the team will attend your birth where possible.
How do I request a home birth?
If you are interested in a homebirth, please select Home as your chosen place of birth on your referral form, or if you are already booked at St. George’s, please ask your midwife to refer you to the team.
What are the benefits of home birth?
The Rainbow Team offers continuity of care through pregnancy, birth and postnatally. Continuity helps you to build a rapport with our team therefore we can better support your choices. Other benefits of birth at home:
- A more relaxed environment, which is conducive to better labour hormone production (oxytocin), therefore helping labour progress.
- There is no need to interrupt labour to go into hospital.
- You can choose who is present at the birth, including your own children.
- If you have no medical conditions and an uncomplicated pregnancy you are more likely to have a spontaneous vaginal birth with fewer interventions.
- The most recent evidence (Lancet 2020) showed those with uncomplicated pregnancy who planned to birth at home were:
- 40% less likely to have a caesarean section
- 50% less likely to have an instrumental delivery
- 55% less likely to have an episiotomy
- 75% less likely to develop an infection
- 40% less likely to have a 3rd or 4th degree tear
- There is no increased risk of adverse outcomes to you or baby (Nethary et al. 2021)
- You can enjoy the comfort of your own bed and the use of your own bathroom afterwards.
Do I need any special equipment?
No, however we will ask you to provide some towels, plastic sheeting or old sheets to protect your furniture but all clinical equipment is provided by your midwife.
If you want to have a waterbirth at home, you will need to provide your own pool. You can buy, borrow or hire one easily. Please see the local Facebook group for ideas on how to source a pool or ask a Rainbow Team midwife.
Is my home suitable?
It doesn’t matter if you live in a flat or a house, birth doesn’t require a huge amount of space. The only requirement is that you must have access to hot water and heating.
“The entire birth had felt natural and safe, in my familiar environment. By midnight we were both curled up in my bed and it was so magical.”
What if I have other children?
Many women choose to have a homebirth for their second or subsequent birth. What you do with other children while you are in labour is up to you and there is no right or wrong way. Please ensure there is someone available to care for your children in the event of transfer to hospital – unfortunately children are not permitted to attend the maternity unit.
Will it be messy?
Mess will be kept to a minimum. We will provide absorbent pads, clear up all clinical waste and take it away when we leave.
Is it noisy?
You may want to inform your neighbours, but they are usually unaware of a birth happening and there has never been a complaint.
Can I have pain relief?
We can provide “Gas and Air” (entonox) during labour if required.
We encourage obtaining a birthing pool as it offers effective relief even if you don’t want to give birth in water. It is also advised to learn about hypnobirthing as the breathing, mindfulness and relaxation techniques can help to improve your labour experience.
Other alternatives include:
- A TENS machine (you can buy, borrow or rent one)
- Using your bath or shower
- Massage (by your support person/people)
Is it safe?
Numerous studies have demonstrated the safety of home birth, most notably the Birthplace Study and the Lancet Review in 2020.
During a homebirth, midwives perform the same labour care that is given in the midwife-led Birth Centre. This includes regular observations for you and monitoring of the baby’s heartbeat.
Two midwives will be present for the actual birth – this is a national recommendation.
At 36 weeks the midwife will drop off a “home birth bag” which contains much of the clinical equipment necessary for the labour and birth, as well as some emergency equipment. When the midwife arrives for the labour she will bring additional equipment to ensure mother and baby’s safety, including emergency drugs and resuscitation equipment.
There is a high likelihood that you will have met the midwife caring for you in labour before, they will have an improved ability to pick up signs of you or baby deteriorating quickly.
What happens if I need to go to the hospital?
If a transfer to hospital is required, the Rainbow Team liaise with the London Ambulance Service to ensure the most efficient transfer possible. In an emergency, an ambulance will be provided within 8 minutes. However, the vast majority of transfers from home to hospital are NOT an emergency. Most transfers take place because labour lasts longer than expected and/or additional pain relief is requested.
Is there any information on social media?
We have an Instagram page with further information about our team, stories from women who have birthed at home, and more about the benefits of home birth. Just search @homebirth_stgeorges to find us!