A few months ago, I posted on the I'm Pregnant boards about my unusual circumstances- after finding out I was pregnant back in June, my husband and I left our jobs in Shanghai (where we had been for 5 years) and went back to Canada, my home country. Unfortunately, as I'd been away for too many years, I found out I couldn't apply for universal healthcare until after 6 months. We managed to get a 20 week ultrasound done privately but it was too complicated to get regular prenatal care that way. We decided to move to his home country (England) and managed to get my spouse visa a week shy of my no-fly cut-off (28 weeks).
Luckily, my pregnancy has been very uncomplicated- I monitored my blood pressure and weight and blood sugar during the first 28 weeks until I was able to get a midwife upon arriving in the UK, and both the 12 and 20 week scans were excellent. I did a lot of online research while I was back in North America, so a lot of my initial decisions were informed by options and difficulties within the US system (because there is so much written about it).
Now, it looks like I'll be having a water/home birth. It's presented as a viable option by the midwives here- on equal footing for uncomplicated pregnancies, alongside midwife run birthing centres and the hospitals. Frankly, I was surprised and quite excited. We live in a city centre, about 5 minutes from the main hospital, so if anything goes wrong, it's not a difficult transfer. When I'm in established labour, two midwives will come to my house and stay with me for the birth and any follow-up needs. We discussed pain management options and what if any interventions I would be okay with, if needed. They were very supportive and very matter of fact about the whole thing. Apparently, in my neighbourhood, home births are very common.
Now that I'm here, nearly 39 weeks and waiting, I'm reading through this forum and wondering about the actual, practical differences in risks and options between US and UK home births. My midwives are all working directly with the local health services and are fully qualified (3/4 year degrees+). They have the support of the hospitals and obstetricians. All services are provided free of charge through the national health services (except my birthing pool, which I hired privately and inexpensively- they're free if you have a hospital birth but not loaned out for home births).
Has anyone else had a UK home birth? How did it compare with what we read on this forum? It sounds incredibly controversial and almost subversive/illicit in the US, with mothers being chastised for putting their babies in grave danger... which I've not heard at all here. Is it the systems that make things more/less dangerous?