Congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge! The Duchess is expecting a second baby, and she is being treated yet again for hyperemesis gravidarum, the absolutely terrifying type of “morning sickness” (stupid phrase) that she now knows she is prone to. At least this time there won’t be any obnoxious Australian radio DJs playing silly buggers….
It is hard to get doctors to take HG seriously because it doesn’t seem to affect the baby much. From what I have heard from clients suffering from the condition, some consultants, on meeting a woman wasting away with HG, revert to a set of priorities more appropriate to the court of a medieval monarch: never mind the woman, save the royal heir! And here, have a ginger biscuit. Everyone knows the total efficacy of ginger biscuits in preventing 24-hour nausea, vomiting, dehydration and near-collapse, right?
Duchess Kate, on the other hand, has done a great service for HG sufferers by bringing some public attention to the condition and, ironically – considering that she really is carrying a royal heir – she has apparently had really good care. We all hope that the condition passes soon. I remember morning sickness being much worse with babies 1 and 2 than it was with babies 3 and 4, so maybe this is “a thing” and means she will soon be over the worst!
The thought that pops into my head most often when I contemplate Royal Baby No. 2 is – HOME BIRTH. Well, it’s true I do think of home birth quite a lot as I am passionate about it and I wish more women would request it. But let’s face it, the Duchess, if she so chooses, has very good reasons to birth this baby at home. The choice should be totally HERS (it won’t be) but here are some arguments she could use if she wants:
1. Her previous labour was straightforward, requiring no doctor to intervene.
2. She did not feel the need for an epidural – it is thought that she used hypnobirthing and gas and air. So she knows she can do it. It is GREAT when you KNOW you can do it – that certainty gets a woman through any number of grim contractions, even the ones where you think WHY DID I DO THIS AGAIN? WHAT WAS I THINKING?
3. Second baby is often a shorter labour than first baby. George was quite fast for a first baby. Unbeknown to the hundreds of people noisily milling outside St Mary’s Hospital last June, he was born hours before the announcement of his birth was officially made. It would minimise stress for Kate if the doctors and midwives could come to her, rather than the other way around.
4. Privacy! She would be birthing deep in the heart of Kensington Palace and nobody would be any the wiser until the announcement. No crowds outside on the street! The longing for privacy was the main reason, apparently, why Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling chose an independent midwife and home birth for her third child. Midwives and doctors would be able to arrive at the Palace unnoticed and Kate could remain out of view for as long as she felt she needed to. Isn’t that nicer than having to brave the world’s press on the hospital doorstep, just hours after giving birth?
5. Safety. Studies have shown that for second time mums, birth at home is as safe as in an obstetric ward and associated with fewer interventions. To soothe all the naysayers, it would not be very difficult for the Lindo Wing to set up a little outpost in Kensington Palace with all the necessary equipment. An ambulance could be on standby if she did need a transfer to hospital, which is ten minutes away.
One snag about a home birth, from Kate’s point of view: if she wants to have this baby in the couple’s lovely new country home in Norfolk, as opposed to London, she can forget it. While St Mary’s, Paddington has boosted its home birth figures and even runs a monthly home birth information session, the situation is very different near Anmer. The local health trust has suspended the home birth service and women in labour have to be driven up to 30 miles to Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital, Kings Lynn. Now, I have reason to be grateful to other departments of this hospital for the sensitive and kind treatment my father received at the end of his life last year. But having said that, a maternity service that does not include home birth absolutely SUCKS.
Get better soon, Duchess!