WOMEN across the Warrington area are being given the freedom to experience a unique and intimate birth story thanks to the hard work of the Warrington Hospital Home Birthing team.

We recently travelled to the hospital to speak to the team of birthing experts who have been working tirelessly to allow women the experience of giving birth at home.

Team Lunar, the hospital’s home birth team, was launched in January of last year. This followed the team being stopped during the Covid-19 pandemic, in which it was no longer safe for midwives to travel to people’s homes.

Natalie Starkey, 32, a midwife on Team Lunar and Specialist Infant Feeding Midwife said: “Probably one of the biggest things from the whole COVID scenario is that actually - that choice was taken away.

“It was detrimental to those families that wanted a home birth because there was no alternative in terms of that experience. It was essentially ‘you have to come into hospital for that care’. So I think that's been the nicest bit, we’ve been able to give that choice back.

“We should all have a choice. It's our human right to choose and birth our baby as and when and where we want and with who we want.”

Since Covid-19, however, the number of home births has seen a rise, as anxiety about hospitals remains. Since relaunching the service, Team Lunar has seen 300 families come through in just 12 months according to Team Leader and Midwife Sarah Aley, 53, who says the chance for home births is a ‘bespoke individual process’.

When a family registers with the hospital for their pregnancy, there will now be a button offering mothers the opportunity to learn more about home births and how that system works.

If they display interest, Sarah will reach out to them to speak and will assign them a named midwife on the team. As being on call at the time of giving birth can’t be guaranteed, the team runs monthly events to ensure that mothers can become familiar with the whole team.

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The named midwife, however, is usually the main point of contact – which allows mothers a continuity of care and personal relationship with the midwifes they will be inviting into their home.

On the day of the interview, one member of the team had helped a woman give birth just that morning. After a certain gestation period, the team will be placed on 24-hour call, with two shifts of 12 hours from 8am to 8pm and vice versa, to ensure someone is available at all times in case a birth occurs.

Sarah described it as a calm experience compared to a hospital birth, saying: “I think it's so different for them. You know, under normal circumstances, they'd be in hospital and the hospital is bustling 24/7 there's no sort of night and day here.

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“Whereas at home with us it’s calm hushed tones and ‘How's everything going?’ It sets that path.

“Most of the women will have met each of us on the team too.”

In a beautiful surprise, this experience has led to a small community forming amongst the home birth teams and the mothers they help.

Sarah and Natalie both described parents bringing back their kids to meet them after the birth, and multiple mums becoming friends with one another after attending regular sessions.

According to Sarah, this all goes back to the personal and intimate experience the home birth provides. She said: “You get that relationship there. We are very privileged I think in the fact that we are invited into their home.

“We might see them in clinic or at set times, but most of the ladies will have home appointments. So we'll go and meet the other kids, meet the pets, the pets are there a lot of time for the birth, we get a lot of snoring dogs!

“So, you build those relationships, you get to know the family unit, it’s unlike any situation within the hospital.

“It’s a big responsibility because they're having a baby. They're extending the family.”

This experience has, understandably, created a small community which the team will be celebrating this coming week.

Team Lunar will be hosting an event to celebrate the recent one year anniversary of their launch, where they will be welcoming past families they’ve cared for, those booked in now, or those who want to hear more about homebirths.

Team Lunar has created a unique community best illustrated by something said regularly to Sarah, leader of the team.

She said: “At a certain point, we have to discharge them and it’s always a very sad day. But we’ve had a few comments recently where families have turned round and said ‘well you may be discharging us, but we’re not discharging you’”.

The Team Lunar one year anniversary celebration will take place Saturday, February, 10 10am to 4pm, at Thelwall Parish Hall, WA4 2SX (opposite the Little Manor on Bell Lane, Thelwall).