A woman who is experiencing low risk pregnancy may choose to have a home birth. The Health Service Executive (HSE) has a National Home Birth Service for eligible expectant mothers who wish to have a home birth under the care of a self-employed community midwife (SECM).
In some HSE areas the service may be available through a maternity hospital or a HSE scheme. However in other HSE areas, only private SECMs are available to attend a home birth – see ‘How to apply’ below.
If you want to avail of the National Home Birth Service, you will first need to contact your Local Health Office. You will be put through to the designated official who is a qualified midwife. You will be sent an information pack.
You then contact a self-employed community midwife (SECM). You and the midwife should fill out an application form for the service. You send the form to the designated official who will assess your eligibility for the service. If your application is accepted, this will entitle you to free antenatal, delivery and postnatal services. The HSE will also provide you with a Home Birth Pack with all you will need for a home delivery. You can find more information about the process in Appendix 4 Pathway of Care on hse.ie.
Alternatively, you can engage a self-employed community midwife (SECM) privately and your antenatal, delivery and postnatal care will be provided by them.
If you are using maternity services provided by a hospital or HSE scheme, they are provided free of charge.
Many private health insurers provide a grant towards the cost of a home birth.
How to apply
If you wish to have a home birth, you need to decide this as early as possible in your pregnancy.