Birth call out

January 30th, 2021

I was nearly born in the lift at The Royal Berkshire Hospital, over the road from The MERL. Mum had snoozed through the night in her bed, aware that something was happening yet not feeling anxious. She kept in mind what her father had told her about animals choosing dark and quiet to have their babies.

My grandfather studied Agriculture at Reading University and my gran Dairy Sciences in the building next to The MERL, in the year it was founded. They went on to run a smallholding and my mum was born in the house there, a former inn from the 1600s. As my grandad waited for my mum to be born, he chatted to the midwife who had arrived on her bicycle. She had bought new piglets and had many questions about how best to look after them.

When my brother was born in the early eighties, Mum wanted a home birth like her mum. She worked with friends to establish the Reading Birth Centre: committed individuals with skills to support families toward the birth they hoped for.

My second child was born at home before the midwife arrived, and was caught by my mum.

As the pandemic has developed in the UK, home births and free births have risen. How has this felt for families who have had babies during this time?