Are you are a pregnant woman who has had a healthy pregnancy and clear medical history? Had you planned on going to hospital to birth your baby? Then this last decision could prove to be a very dangerous thing to do! Most people by now have read or heard something related to the swine flu or swine influenza, which is a very contagious respiratory disease. The disease has typically been linked to people who have had direct contact with pigs; however, the disease is now being spread from person to person.
Why could going to hospital be a dangerous thing to do? Firstly, a mother's immune system is naturally suppressed during pregnancy to ensure her body does not reject her baby, hence making women more susceptible to all infections, especially the swine flu, which seems to be affecting women in younger age groups more predominantly. If you have any underlying respiratory health issues you could be more at risk of contracting this sometimes fatal disease.
Secondly, an important recommendation for reducing you and your unborn baby's chances of contracting the swine flu is to avoid crowds where possible. Hospitals are very busy and often crowded places, as are public transport systems, shopping malls etc. If you have other people in your household, it is important you are aware of where they have been and whom they have been in contact with. If members of your family or friends happen to have been in contact with someone who has the virus your doctor may prescribe an antiviral drug such as Relenza, which is safe for you and your unborn baby. In more severe cases you will most likely be prescribed Tamiflu, but this will be a decision made by your doctor.
With swine flu around every corner, now is the perfect chance to talk with your Lead Maternity Carer [LMC] about the reality of planning to stay home for the birth of your baby. It is definitely a sensible decision to consider, one which will help reduce you and your baby's chances of being exposed to this terrible virus. Given that swine flu is a new virus, medical experts are yet to find out if the virus can negatively affect the womb during pregnancy, so why take the risk? Discuss your concerns or thoughts with your LMC - you need to be aware that many well-meaning people will never understand that for most women, birthing at home is at least as safe as hospital in the case of swine flu for example - even safer! Therefore it may be smart to keep your intentions only with those who really need to know, unless you can manage a barrage of uninformed horror stories.
So why would you not consider staying home to labour and birth in your own environment where it is proven to be safe, where it used to happen all the time, where it continues to happen in most non-western countries, Where you can snuggle up in bed together and wake up to normal family life and where you know whose bugs you have on your toilet!