RHODA Thomson, from Oban, is among the thousand-plus women in Scotland who have opted for a home birth since 2020.

The 37-year-old former social worker previously had an uncomplicated delivery with her first son, Scott, who was born at Lorn & Islands hospital in December 2017.

When it came to her second pregnancy with son, Murdo - born in the midst of lockdown in May 2020 - Ms Thomson was keen to stay at home for the birth.

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She said: "I think I would have gone for a home birth even without the pandemic, but I was quite lucky because a lot of places weren't offering them at the time.

"But in Argyll and Bute, because it's so remote, they have a well-established out of hours system with the midwives and they carried it on.

"I was only in labour for eight hours with Scott so they had said I'd be even quicker with Murdo - 'by the time you get in the car and get your babysitters sorted and travel into Oban, you might as well consider a home birth'.

"I grew up in my family home so it felt quite a sentimental thing to do, and then when lockdown hit there were all sorts of restrictions on hospitals.

"I know from friends that your partner wasn't allowed in until you were actually in the labour ward, so you could be sitting in the hospital for hours going through contractions with nobody else there.

"There was just no way I was going to do that."

Ms Thomson, who is now a self-employed book rep, admits that some people were surprised by her choice.

She said: "Home births aren't massively commonplace here, mostly because people do have anxiety about things going wrong and being so far away from hospitals. But no one tried to persuade me against it.

"I knew my midwife from my previous work as a social worker, and I knew her approach. She was very sensible but also not risk averse, and everyone knew I didn't have any complications the first time.

"I just didn't like the ethos of having lots of medical intervention if I didn't need it."

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In the end, Ms Thomson went into labour shortly after midnight on the day Murdo was due.

Two midwives and a student midwife arrived two hours later, and Murdo was born by 4am.

"It was much faster - a four-hour labour compared to an eight-hour one - and much sorer," said Ms Thomson, who managed without any pain relief except gas and air which she "never really got the knack of using".

However, she said she would definitely recommend a home birth to other mothers. 

"It was just so much nicer and easier in the morning to be able to have your own cup of tea in your own house, and to be able to go to bed when you needed to.

"I think it's pot luck on what the culture is in your midwifery team.

"I'm lucky living rurally that my midwife had been in the practice for years and had probably done a lot of home births on the islands which isn't maybe as common in other areas."