Midwife Anne Richley talks you through what to expect with a hospital birth, and why most women choose this option
Giving birth in an NHS hospital is probably the simplest option in terms of planning. The majority of women give birth in their local hospital’s maternity ward.
What to expect: Maternity units can be quite large. While a midwife will be on hand, there will also be doctors available in case of complications, plus an anaesthetist to assist if you need an epidural or an emergency caesarean.
If you have certain medical conditions or have had complications during your pregnancy, you might be advised to give birth in an NHS maternity ward that has backup from doctors as well as access to a paediatrician or special care baby unit. If you’d like to use a birthing pool, this should be available – discuss your wishes with your midwife well in advance of your due date (and see box, top right, for more on water births).
How do I go about it? You'll find a list of your local hospitals with maternity units on the internet. If you live in a city, you may have a choice of two or three, but if you live in a more rural area, your hospitals are likely to be more spread out, limiting your choice.
If you do have choice, make a shortlist of two to three (it's sensible to pick hopsitals that are not too far away) and then try to make a quick visit to each hospital for a lookaround. You're unlikely to be able to visit the maternity unit but can still get a feel for the hospital atmosphere, its size and how easy it is to get there, park nearby and find your way round.
You can then tell your GP or midwife which hospital you would like to go to.
Good to know… Even if you’ve opted for a home birth, if your labour doesn’t go as planned or you change your mind, you can transfer to a maternity ward.
“I'd had a great pregnancy and hoped to have a very straightforward birth. However, after 10 hours in labour, my baby's heartbeat started to fall quite sharply between contractions. The midwife called the consultant who recommended an emergency caesarean. Despite the urgency, it was all done without panic or stress. I was quickly prepared for the op, my husband put on a green gown, and Sophie was born safe and well shortly afterwards. I was so pleased I was in a hospital where a fast decision could be made, with all the experts on hand to make it happen.”
Christie Mayhew, 33, from Northampton, mum to Sophie, 7 weeks
Now try these:
I went to our local maternity unit for both of ours. I was 12 days over with each but Mia (2.5 years old) made an appearence all on her own the morning that I was due to be induced. It was lovely that day because I got there at 3:30am and was leaving with Mia at 4pm. The second time I was induced but it was a totally different experince. The staff were different, they were slating each other and poking and prodding me, chatting as if I wasn't even there. It really was awful. Then near the end when I asked for a bit of pain relief I was told not to be 'a silly girl' as I didn't need it. i knew Ava was one her way but the lady said I had ages left. What do you know, within 45 minutes there was Ava, almost delivered in the lift. I can honestly say if I had of had that experience first we probably would have stopped at one dispite wanting 2. I think making plans are great and it really helps you feel in control and knowing where you are going and what you want, but thinking back I think I either got lucky the first time round or unlucky the second. I am happy to say I have two perfect little girls though so it's so worth while with that one crappy day.
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