Where to give birth
Deciding where to have your baby is important. And whether you opt for hospital, a birth centre or home, you’ve got a greater say in where you give birth than ever before.
‘Consider where you live, how close you are to a hospital and what sort of pain relief you might want. And keep an open mind – the safety of you and your baby is the most important factor,’ says Nikki Khan, Prima Baby’s expert midwife.
Try the following quiz to help you make up your mind…
Have you had a straightforward pregnancy?
b) Yes, but I don’t want a home birth
c) No, I’ve had complications
If you’re had a baby before, what was your delivery like?
a) Straightforward, no complications
b) No complications, but I was induced
c) Complicated – a theatre delivery
What kind of pain relief would you like?
a) I’d like the birth to be as natural as possible
b) Gas and air, possibly pethidine
c) The full range, including an epidural if I want one
Where would you feel most comfortable giving birth?
a) Somewhere familiar where I can move around freely
b) Somewhere comfortable but more medical than home
c) In hospital, in case there’s an emergency
doctor with mum and baby
How important is one-to-one midwife care?
a) Extremely important
c) Not essential
Would you like a water birth?
a) Yes, definitely
b) Yes, possibly
c) It’s not a priority
How does your partner feel about the birth?
a) He’s happy to support me at home
b) He isn’t keen on a home birth, but he doesn’t like hospitals
c) He’d feel more secure if we were in hospital
How far is your home from the hospital?
a) Less than 20 minutes
b) 20 minutes to an hour
c) An hour or more
Mostly As… consider a home birth
The government is committed to giving women as much choice as possible in where to give birth, so if you’d like a home birth, talk to your GP and midwife. You’ll have one-to-one midwife care throughout labour, with a second midwife at the delivery. You’ll be in a calm, familiar environment and can hire a birthing pool if you want.
Remember, though, that medical pain relief will be limited to gas and air, and if your baby becomes distressed, you may need to be transferred to hospital.
Mostly Bs… consider a birth centre
If you’re not sure about a home birth, but aren’t keen on hospitals, a birth centre may be an option if there’s one near you. A birth centre is run by midwives and offers a more homely environment than hospital. You’re more likely to have one-to-one care or be looked after by a small team of midwives, and your partner will be able to stay at all times. You’re likely to be offered the use of a birthing pool, as well as other natural therapies. Pain relief is minimal – usually just gas and air, although some units offer pethidine or meptid. If a problem arises, you’ll be transferred to hospital.
Mostly Cs… consider a hospital birth
As well as a full range of medical pain relief, including epidurals, many hospitals also offer water births – although you may find the pools already in use. You’re less likely to have one-to-one midwife care, and some hospitals will send your partner (or both of you!) home early during labour.
For more advice, visit BirthChoiceUK and parenting charity NCT.