Where to give birth: your options

Where to give birth: your options

From a hospital to home birth, we explain your choices to help you create a birth plan

Birthplaces

When you’re pregnant, you’re pretty focused on the end point, and yet so few of us are actually aware of our choices when it comes to giving birth. So what are your options?

Home birth

Generally, if it’s not your first time having a baby and you haven’t got any complications (for example a breech baby or twins) or health issues, a planned home birth is as safe as having your baby in hospital or a midwife-led unit.

If you opt for a home birth, you’ll still be supported by a midwife during labour, and it’s more likely to be a midwife you know. You’ll be in familiar surroundings, and subsequently may feel more relaxed.

Women who give birth either in a midwifery unit or at home have also been found to be less likely to require intervention, like forceps.

What you do need to know is how the process of being transferred to hospital would work if it does become necessary and how long this would take – and remember you can’t get an epidural at home!

Pain relief options in labour such as Etonox (gas and air) and opiates like Pethidine are available for home use. However, epidurals and spinal blocks are only available in hospitals as they must be administered by an anaesthetist.

Midwifery unit/birth centre

If you’re not at ease in a hospital environment but it’s your first baby, in which case a home birth is slightly higher risk, then a midwifery unit, or birth centre, may be the happy medium for you.

Birth centres are designed to be a lot more comfortable and homely than a hospital, and you’re more likely to know your midwife. You’re also less likely to need intervention.

However, one thing to consider is the possibility of the maternity unit being full when you go into labour, so you may need a plan B.

Depending on the unit, if it’s completely separate from a hospital then you may not have access to certain kinds of pain relief, like an epidural. Check which facilities they offer – not every maternity unit will have a birthing pool, for instance.

Hospital

When it's time to go to hospital you’ll have access to a maternity team of midwives, anaesthetists and obstetricians (doctors who specialise in pregnancy and childbirth).

If you know of any complications that may arise during the birth or you’ve had issues during your pregnancy, then a hospital labour ward or midwifery centre are advisable because of the access to help, support and specialists they can offer.

If there are any complications, you’ll have direct access to obstetricians, anaesthetists who can give you an epidural, and special care baby units should your baby need it. However, you are more likely to be looked after by a different midwife than the one you got to know during your pregnancy.

You should discuss your options with your midwife, ideally before you hit 36 weeks, and read as much as possible about your options. The NCT, Birthplace study and NHS are all good places to start. Ultimately, be as open-minded as possible because labour is different for everyone, and things may not go exactly to plan.

 

Would you like to share your advice or tell us about your birthing plan? Tweet us at @GurgleUK or follow our Facebook page.

 

RELATED ARTICLES

5 things to expect after giving birth in a hospital

How to prepare yourself for giving birth

How to handle labour contractions

RELATED ARTICLES

Related Articles

When should I go in to hospital?
Labour and Birth
When should I go in to hospital?
When should I go to hospital? It may seem tempting to rush to hospital as soon...
Your pain relief options during labour
Labour and Birth
Your pain relief options during labour
Pain relief in labour Keep in mind the medical pain relief available to you...
Natural pain relief in labour
Labour and Birth
Natural pain relief in labour
Natural pain relief in labour You can manage the pain of childbirth using a...
The 10 best pregnancy apps
Pregnancy
The 10 best pregnancy apps
The 10 best pregnancy apps We round up the best of the mobile bump guides for...

email block

  • Stage timeline
  • Am I pregnant
  • Due date
  • Baby names
  • Ovulation
how-to-pack-a-hospital-bagLabour and Birth

How to: pack a hospital bag

Confused about what to pack in your hospital bag? Don't be - we've got it covered
flu-jab-can-cut-stillbirth-risk-by-halfLabour and Birth

Flu jab can cut stillbirth risk by half

Pregnant women who get the flu vaccine cut their risk of having a stillborn baby by half
epilepsy-specialist-wins-midwife-of-the-year-awardLabour and Birth

Epilepsy specialist wins Midwife of the Year Award

Epilepsy specialist midwife Kim Morley has won Emma’s Diary Mums’ Midwife of the Year 2016
win-a-bundle-of-holiday-essentials-for-your-baby-with-childs-farmWin

Win a bundle of holiday essentials for your baby with Childs Farm

We're offering one lucky Gurgle fan the chance to win a bundle of baby skincare essentials from Child's Farm to...
win-one-of-three-izmi-baby-toddler-carriersWin

Win one of Three Izmi Baby Toddler Carriers

We've teamed up with Izmi Baby to offer three lucky Gurgle fans the chance to win a super comfy, safe...
win-a-baby-pram-from-my-babiie-worth-over-499Win

Win a pram from Sam Faiers My Dreamiie collection for My Babiie worth over £499

Star of The Mummy Diaries, Sam Faiers, has teamed up with My Babiie to design a range of practical and...