Your options about where to have your baby will depend on your needs, risks, and, to some extent, on where you live.
Your midwife will discuss the options available in your area but, if you’re willing to travel, you’re free to choose any maternity services. You should have this conversation between 8 and 12 weeks. I know it sounds early, but 9 months is not that long!
Your options about where to have your baby will depend on your needs, risks, and, to some extent, on where you live. At the end of the day, it is up to you where you want to give birth. Sometimes it might not feel like it, especially if health professionals communicate with you, using:
– You must…
– We would prefer you to be at the hospital
– You shouldn’t…
To help you communicate with your midwife and health professionals, Use the BRAIN acronym, which you can read about more here.
Your midwife can help you decide which hospital feels right for you and if there’s more than one hospital in your area, you can choose which one to go to. Most women give birth in an NHS hospital maternity unit. If you choose to give birth in a hospital, you’ll be looked after by midwives, but doctors will be available if you need their help. You’ll still have choices about the kind of care you want. Your midwives and doctors will provide information about what your hospital can offer.
There are some things you should think about if you’re considering a hospital birth:
🌸 You may go home directly from the labour ward or you may be moved to a postnatal ward
🌸 In hospital, you may be looked after by a different midwife from the one who looked after you during your pregnancy
🌸 Statistic show that women giving birth in hospital are more likely to have an epidural, episiotomy, or forceps or ventouse delivery
Birth questions you can ask:
💠 Are there tours of the maternity facilities available before birth?
💠 When can I discuss my birth plan?
💠 Are TENS machines available for pain relief or do I need to hire one?
💠 How many birth pools are available?
You can get more information from your local children’s centre – here is a link to find the one near you: https://www.gov.uk/find-sure-start-childrens-centre
Midwife-led Unit Alongside Hospital
The Midwife-Led Unit that is attached to the hospital is more comfortable and homely than the labour suite in the hospital. They are a part of a hospital maternity unit, where pregnancy (obstetric), newborn (neonatal) and anaesthetic care is available.
Because of the closeness to the labour ward you can still choose to have epidural if you wish to have one. You will be “transferred” to labour suit which is usually at the other side of the corridor or level up/down.
The advantages of giving birth in a midwifery unit include:
🌸 Being in surroundings where you may feel more relaxed and better able to cope with labour
🌸 There’s a lower chance of having an intervention such as forceps or ventouse than women giving birth in the labour suite
Birth questions to ask:
💠 What equipment is available – for example, mats, a birthing chair or bean bags?
💠 Are there birthing pools?
💠 Are fathers, close relatives or friends welcome in the room?
You can get more information from your local maternity units – find maternity services near you: https://www.nhs.uk/…/Maternity…/LocationSearch/1802
Freestanding Midwife-Led Unit
Birth centres that are freestanding are more comfortable and homely than a maternity unit in a hospital. They are separate from a hospital, and without immediate obstetric, neonatal or anaesthetic care. Ask your midwife if there are any midwifery units or birth centres in your area. There may be others you can use if you’re prepared to travel. In a unit that’s completely separate from a hospital, you won’t be able to have certain kinds of pain relief, such as an epidural.
The advantages of giving birth at a freestanding midwifery unit include:
🌸 Being in an environment where you may feel more relaxed and better able to cope with labour
🌸 You’ll be more likely to be looked after by a midwife you have got to know during your pregnancy
🌸 The unit potentially being much nearer your home, making it easier for people to visit
🌸 There’s a lower likelihood of having an intervention such as forceps or ventouse than women giving birth in the labour suite
Birth questions to ask:
💠 Can I move around in labour and find my own position for birth?
💠 What is the policy on induction, pain relief and routine monitoring?
💠 Are epidurals available?
You can get more information from your local MVP (Maternity Voices Partnerships) you can find yours here: http://nationalmaternityvoices.org.uk/find-an-mvp/
In England and Wales, just over 1 in 50 pregnant women give birth at home. If you give birth at home, you’ll be supported by 2 midwives who will be with you while you’re in labour (one for you and one for your baby). If you need any help or your labour is not progressing as well as it should, your midwife will make arrangements for you to go to the hospital.
You may need to transfer to a hospital if there are complications. The Birthplace study found that 45 out of 100 women having their first baby were transferred to hospital, compared with only 12 out of 100 women having their second or subsequent baby. Epidurals are not available at home, but you can use gas and air, a warm bath, a birth pool, TENS and any relaxation techniques you’ve learned. If you want to learn about pain relief and labour, you can sign up for one of our courses.
The advantages of giving birth at home include:
🌸 Being in familiar surroundings will help you feel more relaxed and better able to cope
🌸 You won’t have to interrupt your labour to go into hospital
🌸 There’s no need to leave your other children, if you have any
🌸 You won’t have to be separated from your partner after the birth
🌸 There’s an increased likelihood of being looked after by a midwife you have got to know during your pregnancy
🌸 Lower likelihood of having an intervention, such as forceps or ventouse, than women giving birth in a hospital
🌸 You can rent/buy your own pool so you don’t need to depend on the hospitals’ pools availability
Here are some questions you might want to ask your midwife:
💠 How long would it take if I needed to be transferred to hospital?
💠 If needed, which hospital will I be transferred to?
💠 Would a midwife be with me all the time?
💠 How do I get a birthing pool?
Birth questions to ask:
💠 What services are provided for premature or sick babies?
💠 Who will help me to breastfeed my baby?
💠 Who will help me if I choose to formula feed?
You can find out more information here: http://www.homebirth.org.uk/
To help you make choices that are right for you and feel confident enough to make them, book on to our next workshop. It will be delivered by Anna, who’s an experienced Antenatal Teacher and Doula. She’ll use evidence-based information to tell you everything you need to know from pain relief and places of birth to how to communicating with your midwives and consultants, so you can feel calm, confident and in control. Click link below for more info 👇