Finding Out About the Different Options366
Home birth If you have a straightforward pregnancy and both you and the baby are well, you might choose to give birth at home.
If you give birth at home, you'll be supported by a doctor who will be with you while you're in labour. If you need any help or your labour is not progressing as well as it should, your doctor will make arrangements for you to be transferred to hospital. The advantages of giving birth at home include:
- being in familiar surroundings where you may feel more relaxed and able to cope
- you don't have to interrupt your labour to go into hospital
- you will not need to leave your other children, if you have any
- you will not have to be separated from your partner after the birth
- you are more likely to be looked after by a nurse who you have got to know during your pregnancy
There are some things you should think about if you are considering a home birth:
- you may need to transfer to a hospital if there are complications
- epidurals are not available at home
- your doctor may recommend that you give birth in hospital; for example if you are expecting twins or if your baby is breech - your doctor will explain why they think a hospital birth is safer for you and your baby
Planning a home birth
Ask your doctor whether or not a home birth is suitable for you and your baby, or available to you. If it is, your midwife will arrange for members of the midwifery team to support and help you.
Here are some questions you might want to ask:
- How long would it take if I needed to be transferred to hospital?
- Which hospital would I be transferred to?
- Would a midwife be with me all the time?
- How do I obtain a birthing pool?
Most women give birth in a hospital maternity unit. If you choose to give birth in 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 doctors will provide information about what your hospital can offer.
The advantages of giving birth in hospital include:
- having direct access to obstetricians, anaesthetists (who administer epidurals and general anaesthetic) and neonatologists (specialists in newborn care)
- you can access other specialist services, such as epidurals for pain relief
- there will be a special care baby unit if there are any problems
There are some things you should think about if you are 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 nurse from the one who looked after you during pregnancy
Planning a hospital birth
Your partner can help you decide which hospital feels right for you. If there is more than one hospital in your area you can choose which one to go to. Find out more about the care provided in each so you can decide which will suit you best. You can use this service search to find and compare hospital maternity services.
Here are some of the questions you might want to ask:
- Are tours of maternity facilities available before birth?
- When can I discuss my birth plan?
- What equipment is available, for example mats, a birthing chair or bean bags?
- Are there birthing pools?
- How long will I be in hospital?
Find more useful questions to ask the hospital or maternity unit.
Wherever you decide to give birth, you can change your mind at any stage of pregnancy. Talk to your doctor if there's anything you're not sure about or you want to know more.