Every woman has the right to choose where to give birth. This is an individual decision that will differ between families, so it is important to choose what is best for you and your family.
You can choose to have your baby at:
Homebirth is one option available for the birth. It is recommended that women who have a straightforward pregnancy are most likely to benefit from this type of birth and if you are having a second or subsequent baby, a planned home birth is as safe as having your baby in hospital or in a midwife-led birth centre. Women report that a homebirth is often a positive experience, as they feel more comfortable and relaxed at home.
If you are interested in homebirth, a midwife will visit your home and to discuss it with you and undertake a thorough risk assessment to ensure this is a safe option for you and your baby. If any complications occur during your pregnancy, you might be asked to consider birthing in an obstetric unit (where doctors – obstetricians, provide care for more complicated labours and births) or an alongside birth centre. Occasionally, some women might need transfer into the obstetric unit during labour via ambulance if the midwife thinks that obstetric care is required, or if a stronger form of pain relief, such as an epidural is needed.
A Stand-alone birth centre – is another safe option for women who are experiencing straightforward pregnancies. These units are usually situated away from the hospital grounds and are staffed by midwives. There are no doctors present. In the unlikely event that you needed obstetric care or stronger pain relief you would need to transfer into hospital via ambulance. Birth centres are often less clinical and more home-like than obstetric units and offer good levels of continuity and a safe environment to have your baby.
An Alongside birth centre is a birth centre that is within the maternity unit or hospital grounds but is located separately from the obstetric unit labour ward or delivery suite. This option provides midwifery led care and women may choose this option if they feel they can transfer easily to obstetric care in labour if required.
Obstetric – led units provide medical care to women with complex pregnancies alongside more intensive electronic monitoring of the baby’s heart during labour. You can also receive midwife-led care in an obstetric labour ward. Some women might opt for this type of care in order to access a wider range of pain relief, such as strong opioids or an epidural. You will receive most of your care from a midwife, however there are obstetricians and paediatricians close at hand if complications occur. Women who have their babies in obstetric units are more likely to require interventions such as episiotomy or forceps delivery.
These options can be discussed in more detail with your community midwife at any antenatal appointment, or you can take a look on our website www.mybirthmychoice.co.uk to see what is available locally.