Try our quick quiz to help you decide
Deciding where to have your baby is important. And whatever you opt for hospital, a birth centre or home, you’ve got a greater say in where you give birth than ever before.
‘If you feel relaxed and safe in the location of your choice, there’s a good chances you’ll have a better birth experience.
‘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.’
So how do you decide?
Try out quiz to help you make up your mind….
1. Have You Had A Straight Forward Pregnancy?
b. Yes, but I don’t want a home birth
c. No, I’ve had complications
2. If You’ve 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
3. 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 on
4. How Far Is Your Home From The Hospital?
a. Less than 20 minutes
b. 20 minutes to an hour
c. An hour or more
5. 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
6. 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’s feel more secure if we were in hospital
7. Would You Like A Water Birth?
a. Yes, definitely
b. Yes, possibly
c. It’s not a priority
8. How Important Is One-To-One Midwife Care?
a. Extremely important
c. No essential
Mostly As Consider A home birth
Only 2-3% of babies are born at home. But 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, 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.
‘A home birth can mean a better birth experience. ‘But if there’s an emergency you may need to go to hospital, so get a bag ready.’
‘There was no focus or stress’
I chose a home birth because I wanted to feel relaxed and be free to move around. We live just 20 minutes from hospital, so I knew that if I had to be transferred, it wouldn’t be a problem.
I went into labour a week early. I called the midwife at 7am and she arrived two hours later. By then, contractions were really intense and I began to doubt whether I could cope. But when she said I was already 5cm dilated, I knew I could do it.
The labour lasted 11 hours and I gave birth leaning over the sofa. Baby was born at 5.46pm, weighing 7lb 6oz. No fuss, no stress and no mess! by the time I’d had a shower, everything was back to normal. My partner went out to buy tea and met our neighbour. He could believe I’d just given birth-he hasn’t heard a thing! Kari-Ann, 33, Mum of 9 month old baby.
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. There are two types: midwife-led units within hospitals, and stand-alone birth centres.
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.
‘A birth centre is a good halfway house’. ‘Your partner can stay with you and it can be a more relaxing environment than hospital. However, do contact your birth centre as soon as you go into labour, as they can get busy. If the birth centre is full, you may have to go to hospital instead.’
‘The relaxed environment made labour easier’
The birth centre was very comfortable with beanbags and birthing balls and the midwives were really experienced. I used gas and air, which was good-it didn’t take the pain away, but it didn’t take the pain away, but it distracted me and made me feel a bit drunk. I delivered Isabella standing up; she weighted 6lb 6oz.
Just two hours after the birth, I was back home with my baby girl. I’m sure the relaxed environment made my labour easier. Rebecca Jones, 26, mum to Isabella, 1 month.
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 during early labour.
‘Some people find a hospital environment daunting’, ‘so it’s worth doing a hospital tour beforehand, if possible. If you opt for a hospital birth, you’ll have access to strong pain relief and specialist neonatal and obstetric care if you need it.’
‘I felt safe in hospital’
My husband Will thought I’d feel safer in hospital, and he was right. We went in 10 days before my due date because I’d had a bleed. At 8am, they decided to break my waters to start my labour. Contractions came on very quickly after that.
In my birth plan, I’d said I wanted a drug-free water birth. But I wasn’t allowed to get in the pool because of the bleed, and I changed my mind about the pain relief because my labor was progressing faster and was more painful than I expected. I requested an epidural, but the anaesthetist was in theatre, so it didn’t happen. However, I had the same midwife throughout and she was brilliant. I delivered our daughter Erin on all fours at 1.26 pm and we went home at 7pm.
My birth was the opposite of what I’d wanted, but the midwife was fantastic and being in hospital gave me the peace of mind I needed. I’d definitely choose a hospital birth again. Shelley Bailey, 33, mum to Erin, 4 months.
The natural way to ease labour pain
It may seem amazing to us today that women used to be offered a leather strap to bite down on during labour, it’s not as strange as it might sound! Studies have found that wearing a dental support device (DSD) during labour can increase physical strength and shorten the length of second stage labour (the pushing stage) by 40%. Biting down on a DSD can also help ease pain in a natural way. The world’s leading specialists in mouth guards, OPRO, have created Laboraide, a soft dental service designed for women to use during labour. The taste-free devices can be easily popped into your mouth as you start to push, and won’t stop you using gas and air, too!