When it comes to deciding where to give birth, there are lots of options open to mums. We've detailed the 3 most common places below:
In England, about 1 in 50 babies are born at home. Home births are carefully planned with your community midwife and usually she or one of the midwives from her team will be with you for your labour and birth. A second midwife is usually called when your baby's birth is imminent to care for your baby on his or her arrival.
There are many advantages to home births. Many women report being very relaxed in their familiar surroundings. Furthermore your labour does not get interrupted to go to hospital and your partner can be with you at all times. If you have older children there is no need to arrange childcare.
However, you need to consider that in some circumstances you may be advised to transfer into hospital and your midwife will outline the local policies on this. Pain relief is also limited at home and in most cases is limited to gas and air (entinox). You may also be advised not to have a home birth if there are any complications during your pregnancy with you or your baby, if you are expecting twins or if your baby is breech, is very big or very small. If there were complications with a previous labour and delivery your midwife may advise you to have a hospital birth.
Birth centres vary across the country, but generally are stand alone units or attached to community hospitals. These are staffed by midwives and maternity care assistants and are generally only suitable if you’re able to have a home birth but do not wish to do so.
Epidurals are not offered but pethidine may be offered in some units and some may also have birthing pools. Doctors do not work in birth centres so should any complications arise you will be transferred to your local maternity hospital.
Birth centres offer a home from home atmosphere and you may well have a midwife with you whom you have met before. Ask your community midwife if there are any local birth centres in your area. If there aren’t any, many hospitals are now offering a similar environment adjacent to the main maternity unit and delivery suite.
Most women in the UK give birth in their local maternity unit or hospital. Here you will be still be looked after by midwives and in many cases women do not see a doctor at all.
However obstetric doctors are close by should you need to see one during you labour. Anaesthetists are also available by should you want and require an epidural.
Neonatologists (specialist baby doctors) will also be working close by on the special care baby unit should they be needed. If you live in a large city or town you may have choice of maternity units and most do pre arranged tours.
If you would like further information on the choices available to you, ask your midwife or visit the NHS Choices website.