Mother and Baby

Giving birth: what are my options?

woman preparing to give birth

You've probably realised that being pregnant involves lots of decisions and a pretty big one of these is exactly where you'll give birth. Depending on the type of pregnancy you've had and even where you live, your choices will vary but to give you an idea of what your options could be, we've rounded up our articles where you find out more information to help you make a decision. 

Don't forget to check out our positive birth stories to give you a burst of encouragement.

Where can I give birth?

How to choose where to give birth

There's no magic answer to this one we've afraid! It's important you and your birth partner are on the same page so we'd recommend talking about it extensively and weighing up the positives and negatives. 

Your midwife is your best port of call to chat to about what is available to you personally as unfortunately, sometimes the clinical support you require will rule out certain options such as a home birth.

Don't forget to make use of friends and family who have given birth too, and find out what their experiences were. But don't worry if what you are leaning towards is different. After all, every birth - and every baby - is different. 

Whatever you decide, it has to be right for you and remember, you can change your mind at any point in your pregnancy. 

What factors should I consider?

Water birth

60 per cent of women end up giving birth at the place of their choice, so it's wise to really sit down and think about what you want. Here are a few factors to consider...

  • How far will you need to travel to get to the destination? You won't want to go far!
  • What pain relief options will be available?
  • If you really want a water birth, are there facilities so this is possible?
  • Is your partner able to stay?
  • Who will be looking after you during your pregnancy and the labour? 
  • What care can you expect post-birth? Will there be breastfeeding support if this is something you'd like? 

Hospital birth

woman giving birth in hospital
The majority of women will give birth in an NHS hospital maternity unit where you'll be looked after by midwives generally with doctors on hand if necessary. You'll have direct access t obstetricians, anaesthetists and there will be specialists in newborn care (neonatologists) and a special care baby unit should any problems arise.

Midwifery units or birth centres

midwide led unit

Midwife-led units are staffed entirely by midwives, unlike traditional obstetric labour wards where doctors and anaesthetists are present. There are two kinds of midwife-led birthing centres: stand-alone birth centres and wards attached to hospitals. In both cases, all care is carried out by midwives who are experts in childbirth with all the skills to help you deliver your baby in a straightforward pregnancy. Read about Katie's experience of a midwife-led unit.

Home birth

labour at home

Giving birth at home can often progress more smoothly because women are more relaxed. It can mean less disruption to the flow of labour, more freedom to move about, sleep, eat and focus. 

Popular articles to read next

  • Author: Emily Thorpe Emily Thorpe
  • Job Title: Digital Writer

Having written for Mother&Baby magazine for four years where she wrote news, product pages, features and interviewed celebrities such as Paloma Faith and Fearne Cotton, Emily now works as Digital Writer for Mother&Baby online where she specialises in travel and product reviews. 


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