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You have several options about where to have your baby: at home, in hospital (some hospitals have midwifery units attached to the main obstetric unit) or at a birth centre.
Some Mumsnetters have gone down the ‘hospital car park’ or ‘hard shoulder of the motorway’ route but it’s not to be recommended, exhilarating though it may be for your birth partner.
Your midwife, GP, friends and family will all be able to share information and experiences that will help you decide, but ultimately this one’s down to you. Birth is a very personal business - one person’s dream birth is another’s idea of hell on Entonox.
Before you get too hung up on the 'where', think about the 'how'. What sort of birth would you like in an ideal world?
Here are a few things to consider:
Do you want a water birth?
Are you anxious to avoid a caesarean?
Do you want the birth to be led by midwives or a consultant obstetrician?
Is it important to you that you get to know the midwife who’ll be helping you to deliver your baby beforehand?
Might you want an epidural, and is there an anaesthetist available 24/7 to do them?
Can you have more than one birth partner present?
Giving birth in hospital
If you want the option of things like epidurals and set visiting times, then your first point of contact is your midwife or GP, who’ll probably assign you to a consultant unit at a local hospital. The choice you have about this will depend on where you live.
Go and look around the hospital(s) you’re keen on, and don't forget to think about how long it’ll take to get you there - traffic jams and contractions do not make for a cheerful pregnant passenger.
Birth centres and midwife-led units
If your pregnancy is deemed low risk, or you want a birth with a minimum of intervention in an intimate atmosphere, a birth centre might be for you.
Birth centres aren’t available everywhere, so ask about the options in your area, and visit them before you make your decision.
Epidurals and caesareans aren’t an option in birth centres, so if there are complications in labour, be aware you might have to be transferred to hospital.
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Giving birth at home
You don’t need your GP’s ‘permission’ - you can book a home birth directly through the midwifery team providing community care. NHS guidelines say two midwives must be present for a home delivery. You can also hire an independent midwife if you wish, who will look after you throughout your pregnancy.
Contrary to popular belief, the fact that you have previously had a caesarean doesn’t rule out a home birth - though you’ll need to agree to go to hospital at the first sign of any problems.
You can have gas and air during a home birth, but not an epidural - so be aware that you’re ruling out one form of pain relief before you go into labour.
If you end up having to transfer to hospital, it can be a pretty painful journey. A few miles to the hospital might not sound like much, but it’s no fun if you’re in advanced labour.
If you’ve got other children, you might want to work out in advance who will look after them while Mummy is ‘a bit busy’. On the plus side, there’ll be no rules about visiting hours. Big brothers and sisters can come in for a cuddle at whatever point you like.
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Discuss options for where to give birth
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