Unless you've already had a baby, your pregnancy, labour and birth are new and sometimes overwhelming experiences. You will need to make decisions about a range of different things, including where you would like to give birth.
The choice of where you have your baby can have a big impact on your whole birth experience. There are a number of options available to you and it's up to you to choose the one that you feel most comfortable with. However if this is your first baby, you're unlikely to be aware of all the choices. When you have your pregnancy confirmed, your GP should take you through each of the options available to you, but it's possible you will only be informed of the most common or predictable choices.
Choosing where you will give birth is one of the biggest decisions you will make. You don't need to rush into it, and you do have time to do some research. Have a look at the birth choices article to gain a clear understanding of your options for your antenatal care and labour and birth. In the meantime, you may find the following information and tips useful when trying to make your decision.
What sort of birth do you want?
- Relaxed environment with little intervention and natural pain relief methods
- Hi-tech environment with the latest technology and access to all types of pain relief
- Water birth
- Home birth with an independent midwife
What sort of care do you want?
- Midwives/Doctors at hospital
- Independent Midwife
If you know who you would like to care for you, do you know whether they have admitting rights to the hospital of your choice, or do you know whether you happy with the hospital(s) they have admitting rights to?
Do you have private health insurance or will you be a public patient?
Do you want to be close by your hospital/facility or will you travel if necessary?
What sort of facilities or hospitals are available in your area and what sort of reputation do they have?
- Private hospital
- Public Hospital
- Birth Centre
- Midwives Clinic
- Emergency care for your baby if necessary
- Visiting hours and conditions
- Length of stay
What are the staff at the hospitals like and what are the staff/hospital policies about labour and birth?
- Mobility during birth
- Birth positions
- Number and type of birth partners allowed
- Views on intervention during birth and recent statistics
- Baby feeding and sleeping practices
The best way to find out about the facilities available in your area is to ask your doctor, friends and acquaintances, or contact the hospital/facility direct. Alternatively you could join our hospital talk discussion group and ask our members about their experiences at the hospitals/facilities in your area.
When you have some idea of what is available in your area, it's a great idea to arrange a tour of each of the hospitals/facilities. This will enable you to see everything first hand, and ask the sort of questions that will help you make a decision. Some questions to keep in mind include:
- How many people of my choosing can be present at the birth?
- Will I have the same carers during labour?
- Will I be able to choose my own labour positions and move freely?
- Will I be able to have showers or baths?
- Will I be able to eat and drink?
- What is the policy on and availability of intervention, pain relief, enema's, fetal monitoring, caesars and episiotomy?
- What is the policy on baby feeding, sleeping and separation?
Chat with other EB members about birth stories.