Where will you choose to give birth? Birth choices and labour by NCT

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Where will you choose to give birth? Birth choices and labour by NCT

Giving birth in the UK is generally very safe wherever you choose to have your baby. The choice you have about where to have your baby will depend on what you want, the need for any medical support you may have and, to some extent, on where you live. Use this handy tool to find out what your choices are for birth in your area.

Ultimately, the best environment for you to have your baby in is one where you will feel safe, comfortable and relaxed.

Wherever you choose, the place should feel right for you.

What are your choices?

Depending on your circumstances, your options for where you are going to have your baby are likely to be:

  • Birth in a local facility, which may be in a hospital or a freestanding unit, under the care of a midwife – this is called a midwife-led unit  or birthing centre
  • home birth
  • Birth in a hospital supported by a maternity team including midwives, anaesthetists and obstetricians (doctors who specialise in pregnancy and childbirth when complications arise)

The majority of pregnant women are healthy with a straightforward pregnancy and it is equally safe for them to give birth in any of these places.

NICE guidance advises that planning to give birth in a midwife-led unit is particularly suitable for women with straightforward pregnancies who are expecting their first baby, but that there is a small increase in risk for the baby if they plan birth at home. For women with straightforward pregnancies who have already had a baby it is advised that planning to give birth in a midwife-led unit or at home is particularly suitable.

How do you make your decision?

It’s important that you and your partner have all the information you need to make your decision. Your midwife will discuss the options that are available in your area. It is always a good idea to discuss your birth plan, which is a record of your choices, with your midwife and your partner.

Another way to find out more about your local birth options is to join an NCT antenatal course where you can get help with preparing for labour and having your baby. NCT courses are famous for making friends with other new parents from your area, so you’ll get to share helpful knowledge and ideas.

Here are some other things you might want to do to help you decide where to have your baby:

  • Find out about your local hospital so you can compare it with your other options.
  • If you have a chance to look around your local maternity services, it’s helpful to go prepared with some questions to ask about what sort of care you can expect.
  • Talk to as many people as you can: friends, family, other pregnant women and mums with young babies, midwives and your family doctor.  
  • Find out if you will have the chance to get to know a small group of midwives before you have your baby.
  • Ask whether one of these midwives is likely to be present during your labour and birth.
  • Ask if the unit is working with UNICEF UK’s Baby Friendly Initiative. These units will provide the best care and support to help you with feeding and caring for your baby.

You can change your mind

Remember, you can change your mind at any time during your pregnancy, even during labour. If you have booked a hospital birth, you can decide to stay at home, or if you have booked a home birth you can decide to go to hospital.

During your pregnancy you can also usually choose to change your booking to another hospital, if you find a more appropriate service is offered.

Antenatal and Postnatal classes at The Baby Show

NCT is The Baby Show’s official charity and will be providing antenatal and postnatal classes at the show. As well Birth choices and labour, other taster sessions include  Top pain management techniques during labour, A step-by-step guide to breastfeeding, The new parent survival guide to practical babycare and The new parent survival guide to sleep, crying and calming.  Find out more

About NCT

Becoming a parent can be a steep learning curve, so NCT is there for you – whatever the challenges of pregnancy and parenthood. NCT is the place to go for independent information, birth and parenting classes, practical support, and new mum and dad friends.

Why do new parents choose to do an NCT antenatal course? Because research shows that after doing an NCT course, 91% of mums-to-be said they felt more confident about making labour, birth and early parenting decisions. Nearly all mums who took part (94%) said that they felt supported by other parents on their course, and 96% said that they would stay in touch afterwards. NCT courses are good for dads and partners too. Almost 95% of those attended said they were more confident about caring for and feeding their baby.