There are three main options for where you can give birth: in hospital, in a midwife-led unit (often called a birth centre), or at home. Here, we’ll take you through the pros and cons of home birth as well as whether it’s an option for you.
If you have a higher risk pregnancy, you will be advised to give birth in a hospital where treatment and specialists are available. You will also probably be advised to give birth in the hospital if you’re carrying twins or if your baby is in the breech position (lying with their feet first).
But if you’re healthy and have a low-risk pregnancy without any complications, a home birth might be a good option for you. There are certainly possible advantages of having your baby at home:
- You might feel more relaxed and comfortable at home
- You’re more likely to be cared for by the same midwife throughout your pregnancy and birth
- You’re less likely to need assistance in the form of forceps or ventouse
- You don’t have to interrupt your labour to go to hospital
- You don’t need to arrange childcare for your other children
- You don’t need to separate from your partner after the birth
- You don’t have to transfer back home to recover
There are also things you might like to consider about a home birth:
1. Is this your first baby?
The risk of serious complications for the baby - including death or issues that might affect the baby’s quality of life - increases if you’re having your first baby at home, from 5 in 1000 at hospital to 9 in 1000 at home.
But if it’s your second baby, a planned home birth is as safe as having your baby in hospital or a midwife-led unit.
2. How close to the hospital do you live?
Which hospital would you be going to if you needed to? This might affect how comfortable you feel about potentially needing to transfer in an emergency.
3. Are you likely to want pain relief?
While you can use a birth pool, paracetamol, gas and air, a TENS machine, or any other relaxation techniques at home, an epidural is not an available option.
Where you choose to give birth is a really personal decision. It’s a good idea to discuss your options with friends, family, and health professionals before making your final decision. Ultimately though, you want to go with wherever you feel comfortable.