08:11 09 June 2009
Its easy to become daunted by the different choices youre faced with when you're thinking about how, and where, to have your baby. But you neednt be. This article also appears on www.bbc.co.uk/parenting/having_a_baby
You don't need to make up your mind about anything just yet " if you don't want to. Use your pregnancy as time to research what's on offer. Talk to other mums too find out what their recent experience has been, and discuss the issues with a midwife... and read about it, too.
You usually have a choice about where to have your baby " you may have a number of maternity units in your area, or a birth centre, or you may choose to have your baby at home.
You can get information about your birth options from your doctor, midwife, other mums and organisations like the National Childbirth Trust, BirthChoice UK and the Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services.
You might also need to take into account your age " if you're having a baby much later in life (40 plus) you may need closer care and attention from medical professionals.
"...nothing you have in your plan has to be fixed..."
Bear in mind circumstances may emerge that have an impact on your choices " if you go into labour pre-term, for example, or if it becomes clear your baby isn't growing well, you and your baby may be better off going to a consultant-led maternity unit.
You normally 'book' your place of birth at your chosen hospital near the beginning of pregnancy " but you can change your mind later if you want. Once your family doctor knows you are pregnant, a midwife may come to your home to book you, or you may be offered an appointment at the hospital.
Think about the distance of the hospital from your home, not just for the birth but for any antenatal clinic appointments you may have there. Ask other mums what their experience has been. It's worth enquiring about little things you and your birthing partner can do to make your birth as comfortable and familiar as possible. Ask your hospital if you can take a battery powered cassette or CD player into the birthing suite, so that you can hear a favourite piece of music, or even just have a distraction from the main event!
"Info: Do some research on policies and practices on hospitals in your area. The BirthChoice UK website might help if you are keen to avoid one type of birth or another."
If you're not expected to have problems with your pregnancy or birth, then there's no evidence that a planned home birth is less safe than anywhere else for you. However, it's not always easy to make the arrangements for a home birth in some areas. You can 'book' a home birth with your doctor, or with a community midwife or with an independent midwife (you'll have to pay for the independent midwife). If you find you are having problems, being put under pressure to choose a hospital birth, you should talk this over with your health professional.
There is also the Domino Scheme, which is where your midwife will attend you at the start of your labour at home, but move with you to the hospital for the safe delivery of your baby, and then back home again within a few hours of you giving birth.
There are a few birth centres around the UK, usually aiming for a 'homestyle' birth with 'technology' on hand only when necessary, and a more personal level of care than can usually be relied on in a large maternity unit. Some birth centres work within the NHS; some are private. Check with your midwife for details.
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