Where to give birth? It’s your decision

As I approach my third trimester I’m starting to think about where to give birth to my second baby. It’s such an important moment in our lives, so the decision needs to be thought through well. I was shocked to find out recently that consumer research commissioned by the CQC found that 40% of women who’ve had babies either weren’t aware or didn’t feel they had a choice about where they could give birth.

Where to give birth

In my first pregnancy I chose to give birth at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. I had a choice about whether I wanted to birth on their Midwife Led Birthing Unit or in their Delivery Suite. They are both in the same building. The Delivery Suite has specialist teams of doctors and more options for drugs for pain relief. I opted for the midwife led centre. I was convinced I was going to be one of the lucky ones and have a lovely water birth! Sadly once I had meconium in my waters I had to go to the Delivery Suite so they could monitor the baby. It wasn’t a trauma though. It was in the same building, which I knew well (I used to work there!) After a natural birth, the midwife said I should consider a home birth next time. And actually, that’s what I’m now debating.

What’s right for you?

Over half of us spend less than an hour thinking about which hospital to give birth in. Which is kind of shocking really, given it’s such a big decision. Ever the indecisive one, I’m firmly NOT in that category! I’m still not sure whether I want to give birth in the midwife led unit, or have a home birth. I’ve got two friends who’ve had home births, one locally, and one up in Manchester, and both sound wonderful. For me, I’m still weighing up if I’ll be confident enough. My midwife was understanding and said she didn’t need to know for definite until I’m 37 weeks. And even then, if I change my mind on the day, I could just let them know and still head for the midwife unit. It’s fantastic that we are given so much choice.

Research commissioned by the CQC found out these facts about birth choice. Over 1000 women who’d given birth in England in the last three years were surveyed as part of the research.

Where To Give Birth

#YourBirthPlan

I had a birth plan when I was pregnant with Miss Belle and I’m writing mine for this birth too. I know some people say “what’s the point? You don’t know how things are going to go, just go with the flow…” And to some extent you have to. But if you have a rough idea of the type of birth you want, you should record it so that the midwives can help you achieve it as much as possible. I went into hospital twice during my first labour. Initially I was just 1cm and I thought I’d have to have an epidural! The midwife saw in my birth plan that I’d done hypnobirthing and wanted a natural birth. She advised I go home. In the end we did and I laboured well using my hypnobrithing techniques for another four hours or so at home.

CQC inspections can help you decide

If you’re not sure where you want to birth, make sure you check out the CQC inspection reports on maternity units in your area. The CQC inspects maternity units and rates them according to things like how caring the staff are, how well led the service is and how safe it is. You don’t have to choose whichever hospital is closest to you, though for a lot of people that is a big factor when deciding where to give birth. If your midwife unit is further afield but you’ve done some research and feel this is the way you want to go, then you can still select it. Just talk to your midwife about it.

There are of course pros and cons to all the options and you have to do what’s right for you. What one person wants will be different to the next person, which is why it’s so great we have the choice to decide where and how we give birth. Some options will only be suitable if you’re “low risk”. I’m in that category, but with another toddler to think about, travel time to hospital if there’s an emergency, as well as how my husband will feel about it, there’s a lot to consider. That’s why I’m happy to spend some time deciding what’s best for us and our baby.

Remember, if you’re pregnant or have recently given birth you can give the CQC feedback about your experience too. For more information about the CQC’s campaign and to find out how to share your experiences please visit www.cqc.org.uk/yourbirthplan

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10 Comments

  1. 3rd October 2017 / 12:28 pm

    Im firmly of the belief that you should do what feels right. Definitely have a plan but realise thatits an unpredoctable event so as not to become too disappointed if things dont go to plan ive heard too many women become very upset that they didnt have the birth they had planned! Great advice and lots of info here #dreamteam

    • thisismenow
      3rd October 2017 / 12:33 pm

      Absolutely. I had a plan last time and it wasn’t exactly as I expected but I was happy with it and the midwives did their best to help me achieve it. Xx

  2. 3rd October 2017 / 8:01 pm

    All well & good until the maternity unit you chose is on divert when the time comes because they don’t have enough midwives which is what happened to me last time…ended up giving birth in another county!

    • thisismenow
      3rd October 2017 / 8:02 pm

      Oh yikes!! Not good!

  3. 4th October 2017 / 12:44 pm

    This is great, and such a good reminder that we do have choices. I think it’s easy to get sidelined into going with a particular hospital because it’s the closest or the recommended one to go to. It’s always a good idea to keep an open mind and options open where you can. Thanks so much for sharing this with the #DreamTeam x
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  4. 5th October 2017 / 8:09 am

    I’ve not discussed this with my midwife yet but im seeing her this afternoon and it’s birth plan discussion day so I guess I’ll be deciding today. My partner and I have recently discussed home birth as an option and I’d really like to do it. Apart from raised blood pressure through my first I had an easy natural labour so I guess we will find out today!
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  5. 5th October 2017 / 10:34 am

    These days it’s useless to have a birthing plan with all the units being full on a regular basis too. I’m due my third in 7 weeks and we are just going back to the hospital I had our other 2 at #famiyfunlinky

    • thisismenow
      7th October 2017 / 8:40 pm

      I know what you mean, but you can still document how you want things to go, even if it’s not in your ideal place. Of course you have to be prepared that it might not go exactly to plan, but I think if they at least know your wishes you’re more likely to get them. Good luck with your upcoming birth!! X

  6. 7th October 2017 / 7:40 pm

    Great post, it’s so important to have that choice. With my first I wanted the midwife led unit and a water birth but ended up having to be booked in for a csection before it got to that stage. Once you’ve had a csection you are immediately put in the higher risk category and a midwife unit is no longer an option. As it happened, by the time I had my second, the only midwife unit within an hour of here had closed anyway. Because of where we live there isn’t really a choice at all anymore. Our local hospital is 30 minutes away, 45 if the traffic is bad. The next one is an hour away but involves using the A1 and if you happen to go into labour during rush hour it’s going to take you two hours, not an option I’ve known anyone take. I did consider a home birth with my first but had visions of my dog wanting to join me or bursting the pool . Every story I’ve read about them always sounds lovely though
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    • thisismenow
      7th October 2017 / 8:38 pm

      Oh wow I definitely wouldn’t want that long a journey!! I know I was too scared for a home birth first time, think it’s hard as you don’t know what to expect. I think we are lucky here as our midwife unit is in the same building as the delivery suite so it’s all in the same place. Xx

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