Where can I choose to give birth?

You can choose to go to the closest or a neighbouring maternity unit. Some units are more suitable if your baby needs specialist medical care.

At home

  • At home you will be in a familiar place and feel comfortable in your own surroundings.
  • A midwife will be with you for your labour and a maternity support worker or second midwife will be there for the birth of your baby.
  • You are more likely to see the same person throughout your care.
  • If you or your baby need to see a doctor, your midwife will call an ambulance and you will be transferred to a hospital obstetric unit.
  • Pain relief options may include a bath or birthing pool which you provide, gas and air (Entonox) or an opiate injection of pain relief.
  • You will be able to use your own facilities including toilet and bathroom.
  • You can choose how many, and who you want, as birth supporters.
  • A free-standing midwifery unit is usually ‘home-like’, and is in a different place from the hospital obstetric unit.
  • A midwife will be with you for most of your labour and a maternity support worker or second midwife may also be there.
  • You are more likely to see the same person throughout your care than you would in an obstetric unit.
  • If you or your baby need to see a doctor, your midwife will call an ambulance and you will be transferred to a hospital obstetric unit.
  • Pain relief options may include a birthing pool (if available), gas and air (Entonox), or an opiate injection of pain relief.
  • It is less likely that you will have to share toilet and bathroom facilities with other people.
  • An alongside midwifery unit, which is usually ‘home-like’, is in a main hospital but separate from the obstetric unit.
  • A midwife will be with you for most of your labour and a maternity support worker or second midwife may also be there.
  • You are more likely to see the same person throughout your care than you would in an obstetric unit.
  • If you or your baby need to see a doctor, you will be transferred to an obstetric unit on the same site. A neonatal unit is also available on site; these will differ in levels of care provided.
  • Pain relief options may include a birthing pool (if available), gas and air (Entonox), or an opiate injection of pain relief.
  • It is less likely that you will have to share toilet and bathroom facilities with other people.
  • An obstetric unit is a hospital environment with a medical team (obstetricians, anaesthetists, neonatologists/paediatricians) and medical equipment.
  • A midwife will be with you for most of your labour and a maternity support worker or second midwife may also be there.
  • If you or your baby need to see a doctor, your midwife will call a doctor who is available on site who will come to your room to see you. A neonatal unit is also available on site; these will differ in levels of care provided.
  • Pain relief options may include gas and air (Entonox), an opiate injection of pain relief, a birthing pool (if available), and an epidural. Note: An epidural is only available in a hospital obstetric unit.
  • You are more likely to have to share toilet and bathroom facilities.

National transfer rates to the obstetric unit are higher for women having their first baby. From home 45%, free-standing midwifery unit 36%, alongside midwifery unit 40%. For women having second & subsequent baby; home 12%, free-standing midwifery unit 9% alongside unit 13%