One of the most important things to consider when planning your birth is the birth environment that you want to be in. Choosing a place that will help you to feel safe and comfortable can make a real difference to how you (and your birth partner) feel during your birth.
Read on to find out my three steps to help you to choose the place you would like to birth your baby.
1. Know your options
The best place to start is to find out all your local possibilities for where you can give birth. Even if there are some options you might never have considered before, it is a good idea to have them on your list so you can see what your choices are!
Generally, you are likely to have up to 4 different options (depending on your local area):
Labour ward in hospital
Birth centre attached to hospital
Standalone birth centre
As an example local to me, if you are pregnant in the Wakefield/ Pontefract area, you have these four main options in the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust:
Labour ward at Pinderfields Hospital
Birth centre at Pinderfields Hospital
Freestanding birth centre at Dewsbury and District Hospital
You could research your choices yourself to find out what is available locally, or speak to your midwife who should be able to help.
Of course, it is important to remember that sometimes circumstances change during pregnancy or birth and your ideal place of birth is no longer an option for you. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s not worth planning your place of birth! In fact, it is even more of a case for considering all your options, so that you can have a plan B ready if necessary.
2. List your pros and cons
The second step when choosing your ideal place of birth is to list the pros and cons of the places you are choosing between. It can also be a good idea to check practicalities when doing this, for example if one of the places on your list is much further away from your home than you would like to travel, now may be the time to remove it from the list.
Other things to consider when listing pros and cons could be how important it is to you to be near a doctor (like you would be in a hospital or birth centre attached to one). If you are considering a water birth, which places have this as an option (generally birth centres and home births would allow this)? You may need to think about your desired pain relief (if any) as well, as certain types are only available in hospitals. If you’re unsure about what is offered by different places of birth and can’t find information online, it could be another good opportunity to use the expertise of your midwife!
3. Go with your gut
When you’ve thought about all your options and listed your pros and cons, there may be a clear frontrunner which is your number one choice. Or there might not! Either way, at this point it is time to work with your birth partner to decide. Where will you and your birth partner be most comfortable?
You will probably have a gut feeling on this, but if you don’t, my suggestion is to spend some time visualising yourself giving birth in the different environments and pay close attention to how you are feeling. Where do you think you will feel most safe and secure?
I hope this guide to choosing your place of birth has been useful to you. If you have any more tips, feel free to share them in the comment below!
Finally, this affirmation is one you can use to help you to stay positive during birth, wherever you are: “I am in the best place for both of us”.