It’s the one thing all pregnant women think about – the birth. And it’s easy to become daunted by the many different birthing options facing you.

Here are some of the most popular choices and where to go to for more advice:

Hospital birth
Normally, you ‘book’ your birth at your chosen hospital near the beginning of your pregnancy. When choosing a hospital think about:

  • The distance of the hospital from your home;
  • Which are the most friendly, flexible and helpful (ask other mums);
  • What facilities they have (birthing stools, water birth pools, 24-hour obstetric anaesthetists);
  • If you have decided you would like to use a complementary treatment (such as acupuncture, aromatherapy, homeopathy, and reflexology) during labour you need to find out whether the hospital you have chosen accepts this.
  • For more information please contact your local Community Health Council.

Home births
Home births are becoming increasingly popular but are not always the easiest to arrange.

If you want a home birth, your doctor should refer you to a midwife experienced in home births. If you’re having problems getting a suitable midwife, or are feeling pressured to have a hospital birth, you can always contact the midwifery unit at your local hospital and ask for advice.

DOMINO stands for ‘domiciliary, in and out’. Your midwife will tend to you at home for the beginning of your labour, move with you to a hospital for the birth, and then come home with you again within a few hours of delivery.

Some hospitals use the one-to-one approach. This is where you’re cared for by one midwife during labour and delivery. According to experienced GP and health book author Dr Sarah Brewer (MA MB BChir), many women who use the one-to-one scheme are often more confident about giving birth because of the continuity of care. They also tend to have a shorter stay in hospital and are more likely to succeed in breast-feeding.

A birth plan?
“Over 70% of women now make a birth plan,” says Dr Sarah Brewer, health columnist for The Daily Record, Daily Telegraph and Prima. A birth plan helps your midwife understand your needs, wishes and expectations about giving birth. And although it’s not essential to have one, a birth plan can help you feel more confident and in control when you go into the delivery ward.

Tips for making a birth plan

Think about:

  • How you feel about the induction or acceleration of labour;
  • Whether you want to be active during birth;
  • Who you want with you during labour;
  • Whether you’d like the option of a birthing pool for labour and/or birth;
  • How you want your baby’s heart rate to be monitored – electronically or not?;
  • What pain relief you’d like (if any).