Your midwife will be with you during labour, but if you give birth in hospital she'll probably be looking after a lot of other women as well. And the chance is that you won't have met her before the birth.
One of the recommendations of Changing Childbirth, (the maternity services report that the Department of Health brought out in 1993) was that 'within five years 75% of women should be be cared for in labour by a midwife whom they have come to know during pregnancy'.
Unfortunately that vision is still just that - a vision and not reality. But there are ways of finding a midwife you know to support you in labour. One of those ways is to have your baby at home.
One of the advantages of booking a home birth is that you are more likely to be cared for in pregnancy by a familiar midwife, although this can't be guaranteed.
'My first baby was born in a hospital. The midwife was a student who could only be with us half the time and didn't give me a lot of confidence. But I met Judy, my community midwife, when she came to visit me after I got home. She's worked as a midwife for over 20 years and been wonderfully supportive. That's why I decided to have my second and third babies with her help at home and it has worked well.
'As well as supporting and encouraging me through each labour, she came to me at home for all my antenatal check ups, and of course visited every day after the birth.
'It's been great having Judy.'