When it comes to choosing the best place for your baby to be born, it can take time to come to the decision that's right for you. There are a variety of sources you can use to find out about what it might be like to give birth in the various places that are available in your locality.
First, think about what you would like your birth experience to be. Many women want a straightforward birth so they are physically and emotionally fit afterwards themselves. Talking to as many other mothers as possible will help you to understand the variety of factors that can influence your birth. Contacting your local NCT branch (see the homepage for how to do this, or call our Enquiry Line on 0870 444 8707) will put you in touch with others who have recently had experience of the facilities in your area (see previous pages in this section for ideas on what each option entails).
Your local NCT branch may also offer a Home Birth Support Group, if you are interested in finding out more about this option.This useful site gives all the research information you need to help you decide whether having your baby at home is right for you.
For detailed information on hospitals, GP and midwife-led units around the UK, The site contains information about individual hospitals, including the level of Caesareans, instrumental deliveries and inductions, benchmarked against national averages so that you can put the figures in context. It also gives a step-by-step guide to choosing where to have your baby, with unbiased information about your various options.
The information on this site is a very useful starting point for discussions with your carers about the sort of maternity care you would like to receive.
Often health care professionals will assume that you will have a hospital birth. If this is not what you are planning, you can discuss your options with them. If you find that they are not sympathetic to your wishes, you can approach another health professional, for example, a midwife, to arrange the care you would like.
If you or your baby develop medical complications it is still important to have the information you need to choose the best place to get medical care.
Don't forget that it's your right to choose the kind of care you would like and where you want to deliver your baby. You can change your mind about where to have your baby any time in pregnancy and after you are in labour too.
So, for example, if you book a hospital birth early on, and would later like to change to a home birth, you're perfectly entitled to. Though in practice, it is often easier to book a home birth first and change to hospital later if you want to.