• The things you may want to consider are:
• What sort of care will give you the best opportunity of a straightforward birth?
• What sort of environment will you feel happiest in?
• And, if you have, or are likely to have, medical problems requiring intervention, what services will be available?
There is a great variety of maternity care available from the National Health Service. You can see a midwife for all your antenatal care - in your doctor's surgery, at a clinic, or in your own home - with any ultrasound scans carried out in hospital, if you choose to have them. You may want the involvement of your family doctor with appointments held at the doctor's surgery.
You may also wish to see an obstetrician (a medical doctor specialising in childbirth). Appointments will be held at your local hospital.
For the birth you can choose to have your baby at home, in a small community hospital run by midwives - sometimes called 'birth centres' - or in a hospital equipped with a special care baby unit and operating theatres.
Apart from home births, not all these services will be available. You will be asked to state your preference for place of birth early on in pregnancy, but you can change your mind at any time - and that includes after your labour has started.
At home, one or two midwives will remain with you from the time you call until about two hours after the birth. They usually visit twice a day for the first few days and then once on most days.
After a straightforward birth, you can go home when you like, if you feel well. Some women go home within a few hours of giving birth, others stay on for one or two days. After a Caesarean section you will be much less mobile. You may be on a drip or have had a catheter installed. You will have stitches in your abdomen and may be taking strong painkillers. On average, women stay in hospital for six days. Once home, the midwife will visit most days until the baby is 10 days old or up to 28 days if needs be.
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