Deciding where you would like to give birth is a big decision when you are expecting a baby and there are lots of different factors to consider. There is a lot to think about when you are preparing to have a baby, whether it is your first or you’ve got a whole brood at home already. To make the decision about where to give birth a bit easier the consumer group Which? have put together the Which? Birth Choice website (they do more than just review washing machines you know!) to help you decide.
There are several different options available, although as a first time mum you might not be aware of them all. I know when I was pregnant with Toby I didn’t really give it that much thought. I just assumed I would give birth in hospital. My local hospital doesn’t have a maternity ward any more so I had to go to a hospital about half an hour away. As I was considered ‘low risk’ I was able to give birth in the mid-wife led unit which is part of the maternity unit. I know the decision isn’t always as straight-forward – you may have a choice of hospitals or birthing centres, or there is always the option of a home birth to consider.
The Which? Birth Choice website includes lots of helpful information about the different options of where you can birth, as well as expert advice on things like water births, pain relief and who might look after you during labour. There is also a unique birth choice tool which can help you make your decision. By answering a few simple questions and giving your postcode the tool will give you the options which may be best suited to your circumstances.
As well as using the Birth Choice tool, the lovely people at Which? also sent me three birth boxes, each containing things I might need or find useful in each of the different birth settings.
In the hospital birth box there were all sorts of things that would definitely make a hospital birth more comfortable; an eye mask and ear plug set for those noisy maternity wards, an iTunes gift card to fill my phone with music or movies for those early stages of labour, the all important charging cable – no one wants a dead phone when it’s time for those all important announcements! There were also flip flops for those swollen feet, a fan, lip balm, snacks and a very handy water bottle with a built in filter. If you give birth in hospital you may have to stay in for a day or two and all these things would really come in handy.
In the birth centre box there were hair bobbles (very useful for most people but not something I’m likely to need!), a hot water bottle to help ease those labour pains, or equally the after pains you get for the few days after the baby is born, a dressing gown and slippers to keep you nice and comfortable for both during labour and after the baby is born, and lastly a spring water spray to keep you nice and cool whilst you are in labour.
Lastly, the home birth box contained a birthing ball – I loved my birthing ball during my last pregnancy for helping me to get more comfortable and it was very useful in the early stages of labour too. There was also a waterproof mattress cover – essential to keep things clean when you are giving birth at home, a lavender aromatherapy room spray which can help to relieve tension and stress, and lastly a lovely receiving blanket for after the baby is born. In this box there were also some extra Cowshed products, such as moisturisers, stretch mark oil and body washes for both me and the baby as an extra gift from Which?
There is so much great advice on the Which? Birth Choice website and I would definitely recommend you take a look if you are unsure about where you would like to give birth. And as for me? Well, unfortunately for me it isn’t quite as straightforward as just deciding for myself. In three weeks I will have another scan to see if my placenta as moved away from my cervix. If it hasn’t then I will have to have a caesarean and this will be in the consultant-led unit of my nearest maternity unit. If the placenta has moved enough to allow a vaginal birth but is still close to the cervix then I may be able to give birth in the midwife-led unit where Toby was born. And if at has totally moved out of the way and there is a low risk of complications then I might still get the home birth I was hoping for, and which the Which? Birth Choice tool also recommended for me.
The lovely people at Which? are also giving you the chance to get your hands on three birth boxes worth £250. All you need to do is test your knowledge of the different birth choices by answering the questions in the widget below (Hint: Take a look at the Which? Birth Choice website if you aren’t sure of any of the answers!)