Hospital or Home Birth?

Hospital or Home Birth?

March 2014

When it comes to where to have your baby, it’s all about knowing the facts and deciding what is best for you. Some mums-to-be feel really safe giving birth in hospital whilst others feel much more comfortable in their own home. You may have a preference already – and remember it’s good to be flexible - but if you’re still unsure, here are some things to think about:

Home births:

Contrary to belief, you don’t need your GP’s permission to give birth at home but you do need to register with your community midwife so they are looking after you.  All you need for a home birth is some plastic sheeting for the floor and furnishings, good light so the midwife can see properly, clean towels and blankets for baby, and a hospital bag on stand-by should you need to go in.

Home births means your pain relief is more limited than in hospital; you can’t have an epidural, but you can still have gas and air and pethidine.  Many mums invest in their own at-home birthing pool for the labour. 

Home births are not recommended if you have had any complications or health concerns during your pregnancy, such as your baby is breech or you have been diagnosed with pre-eclampsia. If you’ve had a C-section before, you can still have a home birth but it is likely you will need to agree to go in to hospital should you midwife recommend it.

It’s important to remember that you are perfectly entitled to change your mind!  So if you start your labour at home and feel you want to go in to hospital, or your midwife recommends you do for any reason, you can be taken in swiftly. 

Overall, as long as you can sort out childcare, should you have other children and feel you need it, and your partner is fully on board, then home births can be a wonderful experience. And best of all, you can be relaxing in your own bed with your new baby, with a cup of tea in your favourite mug within an hour of giving birth!

Hospital births:

Giving birth in hospital means you have access to more medical help should you need it during your labour.  This might be an epidural, ventouse, forceps or C-section. Some hospitals also have their own birthing births and active birth rooms should they be available for you to use. You should visit your local hospital in advance (via appointment) to see the labour ward for yourself and get a feel for what it will be like.  You can take the opportunity to talk to other mums and find out about their experiences, as well as the midwives who work at the units who will be happy to chat to you.

Here are some good questions to ask your midwife regarding homebirth and hospital care:

Birthing Centres:


Some areas of the UK have their own dedicated birthing centre facilities. These aren’t everywhere so it’s important to see what is available where you live.  These are specifically designed for labour so are well worth checking out. Often they have several active birth rooms and birthing pools. You can’t, however, have an epidural or C-section at these units, so if that need arises you would be transferred to the nearest hospital.