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Choosing where to birth

Your choice about where to have your baby will depend on the facilities and support you would like for your labour and the kind of pain relief you may wish to be available. However for women with some medical conditions or complication that may affect pregnancy, your midwife or doctor will advise you that the Labour Ward is the safest place to give birth so that specialist are available if you need extra help during labour.

For most women, pregnancy and childbirth are normal life events that are generally very safe and need very little medical care. In this case you may decide that you would like to give birth at home.


Home birth/birthing centre

When choosing to give birth at home or at a birth centre, your care will be managed by a midwife who will support you through labour and the birth of your baby.

Advantages Disadvantages
You may feel more relaxed and safer in your home environment or birth centre You may require transfer to the Labour Ward if labour does not progress well or there are any concerns about your or your baby's wellbeing
A planned home birth for women who are 'low risk' is as safe as a hospital birth It may take longer to get emergency treatment for you and your baby
In most cases you will have met the midwives looking after you prior to going into labour Epidural analgesia is not possible at home or at a birth centre
Less disruption to the family with the option to involve other family members as you wish  
More privacy  

What the experts say

The Birthplace Study (2011) has evaluated the evidence relating to hospital maternity and states that:

  • Giving birth in a birth centre or at home is safe for baby.
  • Mothers are more likely to have a normal birth, especially if having their second or subsequent babies.
  • Women having their first baby at home have a higher chance of transferring to hospital during their labour.
  • Home birth is not recommended for women with certain clinical conditions.
  • During labour 45 of 100 (45%) women having their first babies require transfer from home to the Labour Ward. You are less likely to need to be transferred if you have had a baby before.

The most common reasons for transfer included:

  • Concern about the well-being of the baby.
  • For further analgesia.
  •  A long labour.

After birth there is still a small chance you or the baby may need to go to hospital. Your midwife will have discussed potential problems with you and your partner prior to your baby's birth.

Birth Centres at Frimley Health

 Frimley Park Hospital  
  Wexham Park Hospital

Labour Ward Birth

If you decide to give birth on the Labour Ward, your care can be managed by a midwife or a maternity team comprising of a midwife and obstetrician. A paediatrician, an anaesthetist and sometimes other specialists will be available if required.

Advantages Disadvantages
There is a wide choice of pain relief available including a 24 hour epidural anaesthesia service and a birthing pool. You are more likely to have interventions such as electronic monitoring and drips
Medical help and emergency facilities are close by. You may not have met the midwife looking after you prior to going into labour.
Facilities are available if you have special needs such as adjustable beds and wheelchair access Separation from other family members.
If you do not have a medical complication you have the choice to have your baby in the birth entre, which is a home from home environment led by midwives.  

What the experts say

The birthplace study has evaluated the evidence relating to hospital maternity units and states that:
Birthing on the Labour Ward is recommended for women with certain medical conditions.
You are less likely to have a normal birth, than if you chose to give birth at home, or in a birthing centre.

Labour Wards at Frimley Health

Frimley Park Hospital

Wexham Park Hospital

Further sources of information