Your birth options
Deciding where to have your baby is a very important decision which you'll need to make during your pregnancy.
We want you to feel both safe and confident, so you can have the best birth experience possible. The choice you have about where to have your baby will depend on your wishes and any needs for clinical support you may have. Wherever you choose, the place should feel right for you.
National research shows choosing the most appropriate birth environment - i.e. home, Birth Centre or Delivery Suite - can significantly improve the well-being of mother and baby.
Guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) (updated in February 2017) also supports your right to be informed about your options and choose where you have your baby - be that in a midwife-led centre, at home or on a hospital labour ward.
First baby options
For women with straightforward pregnancies who are expecting their first baby, it is advised that planning to give birth in a midwifery-led unit is particularly suitable.
Options for subsequent births
The NICE guidance advises that planning to give birth at home or in a midwifery-led unit are both great options for women with straightforward pregnancies who have already had a baby.
What to bring when you're having a baby
Packing your hospital bag is an exciting way to prepare for the big day and it’s best to do it about six weeks before your due date.
Your bag needs to be big enough to carry all the essentials you need for a hospital stay but storage space is limited so please bring only one or two small bags of essentials onto the ward. Your partner will be asked to take anything else away, including suitcases and car seats.
Because there is not a lot of space, we advise that you pack essentials in two bags:
Bag 1: Your labour and birth
- Your green handheld antenatal records
- A birth plan if you have made one
- Clothing: loose and comfortable for labour - a couple of old long T-shirts are great
- A face cloth/sponge/hair tie/lip salve – water spray can help to cool you down
- Isotonic sports drinks are good for energy as are pieces of fresh fruit
- A pair of socks
- Something to play music on or anything else that will make labour more pleasant for you
- Wash bag – toothbrush, shower gel, deodorant & comb
- Bathrobe, nightgown & slippers
Sanitary pads and knickers (old knickers are ideal as they may well get blood stained)
- Camera / video camera
- Something to read
- Telephone numbers / mobile phone
- Money for snacks
- An extra pillow or whatever you need to help you relax
Bag 2: After your birth
- Two or three nursing bras – ordinary bras will be fine if you’re not breastfeeding (remember, your breasts will be much larger than usual)
- About 24 sanitary towels (super absorbent) – not tampons
- Five or six pairs of pants as you’ll probably want to change them often
- Change or a phone card for the hospital payphone
- A book, magazines, music player or other things to help you pass the time and relax
- A loose comfortable outfit to wear during the day.
- Clothes for hospital – vests, baby grows, nappies
- A hat for just after birth
- Cotton wool
- Feeding – We recommend breastfeeding, but if you decide not to breastfeed, you will need to bring a starter pack of ready-to-feed formula milk (which includes teats) as there are no facilities for sterilising equipment or making up feeds.
Please remember: if you want to breastfeed you will not need to bring in formula milk, it undermines breastfeeding by reducing your milk supply and introducing the risk of allergies and infection. We can help you to breastfeed if you need support, just ask any midwife or member of staff.
When you are ready to go home ask that the following are brought in for you:
For you: something comfortable to go home in, shoes and coat/jacket
For baby: Baby grow, vest, hat and a couple of blankets – extra clothing if it’s cold
Car seat – you can’t drive your baby home without one, but please don’t bring it into hospital until you are both ready to go home.