Maternity: care when giving birth
We offer support for home births if you live in the area our maternity services cover.
Benefits of a home birth
- You're more likely to feel relaxed in your home, which can help the progress of your labour
- Some research has found those giving birth at home tend to use less pain relief. This suggests birth at home can be more manageable
- You can choose who is present during the birth and afterwards. You will not be separated from your family
- You do not have to worry about when to go to hospital or how to get there
- Research shows women who choose to have a home birth are less likely to need an epidural or instrumental birth
Home birth can be a good choice if:
you're experiencing an uncomplicated pregnancy
you're carrying only one baby
your baby is head down (cephalic presentation)
you go into labour naturally between 37 weeks and 42 weeks (spontaneous onset of labour)
you are having your 1st to 6th baby without previous complication
you have a body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 35 at your booking appointment
How to book a home birth
You can self-refer or ask your GP to refer you to our maternity service.
Once we've booked you in, please ask your midwife to refer you to the caseload team covering home births for your area.
A midwife will book your 1st appointment. This is an antenatal check that can take place at the clinic or your home.
Your midwife will talk to you about:
- how the home birth team works
- your place of birth
- the care you will receive during your pregnancy
Your midwife will see you almost every month. You're also invited to antenatal classes and meet the other team midwives.
At around 36 weeks, your birth plan and home birth practicalities will be discussed.
We'll give you a birth pack and bring the rest of the equipment at the birth.
Labour and birth at home
During labour and birth, 2 midwives will be present. They'll monitor the wellbeing of you and your baby.
Usually there is very little mess. Our midwives will bring disposable pads and will dispose of all clinical waste. We ask that you provide some sheets that you do not mind getting soiled.
During a home birth, you can have:
TENS, a method of pain relief involving electrical nerve stimulation. You can hire or buy a TENS machine for personal use
hydrotherapy (water birth), this can relax you and make your contractions seem less painful
gas and air (entonox)
If you would like stronger pain relief, you will need to transfer into hospital. Midwives who attend birth can suture most perineal tears. Any complicated tears require transfer to hospital.
You can read more about pain relief during labour on the Labour Pains website.
Changing your mind
If you plan to give birth at home but change your mind, you can transfer to hospital during labour.
If your midwife is concerned about you or your baby during home birth, you'll be advised to transfer into the Hospital Birth Centre.
If this is your 1st birth, research suggests that around 45% of women transfer into hospital during or just after a home birth.
This is for different reasons, including delay in labour or needing more options for managing pain.
Around 13% of women expecting their 2nd or subsequent baby transfer into the Hospital Birth Centre during labour or birth.
It is relatively unusual to be transferred in from home as an emergency, but it can happen. Your midwife will talk about this with you beforehand.
After your baby is born
Your midwife will provide postnatal care at home, including:
- postnatal check ups
- support with breastfeeding
If you need any extra care, referrals can be made for you at our specialist hospital clinics.
A health visitor will take over once you have been discharged from midwifery care.