As I roll rather unceremoniously into my third trimester, my thoughts are turning to my maternity care options and what sort of choices are available. I live in a rural village so my choices for antenatal care are rather limited to the small local midwifery team, or indeed private maternity care and having carried one baby absolutely fine through the local midwives, I continued to see them this time around too.

When it comes to giving birth, my options are actually much more varied than they are for my antenatal care. I could opt for a home birth with the local team, I could opt for a home birth with a private midwifery team, I could head to one of 4 different NHS hospitals or I could book myself into a private midwife unit or a private maternity hospital.

Home Birth

I absolutely love the idea of a home birth, however a number of practical issues arise:

  • How do we fit a birthing pool into our small living room?
  • Do I feel happy being a minimum or 30 minutes away from a hospital should baby girl or I need medical attention?
  • Do I feel happy that our neighbour would be able to head me labouring through our terribly uninsulated walls?!
  • At would point would we turf Toby out to my parents’ and as they’re 30 minutes away, what if Phil got stuck in traffic taking him there and missed the birth?
  • Clearing up afterwards – That just fills my mind with hassle!

Overall, Phil and I are mostly leaning to the idea of not staying at home, so that when baby and I do come home it’s all just as we left it rather than there being a birthing pool to empty and dismantle and birthing paraphernalia hanging around. That said, I’d love to hear from any of you who have had a home birth if I’ve got this totally wrong and the midwife fairies will do all that for us!

Hospital/Midwife Unit Birth

So with staying at home looking less likely, what should we do? My inclination is to head back to the hospital in which Toby was born. It’s close to my parents’ house so easy for dropping the Tobester off en route, there’s a separate midwife-led unit on site with the labour ward being just a 2 minute walk through a corridor. One downside, however, is that it’s a busy hospital so they do sometimes have to close their doors and even if you do get in, there’s not a huge chance of getting a private room for recovery.

Labouring in the midwife unit, hanging from a rope!

Labouring in the midwife unit, hanging from a rope!

When I was in labour with Toby I went to the midwife unit then had to waddle round to the ward because there was meconium in my water. That seems a lot easier than hauling my contracting, pained body into an ambulance and driving for 30 minutes then walking or being wheeled to the ward. I really liked the midwife unit and spent my time there hanging from the suspension rope! I’d love to complete the birth kneeling/squatting or in the pool rather than on a bed, but I like the security of knowing that medical help is 30 seconds away should an emergency arise.

Private Maternity Hospital

Well, this would absolutely be the dream! One thing that I really dislike about the thought of birthing in an NHS hospital – aside from being turned away if they’re busy – is then being on the ward afterwards and not in a private room. I was discharged with Toby after 6 hours, but with hindsight this was a really bad decision and this time I want to stay in and get help with feeding, not to mention not having a crazy toddler running around whilst I’m in the haze of the first day or two!

The idea of a private maternity hospital is so appealing, however sadly our healthcare policy doesn’t include maternity care so it’s not a viable option right now.

I’ve had mixed opinions about the maternity care that I’ve received so far in this pregnancy; from a very disappointing 16 week appointment to a very helpful 28 week one and I think that the main thing for women is to feel supported and cared for. Being pregnant can be a nervous time and even though I’ve been very lucky thus far with two relatively straightforward pregnancies, I still have questions and worries, things I need to be reassured about.

Giving birth is a huge deal and again, support is very important if a woman is to feel empowered in the decisions she and her partner make. I birthed Toby using a TENS machine and a few hits of gas and air – which I hated! Even when he was crowning repeatedly and not getting very far I was never pressured to have a ventouse or forceps, I was encouraged to keep going and that made me feel strong enough both to keep going, but also to know that I could ask for help if I felt I needed it.

Whether baby girl arrives at home or in hospital, on a bed or in a pool, with her mummy using a TENS machine or having had a cesarean, the main thing for me is that the medical professionals caring for us take mine and Phil’s wishes into consideration, that they fully inform us as to our options at every stage and that ultimately, we are part of the decision making process.

I would absolutely love to hear about your birth choices and how things went during your antenatal, birth and postnatal care so please leave me a comment below, or get in touch on Facebook or Twitter.

Disclaimer: This post is brought to you by The Portland Hospital – the only private hospital in the UK dedicated exclusively to the care of women and children. For more information, please visit – www.theportlandhospital.com