What types of births are available to you?

You have a choice where to have your baby. As long as there were no serious complications with your pregnancy, you can give birth at home, at a birth centre, or in hospital. You also have the choice of pain relief, no pain relief, a water birth, an active birth, and you may be able to opt for a planned caesarean.


Unless you request otherwise, your doctor will book you into hospital for the birth. You’ll be in for between 7 hours and 4 days depending on how you recover from the birth, and if there are any complications.

Whilst there you will have access to a team of expert medical staff and the full range of pain relief. You may be able to opt for a water birth or an active birth.

Some women who give birth in hospital feel the atmosphere is too impersonal and that they are part of a production


If you choose to give birth at home you will have two midwives in attendance.

You should feel more relaxed in your own surroundings – which helps the birth process. Gas and air will be available and maybe pethidine (check first with the midwife), but you won’t be able to have an epidural. You can hire a birth pool if that is your chosen method.

You’ll need to live within a fairly short distance from a hospital in case of emergency – 10-25 miles depending on local traffic conditions.

Birth Centre

Staffed solely by midwives, a birth centre will offer the same facilities as a home birth: air and gas for pain relief, maybe pethidine.

The atmosphere is home-from-home and less impersonal than a hospital – although some birth centres are actually based in a hospital. A more relaxed surroundings which often leads to a more relaxed birth.

Not available if you’ve had complications during pregnancy.

Active Birth

The idea is to stay active, move around, and give birth in an upright position.

Advocates of this method claim that being upright helps the baby to travel down the birth canal and your labour will be shorter.

You will need to be fit and experience no complications.

Water Birth

You spend your advanced labour and give birth in a birthing pool full of warm water.

The water encourages your body to release pain relieving hormones and it allows you to move more freely. You are less likely to need pain relief and less likely to tear.

And no, baby won’t drown in the water!

If you find you do need pethidine or an epidural, you will have to come out of the pool.

Many hospitals do not have birthing pools, and those that do usually have only one – which someone else may be using when you need it. To hire one costs around £120 per week – if you find baby is late in arriving there is a daily rate after the week is up.

Planned Caesarean

These are usually available only if there are medical reasons, such as a low placenta or if you have pre-eclampsia – unless, of course, you are willing to pay for the operation.