Where to give birth

Deciding where to have your baby is a big decision. Take some time to think about the choices on offer

If you’re deciding where to have your baby, your choices may include

  • A home birth
  • A midwife-led unit within or on the same site as a hospital that provides obstetric care; these are called ‘alongside midwifery units’
  • A midwife-led unit that’s on a separate site from a hospital that provides obstetric care – it may be on its own or on the same site as a community hospital; these are called ‘freestanding midwifery units’
  • An obstetric unit within a hospital, with consultant obstetricians (doctors specialising in pregnancy and birth) and anaesthetists available, and neonatal care on site if needed

Each offers different kinds of care. One or more of the options may not be available to you because of where you live. Your individual pregnancy needs may mean one type of care is recommended (for example, some medical conditions mean it would be safer to be in a hospital with consultants close by). A large study called Birthplace has been used to prepare guidance for the NHS about the choices and recommendations for women (see more information below).

You will probably have a natural preference for the type of birth that you want. Even so...

  • Make sure you’re aware of all your options
  • Think about how you want your birth to be if everything goes as it should
  • Think about what might happen if there’s a problem during labour – how long would it take for an ambulance to take you to an obstetric unit, for example
More information

Information produced to help women decide where to give birth, based on NHS guidance

Information about the Birthplace study (written for people with some knowledge of medical words and phrases)

Recommendations from NICE, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence for the NHS

The NHS Better Health, Start for Life website has valuable information to help you make the best decision about where to give birth.