Ilkley-based community midwife Lisa Bragg tells us making the decision about where to have your baby. Thank you to Lisa for sharing this with us.
Lisa also runs Offsprings antenatal classes in Ilkley.
As a Community Midwife I am usually the first contact for pregnant women. It is my job to make women aware that they have a choice about where they would like to have their baby. My experience has taught me that for some women this is an important decision that they will consider carefully, whilst equally many women are happy to go to which ever hospital is nearest their home.
I offer homebirth as an initial choice to all women and am surprised how many women do not realise that this is an option within the NHS. The reactions I receive from this offer are varied ranging from delight to horror!
I have written this article to raise awareness about choice and also to explore factors that are important in making these decisions. I have included some tips to help you choose where to have your baby.
The birth environment is very important, if you feel safe and relaxed during your labour you will be much more likely to have an uncomplicated birth and many women feel this way about giving birth at home. However if you are a person who feels safer surrounded by technology, then homebirth may not make you feel relaxed and this could inhibit your labour. Homebirth should be a joint decision between you and your partner, it is important that you are both comfortable with this option. Talk to your midwife and be open about what you would like.
The results of a large study [The Birthplace study] have recently shown that for first time mums there are some increased risks associated with homebirth: There is a 9.3 per thousand risk of harm to the baby compared to a 5.3 per thousand risk when birth is in a midwife-led unit or a hospital. [It is important to remember that although there is an increased risk of harm these numbers are very small] There is also a 46% chance that you will need to be transferred to hospital during your labour. Talk to your Midwife for more details of these issues.
The good news from this study is that for women having their 2nd or more babies there is no increased risk associated with homebirth and a much lower 16% chance of being transferred to hospital during labour.
Much more research is needed to examine why these increased risks occur.
The majority of women in this area choose to have their baby at Airedale General Hospital. Generally I get very good feedback from this hospital. The management and staff at Airedale have worked hard to encourage and promote normal birth and have an excellent maternity website. There are good communication systems and excellent antenatal care, which is very important to me when referring women who I may be concerned about. Other hospitals in the local area are Harrogate District Hospital, Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust and Bradford Royal Infirmary. A minority of women in this area choose these hospitals for a variety of reasons.
What factors should influence my choice of Hospital?
Popular practical reasons include:
Is the hospital logistically easy to get to especially in times of heavy traffic? Bear in mind you may need to visit several times for scans or Consultant appointments depending on events during your pregnancy.
Is the hospital near to your place of work? If so you may not need to take as much time off to attend appointments.
If this is not your first baby are your childcare arrangements in the same direction as the hospital?
Do you know and feel safe in the area the hospital is located?
Is there adequate and easily accessible parking?
How do I know if a hospital has good standards of care
Does the hospital have an up to date maternity website? Some may even include a virtual tour of the maternity unit.
Does the hospital score high in the Doctor Foster guide? www.drfoster.co.uk
Is the hospital meeting government standards? The Care Quality Commission publishes these details. www.cqc.org.uk
Can you visit the hospital? if you can does the unit appear to be friendly with good standards of cleanliness.
Does the maternity unit work hard to promote normal birth? You can find this out by asking your Midwife or visiting the unit where you should notice active birth posters, bean bags and birthing balls. Is there a birthing pool?
I hope this article is useful in helping you to decide where to have your baby. Most couples are very satisfied with their choices. It is best not to pay too much attention to other people’s opinions as these are influenced by many factors that are unlikely to apply to you. Each labour is different, as is each day on a maternity unit! Anyone who watches One Born Every Minute will appreciate this!!
If you would like to discuss the issues raised in this feature, you could do so in our baby chat section. You can also speak directly to your midwife at you next antenatal appointment.