Giving birth in hospital 

An expert explains the benefits of having maternity care in hospitals, and two mothers describe their experiences and reasons for giving birth in hospital.

Where to give birth: the options

Transcript of Giving birth in hospital

The most important thing with maternity care

is that women are under the care of a midwife.

All women need a midwife.

Midwifery care for delivery can take place at home,

or in a midwifery unit if there is a free-standing one, or in hospital.

I would like to think that we can provide

the most basic but full midwifery care in the hospital unit,

but should there be a problem, there are doctors around to help to intervene.

There are some people who we would recommend, because of complications,

have a baby in hospital.

There are others who would choose to have it.

The underlying benefit is that if there were to be some reason

that they would be better off with help from a doctor,

then they're in the right place to get intervention if necessary.

I've got a blood condition that causes my blood to be slightly sticky,

which means that sometimes it can clot,

so particularly in pregnancy that's not a good thing,

so for me I felt that I needed to be at a hospital.

I'd like to think that the philosophy in a unit

and what the midwives and what the doctors want

is for women to have everything as normal as possible.

The sorts of things that we've tried in this unit, for example,

we have cupboards in the room so we can hide any hi-tech equipment

if it's not needed.

With a hospital birth you're not at home but you can still make it feel home.

You can take your own things in, and taking my music in helped.

The fact that we had that en-suite room

and we had an area that we could use

and we didn't need to go outside the room, it was our space, was nice.

We're here to make everything as normal and natural and wonderful

as it possibly can be,

and only to intervene if really necessary.

It was the labour that I wanted because I did want a labour

where I had minimum pain relief,

and in actual fact I managed to have a TENS machine.

I think I had a couple of puffs on gas and air while I was examined

and that was it, so I didn't really have much pain relief,

but actually that was good for me.

There are times that we know we need to assist the delivery,

and that means using either forceps or a ventouse.

This is a modern form of ventouse.

It's disposable,

it's suction equipment for delivering a baby

and it's commonly used for assisted deliveries now.

People can choose to have an epidural if they want to,

if that's what they'd like for pain relief,

and sometimes we will recommend it.

But if they have an epidural,

they have to have a drip in their arm just to have some fluid.

Then they have the epidural,

which involves putting local anaesthetic in the back and putting a needle in.

We try very hard not to give general anaesthetics to people.

We try hard to use what's called regional anaesthesia,

which is either an epidural or a spinal.

I've got diabetes, so...

Women with diabetes have bigger babies.

So I had my first baby, she was induced,

but then I ended up having an emergency Caesarean section.

And then my second baby,

we decided with the advice from the consultant and midwives

to have an elective Caesarean.

The vast majority of elective and emergency Caesarean sections

are done under spinal anaesthetic, so the woman's awake.

It's an enormous advantage that if she's awake she's involved in the experience

and her partner can be there.

You can kind of feel something pressing on your tummy gently,

but it's not painful and...

It's quite comfortable, really, you just can't feel anything.

I couldn't drive or hoover or carry heavy things

for a good four to six weeks

and after that I was completely recovered,

I didn't have any problems.

Often, and perhaps most often with a vaginal delivery,

there's enough space and the tissues will stretch,

so there's no damage and no stitches necessary,

but there are times that clearly

the opening to the vagina isn't going to be big enough

and it might tear just to make room for the baby,

and sometimes it tears and that's fine and we sew it up.

There are advantages and disadvantages to having a tear

or deciding to do a cut called an episiotomy.

We don't do them unnecessarily.

Midwives are the experts in trying to protect the vaginal opening,

to try and stop any tears or damage.

But if it is necessary then there's no harm in it,

it's easy to repair and then there's no problems with it afterwards.

Our overwhelming desire

is for women and their partners and families

to have what they consider is a successful and happy outcome.

I think the biggest thing is not to be afraid of having your baby in hospital

because it's the reassurance

that you've got all of the medical staff on hand to help you if you need it.

And I did need it so I was very grateful.

I have given birth in hospitals twice

where I've had all the facilities and all the medical services there

because there was a chance that I might need it,

but both times I've given birth naturally

without any kind of assistance.

So you can still have all kinds of birth,

whatever works for you, in a hospital.

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When to go to hospital

When to call the midwife and what to expect, including examinations and what the delivery rooms are like

Packing things for the birth

Whether you're planning to have your baby at home, in hospital or at a midwife-led unit, you'll need to get ready before you go into labour

Where you can give birth

Learn about where you can have your baby, including at home, in hospital or at a midwife-led birth centre