The Great Western Hospital, Swindon

Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Last updated: 24 Aug 2017

Home Birth

Midwives come to your home and look after you during labour and birth

How will I be looked after?

When you book to have a home birth, you’ll usually be looked after by community midwives who cover your local area. They often work in small teams, and you can get to know them throughout your pregnancy.

When you go into labour, one of them will come to your house to support you. As labour progresses, a second midwife normally joins you so there are two midwives there for the birth of your baby.

One of the benefits of planning to give birth at home is that your midwife will only be looking after you, and won’t be responsible for anyone else at the same time.

Arranging a home birth

Statistics

Planned home births with midwives from this hospital

  • 0.8%
    of women had a home birth
  • 0%*
    of women having a home birth had a water birth

* We’ve adjusted the data where it’s based on a small number of women to ensure confidentiality

Is it safe to have a home birth?

  • If you’re having a straightforward pregnancy
    • If you're having an uncomplicated pregnancy with a second, third or fourth baby, a home birth is as safe as a hospital birth.
    • If you're pregnant with your first child, giving birth at home is slightly less safe for the baby than if you give birth in a labour ward.
  • If you’re at increased risk of complications
    • Your midwife or doctor is likely to advise you against a home birth if you’re at increased risk of complications during labour and birth. It's worth discussing your options with your midwife, though, as it could still be the right option for you.
    Find out more about having a home birth to decide if it would be right for you.

Transferring to a hospital

If you plan a home birth, you might end up transferring to the labour ward. This is only rarely an emergency scenario, but the transfer is likely to be in an ambulance. You may be transferred because:

  • you want extra pain relief, such as an epidural, which isn’t available at home
  • your labour is progressing slowly and you agree that you would like it speeded up artificially
  • you or the baby is not coping well with labour (or immediately after the birth) and it would be safer for you to be in hospital.

For women at low risk of complications planning a home birth in England, on average about 45 in 100 (45%) first-time mothers transfer from their home during labour or soon after the birth, and about 12 out of 100 (12%) women having a second or later baby will do so.

You will be transferred to a local hospital, but be aware it may not be the nearest one to where you live. This is because you’re generally transferred to the hospital where the community midwives are based. Your midwife will usually come with you to the hospital and then you will be looked after by the midwives that work on the labour ward.

Find out more about what will happen if you need to be moved to hospital during a home birth

After you’ve given birth

Once you’ve given birth at home, the midwife will stay with you until they’re sure that you and your baby are doing well, and your baby has had its first feed.

A midwife will usually visit you the day after the birth, and then decide on a schedule of visits that might take place at home or at a local clinic. Between 10 and 28 days after the birth, your appointments will be with a health visitor who will support you, along with support from your GP.

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