Whether you’re deciding between a labour ward or birth centre, or choosing from a number of local hospital options, our checklist of questions to ask the midwife can help you determine if a unit is right for you.
What questions should I ask about the maternity unit?
Everyone has different thoughts on their ideal birth environment so it's good to think about which aspects of birth are important to you.
Below, we have listed some of the questions you may like to ask about where you can give birth, whether it's a labour ward in a hospital or a birth centre (alongside or freestanding). You can use the list as a starting point when thinking about what you’d like to know about the unit and midwives.
When you meet your midwife, they will discuss maternity services near you but remember - if you're happy to travel, you may choose any maternity services you like, depending on various factors including your needs and risks.
Want to know more about the options? Use our Where to give birth tool to find the best maternity options for you to discuss with your midwife, whether it's giving birth at home, in a birth centre or in a labour ward.
Can I go on a tour of maternity units?
Some maternity units offer tours to expectant parents, usually in the third trimester, which can be really helpful in preparing for birth.
However, in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, things may still be a little different to how they used to be.
An RCOG spokesperson told Which?: 'The availability of tours will depend on what restrictions are in place at different Trusts and hospitals due to Covid-19. We’d encourage women to ask about visiting their maternity wards, but the situation will differ from hospital to hospital.'
Some hospitals offer virtual tours of the maternity units as they may not be able to offer them in-person.
To find out if your unit offers tours, talk to your midwife or contact the maternity unit directly.
If you’re early on in your pregnancy or your local units don’t offer tours, you can ask your midwife any questions you have at your antenatal appointments.
What is this maternity unit like?
What type of maternity unit is this? Is it a labour ward (obstetric unit) led by doctors, or is it a birth centre (midwifery-led unit)?
If it’s a birth centre, are there restrictions on who can give birth here? For example, based on age of mother, weeks of pregnancy, Group B Strep positive, or BMI (body mass index)?
Are co-parents, close relatives or friends welcome in the delivery room and will they ever be asked to leave the room - if so, why?
How many delivery rooms are there?
Does this unit ever close and, if so, for what reasons? Where will I be asked to go if this unit is closed when I go into labour?
Can I take a tour of the unit? If so, how do I arrange this?