Informing you about your birth options
When you fall pregnant it seems a long time until you have to think about the birth but it is something that you should take time to consider seriously.
Some people have set ideas on what they want for a birth and others are a little easier going but at the end of the day where you are to have your baby has to be decided at some point.
To help make a choice about where you want to have your baby a little easier, and to give you a list of available options to you the Which? Birth Choice website is available to all expectant parents.
The website provides a Birth Choice tool which can help you decide where you want to give birth and gives you a list of local options available to you by answering a few simple questions about your wishes and desires.
The website also provides information about all the options that are available and what the differences between all the options are.
If you are unsure about having a home birth, a birth centre birth or a hospital birth, the site lists the pros and cons of each option.
As well as giving you help on where you want to give birth the site also features easy to understand information about the different options you have once you are in labour - do you want a water birth? what pain relief is available to you? who will be there to help you when in labour?
Once you have decided what birth you want you are going to have to pack a bag to help make things a bit easier for you when the times comes to bring your baby into the world - it does not matter where you are having your baby, even if you are staying at home, it is best to have things packed and at hand so you are ready when your contractions kick in.
I was lucky to be given three boxes from Which? to help prepare me for birth - a hospital box, birth centre box and home birth box, containing a few helpful items that would be useful for each eventuality.
Hospital birth box:
A large number of people have their baby in a hospital for various different reasons. For us it was because I needed medical intervention but a hospital birth provides a midwife-led birth but has medical facilities available if needed.
This is the box I will most probably be using with my next baby due to a previous caesarean section (although I will be asking if I can plan for a birth centre birth at the hospital so if things go wrong I am right next to the labour suite).
Lip balm: I never packed this when I went into hospital with M, even though I had read people saying they had packed in theirs, and it is something I wish I had packed. We had M in February and the warm was so hot. The midwives said it was the hottest they had ever felt it but that the heating was controlled in London and not Dundee! I can't vouch for it as I never managed to get into labour but I have heard that labour can make your lips dry too.
Flip flops: OMG I was so upset that I had not packed these when I gave birth to M. The ida of standing in the hospital showers with bare feet made me feel so unwell. I put a towel down before I went in but flip flops would have been the best thing ever! They will be one of the first things I pack when I get my hospital back ready in a few months.
Fan: As I said before the ward was hot, too hot, so hot and I also had a fever. What a bad combination! Add to this the fact there were not enough fans to go around (only one person in our bay of four was given a fan and it wasn't the fevered lil old me!) having a fan with you is ideal.
Phone charger: When you are in the hospital you will use your phone, a lot. Even in wards that have signs up to say not to use mobiles you will probably find that the midwives don't mind you using them (that was certainly the case with us). Because of this you will need to pack a charger or you won't get to take a 1000 pictures a day that you will if you have charge in your phone's battery.
iTunes giftcard: During labour or even after there will be times that listening to music or watching a film will be needed to help pass time. Also you prob won't be able to sleep at night so maybe download a book or two to keep you going through the long days and night - your baby will sleep but you won't.
Water bottle: Hospital wards can be hot places so having a water bottle handy beside your bed is a great idea. We had a jug if water when we had M but I think I would have preferred to have a water bottle as it is handier and more portable. This one, the Brita Fill&Go, filters the water too which is great. I would also recommend taking in diluting juice if water is not your thing as buying juice can get expensive!
Snacks: You will get hungry and if you are allowed to eat during labour I would recommend it. I wasn't allowed food so had to wait 18 hours for something to eat but boy was the hospital toast the best toast/food I have ever tasted! We got toast at 7am and then didn't get anything until mid afternoon! Also when you are on the ward you might end up being the last served for every meal and not get a choice of what you get to eat - we didn't get a menu to pick and everything tasty had been dished out before they got to our bay - so you might need some snacks to keep you going after the birth too.
Eye mask and ear plugs: Hospitals can be bright and noisy places so this can be an essential for some ladies to allow you to get some rest.
Birth centre box:
Many mums choose to have a baby in a midwife-led unit, which can provide a smaller place to have birth in a relaxed and homely unit. This is an option for women with low-risk of complications but some do have options for more high risk ladies so remember to ask.
Dressing gown: Being comfortable is essential so having a nice comfy dressing gown packed in your bag is a great idea.
Hot water bottle: Trying to help ease pain in a natural way can be helped with the use of heat so a hot water bottle ay help ease the pain of labour a bit.
Hair bobbles: Hair can get annoying so tie it back. I will be packing these in my hospital bag for after the birth too because after you have a baby styling your hair is not a top priority.
Slippers: Getting up and having a walk is great to help you through about and also to help you recover afterwards. Again I will pack these in my hospital bag because I found walking after the c-section was the best thing I could ever have done and squeezing swollen feet into shoes was not the best thing.
Water spray: Water sprays can help refresh you and cool you down instantly so having handy spray with you can help make you feel a bit more comfortable. This would be great in any birth bag.
Home birth box:
Having a home birth is the top option for a growing number of women and is where the midwife comes to your home to allow you to have a relaxed birth in familiar surroundings.
Baby blanket: Having a nice soft blanket is essential for your little one. They have just come out of the most comfortable and warm home and so having a lovely blanket that is soft and warm is so needed.
Birthing ball: Getting comfortable can be a hard task but many people find the birthing ball the comfiest way to sit. It can also help in the run up to having a baby with helping to get baby into position.
Waterproof sheet: Having a baby can be a messy affair this this sheet is great to help protect your bed from stains (which I had had this when my waters went!).
Aromatherapy candle, spray and body lotion: Smelly lotions and potions are great ways to help you relax and so finding a scent of your choice is a great way to help you relax and unwind.
Find out more and get informed
To find out more about your birth options and to take the simple and quick birth choice quiz visit the Which? Birth Choice website.