Here’s how you can go about planning a home birth.
How to arrange a home birth
While some women prefer the environment of a hospital, a lot of women like the idea of bringing their babies into the world at home.
The first thing to do if you are interested in giving birth at home is to speak to your midwife at your booking appointment (NICE, 2014). That’ll happen when you’re between eight and 12 weeks pregnant (NHS Choices, 2016).
If you decide later in your pregnancy that you want a home birth though, you can still choose one. Just tell your midwife as early as you can.
Reaction to home birth plans
A home birth should be just as realistic and positive an option as having your baby in hospital or a midwife-led birth centre. National guidelines for the care of healthy women and babies recommend that women with straightforward pregnancies are supported to choose any setting for birth, including home birth (NICE, 2014). So it’s completely valid to ask for it, or to chat through it to get more information.
Your midwife should support the idea of a home birth and help you organise it (NHS Choices, 2017). Do be aware though that they might have reasons why a home birth isn’t the best option for you (NHS Choices, 2017). So it’s always worth a good chat through your choices. You can also ask to talk this through with a consultant midwife, or a midwife who specialises in home birth.
What to check with your midwife
When you speak to your midwife, it’s a good idea to check the following:
- Whether a home birth is suitable for you and your baby.
- How long it would take if you needed to transfer to hospital.
- Which hospital you would be transferred to.
- Whether a midwife would be with you all the time.
- How you get a birthing pool if you want one. (NHS Choices, 2017)
Getting your home ready
When you see the midwife, you might want to chat through how far your house is from the hospital and accessibility to your house. That way they have the information they need in case you need a transfer to a hospital.
Problems organising a home birth
If you don’t feel like you’re getting enough support with your decision to have a home birth, you can write to the Head of Maternity Services.
Contact details are usually available on the hospital Trust’s website, or you can ask your midwife. If you’re uncomfortable doing that, you don’t have to say why you need them.
There’s also a handy template letter on the AIMS website, which can help you with phrasing too (AIMS, 2018).
Another option for your home birth is to use an independent midwife, if there are some in your area.
The cost for an independent midwife will depend on where you live and what exactly you want from them. The average charge is between £2,000 and £5,000 (Independent Midwives, 2014). That cost includes pregnancy, labour and birth. Contact Independent Midwives UK for more information.
This page was last reviewed in October 2018.
Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.
We also offer antenatal courses which are a great way to find out more about birth, labour and life with a new baby.
Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby.
The Home Birth Reference Site provides information and opinions about having your baby at home, for parents who think that it might be the right choice for them, and for health professionals looking for resources.
Which? and Birth ChoiceUK have developed a tool to help you find out what your choices are for giving birth in your area.
AIMS. (2018) Booking a home birth. Available from: https://www.aims.org.uk/information/item/booking-a-home-birth [last accessed 5th October 2018].
Independent Midwives. (2014) Payment. Available from: https://imuk.org.uk/families/faqs/#paymen [last accessed 5th October 2018].
NHS Choices. (2016) Your antenatal appointments. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/antenatal-appointment-schedule/ [last accessed 5th October 2018].
NHS Choices. (2017) Where to give birth: the options. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/where-can-i-give-birth/#home-birth [last accessed 5th October 2018].
NICE. (2014) CG190 Intrapartum care for healthy women and babies. Available from: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg190/ [last accessed 5th October 2018].