pregnant woman making notes

Like the idea of putting your own kettle on for a cuppa straight after you have your baby? 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. And with your own bed to sleep in and easy access to the biscuit tin, there’s a lot to appeal if you’re one of them.

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

You should never worry or feel anxious about bringing up a home birth with your midwife.

A home birth should be just as realistic and positive an option as having your baby in hospital (RCM, 2008). 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.

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

Put the deep cleaning equipment down: you don’t need to do anything special to your home to make it suitable for a home birth.  Except, erm, maybe make sure there’s lots of cake in the cupboard for afterwards?

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).

Independent midwives

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.

Further information

Our support line offers practical and emotional support in many areas of pregnancy, birth and early parenthood: 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].

RCM. (2008) Position paper 25. Home birth. Available from:  https://www.rcm.org.uk/news-views-and-analysis/analysis/position-paper-25-home-birth [last accessed 5th October 2018].

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