In this short video, mums and dads share their experience of pregnancy and birth care in a birth centre setting.
Having your baby in a birth centre might be an option if you're healthy and have a low-risk pregnancy. Birth centres are often attached to hospitals in city areas. They aim to help birth be as natural as possible in a home-like environment.
In a birth centre, you plan and have your care with a midwife or team of midwives during pregnancy, birth and after birth. You usually get to know the people looking after you, and this can have a positive effect on your birth experience and your need for pain relief.
Your pregnancy appointments are likely to be with a midwife at the birth centre. You might have one appointment with an obstetrician, or you might see a doctor if there are any concerns. You’ll be offered birth classes in one of your early appointments.
The midwives will let you know when to come to the birth centre and what to do when you’re in labour. A midwife or team of midwives, usually ones you know, will care for you when you get to the birth centre. They’ll call a doctor if you need extra medical care.
If you need any birth interventions, they’ll transfer you to the birthing suite of the hospital. If you or your baby needs a longer stay after the birth, you’ll be taken to the postnatal ward of the hospital.
Most birth centres are attached to public hospitals. The following information is about birth centres at public hospitals:
Birth centres can book up very early. If you think you might be pregnant and you're interested in having your baby at a birth centre, it's a good idea to make a booking immediately. You can ask to be placed on a waiting list if you don’t get in straight away.
You also need to see your GP as soon as possible to start your pregnancy care. Your GP will give you a referral to the birth centre if it's an option for you. This will depend on where you live, your health and your pregnancy history. Then you'll need to call the birth centre to book in your first appointment.
If you’re interested in a birth centre, it’s a good idea to think about:
Knowing your options and talking about them with your midwife or doctor can help you feel more prepared and happier about your pregnancy and birth experience in the long run.