by Vicky Wilkins

So, Dad’s you and your partner are wondering where should she give birth? Have you thought about a birth centre? From a study of 64,000 women, birth centres are shown to be just as safe as obstetric units (hospital) if the mother does not have any medical problems or has not had any problems in her pregnancy. The bonuses are, there is more chance of having a normal birth, less interventions in labour and less chance of needing a caesarean section or an episiotomy. Sounds good right? To add to this, they are normally homelier than obstetric units (which you may traditionally think of as a hospital birth), feel private, have soft furnishings, dim lighting, calming colours and sensory stimuli that lend feelings of being calm and in control. This will empower your partner to have a natural normal birth and make you feel more relaxed! They are non-clinical and comfortable with a variety of birth aids available e.g. pools for water births, birthing balls, birthing couches, birthing chairs and facilities to play music.

There are two types of birth centres, there are ‘Alongside Birth Centres’ such as the Midwifery Led Care Centre in Sheffield which are normally next to obstetric units. The other type of birth centre is a Freestanding Birth Centre. Sheffield currently does not have one of these, the nearest is in Dewsbury. The main appeal for ‘Freestanding’ birth centres are that they are not situated in a hospital, which is perfect for mothers that don’t like the idea of being in a hospital as they are not unwell. Another reason to choose a freestanding birth centre is they like the idea of a home birth, but don’t want one for certain reasons e.g. not enough space for a birth pool or concerns about mess. There is even more chance of a having a normal birth in these centres than alongside centres. There is normally more parking, outdoor space and often other services offered e.g. aromatherapy and reflexology. It is not possible to have interventions e.g. instrumental births or epidural pain relief in birth centres, so mothers would need to be transferred to an obstetric unit for either of these. Midwives are very good at picking up signs of possible problems early, so you can rest assured your partner is in safe hands!