Having your baby
Please refer to our maternity services during COVID-19 pandemic section to find current information as some of the care provided during your pregnancy and birth may have been altered for your safety and that of our staff.
Your antenatal appointments may run differently and our parent education classes are now all online.
Please speak to your midwife if you have any questions and follow the Southampton maternity service on Facebook for regular updates.
We're pleased to offer you a choice of places to have your baby. Where you have your baby will be an individual choice for you, so it's important to talk it through with your midwife or doctor.
Maternity triage line
Maternity triage line midwives are available to listen to you if you have any pregnancy concerns. They can also talk to you if you think your waters have broken or as your labour starts to establish, offering you support and encouragement together with practical tips and suggestions. To access this service please download the NHS healthier together app from the Apple app store, or the Google play store.
Maternity triage line midwives can make arrangements to call you back or for you to have a face-to-face assessment by a midwife.
Planning your birth experience
Taking time during your pregnancy to think about the support you might find helpful during labour and after your baby is born can help you feel more prepared and will enable you to look after your mental health and wellbeing. It is normal and common for people to feel anxious about big life events like giving birth and becoming a new parent. At UHS, we will support you to have a safe and positive birth experience.
You may find it helpful to:
- Talk to someone you can trust about how you are feeling. This may be your partner, your midwife, a close friend or a member of your family.
- Identify local antenatal classes and groups in your area. These may be virtual or face-to-face, however, they can be a good way to find out more about labour and birth while meeting new friends.
- Write down your thoughts in the 'Plans and Diary section' in your Badger notes app or visit NHS birth plan to download a birth preferences template and share it with your midwife.
- Discuss your birth preferences with your midwife or obstetrician. You can talk to them about any concerns you may have.
Birth plans and preferences
Your birth preferences will be very individual, based on your wishes and cultural preferences, and any medical needs you or your baby may have. You can change your mind about your wishes for labour and birth at any time, even during labour. It is important to discuss your preferences with your birth partner and your midwife or obstetrician. They can answer any questions you may have and support you to make an informed choice.
Your midwife will discuss your birth preferences with you at your 36 week antenatal appointment but please ask if you have any questions about labour and birth before then.
Useful information to review before your appointment:
- Online videos about labour, birth and life with your baby
- Southampton Maternity Services Facebook page
- Choosing where to have your baby booklet
- My Birth Place app – includes virtual tours of local birth centres
- Pain relief options on the Labour Pains website
- How you would like to feed your baby
- Maternity services during Covid-19 pandemic
During your appointment, your midwife will also discuss:
- Signs of labour
- Eating and drinking during labour
- Assessing your baby’s wellbeing during labour
- Remaining upright and mobile during labour
- Music and relaxation techniques
- How to reduce your chance of a perineal tear
- Care of your perineum after birth
- Deferred cord clamping and the birth of your placenta
- Skin-to-skin time with your baby
- Vitamin K for your baby
- Birth options after a previous caesarean
Interventions in labour
Sometimes things don’t go according to plan during pregnancy or labour and your midwife or obstetrician may make new recommendations to make sure you and your baby are safe and well.
It is important to remain flexible and be prepared to do things differently. It is also important to talk to your midwife about what could happen in labour, while you are pregnant, so you are prepared in advance.
If an intervention is recommended your midwife or obstetrician will talk to you and your birth partner about your options and ensure you are involved in the decision-making process. They will also make sure you feel supported and understand the reason why an intervention has been recommended.
You will also have an opportunity to talk to a midwife or obstetrician after your baby’s birth and they can explain the reason for any intervention to you in more detail if decisions need to be made in a hurry.
Choosing to have a caesarean birth
You may be thinking about birthing your baby via ‘planned’ or ‘elective’ caesarean birth.
You may feel you want to birth your baby via caesarean birth because you:
- have had a complicated vaginal birth in the past
- feel so afraid of birth you don’t feel unable to cope with the pain associated with vaginal birth
- are concerned about perineal tearing or an assisted vaginal birth
- are anxious about giving birth, medical procedures or vaginal examinations
If this is the case, it is important to discuss your birth preferences with your midwife as early as possible in your pregnancy. This will enable your midwife or an obstetrician to discuss your options with you and answer any questions you may have.
It is important to consider:
- The implications of a caesarean birth for you and your baby
- The effect having a caesarean birth may have on future births
- The advantages and disadvantages of a vaginal birth and the alternative options available to you
- What happens if you go into labour before the planned date of a planned caesarean birth.
Your midwife will ensure that you have the right support available to enable you to make an informed decision. This may include referral to:
- Our Birth Reflections service to talk through your previous birth experiences
- A consultant midwife or your consultant obstetrician who can help support you to decide which is the right birth option for you and your family
- A clinical psychologist who specialises in supporting women with fear of birth or birth trauma
You may also find the following sources of information beneficial:
- Tommy’s information about fear of childbirth
- Choosing to have a caesarean section
- A video about having a caesarean birth (available in different languages).
If you have had a caesarean birth in the past, or you have been advised to have a caesarean birth due to concerns about the wellbeing of you or baby your midwife or obstetrician will discuss your individual circumstances with you because the balance of advantages and disadvantages will be different.
Please click the links below for more information: