There are three different birth settings:
Homebirth – labour unfolds best when you are relaxed and confident and being in your own space can help. Women who have experienced homebirth have an overwhelming preference for homebirth for further babies and say they had an increased sense of control and confidence.
Birth centres – (midwife-led units) are staffed by midwives and focus on creating a comfortable and calming ‘home-from-home’ environment, to help you feel more relaxed which will help your labour to progress more naturally.
Equipment provided in the birth centre includes birth pools, couches, and birth balls. birth centres are either within or next to a hospital which is called ‘alongside midwifery unit’ or are a ‘freestanding’ birth centre located elsewhere. Within Kent and Medway there are both alongside and freestanding birth centres.
Obstetric units – located within a hospital, an obstetric unit (also known as a labour ward) is staffed by midwives, obstetricians and other specialists. An obstetric unit is essential for some women and babies for medical reasons.
Epidural pain relief for labour is an option for all women and is provided only in obstetric units. Equipment is high-tech including continuous heart rate monitors for babies and multi-position delivery beds. Many obstetric units have birth pools. Check the interactive map to see full details for Kent and Medway obstetric units.
Caesarean sections take place in an obstetric operating theatre, part of the obstetric unit. Assisted births (forceps or suction cup) take place within obstetric units when needed.
In Kent and Medway, all trusts have experienced homebirth midwives, as well as at least one birth centre and one obstetric unit. View our interactive map.