Benefits, Risks and Alternatives

What are the benefits associated with home birth?

• Research over the last two decades has found that planned home birth is at least as safe as hospital for healthy women with normal pregnancies, it is also associated with good outcomes for both mothers and babies

• Women choosing home birth are half as likely to have a caesarean section, half as likely to have an assisted delivery and have a lower risk of haemorrhage and infection

• babies born at home are less likely to need resuscitation

• Overall studies have shown that women who give birth at home feel more in control of their labour and feel it was a positive, empowering experience therefore begin motherhood with increased self esteem and have an overwhelming prefernece for planning home birth again for future pregnancies

• Perception of pain is reduced.


What are the risks or disadvantages associated with home births?

• Should you choose to have a home birth but have a complicated pregnancy (“high risk”) where medical assistance may be required at birth, you may be placing both yourself and unborn baby at risk at time of birth

• You may have to transfer to hospital if any complications arise during labour. If transfer is required there may be some delay whilst ambulance transfer is organised and this may affect the outcome for both you and your baby.

• You will be unable to have an epidural at a home birth.

The majority of women who plan to give birth at home succeed in doing so. Complications are rare, however they do sometimes occur and for this reason we have  provided further information on our “Transfer” page.

The National Birthplace Study (2011) and NICE Guidelines for Intrapartum Care (2014) both support birth at home for low risk women as a realistic and safe choice.

Please talk to us for our current statistics.


What are the alternatives to having a home birth?

We recommend that you discuss your birth place options with your own midwife/obstetrician or a member of the Surrey Hills team.

We can talk you through the risks and benefits of each birth place option based on your own individual circumstances.


Alongside Midwifery Led Unit

The 2011 Birth Place Study, which was conducted in the UK, found that women with uncomplicated pregnancies and medical histories (low risk) who planned to have their babies in Midwifery led settings (i.e. Home and Midwifery led units) experienced less interventions in labour and were more likely to have an unassisted birth compared to “low risk” women who birthed in Consultant Led settings. The study also suggested that the safest place for a “low risk” first time mum to birth their  baby was a Midwifery Led Unit.

If you have an uncomplicated medical history and a healthy pregnancy you could plan to give birth in the recently refurbished Royal Surrey Birthing Suite. Located alongside Delivery Suite it features two rooms each with their own birthing pool, birthing couch and en-suite facilities. Active birth aids, such ad birthing balls and beanbags are also available to help you stay active and comfortable during labour. Pain relief available includes hydrotherapy, Entonox (Gas and Air), Pethidine, Paracetamol and Dihydrocodeine.

Due to the support and monitoring available you need to fit the following criteria to us the MLU (The same criteria is also recommended for a homebirth):

All members of your household are healthy with no one confirmed or suspected to have Covid-19

You are full term (37-42 weeks pregnant)

Singleton Pregnancy ( only one baby ie not expecting twins or triplets)

Baby is in a head down position (no breach)

Spontaneous onset of labour (no induction needed)

Uncomplicated pregnancy and no significant medical, surgical or obstetric history

Experiencing regular contractions

No indication that continuous fetal monitoring is needed

A BMI less than 35 at booking

Have had less than five babies

If you don’t meet these criteria but would like to explore your birth options further we recommend that you have a conversation with a senior midwife for example the MLU or Homebirth leads or a Professional Midwifery Advocate


Consultant Led Unit

The Consultant led Delivery Suite provides care to families with uncomplicated pregnancies (low risk) and for those with more complex (high risk) situations If you plan to birth your baby in the Consultant Led unit , whether through choice or  recommended by your circumstances, the majority of your care will still be provide by Midwives with Doctors overseeing care planning and other elements of your care.

The Delivery Suite is made up of 10 en-suite birthing rooms each with electric beds, mats and birthing balls on hand to support you to adopt positions in labour and for birth that work with your body. There are also six mobile fetal  heartbeat monitors (mobile telemetry) to facilitate movement and positioning for pregnant people  who have been recommended continuous fetal heartbeat monitoring in labour. Other facilities include:

A pool room for women wishing to experience water in labour (hydrotherapy) or water birth , but who may require additional montoring or have reduced mobility ( wheelchair accessible pool, room and bathroom)

A High Dependency room (HDU) for clients who may need more care and support at any stage of their pregnancy

A dedicated Obstetric Theatre and theatre teams based on Delivery Suite ( Second Theatre in progess)

24 hour Epidural Service


Professional Midwifery Advocate (PMA)

PMA’s  are available to offer help and guidance to midwives, women and families in their care. S/he is an experienced midwife who is available to discuss your birth choices fully with you and explore how any risks may be minimised. S/he is available to support you and the midwife caring for you to ensure that you have a positive and safe birth outcome. You can ask to speak to a senior midwife or PMA at any time during your pregnancy, labour and after birth.


We wish you a happy and fulfilling birth experience.