Try not to pay too much attention to scare stories about childbirth as, although it obviously does involve pain, one woman's experience of giving birth to their baby will be very different to another's and we all have different pain thresholds. There are coping strategies such as breathing techniques and various pain relief options to ease any unbearable pain and if you plan ahead and learn about these well in advance of your baby's due date, your childbirth could turn out to be a positive and out of this world experience.

Where can you give birth in the UK

The majority of pregnant women in the UK do give birth in an nhs or private hospital. However, depending upon location, pregnant women have the following choices for where they want to give birth to their babies:

> in a hospital

> at home if there are no medical complications (see below)

> in a birth centre or midwife led unit

A hospital birth is highly advisable where there are medical complications or if there were complications in a previous pregnancy. This is also the case if a woman is giving birth to multiple babies or is expecting a breech baby.

You can discuss where to give birth with your midwife who will be able to advise and help you with your decision, as well as your partner and family or friends.

When to call the midwife or go to hospital

When your contractions are coming at regular 5 minute intervals or if your waters break you should call the midwife or go straight to hospital. Go to Pregnancy Tips to find out what it feels like to go into labour.

New baby hospital bag checklist

If you are having a hospital birth it is sensible to have a bag packed before your baby's due date with all the essentials you will need for going into hospital to give birth to your new baby. What you will need to take with you when you go into hospital to have your baby:

For you:

Maternity notes

Change for parking & snacks

TENS machine if plan to use

Loungewear (inc nursing tops*) x 2

Breastfeeding Nighties* x 3

Sanitary or maternity pads x 3 packs

Breastfeeding bras* x 3

(expect breasts to be larger after birth)

Breast pads (expect breasts to be leaky)

Underwear x 8 (disposable best)

Dressing gown

Non slip socks or slippers

Towels x 3

Flannel x 2

Book or magazines

Shower cap or hair ties

Comb or brush

Going home outfit

Wash bag with:

Toothbrush & toothpaste

Soap & deodrant


Hand gel

*You will not need breastfeeding bras, nursing tops nor breastfeeding nighties if you are intending to bottle feed your baby.

For Baby:

Long sleeve baby grows x 3

vests x 3

Newborn baby hat x 2

Scratch mittens


Muslim squares

Newborn nappies

Baby wipes

Padded or fleece outerwear

Car seat

Bottle Feeding

If you are planning to bottle feed your new baby most maternity units will have a supply of ready made formula milk for new mums to use so you should not need to bring your own formula but it is best to double check with the hospital you plan to use.

Meeting other pregnant women

As the months pass pregnant mums to be can typically begin to feel alone with their feelings as their family and friends may not fully understand what they are going through. It can help to talk to others who are also expecting a baby to compare experiences and share the journey to motherhood. Our service here at MumsMeetUp helps to combat loneliness by making it simple for mums and mums to be to find and meet up with others living nearby and it is totally free to use. Sign up here to meet other pregnant mums to be in your area.

TOP TIP: If you have any worries before, during or after childbirth, do not delay seeking reassurance or medical advice from your Midwife, Health Visitor or GP.

Childbirth videos

The following videos by NHS Choices are packed full of facts and advice about childbirth by midwives and medical experts. They are a must view for pregnant women and their partners.

The following is a list of UK organisations that provide free comprehensive information, advice and support to parents, pregnant women, their partners and families.

Association for Post Natal Illness: The APNI run a helpline for anyone who needs support and advice about postnatal illness. Their helpline is answered by women who have themselves in the past suffered from postnatal illness but are now fully recovered. Their confidential phone helpline is open from 10am-2pm Mon to Fri. They also offer online, email and postal support.
Go to Association for Post Natal Illness

Pregnancy Sickness Support: Providing support to women suffering from Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy (NVP) and the severe form of the condition; Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG). They have a telephone helpline for anyone suffering with information about treatment and coping strategies.
Go to Pregnancy Sickness Support

Ectopic Pregnancy Trust: For support, advice and awareness about ectopic pregnancies, including detailed information about what are the possible symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy and what women should do to seek urgent medical help.
Go to Ectopic Pregnancy Trust

MAMA Academy: Supporting mums and midwives to help babies arrive safely, including providing information, such as an extensive list of symptoms in pregnancy that should not be ignored and which should be reported to your maternity unit straight away and not the next day.
Go to MAMA Academy

Maternity Action: Giving free information and advice about the employment rights of pregnant women and parents, including the rights of women in the workplace not to be discriminated against or treated unfairly because of pregnancy or maternity. They also have a confidential telephone helpline which provides support and advice.
Go to Maternity Action

Miscarriage Association: Providing support and information to anyone affected by miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy or molar pregnancy. Their pregnancy loss telephone helpline is available to provide support and information on pregnancy loss.
Go to Miscarriage Association

Money Advice Service: Set up by the Government, the Money Advice Service provide free and impartial information about the many benefits and entitlements pregnant women and parents can claim, whether in employment, unemployed or on a low income.
Go to Money Advice Service

Mummy's Star: Supporting women and their families affected by cancer during pregnancy or within 12 months after giving birth. Mummy's Star provides comprehensive information about cancer in pregnancy and helps women and their families get the support they need, access services that are available and, most importantly, for them to know that they are not alone when they are going through this.
Go to Mummy's Star

PANDAS Foundation UK: The PANDAS Foundation help to support and advise any parent who may be experiencing a perinatal illness, including Prenatal or Antenatal Depression; Postnatal Depression; Pre/Postnatal Anxiety; Postnatal Psychosis; Postnatal PTSD or Birth Trauma; Pre/Postnatal OCD. They also inform and guide family members, carers, friends and employers as to how they can support someone who is suffering from a perinatal illness. They also run a telephone helpline which is open from 9am-8pm every day.
Go to PANDAS Foundation UK

Petals Charity: Petals (aka Pregnancy Expectations Trauma and Loss Society) provides specialised counselling to anyone affected by still birth; neonatal death; trauma or depression following childbirth; diagnosis of fetal anomalies; antenatal anxiety or depression; miscarriage; IVF anxiety; or fear of pregnancy or childbirth.
Go to Petals Charity

Tommy's: Tommy's provides midwife-led online information and advice and support to pregnant women and parents to be. They run a free pregnancy telephone helpline which is open from 9am-5pm Mon to Fri, as well as email support.
Go to Tommy's

Signs of Labour

Hospital Birth

Home Birth

Assisted Birth

Induced Births

Multiple Births

Best Positions

When Baby is Born

Birth Tear Care

Post Birth Care