Thursday 4 April 2013

Birthplace - choosing where to go on the big day

With less than five weeks left to my due date, I'm starting to really focus on the big day. Despite being an avid watcher of One Born Every Minute (a key source of information for me and something that's made me increasingly emotional each week), the whole idea of labour still baffles me and I can't believe I'm really going to do what all those women have done - deliver a baby.

I've never liked hospitals (although I'm sure no-one does) but having never been in one for anything other than my tonsils when I was four and too young to know what was going on, they are scary places to me. I had never even given blood before until I became pregnant and for all these reasons, I knew early on I'd want to avoid giving birth in the main labour ward.

Even though it makes complete sense to me that if you're in pain then there's pain relief to take it away, the idea of being on a drip or monitor or having an epidural is just far too much for me. I know that everyone says 'write a birth plan but prepare to through it out the window when the time comes' but if it can be avoided, I won't be giving birth in the main labour unit at hospital.

I've visited the two midwifery run birthing centres in Birmingham and I'm struggling to decide which one to go for. Serenity is a unit based adjacent to the labour ward at Birmingham City Hospital but is run by midwives and features five rooms within which you can have a water birth (one room with a fixed pool, the rest have inflatable baths). Decorated to look homely, there's murals on the walls and each room feels distinctly unmedical (yes, I made that word up). There's mood lighting, bean bags, mats, balls and stools plus aromatherapy oils and massages are even available. There's even a kitchen and a 'sensory garden' you can use. Sounds amazing right?! The benefit to here is that it offers privacy and a more relaxed environment but if anything should happen during labour, the doctors are down the corridor and you can be transferred to the labour ward if required.

The other option is the Halcyon Birthing Centre. It's in Smethick and is a purpose built but independent unit where only midwives can be found on site. If any complications arose during labour, an ambulance would be called to transfer me to City Hospital and it would take no more than 8 minutes. I'm assured that nothing would change dramatically or quickly enough that they wouldn't anticipate a transfer well in advance but it's something to consider. The reason why I haven't ruled it out altogether at the moment it because of how amazing the centre is. I visited it on Tuesday and it does feel more like a hotel than a medical unit. There's three rooms, all with fixed pools, floor to ceiling windows, dark wood furniture, bean bags, mags, balls and stools plus TV's and the same access to aromatherapy treatments. Essentially, you have the same things available as at Serenity but at Halcyon, it's another step removed from a hospital. It's likely you may be the only woman there and you're encouraged to make yourself at home, with just one or two midwives needed.

For me, labour is something I could really freak out about but I hope that I can maintain a positive outlook and approach everything with a positive attitude. It's easy to say now but I want to laugh and smile my way through this, focusing on how the more pain I am in, the closer I am to the end and the sooner I will meet our baby. All the midwives say your mental state can really affect your physical state and so feeling more relaxed makes a lot of difference when it comes to coping with pain.

So, I need to weigh up the options and decide whether to go to Halcyon or Serenity. On the day, you call the same number and can tell them where you would like to go, if there are midwives available so there's time to change my mind if I wanted to. Of course, if baby decides to keep us waiting, I won't necessarily have much of a choice and off to hospital I will go. We looked at it yesterday just so we knew what to expect should we need to go there and whilst it was clean and the staff was nice, it's really not a place you'd choose to go. At least, I wouldn't. Where's the comforting colours and personal masseuse??

If you've had any experiences at any of the above centres or somewhere similar, I'd love to hear from you.


  1. Very impressive article and I really enjoyed a lot. thanks for this wonderful post.

  2. Anonymous17.12.14


    Thank you for this :) I am 35 weeks and deciding on whether to have baby at Halcyon or Serenity. Will be going to see them next week. I had initially planned a homebirth but due to issues with our house, we won't be able to. I'm definitely pulling more towards Halcyon and was wondering where yoy had your baby? Apologies if you've already posted about it but I can't find it :)

  3. Hi, thanks for your comment! I ended up having my baby boy at City Hospital as I had raised blood pressure early on in labour so both units were written off for me. On reflection, I would opt for Serenity myself just as you don't know what could happen as things progress. If you have no reason to think you'll be high risk then either unit is fine. Hope this helps!

  4. Anonymous22.12.14

    Thanks Kelly :)

    I'm going to see both tomorrow. Looking forward to it.

    Take care,

  5. Hi kelly great post very helpful, thanq !!
    Im in 35th wk and will bisit halcyon on 1st aug and then followed to serenity....


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