You can choose where you have your baby – at home, in a birthing centre or small maternity unit, or in hospital.
Women who give birth at home or in a birthing centre or small maternity unit are more likely to have a normal birth than those who give birth in hospital.
You should discuss the place of birth with your midwife or specialist doctor as part of your planning in early pregnancy. Unless you have complications all of these choices are safe.
Giving birth at home
Home birth is a safe choice for many women. Women who have home births use less pain relief and have fewer caesarean sections and forceps than women who give birth in hospital. If you want to know more about this choice talk to your midwife or doctor. You can find out more on the Home Birth Aotearoa website.
At a home birth your midwife will have another midwife there to support you and her during and after the birth. Your midwife will stay with you for at least 2 hours after the birth.
Giving birth in a birthing centre or small maternity unit, or in hospital
Most women in New Zealand give birth in hospital. In many places around the country, you may also have the choice of a birthing centre or small community hospital maternity unit (called a primary maternity unit). Women giving birth in these smaller units also tend to use less pain relief and have fewer caesarean sections and forceps than those who give birth in hospital. Speak to your midwife (or specialist doctor) about the choices available in your area. You can also see what’s available by clicking on your area in the map.
If you chose a midwife as your main carer, she will usually be with you during labour and birth. She will have another midwife available to support you and her during and after the birth. They’ll work alongside other midwives or doctors if you need additional care. If a specialist doctor is your main carer, they will usually be involved at the time of the birth and you will have a midwife or midwives to care for you during your labour (ask your doctor about this).
Your midwife (or one working on behalf of your specialist doctor) will stay with you for at least 2 hours after the birth.
If you have pregnancy complications or need specialist support, you will be encouraged to give birth in hospital. In some cases, you may need to be under the care of a medical specialist.
Once your baby is born you can stay in hospital for a couple of days and receive care from the hospital-based midwives to assist you to breastfeed your baby and to recover from the birth. Your midwife (or specialist doctor) will visit you every day that you stay in hospital. Your midwife (or one working on behalf of your specialist doctor) will visit within 24 hours of your going home.