Your labour

Where can I give birth
If you are booked for maternity care with us, we offer three birth options:

  • home birth
  • hospital birth in our midwife-led birth centre
  • hospital birth in our delivery suite (obstetrician-led unit)

Your options will depend on you and your baby’s health and your own preference. Be prepared for more than one option: some of your circumstances may change during pregnancy and this may affect your options.

Birth plan
We encourage all parents to write a birth plan. Your birth plan is a way of sharing you and your partner’s wishes for your labour and birth with the midwives and doctors caring for you.

Please discuss your birth plan with your midwife between 26 - 32 weeks of pregnancy and make sure you add a final copy of your birth plan to your maternity notes (blue folder) so that it can be consulted during your labour by the midwife or doctor looking after you.

Further information on how to write a birth plan can be found  here.

Home birth
If you are healthy and are having an uncomplicated pregnancy, you may want to consider home birth as an option. 

We have a home birth team who will provide the care for women booked for a home birth. If you would like to book for a home birth, please tell your midwife.

Please contact the home birth team on 07775 812 741 or the maternity helpline on 020 8510 5955 for further information.

Hospital birth
Depending on you and your baby’s health, you have a choice of where you can give birth in hospital: in the delivery suite or in our birth centre. The delivery suite has a multidisciplinary team approach to caring for women and babies.

The team is made up of midwives, obstetricians, maternity care assistants, neonatologists, neonatal nurses, student midwives and ward clerks. Your partner, family or friends are welcome to come into hospital with you. However, we advise you to have only one or two people in the labour room with you.

Key staff and contacts
Delivery suite (including midwifery-led birth centre)
tel: 020 8510 7351 / 7352 (24 hrs, 7 days a week)

Delivery suite and birth centre midwifery matron
Ruth Stocks (interim)

Midwifery-led Homerton birth centre
The Homerton birth centre is a midwifery led birthing unit for women who are low risk but do not want to be at home. The birth centre is designed to offer a home from home experience.

There are four individual birthing rooms. Each room has a pool where women can have a water birth if they choose. We would encourage all low risk women to have their baby in the birth centre. It is suitable for healthy women with uncomplicated pregnancies.

Please check with your midwife that you meet the criteria. See  Maternity - Birth centre [pdf].

There are four individual birthing rooms with ensuite bathrooms. Each room has a pool where women can have a water birth if they choose. We also have pools that can be set up in the rooms that don’t have a permanent pool.

We would encourage all low risk women to have their baby in the birth centre. It is suitable for healthy women with uncomplicated pregnancies. Please check with your midwife what your criteria.

Women who have had a previous Caesarean section are not able to use the birth centre but we are happy to discuss any preferences that you may have. See birth options clinic below for more information.

Delivery suite
Our delivery suite provides care for women during labour and birth. We have 14 delivery rooms. We aim to provide a relaxed and friendly environment, which promotes privacy, maintains dignity and is sensitive to your individual needs and preferences.

We have one pool room and inflatable pools that can be set up in other delivery rooms.
We have a dedicated maternity operating theatre that is located close to delivery suite, and Homerton hospital has a level 3 neonatal unit to provide special care for babies if needed.

A triage midwife will meet and greet all admissions to the maternity unit. An assessment will be made for the most appropriate place for your further care.

Induction of labour
There are various reasons why an obstetrician may recommend that you have an induction of labour, which may include:

  • Post dates induction (usually booked for when you have gone 12 days over your due date).
  • If your waters have broken (spontaneous rupture of membranes/SROM) for over 24 hours and you are over 37 weeks pregnant. If your waters break before 37 completed weeks then the doctors will discuss the management course with you depending on your gestation.
  • If your waters have broken and you are known to have Group B Streptococcus (GBS).
  • If there are concerns about the growth or well-being of your baby
  • Some medical/obstetric complications may require an induction of labour.

Outpatient induction of labour
If your pregnancy has been uncomplicated and you are overdue (usually 10 to 12 days) you may be offered an outpatient induction.

You will be asked to come the Fetal welfare Unit to have the baby monitored and if all is normal you will then be given the medication to start the process of induction. Your baby will then be monitored again, and if all is well you can go home afterwards with clear instructions as to when you need to come back to the hospital.

Inpatient induction of labour
Inductions of labour are either carried out on Turpin Suite (antenatal ward) or Delivery Suite, depending on the reason for your induction. You will be asked to come to the designated area at 08.00 in the morning for monitoring and to start the induction process, which may take in excess of 24 hours.

Once you are in established labour, or if you require a hormone drip to stimulate the contractions, you will be transferred to a room on the delivery suite. You can have up to two birth supporters with you on the Delivery Suite. You will also have a designated midwife to provide you with care, support and advice.

Please read our  Induction of labour leaflet for more information.

Pain relief in labour
It is difficult to know in advance what sort of pain relief will be best for you. The midwife who is with you in labour should be able to advise you. Our Pain relief in labour advice leaflet provides information on self-help, hydrotherapy, alternative therapies, positions to help with relief and anaesthesia in labour.

Elective caesarean section
Your doctor will discuss the reasons why you have been advised to have an elective caesarean section, at your antenatal clinic appointment.

Your doctor will ask you to sign a consent form and will explain the risks and benefits to the procedure. You will be given a date for the planned surgery. All women going for elective surgery require swabs to be taken for MRSA screening.

You will be asked to have some blood tests before the day of surgery; to check that your blood count and ensure there is a recent blood group sample in the laboratory.

You should be given a packet of tablets with an antacid and anti-sickness with clear instructions as to when you need to take them prior to surgery.

You should arrive on Templar ward at 07.00 on the morning of your operation. It is very important that you have had nothing to eat and drink from midnight except a little water to help you swallow the tablets, as it can be dangerous and your operation will have to be postponed.

When you arrive on the ward, you will be greeted and shown to your bed to be prepared for theatre(consent form and blood tests checked, shaved across incision site, nail varnish removed, listened to fetal heart and checklist complete).

Once all is ready the anaesthetist will come to see you. For caesarean sections (unless you require a general anaesthetic) you can have one companion (partner, relative or friend) to accompany you in theatre.

You will be informed at approximately what time your operation is planned, but that is always subject to change if there are emergencies. If you have a caesarean section, we would normally hope that you will be able to go home on the third day following your operation.

Anaesthesia for caesarean section
For further advice please refer to the Obstetric Anaesthetists' Association public information website .

Stem cell collection
If you are interested in stem cell collection from your baby’s umbilical cord, there is an excellent information package from the NHS Blood & Transplant website that explains this in detail. Legally, we are not allowed to take cord blood for private banking.

We are happy for a third party, who is licensed appropriately, to take the stem cells, and many of the private companies have experience with this. You would need to contact the third party phlebotomist, who would need to come to your delivery and collect the blood from the baby’s umbilical cord and placenta after delivery.

You would then need to arrange for the package to be collected by courier. If you would like to go ahead with this procedure, please download the information and complete the forms.

Guideline for stem cell collection
Form A
Form B

Birth options clinic
Philippa Cox (consultant midwife) holds a birth options clinic to facilitate women’s choice, for example, if a woman who has had one previous caesarean section wants to discuss having a vaginal birth.
Please contact by telephone (Mon-Fri 9am-4pm) - tel. 020 8510 7046

We encourage women to contact the Birth Buddies service in the antenatal period, but you do not have to do so to use the service. However, as this service is provided by volunteers, we can not guarantee that it will always be available on the day of your labour.