There are a range of places where you can choose to give birth.
For women or birthing people who are fit and healthy and are experiencing an uncomplicated pregnancy (low risk), research from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and NHS England, shows the best place to give birth is at home or at one of our birth centres.
At the Royal Free London we have three birth centres, the Edgware Birth Centre, Barnet Birth Centre, and the Heath Birth Centre. If you’re planning to give birth in a birth centre, you can discuss which birth centre is most appropriate with your midwife.
Women/birthing people or babies experiencing complications during pregnancy or labour, or women/birthing people who have medical problems requiring specialist care, are advised to give birth in a consultant-led delivery suite.
We have two consultant-led delivery suites, one at Barnet Hospital and one at the Royal Free Hospital. You can discuss which suite is most appropriate with your midwife.
For more information, read our patient information leaflet, choosing where to have your baby.
Home birth can be a very fulfilling experience for you and your family. It’s a great option for women and birthing people who wish to be cared for in the comfort of their own home.
We have a dedicated home birth team run by passionate midwives who will care for you throughout your antenatal, labour and postnatal period.
The team has been established since 2018 with the purpose of increasing women’s and birthing people’s place of birth choices.
Homebirth is one of the safest options for place of birth for uncomplicated pregnancies. Although for those having their first baby, there is slight increase in the risk of complications for the baby when born at home — 0.9% compared to 0.5% in other settings.
Planning a homebirth means you’re more likely to:
- see the same midwife throughout your care
- feel more comfortable to labour due to the familiar environment
- have a straightforward vaginal birth
You can choose to have a home birth at any point in your pregnancy — our team will provide home antenatal care from 36 weeks onwards.
Receiving care from the home birth team doesn’t mean you have to give birth at home, you’re able to change your mind at any time, even during your birth.
After you’ve given birth to your baby, the midwives will support you in the immediate postnatal period with infant feeding and caring for your baby.
All babies are offered the New-born Infant Physical Examination regardless of where you give birth. This can be facilitated at home or at the Edgware Birth Centre, and the hearing test will be made as an outpatient appointment.
If any complications arise during your birth or postnatal period, we would transfer you via ambulance to the local obstetric unit and accompanied by your midwife.
If you live within the Royal Free London catchment area and have a straightforward pregnancy, with no medical or obstetric problems, and go into labour between 37-42 weeks, we would be happy to provide home birth services for you.
Our birth centres offer you a relaxed and friendly environment for the birth of your baby.
Barnet and Heath birth centres (at Barnet Hospital and the Royal Free Hospital respectively) are alongside a hospital midwifery unit, and Edgware Birth Centre (at Edgware Community Hospital) is a standalone midwifery unit.
All forms of pain relief are available, except for an epidural.
The benefits of choosing to have your baby at a birth centre are:
- you’re more likely to have a normal birth
- you’re more likely to have access to a birthing pool for labour or birth
- you’re less likely to need intervention
- you’re less likely to have vaginal or perineal tears
- you’re more likely to be satisfied with your care
- you’re less likely to need pain-relieving drugs for labour
Women or birthing people with uncomplicated pregnancies booking for maternity care at the Royal Free London can choose to give birth in any one of our birth centres:
Edgware Birth Centre is a standalone midwife-led unit at Edgware Community Hospital where you will find a relaxing home-from-home environment with access to:
- three birthing suites: Lotus, Aster and Cosmos — all three have ensuite facilities and two have birthing pools
- peanut balls, birthing balls and upright birthing stool
- pull-out beds for partners
- aromatherapy diffusers (you’ll need to provide essential oils), electric candles, mood lighting and a Bluetooth speaker
- a dedicated postnatal room
- a garden
- a kitchen
You’ll have two midwives at the birth centre to support you throughout labour and the immediate postnatal period.
If any complications arise during your birth or postnatal period, we will transfer you via ambulance to the local obstetric unit and your midwife will accompany you.
Barnet Birth Centre is on the first floor of the maternity building at Barnet Hospital and offers a range of modern facilities for women/birthing people and their families. We have:
- five birthing suites with private ensuite facilities
- three postnatal care rooms with shower and toilet
- three birthing pools for you to labour/birth in
- peanut balls, birthing balls and upright birthing stools
- a kitchen area
If complications occur in your labour or you require an epidural for pain relief, you will be transferred to our consultant-led labour ward on the floor below.
Our birth centre midwives provide one to one care throughout labour, as well as postnatal care and feeding support alongside our maternity support workers.
The newborn physical examination and hearing screening are offered prior to discharge home.
The Heath Birth Centre is on the fifth floor of the Royal Free Hospital. We have:
- two birthing rooms with 'home from home' facilities, including a double bed
- a birthing room with birthing pool
- birthing equipment such as birthing balls, large floor mats, birthing stools and bean bags
If complications occur in your labour or you require an epidural for pain relief, you will be transferred to our adjacent consultant-led labour ward.
Our consultant-led delivery suites are for women/birthing people or babies experiencing complications during pregnancy or labour, or for women/birthing people who have medical problems requiring specialist care. We have delivery suites at Barnet Hospital and the Royal Free Hospital.
We advise expectant mothers/birthing people to give birth in a delivery suite if you:
- go into labour before 37 weeks
- require a caesarean or an epidural
- have had medical or obstetric complications during your current or previous pregnancy that make giving birth on the delivery suite safer for you and/or your baby
A team of healthcare professionals including midwives, obstetricians, anaesthetists, paediatricians and healthcare assistants provide care, including a 24-hour epidural service if required.
We also have student midwives and medical students on clinical placements working under the supervision of our clinical team.
Please note that we normally recommend no more than two birthing partners.
The delivery suite at Barnet Hospital is on the second floor of the main hospital. We have:
- 13 birthing rooms with either private or shared ensuite facilities
- two obstetric theatres
- a four-bed theatre recovery area
- a two-bed close observation unit
- a birthing pool
The delivery suite at the Royal Free Hospital is on the fifth floor. We have:
- five birthing rooms
- a three-bed close observation maternity assessment unit
- two obstetric theatres