Which Birth Choices: What's In The Box?

Friday 12 June 2015

If there’s one thing pregnancy is full of, its choices.

Suddenly you are overwhelmed with things that need to be decided – important, life changing things.

And if the only choices you were used to making before happened to be things like ‘One more gin and tonic?’ or which restaurant to go to on a Friday night, that can be daunting.

One thing you will definitely not be is an expert. Everyone around you will suddenly seem to think they are, which can make life stressful. So what you need is an impartial source of information. And this information can be found with Which? Birth Choices.

Yep, the institution that’s been advising us on washing machines, cars and laptops since before I can remember has been working on a special project to help out expectant parents.

To illustrate the choices, I was lucky enough to receive three Birth Choice Boxes from them, filled with beautiful and helpful things for three situations – a hospital birth, a home birth and a birthing centre.

Then I visited the Which Birth Choices website, where there were simple questions to guide me through all the options available for having my baby. And believe me, there’s a lot of choice – not all of which may have been mentioned to you by your midwife.

For instance, not much on home birth has been discussed with me – I didn’t even realise you could do it that way if it was a first baby.

So you go through options and some of your details and feelings about things, to find the right solution for you – without anyone else’s emotions getting in the way.

Before I tell you what was recommended for me, I know you’ll be dying to see what was in the boxes! I nearly fell over when I saw the three, massive ribbon wrapped parcels!

Birth Centre Box

A birth centre provides midwife led, holistic care in a semi-medical setting that’s still designed to be more comfortable than a traditional hospital ward – think equipment, aromatherapy, birthing pools and low lighting. And hopefully no hospitally anaesthetic smell!

In the box were:

Boots Hot Water Bottle – To ease any aches and pains and keep you snuggly. I have heard extremely cold feet are a side effect when you’re giving birth, so this could be very useful!

John Lewis slippers – The last thing you need are bare feet on cold, germy hospital floors. My own slippers were pretty shameful and tatty, and I was planning on getting a new pair before showing the labour ward their holey soles, so these were much appreciated.

La Roche-Posay Thermal Water Spray – To keep you cooled down while you’re pushing! I must say, I love these for when I go on holiday, prickly heat is the worst.

Marks and Spencer Dressing Gown
– Another thing I really needed! I currently own two dressing gowns – a really thick fleecy one that wouldn’t work for an overheated hospital (you could practically do an arctic trek in it), and then a lighter one that’s unfortunately seen better days, and is a bit greying and manky! So a new, plush robe in lovely, airy waffle cotton made me smile.

Boots Hair Ties – One of those thoughtful little things I’ll be in need of – as a long haired gal, I know I’ll need to tie my locks up and out of the way during labour.

Home Birth Box

Seeing as I didn’t realise you could do this when it was a first baby, this was an eye opener. Could a home birth be for me?

This box was packed with little essentials and comforts to make labouring at home easier. Even if you don’t do the full delivery ‘a maison’, mostly everyone starts off their labour at home, so these goodies were great. There was:

Clippendale Waterproof Mattress Sheet – Its recommended to use these towards your due date anyway, in case labour starts during the night, so this was hugely useful.

John Lewis birthing ball – These can even help with a bad back in the run up, so it was a great item to receive. Sitting on a large medicine ball can also help to get the baby into the right delivery position, so you can be sure I’ll be using this.

Cornwall Soapbox Lavendar Relaxing Room Mist – All the midwives I’ve met hugely extol the benefits of a bit of aromatherapy, and anything that can calm you down must be good. This smells amazing and it made me smile as my Mum and her family live in Cornwall, and it’s a place I love. A little bit of the Cornish good life will help me focus on calmer times.

John Lewis Baby Sleep Receiving Blanket – Although the little man has tonnes of stuff, this wasn’t something I’d gotten around to getting yet, and it made me well up to see one nestled in the box. Beautiful.

Hospital Birth Box

A hospital birth is the option I’d given most thought to, but its also the one that scares me the most. I’m totally phobic about the hospital environment (even going to visit people there freaks me out), and although I’m drawn to being able to easily get interventions if needed, I’ve never felt comfortable about going. Could the contents of the box make life a little easier? It contained:

Portable Electric Fan – I do hear that hospitals are often far too hot, so this was a really useful addition to the box.

Brita Fill and Go Water Bottle – These are magic, I already own one and I love it, so I was excited to get a shiny new one. It’s a bottle with replaceable charcoal discs in the lid, meaning you can fill up from any tap and get safe, filtered water. To be honest, I’ve found mine invaluable during my (very dehydrated) pregnancy and always have it with me, its been helping me get enough water through out the day. Much smarter and better for the planet than buying bottled water all the time.

Belkin Charger Cable and Adapter – Hospitals involve a fair amount of waiting around, so you’re going to want your phone or tablet with you to pass the time. But how many people will forget to bring a charger and run out of juice? This is very thoughtful.

£15 iTunes Gift Card – Very generous – I can now stock up with some new music, movies or books to keep me entertained during my stay.

Havianas Flip Flops – Keeping feet clean and safe around the wards and in the showers, these are ideal, and I like the elegant navy pearl finish (I’m not a fan of bright colours). I wouldn’t have thought of taking flip flops but I’m pretty sure I would have ended up regretting that, so this is great.

Bon Voyage Kit – Containing soft jersey sleep mask, a neck pillor and earplugs in a little pouch. Another really thoughtful addition. I’m sure getting to sleep on a labour ward is no easy task so, these are very welcome and might make dropping off in unfamiliar surroundings easier.

Nivea Essential Care Lipbalm – At my first antenatal class, they told us that this was one of the things we needed to bring, as apparently Gas and Air can leave your lips very cracked. I think in my hospital bag, I’ll be packing a little pouch of essentials for active labour, and this will be one of them!

Popchips, Nakd Cocoa Delight Bar, Raw Organics Zesty Lemon and Chia
Balls – Perhaps being in labour and eating aren’t things that immediately seem to go together, but another thing they mentioned in my antenatal class was that it’s a long process and you need to keep your energy up! They recommended bringing some healthy light snacks, so these are perfect.

So, the boxes were overwhelmingly great. Those very kind people also included a special personal gift.

They’ve seen that I love make-up, so they very kindly included some BareMinerals products which I adored – the 5 in 1 BB Advanced Performance Eyeshadow, the Lasting Line pencil in ‘Always Charcoal’ and the Lash Domination mascara. Very excited about these – they know me well. Yes, I am planning to pop some slap on before visitors arrive – that’s just me!

But after looking through the options and going through the Which Birth Choices online questionnaire, what are my thoughts?

Well, I’m going for the birthing centre. My nearest one is located in a hospital, so its sort of the same thing (but maybe just a little less scary). I like the thought of midwife care, but also having the medical back-up should I need it. And I definitely feel more prepared with these gorgeous items.

The Which Birth Choices website was super helpful for guiding me through all the options available. Give it a go here and learn something new!


  1. Where to give birth is something that has always gone through my mind since my boyfriend and I got together. I've always leaned toward the birth centers because of how comfortable they are compared to the hospital environment (yeah, that coming from a nursing student), mainly because I feel like I'm not going to the hospital to give birth because it's a natural thing and I'm not sick, so I don't need to go to the hospital. I think my main objection is all of the medications I've heard from my friends that they use. There is one that is popular to use here to help deliver the afterbirth, but there is the threat of the cervix closing too early and then you have to go into surgery. Like is that medication truly worth it when you can just breastfeed to help do the same thing? Unfortunately, I don't have any birthing centers in my city, nor do I have a hospital with a maternity ward. We have to drive an hour away if we want to get to a hospital that delivers babies.

    Home birth is something I've thought about too. A girlfriend of mine is a midwife and does home birth all the time, the only problem is she lives so far away from me.

    For a low risk pregnancy, the birth center just seems much more desirable. The closest one to me also allows you to do a water birth as well, which I've heard is really good for the baby.

    Those boxes are such a cool thing, a great thing for moms to be. I've never seen anything like that here in the States. It takes a bit of stress off, I think.

  2. Oh wow, when you said you got a lot, I didn't realise it would be that much! Amazing!!

    Charlie x


  3. I love the scent of lavender, it's so relaxing! You really got a lot (;
    Btw you look so amazing in that dress <3
    Nati xx