KATE Middleton plans to give birth naturally rather than opting for a Caesarian section, UK royal aides have disclosed.
The future king or queen of England will be born in the private Lindo wing of St Mary's Hospital, Paddington. Prince William, who was also born there, will be with his wife throughout the delivery.
St James's Palace has also moved to end speculation over the gender of the baby by insisting the Duke and Duchess do not know the sex of their baby and have chosen not to be told until it is born.
As details about the arrangements for the birth were released to the media, aides confirmed that Marcus Setchell, the queen's former gynaecologist, will deliver the baby, aided by the queen's current gynaecologist Alan Farthing, the former fiance of the murdered BBC presenter Jill Dando.
Asked whether Kate had opted for an elective Caesarian birth, an option which has led to some mothers being dubbed "too posh to push", palace sources said she intended to give birth naturally.
They also confirmed that William will only take two weeks' statutory paternity leave before he returns to flying duties with his RAF Search and Rescue squadron in Wales.
The duchess is expected to stay either at Kensington Palace or with her parents in Berkshire in the period leading up to her due date in mid-July.
Contingency plans have been put in place with the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading in case she goes into labour unexpectedly early while visiting her parents.
The first indication that Kate has given birth will come when an aide leaves the hospital carrying a piece of paper with details of the baby's sex, weight and time of birth, which they will hand to a driver to be taken to Buckingham Palace in London.
The notice will then be placed on an easel on the forecourt of the palace for the waiting world to be given its first information about the future king or queen.
Shortly afterwards, the news will be put out on the palace's official Twitter feed, though aides stressed that no electronic communication would be made until the public had had a chance to see the official notice, as "it's important that this is done with a degree of dignity and with half an eye on the historical significance" of the occasion.
Bookies have taken a steady stream of bets on the baby being a boy, partly because the Duchess is reported to have bought a blue pram.
However, a royal source said: "The Duke and Duchess don't know the sex of the baby and they have decided not to find out beforehand."
No announcement of the birth will be made until after the queen, other senior members of the royal family, and the Middleton family have been informed.
If Kate gives birth in the middle of the night no announcement is likely to be made until the queen has woken, as sources said they did not expect her to be woken up specially to be told the news.
The royal couple have so far given no indication as to whether they have chosen names for the baby.
When Prince William was born his name was not announced for a week, reportedly because his father, Prince Charles, and mother, Princess Diana, could not agree on one. ( © Daily Telegraph, London)