Birthing Options: Hospital, Home Birth or Birthing Center?

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You Have Some Birthing Options to Ponder

When considering your birthing options, there are a few things you should ask yourself:

  1. Do you want a natural birthing experience without any extra medical interventions?
  2. Are you a healthy woman with a low risk for complications during pregnancy and birth?

If the answer is YES to both of these questions then a birthing center is a great option for you! If you have had complications with pregnancies in the past or have any current indications of risk during your pregnancy then  the hospital should be your only choice. There are pro’s and con’s to both birth settings let’s start by looking at a birthing center more closely and then we will delve into the hospital experience a little later on.

A Natural Birthing Experience
What is a natural birthing experience and what exactly are medical interventions when it comes to giving birth? A natural labor is one where there are no drugs administered either for pain or for labor induction. Also it is one where medical interventions are kept at a minimum.

How Can a Birthing Center Help You Have the Natural Birthing Experience You Are Looking For?
A birthing center is a non-hospital, low tech, comfortable home-like facility. Here you will have control over many things that a hospital may not give you choice over. For instance, you may already know that you prefer a certain more comfortable position during labor. You also may want to be able to freely walk around until the time to give birth. In a hospital setting you may be confined to your bed, have an IV inserted and be on bedrest with continuous fetal monitoring.

There are Other Choices That May Not Be Available to You in a Hospital

A birthing center will things such as showers, Jacuzzis, and an overall more home-like environment.  Additionally, a birthing center will:

  • Give you individualized attention by having a midwife and/or doula assist you
  • Allow you control over who can be in the birthing room as well not put a strict limit on how many family members/friends you may want present
  • Less rules and policies compared to a hospital
  • Afford you a shorter stay than at a hospital (typically 4-6 hours)
  • Be generally less expensive than a hospital
  • Less invasive newborn and maternal care
  • The providers will spend time with you and focus on you and not the computer

For some women, the birthing experience in a hospital was less than pleasant. Women feel they were not participants in their care and were not informed prior to interventions. Studies have shown that women who birth in hospitals:

  • Have an increased likelihood of having a c-section
  • Have an increased chance of having labor induced (although patients that start in a birthing center sometimes end up at the hospital)
  • Feel like they have missed important parts of the birthing experience

The plus side of hospital birth is that if any emergency comes up, you are already in the right place to receive the proper care.  Being prepared is the most important thing.

You should also be aware that in a birthing center if there is any indication for any reason that you and your baby may have a complication that could put you or the baby at risk, you will be transferred to a hospital. The goal in any birthing setting is to make sure you and your baby are healthy and safe!

Here is a Snapshot Comparison Between a Hospital and a Birthing Center:

Amenity Birthing Center Hospital
Shower Yes Some Hospitals Have Showers
Jacuzzi Yes No
Freedom of Movement Yes No
Follow Your Birth Plan Yes Must adhere to strict hospital policies and rules
Privacy Yes – Smaller staff and less people / patients No – entire hospital staff and entire hospital full of patients and visitors
Home-Like Setting yes no
Alternative Pain Management Available yes no