Many woman have questions about choosing where to give birth. A hospital is just one option; you can also deliver at home or at a freestanding birth center. However, choosing where to give birth is a huge decision. Your choice impacts your whole pregnancy and birth.
Questions to Ask Before Choosing Where to Give Birth
- What kind of birth do I want? Do I want an epidural, a cesarean, or a natural birth?
- What kind of pregnancy do I have? Am I pregnant with multiples? Is my birth classified as high-risk?
- Do I have a pregnancy complication such as high blood pressure, or gestational diabetes?
- How do I feel about pain medicine?
- How do I feel about interventions like pitocin?
- How do I feel about doctors? Midwives? Hospitals?
- Do I want to give birth at home? Is my family/partner comfortable with a home birth?
- What kind of support do I want for my birth? Do I want a doula? Is my support team comfortable with my place of birth?
- What kind of care provider do I want? An ob/gyn? A midwife?
When choosing where to give birth, many women are choosing home births. Home births are more frequent today, though most families have worries about a home birth's safety. However, home births are very safe. In fact, some experts claim they are safer than hospital births. But, you must have a low-risk pregnancy and have a competent midwife attending your birth.
Many families choose a home birth because it is a peaceful and relaxed experience. It is a great option if you want a birth with no or minimal interventions. If you want an epidural or are hoping for a cesarean, a home birth is not for you.
If you choose a home birth, your insurance will probably not cover the costs. However, home births are much cheaper than hospital births and many midwives offer sliding scales or other payment options.
Free-Standing Birth Centers
Free-standing birth centers were very popular during the 1960s and 1970s when birth in the United States changed dramatically. Free-standing birth centers are places where you can give birth attended by midwives and nurses. They often have water birth options, which is a plus for many women. Free-standing birth centers are options for women who want a natural childbirth. Free-standing birth centers do everything they can to make the experience as peaceful and relaxed as possible.
Some hospitals have attached free-standing birth centers attached to their hospitals, making this option a very safe one in case something goes wrong. However, if your birth is high-risk or you want an epidural, a free-standing birth center is not for you.
Most free-standing birth centers require that your pregnancy and birth be low-risk, though there are some exceptions. Check your yellow pages and talk to a doula or midwife to find free-standing birth centers in your city.
The majority of women in the United States when choosing where to give birth, choose to have their babies in hospitals. A hospital is a good place to deliver if you think something will go wrong, if you have a high-risk birth, or if you want interventions like an epidural.
Hospitals are changing the way they're giving birth, though. In some cases, a midwife may attend your birth. Water births are an option at some hospitals as well.