Most women choose to deliver their baby in a hospital, but in recent years more and more women are seeking out alternative methods of delivery. This decision is entirely up to you, and so you should be properly educated on what options are available when considering where to give birth to your child.
Traditional Hospital Birth
A large majority of women continue to stay in a hospital during labor and delivery. Hospitals can provide comfort and peace of mind for those who are engaged in a high-risk pregnancy, as there is always a team of professionals right there to guide you through each step of the birth, and to take action should anything go wrong.
Some hospitals will complete each stage of the birth in a different room of the hospital. For example, the mother may be in one room during labor, another for delivery, and then a final room for rest and recovery.
Other hospitals will stay in one room for the duration of the birth. This is typically known as family-centered care, as it is focused on keeping the family together at all times. Your designated birthing partner is often able to remain in the room throughout this process as well.
If you are unsure about what to expect during the birthing process at your hospital, do not be afraid to speak up and ask your obstetrician for more information.
A birthing center may be located within the hospital to provide a sort of safety net in case of a birthing emergency. Other birthing centers are entirely separate entities that operate on their own accord.
Birthing centers often provide a more comfortable, homey environment. These centers are run by nurse midwives or certified midwives, without an obstetrician or anesthesiologist. Due to the lack of obstetrician or anesthesiologist on staff, cesarean section births are not a viable option unless the patient is moved to a hospital. For this reason, stand-alone birthing centers are typically best for those with a low risk of pregnancy complications.
A few women would prefer to give birth to their baby within the comfort of their own home. This birthing option has increased in popularity in recent years, but still accounts for only 1-2% of births each year.
Home births can be very beneficial for the family, as they allow for the parents to have more control over the experience. However, home births can also be extremely dangerous if there are any complications, as there may not be enough time for the mother and child to reach a fully equipped medical center.
Some nurse midwives or certified midwives may agree to be present for a home birth, though different state laws will determine their liability during a home birth, which may make it difficult to find someone who will agree to attend to you and your baby during a home birth.
Home births are ideal for women who are experiencing a normal, healthy pregnancy, and have given birth at least once before.
Most Important Aspects to Consider When Making a Birth Plan
One of the best ways to determine the best birthing method for you and your baby is to objectively compare all of your options side by side. Some of the most important considerations include:
- The current state of your pregnancy. If you are already facing a number of risks prior to the birth of your child, then it is not wise to add more possible complications to the mix.
- Individual success rates. Do a little research to figure out the statistics of your local hospital or birthing center. Do not be afraid to ask your obstetrician directly about their rates regarding emergency C-sections, or to ask your midwife about their rates regarding emergency transfers to a hospital.
- Your proximity to emergency care. It is always advised to have a backup plan. A home birth may be much more safe if you are close to a hospital in case there are problems during delivery. It is also best to make this nearby care center aware of when you begin to go into labor so that they can prepare for an emergency deliver if necessary.
- Your personal comfort level. Many women become anxious or upset by the rules and regulations of their hospital. You are going to be given much more flexibility with a birthing center or home birth, meaning you can likely eat, drink, or wear whatever you like during the birthing process. Being more involved during the birth is usually what will lead women away from the traditional hospital setting, but it is of course important to carefully consider all options available.