Choosing a place to give birth may be as confusing as choosing a care provider. The explanation below is designed to help expectant parents with this awesome decision:
Giving birth at home is a safe option for women who have had a healthy pregnancy, have not previously had a c-section, and have low risk for complications during birth. You should definitely consider finding a certified nurse-midwife or a qualified physician to assist you during the delivery process and help you with prenatal care. Unassisted childbirth can be dangerous for both the mother and the baby.
Some studies have been published that compare hospital and homebirths and indicate fewer injuries and infections for homebirths supervised by a trained attendant than for hospital births. Most women choose a homebirth because they do not want to be in an unfamiliar setting or in a hospital or medical environment. They want the peace and relaxation of their own home and surroundings. You also can design your own birth and have control over who can be with you during the birth. You get to choose your method of relaxation, your positions, what you want to eat or drink, and how you want to hold your baby after it is born.
However, if there are any complications during labor or birth, if your newborn needs any medical attention, or if you are a first time mother who realizes that you want/need pain relief during your labor, homebirth may not be right for you. Make sure that you are relatively close to a hospital and can receive medical assistance if necessary. You should also interview your nurse-midwife about her previous experience, credentials, physician back-up and transfer policies.
In the US, more births occur in hospital than in any other setting. In human history, however, many more births have occurred outside of hospitals than inside of them. So why do women seem to prefer giving birth at hospitals?
The doctors are at the hospital. So if you have had complications during your pregnancy, are at high risk, have previously had a c-section, or plan on using pain medication during your labor - you will need to give birth in the hospital. If you are planning on giving birth at a hospital - you should tour the various facilities to insure that you find a place that suits your needs and requirements both personal requirements and insurance requirements.
The medical staff and technology is completely available for you and your baby should any complications arise.
Not all options are available at all hospitals. This means that if you have been reading a lot of books, magazines, watching birthing shows on TV or surfing the internet for birth information, not all of the options listed may be available in your community. Attend childbirth classes that not only talk about a wide variety of options but also inform you of what options are available in your community. Interview the childbirth educator to make sure that their goal is to provide you with objective information, not their personal agenda. These classes may be held in the hospital or in the community.
Birth Center within a Hospital
If you do not want to give birth in a hospital, but a homebirth is not the answer either, giving birth in a birth center might be the solution for you. A birth center can provide you with the environment and surroundings you are looking for, while still offer medical support if needed. An obstetrician or certified nurse-midwife will assist you with the majority of your care at the birth center.
A birth center offers you a comfortable, relaxed home-like environment to have your baby. They are usually more open to allowing you to try various positions and labor techniques, and will not intervene or suggest pain medication unless requested. You will typically labor, birth, and recover in the same room. You will receive support for your labor, birth, and breastfeeding at a birth center.
Birth Centers within a hospital make transfer to other areas less time consuming and more convenient. If complications arise, medical technology is only seconds/minutes away.
Check with your insurance carrier for any specifics on Birth Center births.
Free Standing Birth Center
Free Standing Birth Centers (FSBC) are birthing facilities not physically connected to a hospital and in fact, may be some distance from a hospital. Functioning much like the birth centers in hospitals, FSBC care for low risk women who desire an out of hospital experience for the birth of their baby, but more medical attention than a homebirth.
The drawbacks of a birth center arise if there are any complications during labor or delivery or if your newborn needs any medical attention - you might need to be transferred to a medical facility. The time-critical nature of complications should be considered when making the decision to birth at a FSBC.
Make sure to contact your insurance about whether or not a birth center is covered under your plan.