Delivery Choices: Hospital, Birthing Center or Home

Not long ago, pregnant women had few choices about where to give birth. These days, women have more choices than ever. You can have your baby:

  • At a hospital with the doctors and services you like (though some may be far away depending on where you live)
  • At home with the help of a midwife
  • At a birthing center

Hospital birth has some rewards

Most mothers still give birth in the hospital, often for good reason:

  • You most likely won't have to be taken anywhere else if you need urgent care
  • C-sections can only be done in hospitals

Birthing center

More and more women who want to have the safe feeling of a hospital birth with the privacy and comfort of a home birth choose a birthing center. Birth centers are:

  • Staffed by midwives and doulas (birthing helpers) who work closely with doctors if you need urgent care
  • Designed to give healthy women with normal pregnancies the chance to have their babies in a more home-like setting
  • Mainly focused on childbirth without drugs and most often don't do any surgery or give epidural anesthesia
  • Sometimes are located next to or within a hospital, but more often are free-standing

If you're thinking about using a birthing center, you'll want to do some homework long before the big day.

  • Birthing centers vary depending on each state's laws
  • They can also differ in their own philosophies, including their thoughts about pain

Good birthing center questions

  • Are the birthing aides licensed doctors or nurses?
  • Is the center licensed?
  • What happens if there are problems?
  • How far away is the hospital?
  • How many women have to be taken to a hospital and how often are those situations emergencies?

Home birth

Some women want to have their baby at home because it feels more normal, but home births are not for everyone.

  • Even though more women are doing it, less than one percent of American babies are born at home
  • The American Congress of obstetrician s and Gynecologists (ACOG) opposes home birth
    • ACOG says that birth calls for "standards of safety which are provided in the hospital setting and cannot be matched in the home"
    • An ACOG study said that babies born at home may be twice as likely to die during delivery
    • The same study said that it is very unsafe to try a vaginal delivery at home after having had a C-section before

The dangers of home birth

  • Home birth isn't a good idea if you have high blood pressure, diabetes or are likely to go into premature labor
  • Both you and your midwife should be ready to go to the hospital if your labor isn't going well or your baby seems to be in pain
  • Try to use a midwife who has a relationship with a medical practice so you have back up in case you need urgent care

Whether you decide to have your baby at home, in a hospital or in a birthing center, some planning now can help you have the birth that's right for you.

[references] Copyright © 2010 LimeHealth

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