Childbirth Settings

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While most people immediately think of giving birth in a hospital, you may be surprised to hear that you do have other options, including home births and birth centers. Read on to find out which birthing option is best for you!

Hospital

Pros: Hospitals have plenty of emergency personnel on hand, so if anything goes wrong, you are in good hands. If you or your baby have any complications, a fully stocked and staffed OR and NICU are generally just an elevator ride away. Hospitals are the only option for patients who require a C­-section, and are recommended for patients who have a high­-risk pregnancy. Hospitals also offer round­-the-clock help.

Cons: Hospitals often have many strict guidelines, policies, rules and red tape that can interfere with a mother's birth plan. Mother and baby are also often separated following the birth.

Home Birth

Pros: The mother is allowed to give birth in a familiar, relaxing environment. She has much more control over the birth process, and can move around, eat, drink, shower and dress as she pleases. Children are welcome to attend. The cost of home birth is typically lower than the cost of a hospital birth. A trained midwife is generally still present to make sure everything goes well.

Cons: Home birth may not be an option for women who are having twins or who have health conditions or complications, including diabetes, hypertension or preeclampsia. It is not an option for women who need a C­-section. If something goes wrong, the mother and baby will still need to be transferred to the hospital. There are also no at-­home options for pain relief.

Birth Center

Pros: A middle ground between a hospital and a home birth, birth centers take a natural, family centered approach to birth, while still offering low­-tech medical interventions. Mothers have more freedom to give birth as they want than in a hospital setting. Pain relief options are often available. Certified nurse-­midwives will typically care for the mother during birth. Childbirth is viewed as a normal, safe, and healthy process, but precautions are taken just in case. Many birth centers are now located inside hospitals, meaning that transfer to the hospital proper in case of an emergency would be faster.

Cons: Dedicated birth centers have rigid requirements and usually only accept low­-risk pregnancies. Mothers must still be transported to the hospital in case of a serious emergency, and while birth centers are more comfortable and relaxed than a hospital, they still aren't home.

Hospitals, home births and dedicated birth centers are all excellent choices for different women. Speak to your doctor about your risk level and birthing requirements to see which option is best for you.