Home Birth, Birthing Centers, and Hospitals: Which Method Is Best for You

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Many women already have in mind the place that they plan to give birth. These include either a hospital, a birthing center, or some even plan to give birth at home. Some pregnant women may still be on the fence about which place is the right place for them to give birth. There are several factors that can determine where the safest place for a woman to give birth is, that are outside of her control. Here are the descriptions of each of the places you can give birth, and which women they would be the best fit for.

Home Birth

These days, more women are choosing a planned home birth over a hospital or birthing center. A planned home birth includes having the assistance of a certified midwife or doula, and maybe even an obstetrician. Though planned home births have a doubled risk of infant deaths as compared to giving birth in a hospital, the chances of infant death are still low. However, it’s still important to consult with your doctor if you’re considering a planned home birth.

If you’ve had a C-section in the past, it’s not recommended for you to have a planned home birth. This is because most women who’ve had C-sections in the past may need to have C-sections again, though a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) is possible for some women. Another reason a planned home birth may not be an option for some women is if the baby isn’t positioned correctly, or if it’s multiple births. Keep in mind that if you do choose a planned home birth, complications are just as possible as they are in a hospital, and you may have to be moved to a hospital.

Birthing Centers

Free-standing birthing centers are non-medical settings designed to feel like a home birth. The goal of a birthing center is to provide a calm and relaxing environment for the mother-to-be. Because this is a nonmedical setting, epidurals are not given, but there may be other pain management options available. Care is given by a licensed midwife/doula, but there is access to advanced medical care if necessary.

Similar to a home birth, women who have had a healthy pregnancy, have never had a C-section, are only carrying one child, and whose babies are in the correct position are good candidates for a birthing center. Also, women going into labor before 37 weeks or after 42 weeks should not consider a birthing center.

Hospitals

Hospitals may contain birthing centers, but they are usually no different than the labor ward at most hospitals. However, some are adapting to become more like free-standing birthing centers. Because it is still a hospital, it won’t be a completely non-medical setting. Some hospitals may even allow for a water birth, like in a birthing center or planned home birth, but not all hospitals do this. You may also be allowed to have a midwife or doula in the room with you, in addition to your partner or another person of choice.

Even today, many women may opt to give birth in a hospital because of the association of it being risk-free. Though there is immediate access to medical equipment, hospitals are not necessarily safer for low-risk women, even though they are safer for high-risk pregnancies. Still, birth injuries that occur in hospitals are just as full of risks as with home births or in a birthing center. Fortunately, hospitals, freestanding birthing centers, and home birth settings are constantly improving to provide better care for mothers and infants.

Though home births and birthing centers have come a long way, the hospital is still the safest place to give birth for high-risk pregnancies and women with other conditions that may prevent them from having a home birth or going to a birthing center. For low-risk pregnancies, any option is fine based on what the mother-to-be decides on which is best for her.

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